Posted by: fvbcdm | December 7, 2011

Feast of Saint Ambrose (7 Dec 2011)

There are many things to think and pray about today during our Advent and preparation for Christmas.  Seventy years ago today was December 7, 1941, “a date,” as President Franklin Roosevelt so eloquently said, “that will live in infamy” because on that date and day the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.  Those of us as old as I am can remember where we were and what we were doing when the shocking news came over the radios of the world: the Japanese are bombing Hawaii!  It was early afternoon in New Orleans, but early morning in Hawaii. I was not quite twelve years old, and of course those events changed the world and my life in this world of ours forever.

In the spring of 1953, I was in the Navy and our aircraft carrier, the USS Boxer, sailed into Pearl Harbor which was still in some of the same ruins in which it had been left by the enemy some twelve years earlier.  Then, just a few years ago, I was able to return to Pearl Harbor as a tourist and to see the impressive monument into which the remains of Pearl Harbor and its sunken ships have been turned.

The day following the attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt declared war on Japan, and those who were conscious of the date and day realized that it was the feast of the Immaculate Conception, the national patroness of our country.  Some four years later, on August 15 on the Japanese calendar, that nation surrendered unconditionally on the feast of the Assumption of the Mother of God.  Our Lady left no doubt about the connection between her and that war.  It was begun by a contemptible act of aggression, and ended with the tragic atomic bombings of two Japanese cities: Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  What a pity that the Japanese warlords neither knew nor heeded the words of Our Lord: “Put away the sword.  Those who take up the sword die by the sword.”


And today we celebrate Saint Ambrose, the famous archbishop of the city of Milan back in the days of the Roman Empire.  When you visit the city of Milan, it seems that just about everything you see bears the name of Ambrose or is named for him.  Even the famous opera house there begins its annual season on December 7 because this is the feast of its beloved patron, Saint Ambrose.  It was he who consoled the weeping Saint Monica over the immorality of her wayward son, Augustine, with the words: “The child of these tears and prayers will not be lost.”  How true!  She continued to pray for her brilliant but playboy son who, shortly after that, was converted and became a devout Catholic, a priest, a bishop, and one of the greatest of the theologians of the early Church.

This afternoon, the universal Church will celebrate the first Vespers of the Immaculate Conception.  Let us unite our prayers with those offered throughout our country, and especially in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on the campus of the Catholic University in our national capital.  Let us remember the words used by Our Lady when she appeared to Saint Catherine Laboure in giving  the world a prayer to herself: “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”  And then her words to Saint Bernadette at Lourdes a few years later: “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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