07 December 2022

Praying in Advent with Lichfield Cathedral
and USPG: Wednesday 7 December 2022

Saint Ambrose among seven Fathers of the Church above the south door of Lichfield Cathedral (from left): Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, Saint Ambrose, Saint Gregory, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Athanasius and Saint Basil (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

We are in the second week of Advent, and the Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today remembers Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, Teacher of the Faith, 397, with a Lesser Festival.

Saint Ambrose (339-397) was born in Trier into an aristocratic family and was governor of northern Italy, with his headquarters in Milan. Ambrose was known and respected by all and tried to bring peace to the Christian community. Arians and the orthodox or catholic Christians were vying with each other, trying to gain the election of their own candidate as bishop. Although Ambrose was not yet baptised, he found himself being urged to accept the rĂ´le of bishop. The gathered population took up the cry, ‘Ambrose for bishop’.

Ambrose finally accepted, was baptised, and was consecrated on this day in the year 374. He became a teacher and preacher of great renown, promoting the essential divinity of Christ as being at the centre of Christian faith. He wrote hymns that gave a clear understanding of orthodox teaching, ensuring that what the people prayed was what they believed.

He came up against the imperial powers and, with the support of the whole community, stood firm against the interference of the State in matters of the Church and faith. Saint Ambrose died on Easter Eve, 4 April 397.

Before today gets busy, I am taking some time this morning for reading, prayer and reflection.

During Advent, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, The reading suggested in the Advent and Christmas Devotional Calendar produced by Lichfield Cathedral this year;

2, praying with the Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary, ‘Pray with the World Church.’

‘For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?’ (Luke 22: 27) … a table for two (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Luke 22: 24-30 (NRSVA):

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

28 ‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; 29 and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’

Saint Ambrose of Milan baptises Augustine of Hippo (Gozzolini, 1575)

The Lichfield Cathedral Devotional Calendar:

Reflect on this passage. Christ questions our status-seeking and desire for power and control. Pray to embrace his example of humility.


God of hosts,
who called Ambrose from the governor’s throne
to be a bishop in your Church
and an intrepid champion of your faithful people:
mercifully grant that, as he did not fear to rebuke rulers,
so we, with like courage,
may contend for the faith we have received;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion:

God of truth,
whose Wisdom set her table
and invited us to eat the bread and drink the wine
of the kingdom:
help us to lay aside all foolishness
and to live and walk in the way of insight,
that we may come with Ambrose to the eternal feast of heaven;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

USPG Prayer Diary:

The theme in the USPG Prayer Diary this week is ‘Human Rights in the Philippines.’ This theme was introduced on Sunday with an excerpt from the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (Philippine Independent Church) human rights report by USPG.

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us pray for all who live in fear of detention and torture. May the new regime of Ferdinand Marcos Jr listen to past wrongs, observe human rights and govern peaceably.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Some images from Lichfield and Lichfield Cathedral over the years (Patrick Comerford)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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