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CHAPTER SIX

Later years and death

 

 

Embossed silver urn with the body of Ambrose (with white vestments) in the crypt of Sant'Ambrose, with the skeletons of Gervase, and Protase on his side. The remains still remain inside the Ambrose Basilitca awaiting the resurrection. They three lie side by side for 17 centuries.

 

In April 393 Arbogast, magister militum of the West and his puppet Emperor Eugenius marched into Italy to consolidate their position in regard to Theodosius I and his son, Honorius, whom Theodosius had appointed Augustus to govern the western portion of the empire. Arbogast and Eugenius courted Ambrose's support by very obliging letters; but before they arrived at Milan, he had retired to Bologna, where he assisted at the translation of the relics of Saints Vitalis and Agricola. From there he went to Florence, where he remained until Eugenius withdrew from Milan to meet Theodosius in the Battle of the Frigidus in early September 394.

 

Soon after acquiring the undisputed possession of the Roman Empire, Theodosius died at Milan in 395, and two years later (4 April 397) Ambrose also died. He was succeeded as bishop of Milan by Simplician.  Ambrose's body may still be viewed in the church of Saint Ambrogio in Milan, where it has been continuously venerated — along with the bodies identified in his time as being those of Saints Gervase and Protase.

 

On the day of his death, he lay for several hours with his hands extended in the form of a cross while his lips moved in continual prayer. "St. Honoratus, bishop of Vercelli was there, and being gone into an upper chamber to take a little rest, heard a voice crying three times to him: 'Arise, and make haste; for he is going to depart'” He went down, and gave him the body of our Lord, which the saint had no sooner swallowed, but he gave up the ghost. St. Ambrose died about midnight before Holy Saturday, the 4th of April in 397; he was about fifty-seven years old, and had been bishop twenty two-years and four months." (Rev. Alban Butler, Lives of the Saints, Vol. XII: December, 1886) His skeletal remains now lie beneath the main altar of the Ambrosian Basilica of Milan.

 

 

Closeup of the relics of St.Ambrose.

 

 
 
  

Honey-Tongued St. Ambrose

Many circumstances in the history of Ambrose are characteristic of the general spirit of the times. The chief causes of his victory over his opponents were his great popularity and the reverence paid to the episcopal character at that period. But it must also be noted that he used several indirect means to obtain and support his authority with the people.

http://catholicmajority.com/st-ambrose/

It was his custom to comment severely in his preaching on the public characters of his times; and he introduced popular reforms in the order and manner of public worship. It is alleged, too, that at a time when the influence of Ambrose required vigorous support, he was admonished in a dream to search for, and found under the pavement of the church, the remains of two martyrs, Gervasius and Protasius. The saints, although they would have had to have been hundreds of years old, looked as if they had just died. He built his cathedral with the relics of these martyrs under the altar,

He would become known for his writings and sermons and his staunch yet peaceful defense against heretical church teachings. His preaching become widely popular and he became known as the honey tongued doctor for his words on Christ’s divinity, the Incarnation, treatment of the poor, and living humbly. He was unafraid of liturgical reform to deepen the spirituality of the people, and his love of music greatly influenced chant and the popularity of hymns within the Church’s liturgical life. .

Probably his greatest pastoral challenge were the Arian heretics of his day, many of whom were highly ranked and powerful people who were not afraid to challenge Catholic bishops.  But St. Ambrose would not cower, and went toe to toe with imperial authority, refusing to back down from his Catholic Faith expressed in the Nicene Creed.  Ambrose said “no” to imperial power more than once.  He was a bishop who could checkmate even the most powerful people of his day.  He was an amazingly courageous bishop at a time when most bishops were not.  Ambrose championed truth, and we would be wise to invoke his intercession ourselves, that we may have the courage to speak out for truth in our own age.

Ambrose became the model bishop, giving up his personal wealth to the poor, and turning his brilliant intellect to proclaiming the Gospel.  His door was always open for confession, and he offered the Mass daily for his people.  He also was constantly writing.  Ambrose was fluent not only in Latin, but also in Greek, and this allowed him to correspond with a great many saints in the east. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably the best representation of the character of St, Ambrose is the Bees.  Like the bees he was

"honey-tongued" in speaking. He had "the qualities of a bee, such as its industriousness and its ability to sting" when necessary.  St. Ambrose was known for his sweet and rich way of teaching and preaching, so in our icon he is shown with a beehive (the word for honey in Latin is ambrosia).

These are some of his famous sayings that characterize his nature,

“In some cases silence is dangerous.” 

 

“Would not the Lord say to us: ‘Why have you let so many needy perish of hunger? Since you had gold, you should provide for their needs’…Could we say: ‘I feared to leave the temple of God without ornament.’ But that which can’t be bought with gold does not take its value from gold. The best way to use the gold of the Redeemer is for the redemption of those in peril.”

 

“My only arms are my tears. I will never depart willingly but I won’t resist by force.” 

