Why Saint Ambrose’s Sweet Life Can Combat the Saltiness of the World


Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on December 7, 2020.


Living in the 4th century A.D., St. Ambrose was bishop of Milan during a tumultuous era of Church history. His road to ordination was an interesting journey. The sudden death of the current bishop of Milan in 374 A.D. left the bishop’s seat open amid the climate of the Arian heresy. Ambrose, an unbaptized believer in Christ and charismatic figure, appealed to all sides of the Arian debate.

Saint Ambrose of Milan

Baptized as a Christian in his mid-thirties, Ambrose soon after received the Sacrament of Holy Orders and shepherded the peoples of Milan of the reminder of his life. Today I wish to highlight 3 reasons why I believe St. Ambrose is still relevant to Christians in the 21st century.

You catch more flies with Honey than you do with vinegar”

There exists a legend within the hagiography of Ambrose which tells of a bizarre encounter with bees. As an infant, it is purported that several bees hovered over the head of the saint as an infant. The bees left Ambrose unharmed with honey atop his head. His parents interpreted this an a divine sign and foretelling of his ability to eloquently speak and unite differing factions. For this reason, Ambrose became known as the patron saint of beekeepers and bees.

According to Mike Aquilina in The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers, “He was unanimously elected bishop, winning the votes of both Arians and the Catholics…an intellectual, he could move the movers and shakers of Latin culture. It was he who finally persuaded the stubborn Augustine to proceed to Baptism” (p. 166). Sweetness and kindness of speech is equally important to proclaiming truth. Ambrose found a balance between charity and truth. As result he was an effective teacher and administrator of the Catholic Church.

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Model of the Episcopate

Along with Ambrose’s ability to teach truth in a charitable manner, he remained steadfast as a guardian of the teaching of the Catholic Church—one of the most important functions of a bishop! Because of his sweetness of speech, Ambrose built up enough rapport with the secular leaders of his time that when the time came to stand his ground his words packed clout.

Ambrose graciously, but sternly, declined Emperor Valentinian’s invitation to a Church Council that the bishop believed the secular leader had no authority convening. The sainted bishop stated,

And how, O Emperor, are we to settle a matter on which you have already declared your judgment, and have even promulgated laws, so that it is not open to anyone to judge otherwise?…if anything has to be discussed I have learned to discuss it in Church, as those before he did. If a conference is to be held concerning the faith, there ought to be a gathering of bishops, as was done under Constantine, the prince of august memory, who did not promulgate any laws beforehand, but left the decision to the bishops…

st. ambrose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Master of the Master

According to R. Thornton in St. Ambrose: His Life, Times, and Teaching, St. Ambrose had a significant impact on arguably the most influential theologian in the history of the Catholic Church—St. Augustine of Hippo.

In fact, Augustine talks of Ambrose’s influence in Confessions Book VI Chapters 1-8. “The bishop of Milan was at least the guide of the guide of the theology of the West,” stated Thornton (St. Ambrose: His Life, Times, and Teaching p. 125). To put it in modern lingo, St. Ambrose was the Qui-Gon Jinn to Augustine’s Obi-Wan Kenobi!!

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In the age of social media, our world needs holy men and women to demonstrate truth in a charitable way. Proclaiming truth without kindness will never convert unbelievers’ hearts. St. Ambrose is a reminder and role model for our society that charitable dialogue is possible.

For me personally, I need daily reminders to wed truth with charity. Remembering St. Ambrose’s life provides me with a guide on how to interact peacefully in a secular world. The sainted bishop’s ability to network with a myriad of people is another example of how he is still applicable to our society of marketing, social media, and age of internet. The next time I notice a buzzing bee on a summer’s day, I will be reminded of the sweetness of truth exemplified by Ambrose!

Honey Bee

Related Links

Prayer of St. Ambrose

Saint Ambrose— Catholic

St. Ambrose’s impact on St. Augustine: Excerpts from The Confessions

Thank you for sharing!

6 Epic Facts About The Saint Behind Santa Claus

G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.” I certainly think that he would have (and hopefully you will) chuckle at the following joke: What do you call Santa when he has no money? Saint ‘Nickel-less’. Get it? Nicholas?

If you enjoy wordplay, you’re welcome! However, if you find such repartee revolting, I apologize, and implore you to still read on.

Ironically, Nicholas came from a wealthy family (more about that later). Some believed his family riches provided means for him able to make generous visits through the night delivering anonymous gifts to the less unfortunate in his city.

Below are six common (or maybe not so common!) facts about the Catholic saint later popularized and associated with Santa Claus. Regardless of whether you heard of these facts before or not, they are still epic!

Santa Clout punched the heretic

saint nick arius meme

Nicholas had such a fervor for the faith that he slugged the heretic priest Arius in the face as he was leading Christians astray by denying the divinity of Christ.

Hearing things like this about saints also gives hope that Heaven is possible even those with quick and short-fused tempers.

