Monday, December 7, 2009

St. Ambrose of Milan - Inaugural Meeting of CDSBEO Trustees

Civic and ecclesial life unite in Milan, Italy today with the liturgical celebration of the great predecessor of the present Cardinal Archbishop Dionigi Tettamanzi, Sant Ambroggio, and the opening of the Opera Season at La Scala. This year's season opens this evening with Carmen.

The life of St. Ambrose of Milan is a particularly fascinating story. He was born around 339 in what is now France, the son of the Roman prefect of Gaul.

Following his his father's footsteps, Ambrose embarked upon a career in law and politics and by 370 AD, he had become the Imperial governor of Northern Italy. When the episcopal see of Milan became vacant in 374, the people demanded that Saint Ambrose be made their bishop.

The neighboring bishops and the Emperor convinced him to accept this call as the will of God, and so the catechumen Ambrose was baptized and ordained first deacon, then priest, then bishop, all in a single week!

This politician-turned churchman was profoundly aware of his lack of preparation for this great responsibility and so set himself immediately to prayer and the study of Scripture. His deep spirituality and love of God's Word married together with the oratorical skill acquired in law and politics made St. Ambrose one of the greatest preachers of the early church.

Ambrose proved to be a fierce opponent of heresy, paganism, and hypocrisy. He battled to preserve the independence of the Church from the state and courageously excommunicated the powerful Catholic Emperor Theodosius I for a massacre of innocent civilians in Thessalonica.

St. Ambrose also had a significant impact on sacred music through the composition of hymns and psalm tones that are known to this day as Ambrosian chant. Besides numerous sermons and treatises on the spiritual life, Saint Ambrose is responsible for two of the first great theological works written in Latin, De Sacramentis on the Sacraments and De Spiritu Sancto on the Holy Spirit.

Around 385, an ambitious professor of public speaking named Augustine came to hear Saint Ambrose preach in order to study his technique, and in the process, was attracted to the Catholic faith.

In 386 Augustine was baptized by St. Ambrose and went on to become bishop of Hippo in North Africa. Ambrose and his pupil, Augustine, together with St. Jerome and St. Gregory the Great, make up the four original Doctors of the Latin Church. Saint Ambrose, the great bishop of Milan, died on Holy Saturday (April 4) in the year 397 AD. His feastday in the Roman calendar is December 7, the day he was ordained bishop.

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Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario

This school board stretches across the Diocese of Alexandria-Cornwall and the Archdioceses of Kingston and Ottawa. Its headquarters are situated in Kemptville, a bit south and west of Ottawa.

Last week, at the invitation of Board Director William (Bill) Gartland, I presided at the inaugural 2010 Trustees Meeting, preceded by the Eucharist at which students from St. Joseph High School, Cornwall provided music and hymns, the dedication of a new chalice and paten for the school board chapel and a festive supper in the library of St. Michael's High School, which, by sharing the construction costs with the school board, allowed each to generate savings and to share parking and other benefits.

Herewith some photos of the evening at which Ronald Eamer and Nancy Kirby were elected to their ninth consecutive terms as Board Chair and Vice-Chair respectively: