St. Ambrose was born of a Roman family in Trier about the year 340. He studied in Rome and served in the imperial government in Sirmium. In 374, while living in Milan, he was elected bishop of the city by popular acclaim and ordained on December 7. He devotedly carried on his duties and especially distinguished himself by his service to the poor and as an effective pastor and teacher of the faithful. He strenuously guarded the laws of the Church and defended orthodox teaching by writings and actions against the Arians. He died on Holy Saturday, April 4, 397.
Quotes of St. Ambrose:
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.
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 reads 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.
~Saint Ambrose, Offices, Chapter 5
Contemplating the wounds of Christ, by which we have been saved, St. Ambrose said, “I can revel in none of my deeds, I have nothing to boast about; therefore, I will glory in Christ. I will not glory because I am just, but I will glory because I have been redeemed. I will not glory because I am exempt from sins, but I will glory because my sins have been forgiven. I will not glory because I have been a help nor because someone has helped me, but because Christ is my advocate with the Father, and Christ’s blood was poured out on me. My sin has become for me the price of the Redemption through which Christ came to me. For my sake, Christ tasted death. Sin is more profitable than innocence. Innocence had made me arrogant, sin made me humble.”
Prayer That We May Seek God and Find Him
Lord, teach me to seek you, and reveal yourself to me when I seek you. For I cannot seek you unless you first teach me, nor find you unless you first reveal yourself to me. Let me seek you in longing and long for you in seeking. Let me find you in love, and love you in finding.
~ St Ambrose of Milan, Bishop, Writer, Doctor
Prayer of St. Ambrose to Imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary
May the life of Blessed Mary be ever-present to our awareness. In her, as in a mirror the form of virtue, and beauty of chastity shine forth. She was a virgin, not only in body, but in mind and spirit. She never sullied the pure affection of her heart by unworthy feelings. She was humble of heart. She was serious in her conversations. She was prudent in her counsels. She preferred to pray rather than to speak. She united in her heart the prayers of the poor. And avoided the uncertainty of worldly riches. She was ever-faithful to her daily duties, Reserved in her conversations, and always accustomed to recognize God as the Witness of her thoughts. Blessed be the name of Jesus! Amen