St. Ambrose of Milan
Saint Ambrose of Milan (340-397) was serving as the Roman governor of Aemilia-Liguria in Milan when he was unexpectedly made Bishop of Milan in 374 by popular acclamation. As bishop, he took a firm position against Arianism and attempted to mediate the conflict between the emperors Theodosius I and Magnus Maximus. He is considered one of the eight Great Doctors of the Church and also had notable influence on Augustine of Hippo, another of the Great Doctors of the Church.
Quotes from Ambrose of Milan:
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“[Christ] made answer: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church. . . . ’ Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?” (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).
“It is to Peter that he says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18]. Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church is, no death is there, but life eternal” (Commentary on Twelve Psalms of David 40:30 [A.D. 389]).
“For those to whom the right of binding and loosing was given, it is plain that either both are allowed or it is clear that neither are allowed. Both are allowed to the Church, neither is allowed to heresy. For this right has been granted to priests only.”
-Penance 1:2:7 [A.D. 388
“[T]hey [the Novatian heretics] have not the succession of Peter, who hold not the chair of Peter, which they rend by wicked schism; and this, too, they do, wickedly denying that sins can be forgiven [by the sacrament of confession] even in the Church, whereas it was said to Peter: ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven’[Matt. 16:19]” (Penance 1:7:33 [A.D. 388]).
“Why do you baptize, if it is not allowed that sins be forgiven through men? In baptism too there is forgiveness of all sins; what is the difference whether priests claim this power is given to them to be exercised in Penance or at the font? The mystery is the same in both.”
Penance 1:8:36. A.D. 388]).
“Now, it seemed impossible that sin should be washed away in water . . . But what was impossible was made possible by God, who gave us so great a Grace. It seemed likewise impossible for sins to be forgiven through Penance; yet Christ granted even this to His Apostles, and by His Apostles, it has been transmitted to the offices of the priests.”
Penance 1:15:80 A.D. 388]).
“If you wish to be justified, confess your sin. For a shamefaced confession of sins breaks the bond of your crimes. . . You see by what a promise of forgiveness He draws you to confession.”
Penance 2:6:40 A.D. 388]).
“May Peter, who wept so efficaciously for himself, weep for us and turn towards us Christ’s benign countenance” (The Six Days Work 5:25:90 [A.D. 393]).
“Perhaps you may be saying, ‘I see something else; how can you assure me that I am receiving the body of Christ?’ It but remains for us to prove it. And how many are the examples we might use! . . . Christ is in that sacrament, because it is the body of Christ” (The Mysteries 9:50, 58 [A.D. 390]).
“Imitate her [Mary], holy mothers, who in her only dearly beloved Son set forth so great an example of material virtue; for neither have you sweeter children [than Jesus], nor did the Virgin seek the consolation of being able to bear another son” (Letters 63:111 [A.D. 388]).
“We saw the prince of priests coming to us, we saw and heard him offering his blood for us. We follow, inasmuch as we are able, being priests, and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. Even if we are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. Even if Christ is not now seen as the one who offers the sacrifice, nevertheless it is he himself that is offered in sacrifice here on Earth when the body of Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer himself he is made visible in us, he whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered” (Commentaries on Twelve Psalms of David 38:25 [A.D. 389]).
“Mary’s life should be for you a pictorial image of virginity. Her life is like a mirror reflecting the face of chastity and the form of virtue. Therein you may find a model for your own life . . . showing what to improve, what to imitate, what to hold fast to” (The Virgins 2:2:6 [A.D. 377]).
“The first thing which kindles ardor in learning is the greatness of the teacher. What is greater than the Mother of God? What more glorious than she whom Glory Itself chose? What more chaste than she who bore a body without contact with another body? For why should I speak of her other virtues? She was a virgin not only in body but also in mind. . .” (The Virgins., 2:2:7).
“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 Sarah but from Mary, a virgin not only undefiled, but a virgin whom grace had made inviolate, free of every stain of sin” (Commentary on Psalm 118:22–30 [A.D. 387]).
“Although we are baptized with water and the Spirit, the latter is much superior to the former, and is not therefore to be separated from the Father and the Son. There are, however, many who, because we are baptized with water and the Spirit, think that there is no difference in the offices of water and the Spirit, and therefore think that they do not differ in nature. Nor do they observe that we are buried in the element of water that we may rise again renewed by the Spirit. For in the water is the representation of death, in the Spirit is the pledge of life, that the body of sin may die through the water, which encloses the body as it were in a kind of tomb, that we, by the power of the Spirit, may be renewed from the death of sin, being born again in God” (The Holy Spirit 1:6[75–76] [A.D. 381]).
“The Church was redeemed at the price of Christ’s blood. Jew or Greek, it makes no difference; but if he has believed, he must circumcise himself from his sins [in baptism (Col. 2:11–12)] so that he can be saved . . . for no one ascends into the kingdom of heaven except through the sacrament of baptism. . . . ‘Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God’” (Abraham 2:11:79–84 [A.D. 387]).