 

“God created the universe in such a manner that all in common might derive their food from it, and that the earth should also be a property common to all.”

 

“If you have two shirts in your closet, one belongs to you and the other to the man with no shirt.”

 

No one heals himself by wounding another. "Our own evil inclinations are far more dangerous than any external enemies."  

 

"But if these beings angels guard you, they do so because they have been summoned by your prayers."  

 

"The Church of the Lord is built upon the rock of the apostles among so many dangers in the world; it therefore remains unmoved. The Church’s foundation is unshakable and firm against assaults of the raging sea. Waves lash at the Church but do not shatter it. Although the elements of this world constantly beat upon the Church with crashing sounds, the Church possesses the safest harbor of salvation for all in distress."

 

"There is a stream which flows down on God’s saints like a torrent. There is also a rushing river giving joy to the heart that is at peace and makes for peace."

 

"He who read much and understands much, receives his fill. He who is full, refreshes others. So Scripture says: “If the clouds are full, they will pour rain upon the earth.”"

 

"Therefore, let your words be rivers, clean and limpid, so that you may charm the ears of people. And by the grace of your words win them over to follow your leadership. Solomon says: “The weapons of the understanding are the lips of the wise”; and in another place he says: “Let your lips be bound with wisdom.” That is, let the meaning of your words shine forth, let understanding blaze out. Let no word escape your lips in vain or be uttered without depth of meaning." -- from a letter by Saint Ambrose

"To avoid dissensions we should be ever on our guard, more especially with those who drive us to argue with them, with those who vex and irritate us, and who say things likely to excite us to anger. When we find ourselves in company with quarrelsome, eccentric individuals, people who openly and unblushingly say the most shocking things, difficult to put up with, we should take refuge in silence, and the wisest plan is not to reply to people whose behavior is so preposterous. Those who insult us and treat us contumeliously are anxious for a spiteful and sarcastic reply: the silence we then affect disheartens them, and they cannot avoid showing their vexation; they do all they can to provoke us and to elicit a reply, but the best way to baffle them is to say nothing, refuse to argue with them, and to leave them to chew the cud of their hasty anger. This method of bringing down their pride disarms them, and shows them plainly that we slight and despise them". 

 

“There is no time of life past learning something.”

 

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks. Neither angel, nor archangel, not yet even the Lord Himself (who alone can say ‘I am with you’), can, when we have sinned, release us, unless we bring repentance with us”.

 

 

CHAPTER SEVEN

Doctrines and teachings

a

Theology

He was able to excell in his theology because of his training and particularly his knowledge of Greek.  He devoted himself to prayer and to the study of both the Scriptures and pagan literature, rapidly becoming an accomplished preacher and writer. He was able to read the works of the writers in their original language and he made use of Philo, Origen, Athanasius, Didymus the Blind, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil of Caesarea, Hippolytus of Rome and the Neoplatonist, Plotinus.  

Ambrose is credited as being chiefly responsible for the final defeat of Arianism within the Western church.

Familiarity with Greek also enabled Ambrose to introduce allegorical interpretation to the western church.

He was deeply influenced by Philo and Origen, seeing in Scripture three levels of meaning: the literal, the moral and the allegorical, but also making use of typology.

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4 Levels of understanding scripture – A Hebrew perspective.
http://nazarenespace.com/profiles/blogs/4-levels-of-understanding-scripture-a-hebrew-perspective

PaRDeS (PaRaDiSe)     Simple, Hint, Search, Hidden.

Each layer is deeper and more intense than the last.
Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “plain” (simple) or the direct meaning. The literal principal. Grammatical historical sense.
Remez (רֶמֶז) — hints” or the deep (allegoric: hidden or symbolic) meaning
               beyond just the literal sense
.
Derash (דְּרַשׁ) — from Hebrew darash: “inquire” (seek)
             — the comparative (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
Sod (סוֹד) (pronounced with a long o as in ‘bone’)
              — 
“secret” (mystery) or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation

 
 
 

1) Peshat The Pashat is the plain, simple meaning of the text; understanding scripture in its natural, normal sense using the customary meanings of the words being used, in accordance with the primary exegetical rule in the Talmud that no passage loses its Pashat (b.Shab. 63a; b.Yeb. 24a). While there is figurative language (like Ps. 36:7) symbolism (like Rom. 5:14); allegory (like Gal. 4:19-31) and hidden meanings (like Rev. 13:18; see also 1 Cor. 2:7) in the Scriptures, the first thing to look for is the literal meaning or Pashat.

The following rules of thumb can be used to determine if a passage is figurative and therefore figurative even in its Pashat:

· 1. When an inanimate object is used to describe a living being, the statement is figurative.

  (Example: Prov. 18:10)

· 2. When life and action are attributed to an inanimate object the statement is figurative.

Example: same example Prov. 18:10)

· 3. When an expression is out of character with the thing described, the statement is figurative.

