Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Saintly Companions

"Come, then, and search out Your sheep, not through Your servants or hired men, but do it Yourself. Lift me up bodily and in the flesh, which is fallen in Adam. Lift me up not from Sara but from Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free from every stain of sin."

How fitting it is that the feast of Saint Ambrose, one of the earliest defenders of Mary's Immaculate Conception, falls on this day. I remember reading Saint Augustine's "Confessions" for the first time, which was also the first I heard mention of St. Ambrose.  I always knew that St. Augustine's mother, St. Monica, was one of God's important instruments in St. Augustine's conversion. However, not only did Saint Ambrose have a profound influence on Augustine, but he also encouraged Monica in her own incessant prayers for her son's conversion. As Saint Augustine himself says in the "Confessions," "...that man (Ambrose) she loved as an angel of God, because she knew that by him I had been brought for the present to that doubtful state of faith I now was in, through which she anticipated most confidently that I should pass from sickness unto health, after the access, as it were, of a sharper fit, which physicians call "the crisis."

Somehow Saint Ambrose was able to attract a steady flock of followers (he was so busy that Saint Augustine could rarely find time to meet with him) without simply compromising with the times. And the times were tough. The Arian heresy, which questioned the very divinity of Christ Himself, was at its height and moral decadence was rampant. Through it all Ambrose remained true to the Church and led one of Her greatest Saints to his own conversion.

The life of Saint Ambrose, as well as so many other Saints, is a much-needed source of hope, particularly during this Advent season. Like the Catholic community of St. Ambose's time, the Church today is also no stranger to adversity. Individualism, consumerism and relativism are only a few of the modern heresies that pervade our culture. Religion is cast off for "spirituality." The family, the reflection of the eternal love of the Trinity, is sacrificed on the altar of individualism and self-interest.  Like Saint Monica and her son, let us ask this great Saint to intercede for us and guide the Magisterium as well as the Domestic Church. In St. Ambrose's own words: 

"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.

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