Saint Ambrose…

…judges Francis’ defense of the Jovinian heresy

  • One sins not if she marries: if she marries not, it is for eternity

‘He who gives his virgin in marriage does well, and he who gives her not does better.’ (1 Cor 7:38) The one sins not if she marries, the other, if she marries not, it is for eternity. […] The former is not reproved, the latter is praised. (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Concerning Virginity, Book 1, 6, 24)

  • For those for whom it is licit to choose a spouse, would it not be licit to prefer God?

What is it, then, that even they who hear me not follow my teaching, and those who hear me follow me not? For I have known many virgins who had the desire, but were prevented from going forward by their mothers, and, which is more serious, mothers who were widows, to whom I will now address myself. For if your daughters desired to love a man, they could, by law, choose whom they would. Are they, then, who are allowed to choose a man not allowed to choose God? (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Concerning Virginity, Book 1, 11, 58)

…judges Francis’ idea on the use of internet for catholic education

  • There is no danger more hidden than the sweet pleasures of the world

But what sea is crueller than our fickle world? What sea so changeable, so deep, so swiftly stirred by the breath of impure spirits? […] I assure you that there is no danger more hidden than the sweet pleasures of the world. While charming and seducing the soul, they destroy you, and — so to speak — dash to pieces your mind and your intelligence on the rocks of bodily pleasure. (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Commentary of Saint Ambrose of Milan on the Gospel according to Saint Luke, Book Four, no. 3, pg. 91)

…judges Francis’ idea on conversion of the papacy

  • Where Peter is, there is the Church

It is to Peter that He says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church’ (Mt 16:18). Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal. (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Ennarationes in Psalmos. 40:30)

…judges Francis’ idea on John the Baptist doubting the Messiah

  • How could John the Baptist have doubted that Christ was the Messiah when he himself said: ‘Behold, him who takes away the sins of the world’?

But how could it come to pass, that Him of whom he said, Behold, him who takes away the sins of the world, he should still not believe to be the Son of God? For either it is presumption to attribute to Christ a divine action ignorantly, or it is unbelief to have doubted concerning the Son of God. But some suppose of John himself that he was indeed so great a prophet as to acknowledge Christ, but still as not a doubting, but pious, prophet disbelieved that He would die, whom he believed was about to come. (Saint Ambrose of Milan quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea, Lk 7:18)

  • How could John the Baptist have doubted that Christ was the Messiah when he himself said: ‘Behold, him who takes away the sins of the world’?

But how could it come to pass, that Him of whom he said, Behold, him who takes away the sins of the world, he should still not believe to be the Son of God? For either it is presumption to attribute to Christ a divine action ignorantly, or it is unbelief to have doubted concerning the Son of God. But some suppose of John himself that he was indeed so great a prophet as to acknowledge Christ, but still as not a doubting, but pious, prophet disbelieved that He would die, whom he believed was about to come. (Saint Ambrose of Milan quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea, Lk 7:18)

  • John sent his disciples to Christ to be instructed

John then sends his disciples to Christ, that they might obtain the filling up of their knowledge, for Christ is the fulfilling of the Law. And perhaps those disciples are the two nations, of whom the one of the Jews believed, the other of the Gentiles believed because they heard. (Saint Ambrose quoted by Saint Thomas of Aquinas. Catena Aurea, Lk 7, 18–23)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Church’s moral teaching

  • Jesus proves that the Pharisees, who apparently defended the law, were ignorant of the law

But the Lord proves the defenders of the law to be ignorant of what belongs to the law, bringing the example of David; as it follows, And Jesus answering said to them, Have you not read so much as this? (Saint Ambrose of Milan quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea in Lk 6:1–5)

…judges Francis’ idea on Jesus asking forgiveness from his parents

  • For Christ was it a mark of duty to obey man, or of weakness to obey God?

And can you wonder if He who is subject to His mother, also submits to His Father? Surely that subjection is a mark not of weakness but of filial duty. Let then the heretic so raise his head as to assert that He who is sent has need of other help; yet why should He need human help, in obeying His mother’s authority? He was obedient to a handmaid, He was obedient to His pretended father, and do you wonder whether He obeyed God; Or is it a mark of duty to obey man, of weakness to obey God? (Saint Ambrose of Milan quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea on Lk 2:51 – 52)

…judges Francis’ idea on the formation of youth

  • There is no danger more hidden than the sweet pleasures of the world

But what sea is more cruel than our fickle world? What sea so changeable, so deep, so swiftly stirred by the breath of impure spirits? […] I assure you that there is no danger more hidden than the sweet pleasures of the world. While charming and seducing the soul, they destroy you, and — so to speak — dash to pieces your mind and your intelligence on the rocks of bodily pleasure. (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Commentary of Saint Ambrose of Milan on the Gospel according to Saint Luke, Book Four, no. 3, pg. 91)

…judges Francis’ idea on selling off churches to feed the poor

  • Material poverty is not holy in itself

In truth, not all poverty is holy, nor is all richness criminal. (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Expositon on the Gospel of St. Luke. L. VIII, no. 13: PL 15,1769)

  • Not all the poor are blessed

Not all the poor are blessed for poverty is of itself neutral: there can be evil or good people who are poor. (Saint Ambrose of Milan. Expositon on the Gospel of St. Luke. L. V, no. 53: PL 15, 1650)