(Example: Ps. 17:8)

The Pashat is the keystone of Scripture understanding. If we discard the Pashat we lose any real chance of an accurate understanding. We are left with a no-holds-barred game of pure imagination in which we are no longer objectively deriving meaning from the Scriptures (exegesis), but subjectively reading meaning into the scriptures (eisegesis) Thus the Talmud twice warns us: "No passage loses its Pashat" (b.Shab. 63a; b.Yeb. 24a).

2) Remez  The next level of understanding is called in Hebrew Remez (hint). This is the implied meaning of the text. Peculiarities in the text are regarded as hinting at a deeper truth than that conveyed by its Pashat. Often this "hinting" back refers to a prior example where the same word or concept has been previously taught in the text. Hinting back to a prior understanding reinforces the intended meaning in the now and present of the speaker.

An example of this might be seen in Rachel who was married to Jacob. Her name meant Ewe and she gave birth to Benjamin near the Watch Tower of the Flock - Migdal Eder - where she was also buried, just out of Bethlehem. Rachel lost her life in giving life. Yashua was born in the same area and he lost His life in bringing us life but was raised again. Migdal Eder is where the sacrificial sheep and cattle were raised and looked after for the Temple.

3) Drash  - Another level of understanding the Scriptures is called in Hebrew "drash" meaning "search", this is the allegorical, typological or homiletical application of the text. Creativity is used to search the text in relation to the rest of the Scriptures, other literature, or life itself in order to develop an allegorical, typological or homiletical application of the text. This process involves eisegesis (reading of the text) of the text. But understand, before something can be “like” something else, it can never remove the reality of what it compares itself to. The context determines the peshat, and then and only then can be have a drash. We cannot have a drash without a prior peshat!

Three important rules of thumb in utilizing the drash level of understanding a scripture are:

· [1] A drash understanding can not be used to strip a passage of its Pashat meaning, nor may any such understanding contradict and Pashat meaning of any other scripture passage. As the Talmud states "No passage loses its Pashat." (b. Shab. 63a; b.Yeb. 24a)

· [2] Let scripture interpret scripture. Look for the scriptures themselves to define the components of an allegory.

· [3] The primary components of an allegory represents specific realities. We should limit ourselves to these primary components when understanding the text.

4)Sod  The final level of understanding the Scriptures is called in Hebrew "Sod" meaning "hidden". This understanding is the hidden, secret or mystic meaning of a text. This process often involves returning the letters of a word to their prime-material state and giving them new form in order to reveal a hidden meaning (interpreting them through the numbers of the letters. It is the delight of God to hide a matter and the pleasure of Kings to search it out. 

Each letter in a word in Hebrew has an inherent meaning and symbology and each letters meaning adds to the meaning of the whole word. Each letter conveys a concept and desire from the heart of God. Each word adds to this and the sentence of communication is brought forth. Each letter also has a numerical value and our great mathematician has mysteries hidden. 

When looking for Sod we must be careful to never let our understanding stray from the first three. Elohim uses symbols and real events to bring forth His plan - they are intwined together. The Spiritual is evident in the physical.

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His hermeneutic was of great help to Augustine, who refers to Ambrose in his Confessions, in removing his objections to the Old Testament Scriptures.  

The Most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church

Ambrose is the most illustrious Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and fitly chosen, together with St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Athanasius, to uphold the venerable Chair of the Prince of the Apostles in the tribune of St. Peter's at Rome.

Ambrose ranks with Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great, as one of the Latin Doctors of the Church. Theologians compare him with Hilary, who they claim fell short of Ambrose's administrative excellence but demonstrated greater theological ability. He succeeded as a theologian despite his juridical training and his comparatively late handling of Biblical and doctrinal subjects.

 

 
 
The Four Doctors of the Latin Church 

Ambrose's intense episcopal consciousness furthered the growing doctrine of the Church and its sacerdotal ministry, while the prevalent asceticism of the day, continuing the Stoic and Ciceronian training of his youth, enabled him to promulgate a lofty standard of Christian ethics. Thus we have the De officiis ministrorum, De viduis, De virginitate and De paenitentia.

Ambrose displayed a kind of liturgical flexibility that kept in mind that liturgy was a tool to serve people in worshiping God, and ought not to become a rigid entity that is invariable from place to place. His advice to Augustine of Hippo on this point was to follow local liturgical custom. "When I am at Rome, I fast on a Saturday; when I am at Milan, I do not. Follow the custom of the church where you are."

Thus Ambrose refused to be drawn into a false conflict over which particular local church had the "right" liturgical form where there was no substantial problem. His advice has remained in the English language as the saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."

One interpretation of Ambrose's writings is that he was a Christian universalist. It has been noted that Ambrose's theology was significantly influenced by that of Origen and Didymus the Blind, two other early Christian universalists. One quotation cited in favor of this belief:

"Our Savior has appointed two kinds of resurrection in the Apocalypse. 'Blessed is he that hath part in the first resurrection,' for such come to grace without the judgment. As for those who do not come to the first, but are reserved unto the second resurrection, these shall be disciplined until their appointed times, between the first and the second resurrection."

