St. Ambrose -- December 7
St. Ambrose (340-397), Doctor of the Church, was given the task by God to write in defense of the Church. He did this so seriously that when St. Augustine would go to visit the episcopal house in Milan, St. Ambrose did not interrupt his work to speak with him. St. Augustine was content with just watching him work and write. St. Augustine wanted to be in his presence, taking advantage of the atmosphere created by a man who was totally in obedience to Divine Providence. The grace of this submission then converted St. Augustine. This is a perfect example of the apostolate of presence.
St. Ambrose also gave us a model of the grandeur of the spiritual power over temporal power. The Emperor Theodosius had ordered the massacre of men, women and children after promising clemency. Some time later he tried to enter the Cathedral of Milan only to be stopped at the door by St. Ambrose who demanded public repentance and public penance.
Theodosius acquiesced proving that the highest human is nothing before God. Human grandeur fades away and is reduced to nothing in the light of eternity. The theologian, Bossuet, said that the role of the Church in society is to check earthly powers. Nobles, aristocrats and plutocrats have the duty to be subject to the laws of God just as the common people and they should contract punishment when they deviate from these laws.
The opposite happens today. All too often the spiritual power stands silent while public figures promote the most heinous crimes against God and man. Worse, they try to compromise with this aberrant behavior, or sometimes even join forces with it.
St. Ambrose can help us understand the importance of the supremacy of the spiritual power over the temporal power and to use this conviction in our daily lives while serving God seriously. God Alone!