The Feast of St. Ambrose of Milan

St. Ambrose, a Father of the Church, is certainly an interesting character to study. Take for instance this bio-blurb from the Catholic Encyclopedia over at New Advent.

Through the door of his chamber, wide open the livelong day, and crossed unannounced by all, of whatever estate, who had any sort of business with him, we catch a clear glimpse of his daily life. In the promiscuous throng of his visitors, the high official who seeks his advice upon some weighty affair of state is elbowed by some anxious questioner who wishes to have his doubts removed, or some repentant sinner who comes to make a secret confession of his offenses, certain that the Saint “would reveal his sins to none but God alone” (Paulinus, Vita, xxxix). He ate but sparingly, dining only on Saturdays and Sundays and festivals of the more celebrated martyrs. His long nocturnal vigils were spent in prayer, in attending to his vast correspondence, and in penning down the thoughts that had occurred to him during the day in his oft-interrupted readings. His indefatigable industry and methodical habits explain how so busy a man found time to compose so many valuable books. Every day, he tells us, he offered up the Holy Sacrifice for his people (pro quibus ego quotidie instauro sacrificium). Every Sunday his eloquent discourses drew immense crowds to the Basilica. One favorite topic of his was the excellence of virginity, and so successful was he in persuading maidens to adopt the religious profession that many a mother refused to permit her daughters to listen to his words. The saint was forced to refute the charge that he was depopulating the empire, by quaintly appealing to the young men as to whether any of them experienced any difficulty in finding wives. He contends, and the experience of ages sustains his contention (De Virg., vii) that the population increases in direct proportion to the esteem in which virginity is held. His sermons, as was to be expected, were intensely practical, replete with pithy rules of conduct which have remained as household words among Christians. In his method of biblical interpretation all the personages of Holy Writ, from Adam down, stand out before the people as living beings, bearing each his distinct message from God for the instruction of the present generation. He did not write his sermons, but spoke them from the abundance of his heart; and from notes taken during their delivery he compiled almost all the treatises of his that are extant.

St. Ambrose, pray for us that we may as we grow closer to Jesus Christ, the Lord of all ages.

A Brief Update

au fond du lac

The lake upon which the cabin sat, wherein I made a day of retreat last week, beckons me to consider a retreat in its proper fullness.

Someone in the crowd said to Jesus,
“Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.”
He replied to him,
“Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?”

Friend, don’t dwell in greed, says Jesus, greed is one of the seven deadly sins. The Catholic Encyclopedia 1917 edition has this to say on mortal sin:

Mortal sin is defined by St. Augustine (Reply to Faustus XXII.27) as “Dictum vel factum vel concupitum contra legem æternam”, i.e. something said, done or desired contrary to the eternal law, or a thought, word, or deed contrary to the eternal law. This is a definition of sin as it is a voluntary act. As it is a defect or privation it may be defined as an aversion from God, our true last end, by reason of the preference given to some mutable good.

The definition of St. Augustine is accepted generally by theologians and is primarily a definition of actual mortal sin. It explains well the material and formal elements of sin. The words “dictum vel factum vel concupitum” denote the material element of sin, a human act: “contra legem æternam”, the formal element. The act is bad because it transgresses the Divine law.

St. Ambrose (De paradiso, viii) defines sin as a “prevarication of the Divine law”. The definition of St. Augustine strictly considered, i.e. as sin averts us from our true ultimate end, does not comprehend venial sin, but in as much as venial sin is in a manner contrary to the Divine law, although not averting us from our last end, it may be said to be included in the definition as it stands.

While primarily a definition of sins of commission, sins of omission may be included in the definition because they presuppose some positive act (St. Thomas, I-II:71:5) and negation and affirmation are reduced to the same genus. Sins that violate the human or the natural law are also included, for what is contrary to the human or natural law is also contrary to the Divine law, in as much as every just human law is derived from the Divine law, and is not just unless it is in conformity with the Divine law.

People ask all the time whether or not a particular sin is mortal or venial, and I usually get a headache responding. It can often be a very complex matter of understanding. But deep down, we do know when we’ve transgressed God’s laws. We are capable of knowing right from wrong.

I discovered the weblog Divine Ripples. I’m still in the discovery phase, but have been enjoying it so far.

And despite my reservations with RealCatholicTV, I do appreciate some of their things. This short episode on the Crusades is one of them:

And there it is, this evening’s brief weblog update. Peace, out.