One could interpret this passage as being another example of the mainstream Christian belief in a general resurrection (both for those in heaven and for those in hell). Several other works by Ambrose clearly teach the mainstream view of salvation. For example: "The Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends."

 
 
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Philip Schaff (January 1, 1819 – October 20, 1893),
in his NPNF210. Ambrose: Selected Works and Letters asserts the following salient features of the theology of Ambrose:
https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff

(Philip Schaff, was a Swiss-born, German-educated Protestant theologian and a Church historian)

"There is a very complete agreement on the part of St. Ambrose with the Catholic teaching of the universal Church. St. Augustine speaks of him as “a faithful teacher of the Church, and even at the risk of his life a most strenuous defender of Catholic truth,” “whose skill, constancy, labours, and perils, both on account of what he did and what he wrote, the Roman world unhesitatingly proclaims.”3 In matters both of faith and morals by his words and writings he greatly benefited the Church and was called by St. Jerome “a pillar of the Church.”

In his dogmatic treatises, more particularly in his books on the Faith, he shows great skill and penetration, and his reasoning is full and clear, meeting the most subtle objections with patient industry. Scarcely any ancient writer has treated the mystery of the Holy Trinity and the theological difficulties connected with it more clearly and convincingly than St. Ambrose in his De Fide and De Sairitu Sancto.

In his expositions of Holy Scripture he treats of the threefold sense, the literal, the moral, and the mystical, devoting more pains, however, and time to the latter than to the former. He gives special consideration to the mystical interpretation of such passages as may seem to contain in a literal sense anything diverging from sound morality. Many of his other mystical interpretations of plain, simple matters of fact have much beauty, as in his treatment of the story of the building of the ark, the marriage of Isaac, and the blessings of the Patriarchs. The literal sense is followed

specially in the Hexaémeron, the treatise on Paradise, Noah and the Ark, and the Exposition of the Gospel according to St. Luke. The moral sense, though referred to throughout his writings, is more particularly sought out in the Expositions of the Psalms.

St. Ambrose was a diligent student of the Greek writers, whom he often follows largely, especially Origen and Didymus, as also St. Basil the Great and St. Athanasius, and he has also adapted many points of allegorical interpretation from Philo. He is fond of alleging scriptural proofs, and when he argues from reason often confinns his argument by some quotation or reference, a task easy for him who, from his consecration, was so diligent a student of holy Scripture."

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Ambrose of Milan (ca. 339–397) is one of the four doctors of Western Christianity, the other three being Augustine, Jerome, and Gregory the Great.

Justification,
St. Ambrose

ascribes the whole work to the Holy Spirit,

Who seals us in our hearts, as we receive the outward sign in our bodies.

Through the Holy Spirit we receive a share of the grace of adoption. Christ was perfect according to the fulness of His Majesty; we are perfected by a continual progress in virtue? 

Baptism

that it is the sacrament of adoption and regeneration,

wherein sin is forgiven, 

and the Holy Spirit confers new life upon the soul and joins it mystically to Christ.

In his studies Ambrose points out using the principle of allegory that the Spirit was always active in water.

She moved upon the waters at creation (Genesis 1:2) to give life
When sin entered the world through human choice the Spirit left mankind. (Genesis 6:3; cf. Myst. 3.10) .All flesh was corrupt by its iniquities. "My Spirit, shall not remain among men, because they are flesh."

In God's attempt to save mankind through the cleansing of Noah's flood (1 Peter 3:20–21) Ambrose allegorises the wood of the ark as the wood of the cross, an instrument for judgment.
The water of Noah’s flood is baptism through the cross.  Those who accepted the cross entered into the Ark and were saved.  “For water without the preaching of the Cross of the Lord is of no avail for future salvation, but, after it has been consecrated by the mystery of the saving cross, it is made suitable for the use of the spiritual laver and of the cup of salvation” (Myst. 3.14).
Ambrose further stated that it was of grace, not the waters, that man was cleansed (Myst. 3.17). This was why it was necessary for the Spirit to operate during one’s baptism, to cleanse them by God’s grace using the physical medium of water to a spiritual effect (Myst. 4.19). It was in the blood of Christ (hence the preaching of the cross), the water of baptism, and the operation of the Spirit that Ambrose saw one’s salvation (cf. 1 John 5:7; Myst.4.20). This, to him, was the mystery of baptism.  

 The Eucharis

t
 

 

 

 

 

 

As to the Real Presence in the Sacrament of the Eucharist,..
In his treatise on the Faith he says of
the elements that they “are transfigured [transfigurantur] by the mystery of the sacred prayer into flesh and blood.”

"You may perhaps say: "My bread is ordinary."

But that bread is bread before the words of the Sacraments; where the consecration has entered in, the bread becomes the flesh of Christ.