“Each of our merits will hang in the balance, and it is often inclined to this side or that by the superior weight of either our good works or of our degenerate crimes. If evil deeds turn the scale, alas for me! But if good, then pardon is at hand. No one is free of sin; but where good works prevail, sins are lightened, overshadowed, and covered up. On the day of judgment either our works will assist us or they will plunge us into the abyss, as if dragged down by a millstone.”
-Letter to Bishop Constantius 2:16 (Written 379 A.D.)
“They pretend to honor marriage; but what praise can be given marriage if there is no glory in virginity? . . . It is quite right that marriage be praised, but even better that a pious virgin be preferred.”
-Letter to Pope Siricius 42:3. (Written 389 A.D.)
“The sinner not only confesses his sins, but he even enumerates them and admits his guilt; for he does not want to conceal his faults. For just as fevers are not able to be assuaged when they are deep seated, but offer hope of cessation when they break, so too the illness of sin burns on while it is hidden, but disappears when it shows itself in Confession.”
-Commentary on Twelve of David’s Psalms 37:57 (389 A.D.)
“If, then, there be any grace in the water, it is not from the nature of water, but from the presence of the Holy Spirit. . . We were then sealed with the Spirit by God. For as we die in Christ, in order to be born again, so, too, we are sealed with the Spirit, that we may possess His brightness and image and grace, which is undoubtedly our spiritual seal. For although we were visibly sealed in our bodies, we are in truth sealed in our hearts, that the Holy Spirit may portray in us the likeness of the heavenly image.”
-The Holy Spirit 1:6:77 – 1:6:79 (Written 381 A.D.)
“Since, then, the mystery of the Incarnation is to be adored, and the Incarnation is the work of the Spirit, as it is written, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you, and that Holy Thing Which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God, Luke 1:35 without doubt the Holy Spirit also is to be adored, since He Who according to the flesh was born of the Holy Spirit is adored. 80. And let no one divert this to the Virgin Mary; Mary was the temple of God, not the God of the temple. And therefore He alone is to be worshipped Who was working in His temple.”
The Holy Spirit 3:11:79 -80. (Written 381 A.D.)
“Let us now see whether the Spirit forgives sins. But on this point there can be no doubt, since the Lord Himself said: Receive the Holy Spirit. Whosesoever sins you forgive they shall be forgiven. John 20:22 See that sins are forgiven through the Holy Spirit. But men make use of their ministry for the forgiveness of sins, they do not exercise the right of any power of their own. For they forgive sins not in their own name but in that of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit 3:18:137 (Written 381 A.D.)
“And it is not doubtful that sin is forgiven by means of baptism, but in baptism the operation is that of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
-The Holy Spirit 3:18:138 (Written 381 A.D.
“We have proved the sacraments of the Church to be the more ancient, now recognize that they are superior. In very truth it is a marvellous thing that God rained manna on the fathers, and fed them with daily food from heaven; so that it is said, So man ate angels’ food. But yet all those who ate that food died in the wilderness, but that food which you receive, that living Bread which came down from heaven, furnishes the substance of eternal life; and whosoever shall eat of this Bread shall never die, and it is the Body of Christ.”
-On the Mysteries 8:47 (Written 382A.D.)
So, then, having obtained everything, let us know that we are born again, but let us not say, How are we born again? Have we entered a second time into our mother’s womb and been born again? . . . If, then, the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Virgin wrought the conception, and effected the work of generation, surely we must not doubt but that, coming down upon the Font, or upon those who receive Baptism, He effects the reality of the new birth.”
-On the Mysteries 9:59 (Written 382A.D.)
“Who is this gate (Ezech 44:1), if not Mary? Is it not closed because she is a virgin? Mary is the gate through which Christ entered the world, when He was brought forth in the virginal birth and the manner of His birth did not break the seals of virginity.”
-The Consecration of a Virgin and the Perpetual Virginity of Mary 8:52 (Written 392 A.D.)
“For virginity is not praiseworthy because it is found in martyrs, but because itself makes martyrs.”
Concerning Virginity 1:3:10 (Written 377 A.D.)
“I am not indeed discouraging marriage, but am enlarging upon the benefits of virginity. . . . I consider one thing necessary, I admire another. ‘Are you bound to a wife? Seek not to be loosed. Are you free from a wife? Seek not a wife.’ (1 Corinthians 7:27 This is the command to those who are. But what does he say concerning virgins? ‘He who gives his virgin in marriage does well, and he who gives her not does better.’ (1 Corinthians 7:38”
-Concerning Virginity 1:6:24 (Written 377 A.D.)
“I do not then discourage marriage, but recapitulate the advantages of holy virginity. This is the gift of few only, that is of all. And virginity itself cannot exist, unless it have some mode of coming into existence. I am comparing good things with good things, that it may be clear which is the more excellent. Nor do I allege any opinion of my own, but I repeat that which the Holy Spirit spoke by the prophet: ‘Blessed is the barren that is undefiled.’ (Wisdom 3:13).”
-Concerning Virginity 1:7:35. (Written 377 A.D.)
“The next day (Sunday) after the lessons and Scripture readings, having dismissed the catechumens, I explained the creed to the ones to be baptized in the baptistry of the basilica. There I was told suddenly that the Arians had sent soldiers to the Portiana basilica… but I remained at my place and began to say Mass (missam facere coepi)
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