He participated in the Council of Nicaea

Nicholas was among the bishops who attended the 1st Ecumenical Council at the city of Nicaea in the early 4th century.

The significance of this council includes the formal declaration of the faith in the Nicene Creed—a profession uttered every Sunday Mass!

Saint Nick Arian meme

Imprisoned for his Catholic faith

Similar to his contemporary, Saint Athanasius, Nicholas also was jailed for his persistence in pursuing and evangelizing the truth of the Gospel.

This should not be of great surprise since Nicholas lived in the most tumultuous times in Catholic Church history. Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity in 312 A.D. But the Diocletian persecution of the turn of the century in 303 A.D. led to Nicholas being among numbers of Christians sent to prison for refusing to renounce Jesus Christ.

His tenacity for refusing to commit apostasy even in the face of persecution is legendary. Nicholas’s faith and strength is on par with Saints Peter, Paul, Athanasius, and other bold proclaimers of the Good News!

The manna of Nicholas

manna of st. Nicholas

A legend began in Myra that every year on the feast day of Nicholas, the bones of the saint secrete a hyaline watery substance.

Known as the “Manna of Nicholas,” this substance is believed to have healing effects. If you want to find out more information about this interesting relic, check out this site.

He had philanthropic parents

The generosity of the bishop of Myra is well documented. What you may not have known is that his parents’ generosity strongly influenced him.

According to Lumen Gentium, “The family is, so to speak, the domestic church. In it parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state.”

Nicholas’ parents both perished as a result of an epidemic. But the morals, character, and faith they instilled in him at a young age served him for the rest of his life.

A panoply of patronages

The final of the six epic facts about Nicholas relates to his ability to appeal to a variety of individuals. Along with being known as the patron saint bringing joy to child, Old Saint Nick also helps the following groups: merchants, haberdashers, longshoremen, brewers, pawnbrokers, judges, and archers.

Saint Nicholas

Nicholas exhibited true love of God and neighbor through his anonymous gift-giving, especially to impoverished children. The bishop of Myra exuded holiness in all facets of his life.

Together with his ability to give, and give generously, Nicholas withstood persecution and staunchly defended the divinity of Christ against the assault of Arianism.

Some may call him magical, but the true charm of Nicholas came from his profound love of Jesus.

Let us all model Nicholas this Advent and Christmas seasons mirroring the love of God for others to see!

Related Links

Who is St. Nicholas?

How St. Nicholas was the first “Secret Santa”

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Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 58 (Holiday-sized!)

Hope you had a blessed weekend!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday. To celebrate Thanksgiving (U.S.), here’s an extra helping of memes I hauled back from last week’s humor hunt. Enjoy! 😀

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Seems pretty accurate. 😀🙂😆🙏
#theendingatthebeginning
Yessssssss! 👍🙏🙂
Soon it will be…the season of Advent. And THEN Christmas. 🙂
🐑 🙂🙏
Kids can be comedy gold. 😆🙂
One of my favorite moments in the Gospels. 🙂
“That’s quite the fish tale Jonah!!” 🙂😆😀🐟🐋
Awkward!
Dude! 🙂😆😀🤦
As a Marvel fan I laughed way too much at this meme! 😆😆😆😆
So funny! 😀🙂😆
And if the Last Supper was like a Thanksgiving meal. Lol
Happy Belated Feast of Christ the King! 🙏 👑
The struggle is real some days. Please pray for me. 🙏😆🙂😀
Full disclosure: I know not the most accurate on theology but still pretty darn funny. 😀🙂😆
Anyone else think about being Pac-Man when navigating life? Trying to dodge the ghosts (temptations) and consuming as much of the sacramental life?! 😆🙂😀

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

P.S. If you prefer receiving quality Catholic humor in daily doses follow me on Instagram @thesimplecatholic. 🙂

Thank you for sharing!

A 361 Word Interview with Mike Tenney from Pop Culture Catechism


Editor’s Note: Matthew Chicoine interviewed Mike Tenney via phone call on November 2, 2022. Some of the questions have been rearranged and edited to provide the best reader experience without losing any  integrity of the answers given.


Mike Tenney

What inspired you to begin Pop Culture Catechism?

I have found since I was in high school I have had a gift explaining the faith to others in an understandable way. I spent 14 years in Catholic schools teaching theology. Developments in my wife’s career and having kids helped to lead me toward this path. This podcast seems to be a natural use of my talents and experiences. It seems like a perfect nexus of my skills, passions, and experiences.

Describe your Catholic journey (so far).

I’m a cradle Catholic but had an reawakening through youth group in high school. I also discerned the priesthood and went on some mission trips. I also served with the Capuchin Volunteer Corp immediately after college. Every few years, I have had these amazing spiritual highs.

What have been joys you experienced with this podcast?

The biggest joy is all the people who have reached out to me. Especially those who aren’t faithful Catholics. I’ve had a few friends who I lost touch with and who I have since rekindled a friendship with. Now I’m getting to be a religion teacher for my friends and family.

