Universalis
Wednesday 7 December 2016    (other days)
Saint Ambrose, Bishop, Doctor 
 (Wednesday of the 2nd week of Advent)

The Lord is the source of all wisdom: come, let us adore him

Year: A(I). Psalm week: 2. Liturgical Colour: White.

St Ambrose of Milan (340? - 397)
He was born in Trier (now in Germany) between 337 and 340, to a Roman family: his father was praetorian prefect of Gaul. Ambrose was educated at Rome and embarked on the standard cursus honorum of Roman advocates and administrators, at Sirmium, the capital of Illyria. In about 372 he was made prefect of Liguria and Emilia, whose capital was Milan.
  In 374 the bishopric of Milan fell vacant and when Ambrose tried to pacify the conflict between the Catholics and Arians over the appointment of a new bishop, the people turned on him and demanded that he become the bishop himself. He was a layman and not yet baptized (at this time it was common for baptism to be delayed and for people to remain for years as catechumens), but that was no defence. Coerced by the people and by the emperor, he was baptized, ordained, and installed as bishop within a week, on 7 December 374.
  He immediately gave his money to the poor and his land to the Church and set about learning theology. He had the advantage of knowing Greek, which few people did at that time, and so he was able to read the Eastern theologians and philosophers as well as those of the West.
  He was assiduous in carrying out his office, acting with charity to all: a true shepherd and teacher of the faithful. He was unimpressed by status and when the Emperor Theodosius ordered the massacre of 7,000 people in Thessalonica, Ambrose forced him to do public penance. He defended the rights of the Church and attacked the Arian heresy with learning, firmness and gentleness. He also wrote a number of hymns which are still in use today.
  He died on Holy Saturday, 4 April 397. See the article in the Wikipedia.
  Ambrose was a key figure in the conversion of St Augustine to Catholicism, impressing Augustine (hitherto unimpressed by the Catholics he had met) by his intelligence and scholarship.

Liturgical colour: white
White is the colour of heaven. Liturgically, it is used to celebrate feasts of the Lord; Christmas and Easter, the great seasons of the Lord; and the saints. Not that you will always see white in church, because if something more splendid, such as gold, is available, that can and should be used instead. We are, after all, celebrating.
  In the earliest centuries all vestments were white – the white of baptismal purity and of the robes worn by the armies of the redeemed in the Apocalypse, washed white in the blood of the Lamb. As the Church grew secure enough to be able to plan her liturgy, she began to use colour so that our sense of sight could deepen our experience of the mysteries of salvation, just as incense recruits our sense of smell and music that of hearing. Over the centuries various schemes of colour for feasts and seasons were worked out, and it is only as late as the 19th century that they were harmonized into their present form.

Mid-morning reading (Terce)Isaiah 2:11 ©
Human pride will lower its eyes, the arrogance of men will be humbled. The Lord alone will be exalted, on that day.

Noon reading (Sext)Isaiah 12:2 ©
See now, he is the God of my salvation. I have trust now and no fear, for the Lord is my strength, my song, he is my salvation.

Afternoon reading (None)Daniel 9:19 ©
Listen, Lord! Lord, forgive! Hear, Lord, and act! For your own sake, my God, do not delay, because they bear your name, this is your city, this is your people.

Scripture readings taken from the Jerusalem Bible, published and copyright © 1966, 1967 and 1968 by Darton, Longman & Todd, Ltd and Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc, and used by permission of the publishers. For on-line information about other Random House, Inc. books and authors, see the Internet web site at http://www.randomhouse.com.
 
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