…judges Francis’ idea on offering rosaries

  • We ought so much the more to pray, as we more frequently sin

Now we have here another kind of command given us, that at all times, not only in the day, but at night too, prayers should be offered up. For it follows, ‘And shall go into him at midnight’. As David did when he said, ‘At midnight I will rise and give thanks to you’ (Ps 118:62). For he had no fear of awakening them from sleep, whom he knew to be ever watching. For if David who was occupied also in the necessary affairs of a kingdom was so holy, that seven times in the day he gave praise to God, what ought we to do who ought so much the more to pray, as we more frequently sin, through the weakness of our mind and body? (Saint Ambrose, cited by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea, Lk 11, lect. 2: 11:5–8)

…judges Francis’ idea on the multiplication of the loaves

  • In multiplying the loaves, Jesus showed his power over material nature

But what is divine is that the five loaves were more than sufficient for five thousand people, for clearly it was not this little food that had satisfied the people, but its multiplication. As you have seen, as though by an irrepressible font abounding from the hands of the distributors the fragments that they had not yet divided, and without daring to touch them with their fingers, the pieces spontaneously appeared. When such things are read, how can we be surprised with the perpetual movement of the waters or become amazed that the liquid fonts flow without ceasing when a solid substance expands in abundance? This happens to make us see that which we ordinarily do not see. By one thing He has manifested with such evidence that he is equally the Author of the others and the Creator of all of material nature, that was not found, but made, and supplies his successive contributions to the production of all things. (Saint Ambrose. Treatise on the Gospel of Saint Luke, bk. VI, no. 84-85)

…judges Francis’ idea on our sins drawing us close to Jesus

  • Jesus Christ chastises and the Apostles persecute the sacrilegious with holy anger

We eat the body of Christ, so that we may participate in eternal life. Because what promises us a recompense and dignity, is not merely eating and drinking, but rather communion in the grace and the celestial life; and it is not the twelve thrones that were created to receive us, but it is Christ himself, who, through his identification with the divinity, judges it unnecessary to question the conduct of anyone, due to the knowledge that he has of hearts, to reward virtue and chastise the impious, and also the apostles, who received a special spiritual formation to judge, recompensing the faith and banishing false beliefs, reprehending error with vigor and persecuting the sacrilegious with holy anger. (Saint Ambrose. Treatise on the Gospel of Saint Luke, bk. 10, no. 49: ML 15, 1816)

…judges Francis’ idea on the flesh of Christ and poverty as a theological category

  • Not all the poor are blessed

‘Blessed’, it says, ‘are the poor’. Not all the poor are blessed; for poverty is of itself neutral: there can be evil or good people who are poor. (Saint Ambrose. Treatise on the Gospel of Saint Luke, bk.V, no. 53: PL 15, 1650)

  • Not all poverty is holy, nor is all richness criminal

In truth, not all poverty is holy, nor is all richness criminal. (Saint Ambrose. Treatise on the Gospel of Saint Luke, bk.VIII, no. 13: PL 15, 1769)

  • Riches may be a hindrance for the evil; or a great help for virtue in the good

It is necessary to know that there is no sin in goods; but in those who do not know how to use them; because riches may serve as a hindrance for the evil, or as a great help for the virtue of the good. (Saint Ambrose. Treatise on the Gospel of Saint Luke, bk.VIII, no. 85: PL 15, 1791)

…judges Francis’ idea that the Virgin Mary was capable to rebel against God

  • She looked not on the death of the Hostage, but on the salvation of the world

Mary, as became the mother of our Lord, stood before the cross, when the Apostles fled and with pitiful eyes beheld the wounds of her Son. For she looked not on the death of the Hostage, but on the salvation of the world; and perhaps knowing that her Son’s death would bring this salvation, she who had been the habitation of the King, thought that by her death she might add to that universal gift. (Saint Ambrose quoted by Saint Thomas Aquinas. Cataena Aurea, Gospel of Saint John 19: 25-27)

…judges Francis’ idea on the origin of the Psalms

  • The Psalms are the voice of the Church

What is more agreeable than the Psalms? […] In fact, the Psalms are a blessing of the people, a praise to God, a eulogy of the faithful, applause of the entire world, universal language, voice of the Church, harmonious profession of faith, expression of entire devotion, joy of liberty, clamor of overflowing happiness. [The Psalms] calm our anger, exclude our worries, and console us in our sadness. At night they are weapons; during the day, a teaching. (Saint Ambrose. Commentary on Psalm 1, no. 9 – ML 14, col. 968)

…judges Francis’ idea on the Pope

  • The Pope alone is placed above all

Lastly, St. Ambrose says: Because he alone of all of them professed (Christ) he was placed above all. (St. Ambrose, cited by the Catechism of Trent, Article IX – The marks of the Church: unity in government)

 …judges Francis’ idea that the Church should not be a Point of Reference

  • It is Christ who lives in the Church

Not from her own light does the Church gleam, but from the light of Christ. From the Sun of Justice has her brilliance been obtained, so that it is said: ‘It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me’ (cf. Gal 2:20) (St. Ambrose. Hexameron, bk IV, c.8, 33)

Leave a Reply