Students have reached out. My target audience is my former students.

What have been some obstacles you encountered?

Finding good guests has been one of the toughest challenges. It is tough to align with relevant topic and on people’s minds, or a piece of art that speaks to it, and there’s also guest who’s knowledgeable and passionate about it.

Who is your favorite musical artist?

I have an eclectic taste but alternative rock is my home base. Some of my favorite musical artists include: U2, Dave Matthews Band, Maroon 5, Paramore, Jimmy Eat World, Counting Crows, and Elevation Worship.

How important is Saint Teresa of Avila to you and your faith life?

I discovered Saint Teresa through a book about Saint John of the Cross. My mother-in-law was named Teresa. And I discovered her through Saint Ignatius. The two key concepts is finding these rooms inside yourself and what a castle for. It’s a place of protection and the king lives there.

How can my readers find you?

Popculturecatechism.com

Thank you for sharing!

The Origin Story of The Simple Catholic

This is the real life origin story of how The Simple Catholic began:
My name is Matthew and I have run The Simple Catholic blog since 2015. It was a fruit born out the suffering from losing my unborn son Jeremiah (miscarriage). Writing was a healing balm for my heart, mind, and soul.
I earned my Master’s degree in theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville and had teaching experiences. Personal and family circumstances caused me to leave teaching but the desire to help others learn about Jesus and His Church remained. The blog blossomed into a mission: to inform others about the Catholic faith and show how joy can be found in daily life (even in the suffering).

Finding Strength in My Differences

I was diagnosed with ADHD as a kid and it is one of my “super-powers” as it allows me to make connections between seemingly unconnected things.
I have had to learn over the years my neurodivergent mind wasn’t a weakness but it can be a strength. Through the help of my wife (a special education teachers) and my four kids along with the Holy Spirit I have been able to learn how to harness my differences and quirkiness with my passion for Catholicism.

Paper Football

In this picture, I celebrated my paper football victory over my oldest son: 60-24. 😀😂

The Healing Power of Humor

Humor is a big part of my life. It acts as a stabilizing force during the times my depression and anxiety flare up.
My favorite show is The Office (a great way to get me attention in the sea of emails I receive is to make a reference to this show). Threat Level Midnight or A.A.R.M are my favorite episodes.
I also enjoy reading (no less than 8 books simultaneously). I’m a literary omnivore but I do tend to enjoy theology, sci-fi, and comic books more than others.
I am also an avid football fan and love tossing the frisbee around.
Because of my ADHD I tend to enjoy lots of other things too:
  • Platypuses
  • Cheetahs
  • Watching bees carry pollen
  • Writing
  • Looking at the moon
  • Drinking Dr. Pepper, Coffee, and Bai Teas (not together)
  • Listening to Bon Jovi
  • Reading anything Marvel
  • Playing board games
  • Reading about board games
  • Watching video about board games
  • Talking about board games
  • Making Seinfeld and The Office references on an almost daily basis
Share a bit about yourself in the comments below.

 

Related Links

Finding Joy–My Accidental Discovery of St. Philip Neri

How God Continues to Bring Joy (Out of a Sorrowful Miscarriage) on All Souls Day

How Playing Paper Football Led to Prayer

Bonding over Backgammon


P.S. If you’re a small Catholic business owner who enjoys the content I create and share and need help generating content for your website please email me at: chicoine.matt@live.com. I also offer marketing services. For more information please visit Writing and Marketing Service Rates.
Even if you don’t own a Catholic business but love my content drop a comment below!
Thanks for your support!!! 😊
Thank you for sharing!

Catholic Meme Monday— Issue 57

Hope you had a blessed weekend!

Time for another Catholic Meme Monday.

Church history: Mount Moriah circa 2000 B.C.
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Laughed way too much at this one!! 😆 🙂🧂🍟
☕🙂🙏
“And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.”
—Matthew 16:18
😆😀🙂
Saint John Vianney pray for us!
A whole “lot” of salty memes this week. 😆🧂
😆😆😆
Make baptismal fonts octagonal again.

That’s all I have this week. Stay tuned for next week’s Catholic Meme Monday. Receive updates straight to your email inbox by subscribing to The Simple Catholic blog.

Thank you for sharing!

Childhood Memories Made— Playing Stratego!

I played a lot of board games often with my siblings and cousins growing up. So many incredible memories formed.

One of my favorite games I played with my brother was Stratego.

Yesterday, I finally introduced my kids to this amazing strategy game. I rented it from the library with the original intent to play with Noah. He wasn’t interested at the time so I started a game with Amelia.

She had fun and during the second game I let Josiah move some of the pieces. He was quick to understand the concept of the Miner being able to defuse the bombs and the Scouts being able to move farther than the others pieces.

Avila enjoyed taking my pieces off the board. I had to prevent her from taking my flag piece several times. 😆😆😆

Board-gaming is one of my favorite hobbies and I’m thankful to have been able to forge more memories with my kids playing this “new” game with them!

Thank you for sharing!