And let us add this: How can what is bread be the Body of Christ?
By the consecration. The consecration takes place by certain words; but whose words?
Those of the Lord Jesus.
Like all the rest of the things said beforehand, they are said by the priest; praises are referred to God, prayer of petition is offered for the people, for kings, for other persons; but when the time comes for the confection of the venerable Sacrament, then the priest uses not his own words but the words of Christ.

Therefore it is the word of Christ that confects this Sacrament....Before it be consecrated it is bread; but where the words of Christ come in, it is the Body of Christ. Finally, hear Him saying: "All of you take and eat of this; for this is My Body."

And before the words of Christ the chalice is full of wine and water; but where the words of Christ have been operative it is made the Blood of Christ, which redeems the people." (The Sacraments 4:4:14; 4:5:23)

"For that sacrament which you receive is made what it is by the word of Christ.
But if the word of Elijah had such power as to bring down fire from heaven, shall not the word of Christ have power to change the nature of the elements?
You read concerning the making of the whole world:
"He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created." Shall not the word of Christ, which was able to make out of nothing that which was not, be able to change things which already are into what they were not? For it is not less to give a new nature to things than to change them.(The Mysteries, par. 52)

Thus the teaching of Ambrose finally formulated in the doctrine of Transubstantiation at the Council of the Lateran in 1216.

But in the following explanation Ambrose gives it a Spiritual transformation as opposed to real transformation:

“58. Wherefore, too, the Church, beholding so great grace, exhorts her sons and her friends to come together to the sacraments, saying:
“Eat, my friends, and drink and be inebriated, my brother.”
What we eat and what we drink the Holy Spirit has elsewhere made plain by the prophet, saying,
“Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the man that hopeth in Him.”
In that sacrament is Christ, because it is the Body of Christ,
it is therefore not bodily food but spiritual. Whence the Apostle says of its type:
“Our fathers ate spiritual food and drank spiritual drink,” for the body of God is a spiritual body;
the body of Christ is the body of the Divine Spirit, for the Spirit is Christ, as we read: “The Spirit before our face is Christ the Lord.” And in the Epistle of Peter we read: “Christ died for us.”
Lastly, that food strengthens our heart, and that drink “maketh glad the heart of man,” as the prophet has recorded.”

The visible signs and symbols carry with it the spiritual presence and provides power in the rituals.

In a like spirit he maintains that the power of forgiving sins on repentance is vested in the ministry of the Church.”  
The intercession of the saints, and up to a certain point their invocation, is likewise upheld.”
These are essentially the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.  It was by questioning these arguments that the reformers established the Reformed Churches

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3405.htm

http://shamelesspopery.com/did-st-ambrose-believe-in-the-real-presence/
http://www.angelfire.com/ny4/djw/ambrose.eucharist.html

B

St. Ambrose: Father of Mariology in the Latin Church

Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, Mother of the Church,
Mediatrix, Co-Redemptrix, Our Lady
http://religion.wikia.com/wiki/Mariology_of_the_saints
https://www.homeofthemother.org/resources/virgin-mary/fathers/8319-ambrose
http://nativecatholic.blogspot.com/2013/09/st-ambrose-on-mary-mother-of-god.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The theological treatises of Ambrose of Milan would come to influence Popes Damasus, Siricius and Leo XIII. Central to Ambrose is the virginity of Mary and her role as Mother of God.

· The virgin birth is worthy of God. Which human birth would have been more worthy of God, than the one, in which the Immaculate Son of God maintained the purity of his immaculate origin while becoming human?

· We confess, that Christ the Lord was born from a virgin, and therefore we reject the natural order of things. Because not from a man she conceived but from the Holy Spirit.

· Christ is not divided but one. If we adore him as the Son of God, we do not deny his birth from the virgin… But nobody shall extend this to Mary. Mary was the temple of God but not God in the temple. Therefore, only the one who was in the temple can be worshipped.

· Yes, truly blessed for having surpassed the priest (Zechariah). While the priest denied, the Virgin rectified the error. No wonder that the Lord, wishing to rescue the world, began his work with Mary. Thus she, through whom salvation was being prepared for all people, would be the first to receive the promised fruit of salvation.

Ambrose viewed celibacy as superior to marriage and saw Mary as the model of virginity.
He became the ardent defender of
Mary as Immaculate Virgin, by placing these words on the lips of Christ in speaking of His Mother:
“Come… receive Me in that flesh which fell in Adam. Receive Me not from Sara, but from Mary, a virgin incorrupt; a virgin by grace; entirely free from every stain of sin.”
(In Ps. 118. PL, II, 782).
 

Only she is called full of grace: “…since she alone obtained a grace that none other can claim: to be filled with the very Author of grace.”
(PL, 15, 1556 A).

She is the Mother of God: “There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. The root of the patriarch Jesse is the family of the Jews; Mary is the rod; Christ is the flower of Mary. As a fruit from a wholesome tree, He bears fruit in us and is reborn in the resurrection of the body. Just as the Word of God grew within Mary, so too must He grow in you.

