The episcopate of Ambrose in Milan marked a significant point of development in the church in the western Roman Empire.
Ambrose was born to Christian parents who came from an aristocratic family; his father was praetorian prefect of Gaul. Ambrose was not baptised, but received a thorough education in Greek and Latin. By 370 he had become governor of northern Italy, based in Milan, which by that time was the centre of the western Roman empire.
While the west had a naive and practical faith, the Eastern Church had been racked by argu-ments over the divinity of Christ, and the emperors had backed the Arian theology – this meant that while they believed Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they didn’t believe in the Trini-ty. The west distrusted this, and in Milan in 374 the death of the Arian bishop led to riots be-tween the theological parties over a successor. Ambrose stepped in as Governor, to settle the dispute and only to find himself elected bishop by popular choice. Ambrose accepted and was baptised and ordained bishop.
Ambrose became a great teacher and preacher. With his knowledge of Greek, he delved into the theology and wrote and taught widely and persuasively on the absolute and essential di-vinity of Christ as the centre of the Christian faith. Ambrose’s deep faith found expression in sermons and treatises and also in poetry in the hymns he wrote for the church to sing. He was also a supporter of the growing monastic movement.
As a former politician and a budding theologian having done the research he stood up against the Arian sympathies of the western imperial family. They brought great pressure to bear on Ambrose on several occasions to surrender to their use first a local church, and then his own cathedral. But Ambrose had the total support of the townspeople and in 386, with the army surrounding the church, he stood firm. In this way he forged the independence of the church from the state. He even developed the right of the church to invoke religious sanctions on an emperor who claimed to be a member of the church: Ambrose had no hesitation in rebuking the Christian emperor when necessary.
BORN: 339 AD, Trier, Roman Empire (Germany)
DIED: 4 April 397 AD, Mediolanum (Ancient Milan), Roman Empire (Italy).
Hanukkah – The Jewish Festival of Lights.
This is the 6th Night of Hanukkah the Jewish Festival of Lights and also Sabbath. The rule is to light the Hanukkah lights a little earlier than usual before sunset and before Shabbat (Sabbath) begins because once it begins you are not supposed to do any work and apparently lighting candles is considered work. Here in NZ the days are getting longer as this is our summer. So the Hanukkah candle-lighting is at Vespers today still and Shabbat is at Compline.
Since we as Christians don't have to be legelistic about it we can choose to do things around the other way and take into account children's dinnertime's, for those of us who have young ones - I don't think God will mind. Alternatively you could even have dinner early with the children and light the sabbath candles with only a bottle of wine and some bread after the little ones have enjoyed the Hanukkah candles and been put to bed, a romantic candle lit supper for the grown-ups on a Friday night, shared with God.