Although physically speaking, Christ has only one Mother, by faith Christ is the fruit that belongs to all. Adam was formed from a virgin soil; Christ was born of a Virgin. The former was made in God’s image, the latter is Himself God’s image.” (De mysteriis, III, 13, PL, XVI).

He was an enthusiastic defender of the perpetual virginity of Mary. He affirmed:
“Behold the Virgin who conceived in her womb, the Virgin that bore a son… She is the gate of the sanctuary, which no one shall pass, only the God of Israel. This gate is the Blessed Virgin Mary, of whom it is written: ‘The Lord shall pass through Her’ and it shall be closed following the birth. For she conceived as a Virgin and gave birth as a Virgin” (Epist. 42,4 PL, XVI).

Making reference to the gate of Ezekiel (44:2), he states:
“What gate is this but Mary? A closed gate, because she is a virgin. Therefore, the gate is Mary, through whom Christ entered this world, being born in a virginal birth without destroying the secret of her virginity” (Ib, VII).
“Oh Mary, beautiful gate that remained closed and never opened! Christ passed through this gate without opening it.”

This text from St. Ambrose would later be quoted in the Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium, 57, in the footnote, to indicate that the Church’s Tradition has always believed in Mary’s virginity during the birth of Jesus. St. Ambrose was also the first to point out how Mary is a model of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ. This doctrine was also used by the Second Vatican Council in LG, 63. Mary is a model of the Church as Virgin and Mother.

He also has beautiful reflections about Mary at the foot of the Cross: “Present at Jesus’ cross was his Mother. She remained standing, courageous, with her loving eyes contemplating the wounds of her Son, through whom she knew Redemption would reach all mankind …She wanted to die with her Son, so as to rise with Him” (De instit. Virg., VI, 49, PL, XVI).

In 390 he defended the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, rejected by Jovinian. Just as Jesus came out of the sepulchre and entered closed doors, he came out of he womb without opening the virginity door of Mary.

 He also disputed the teaching of Bonosus of Sardica that Mary had other children after Jesus, citing John 19: 25-26 and arguing that if that were so, Jesus would not have entrusted his mother to John. He addressed this further in De Institutione Virginis.

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The term Mother of God, Theotokos,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The term Mother of God, Theotokos, can be easily be misunderstood as referring to Mary as Mother of God  who alone existed before time, (if we can call that existence and call that time before any time which is the measure of change) that is, as Mother of God - the Only True God. For that Mary has to exist before even God!  Nor is she the mother of the Father God or the Mother of the Son of God before the realization into existence.  It only refers to the birth of the Logos Jesus, that is, God in human form after the creation of the world as emanation from the Trinity.  God the Father chose Mary to be the perfect dwelling place for the God-man (Theoanthropos) Jesus, the incarnate Logos, and was really His mother. Mary was not the Mother of God per se, but rather the Mother of God the Son incarnate and she is never venerated in isolation. This is evident in the iconography of the Orthodox Church where Mary is always depicted with the child Jesus. The icons are therefore not icons of Mary but rather of the Incarnation.

http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935420.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935420-e-62

Marian devotion has historically often taken on strongly emotional tones, and the nervousness concerning the potential excesses of popular religiosity or over-extravagant and misleading praises of Mary is an ancient concern. Epiphanius, bishop of Salamis in Cyprus (ca. 320‒403), condemned the practices of the Collyridians, female devotees who offered sacrifices of loaves to Mary. Sensitivity to criticism that too much honor and power of intercession was being attributed to Mary would lead John of Damascus (675‒749) and many others to defend and define the way in which Mary was to be honored and prayed to. The Fathers of the Second Council of Nicea in 787 differentiated between the correct attitudes to be taken toward the Theotokos and God, a codification that would later travel to the medieval West, where Thomas Aquinas (1225‒1274) distinguished between latria (worship) offered to Christ, dulia (honor) accorded to the saints, and hyperdulia (more than honor), which is reserved to Mary alone.

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 It has been suggested that this work on virginity was addressed in particular to his sister Marcellina in Rome, since he did not wish to directly attack his theological opponents (Paulinus, Vita Ambrosii, 1.1 [Pellegrino, 50]). In Book I of De Virginitate, Ambrose focuses primarily on the theology of a consecrated virginity, whereas in Book II he points out that the book tends to focus more on the development of consecrated virgins. Consequently he presents the Virgin Mary as the "virgin of virgins".

Ambrose quotes the prophet Ezekiel who says: "Then he brought me back the way of the gate of the outward sanctuary which looketh toward the east; and it was shut. Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut" (Ezekiel 44:1-3). Ambrose asks:

"Who is this gate (Ezekiel 44:1-4), if not Mary?
Is it not closed because she is a virgin?
Mary is the gate through which Christ entered this world, when He was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity....There is a gate of the womb, although it is not always closed; indeed only one was able to remain closed, that through which the One born of the Virgin came forth without the loss of genital intactness "(Ambrose of Milan, The Consecration of a Virgin and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary)

 

In 1 Corinthians 9:25, aphtharton is translated as incorrupta. In the Song of Songs 4:12 it states: "A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed." Early Orthodox Christians understood these two passages as portentous to the notion that the womb of the Virgin Mary is "shut" and "sealed" by God, and was not to be "opened" by her natural childbirth of Jesus the Logos. They maintained that the Lord passed through her closed womb by making use of divine power which is analogous to that power which He used to appear to His disciples in the upper room where the doors were shut (John 20:19).

 

https://www.homeofthemother.org/resources/virgin-mary/fathers/8319-ambrose

St. Ambrose is Father of Mariology in the Latin Church. From his see in Milan, he became the ardent defender of Mary as Immaculate Virgin, by placing these words on the lips of Christ in speaking of His Mother:
“Come… receive Me in that flesh which fell in Adam. Receive Me not from Sara, but from Mary, a virgin incorrupt; a virgin by grace; entirely free from every stain of sin.” (In Ps. 118. PL, II, 782). 

Only she is called full of grace:


 “…since she alone obtained a grace that none other can claim: to be filled with the very Author of grace.” (PL, 15, 1556 A).

She is the Mother of God: 
“There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall rise up out of his root. The root of the patriarch Jesse is the family of the Jews; Mary is the rod; Christ is the flower of Mary. As a fruit from a wholesome tree, He bears fruit in us and is reborn in the resurrection of the body. Just as the Word of God grew within Mary, so too must He grow in you.

Although physically speaking, Christ has only one Mother, by faith Christ is the fruit that belongs to all. Adam was formed from a virgin soil; Christ was born of a Virgin. The former was made in God’s image, the latter is Himself God’s image.” (De mysteriis, III, 13, PL, XVI).

He was an enthusiastic defender of the perpetual virginity of Mary. He affirmed: 
“Behold the Virgin who conceived in her womb, the Virgin that bore a son… She is the gate of the sanctuary, which no one shall pass, only the God of Israel. This gate is the Blessed Virgin Mary, of whom it is written: ‘The Lord shall pass through Her’ and it shall be closed following the birth. For she conceived as a Virgin and gave birth as a Virgin” (Epist. 42,4 PL, XVI).

Making reference to the gate of Ezekiel (44:2), he states:
“What gate is this but Mary? A closed gate, because she is a virgin. Therefore, the gate is Mary, through whom Christ entered this world, being born in a virginal birth without destroying the secret of her virginity” (Ib, VII).
“Oh Mary, beautiful gate that remained closed and never opened! Christ passed through this gate without opening it.”

This text from St. Ambrose would later be quoted in the Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium, 57, in the footnote, to indicate that the Church’s Tradition has always believed in Mary’s virginity during the birth of Jesus. St. Ambrose was also the first to point out how Mary is a model of the Church in the order of faith, charity, and perfect union with Christ. This doctrine was also used by the Second Vatican Council in LG, 63. Mary is a model of the Church as Virgin and Mother 

He also has beautiful reflections about Mary at the foot of the Cross:
“Present at Jesus’ cross was his Mother. She remained standing, courageous, with her loving eyes contemplating the wounds of her Son, through whom she knew Redemption would reach all mankind …She wanted to die with her Son, so as to rise with Him” (De instit. Virg., VI, 49, PL, XVI).

“She does not appear to have doubted the event but asked how it would take place. Clearly, if she asked it would happen, she must have believed in its fulfillment. Thus she merited to hear the words, ‘Blessed are you, because you have believed’ (Lk. 1:45).” – Expositio in Lucam

At the foot of the Cross, St. Ambrose says that Mary shows great fortitude, especially with the Apostles scattered,

“His mother stood before the Cross, and, while the men fled, she remained undaunted…She did not fear the torturers…His Mother offered herself to his persecutors.” – De institutione virginis

St. Ambrose is the first early Church Father to align Mary with the Church; he calls her a type of the Church, he says,

“Well [does the Gospel say]: married but a virgin; because she is the type of the Church, which is also married but remains immaculate. The Virgin [Church] conceived us by the Holy Spirit and, as a virgin, gave birth to us without pain. And perhaps this is why holy Mary, married to one man [Joseph], is made fruitful by another [the Holy Spirit], to show that the individual churches are filled with the Spirit and with grace, even as they are united to the person of a temporal priest.” – Expositio in Lucam

C
Giving to the poor

 
 
 
 

 

Ambrose considered the poor not a distinct group of outsiders, but a part of the united, solidary people. Giving to the poor was not to be considered an act of generosity towards the fringes of society but a repayment of resources that God had originally bestowed on everyone equally and that the rich had usurped. 

Saint Ambrose was willing to sell the gold vessels of the Church in order to tend to the needs of the poor, and to free the captives of the neighboring barbarians hordes. This clearly shows that men are above things, even above the Church’s furniture and worship accessories even over the sacred objects.
https://www.catholicmessenger.net/2014/03/saint-ambrose-shaped-relations-between-church-and-state/
http://orthodox-theology.com/media/PDF/IJOT2.2015/Marius.Telea.pdf

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http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/catholic-social-teaching/option-for-the-poor-and-vulnerable.cfm

"Scripture

Exodus 22:20-26 You shall not oppress the poor or vulnerable. God will hear their cry.
Leviticus 19:9-10 A portion of the harvest is set aside for the poor and the stranger.
Job 34:20-28  The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
Proverbs 31:8-9   Speak out in defense of the poor.
Sirach 4:1-10   Don’t delay giving to those in need. I
saiah 25:4-5  God is a refuge for the poor. I
saiah 58:5-7 True worship is to work for justice and care for the poor and oppressed.
Matthew 25:34-40 What you do for the least among you, you do  for Jesus.
Luke 4:16-21 Jesus proclaims his mission: to bring good news to the poor and oppressed.
Luke 6:20-23 Blessed are the poor, theirs is the kingdom of  God.
1 John 3:17-18  How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s good and sees one in need  and refuses to help?

 

"Tradition  

God's word teaches that our brothers and sisters are the prolongation of the incarnation for each of us: "As you did it to one of these, the least of my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40).

The way we treat others has a transcendent dimension: "The measure you give will be the measure you get" (Mt 7:2).

It corresponds to the mercy which God has shown us: "Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you . . . For the measure you give will be the measure you get back" (Lk 6:36-38).

What these passages make clear is the absolute priority of "going forth from ourselves toward our brothers and sisters" as one of the two great commandments which ground every moral norm and as the clearest sign for discerning spiritual growth in response to God's completely free gift. (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel [Evangelii Gaudium. . . ], no. 179)

"The Church's love for the poor . . . is a part of her constant tradition."


This love is inspired by the Gospel of the Beatitudes, of the poverty of Jesus, and of his concern for the poor. . . . "


Those who are oppressed by poverty are the object of a preferential love on the part of the Church which, since her origin and in spite of the failings of many of her members, has not ceased to work for their relief, defense, and liberation."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church. . . , nos. 2444, 2448, quoting Centisimus annus, no. 57, and Libertatis conscientia, no. 68)

Love for others, and in the first place  love for the poor, in whom the Church sees Christ himself, is made concrete in the promotion of justice. (St. John Paul II, On the Hundredth Year [Centesimus Annus. . . ], no. 58)

The  obligation to provide justice for all means that the poor have the single most urgent economic claim on the conscience of the nation. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 86)

The primary purpose of this special commitment to the poor is to enable them to become active participants in the life of society. It is to enable all persons to share in and contribute to the common good. The  "option for the poor," therefore, is not an adversarial slogan that  pits one group or class against another. Rather it states that the deprivation and powerlessness of the poor wounds the whole community. The extent of their  suffering is a measure of how far we are from being a true community of persons. These wounds will be healed only by greater solidarity with the poor and among the poor themselves. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 88)

The needs of the poor take priority over the desires of the rich; the rights of workers over the maximization of profits; the preservation of the environment over uncontrolled industrial expansion; the production to meet social needs over production for military purposes. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Economic Justice for All, no. 94)

In teaching us charity, the Gospel  instructs us in the preferential respect due to the poor and the special situation they have in society: the more fortunate should renounce some of their rights so as to place their goods more generously at the service of  others. (Blessed Paul VI, A Call to Action [Octogesima Adveniens. . . ], no. 23)

"He who has the goods of this world and sees his brother in need and closes his heart to him, how does the love of  God abide in him?”  Everyone knows that the Fathers of the Church laid down the duty of the rich toward the  poor in no uncertain terms. As St. Ambrose put it: “You are not making a gift  of what is yours to the poor man, but you are giving him back what is his. You  have been appropriating things that are meant to be for the common use of  everyone. The earth belongs to everyone, not to the rich.” (Blessed Paul VI, On the Development of  Peoples [Populorum Progressio. . . ], no. 23)

Therefore everyone has the right to possess a sufficient amount of the earth's goods for themselves and  their family. This has been the opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the church, who taught that people are bound to come to the aid of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods. Persons in extreme necessity are entitled to take what they need from the riches of others.

Faced with a world today where so many people are suffering from want, the council asks individuals and governments to remember the saying of the Fathers:  "Feed the people dying of hunger, because if you do not feed them you are killing them," and it urges them according to their ability to share and  dispose of their goods to help others, above all by giving them aid which will  enable them to help and develop themselves. (Second Vatican Council, The Church in the Modern World [Gaudium et Spes. . . ], no. 69)

Still, when there is a question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of  the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. (Pope Leo XIII, On  the Condition of Labor [Rerum Novarum. . . ], no. 37) "

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Confronted with sin, Ambrose combined strictness with an uncommon kindliness. Like all saints given to constant prayer his faith invariably led to an untold number of wonders in healing / It is eaven said that in Florence, while staying at the house of Decentus, he even resurrected a dead boy.

 

 

 

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