St. Ambrose Valentinian
The feast day of St. Ambrose should be a reminder of what the Church and its saints had always held about false doctrines and the relationship between the Church and secular authority prior to the Second Vatican anti-Council, 1962-65. False beliefs, no matter where they emanated from, were to be condemned despite the consequences. There was no “toleration” for error or heresy be it from a fallen-away Catholic or from the secular world no matter what its standing.
During one of the many crisis which had beset the Empire during St. Ambrose’s time and would intensify as the Roman state tried to maintain its rule over its vast territory and peoples, a pagan Roman Senator petitioned to have the “altar of victory” resurrected “under the pretext of averting the misfortunes which threatened the empire.”*
Ambrose would have none of such nonsense and the saint who had said that, “I hate the religion of the Neros,” strongly protested to Valentinian. He opposed the pagan statute “which aimed at bringing a Christian prince,” writes Dom Prosper Guéranger, “to recognize that false doctrines have rights, and which would, if permitted to be tried, rob the one only Master of nations of the victories which He had won.”
Valentinian, convinced by St. Ambrose “that a Christian emperor can honor only one altar – the altar of Christ,” responded to the pagan politicians:
Rome was his mother, and he loved her: but that God was his
Savior, and he would obey Him.
As Guéranger incisively points out, had Valentinian successors and the rest of the Roman state followed his example Rome may have been saved, but it became increasingly tyrannical, imposing draconian economic and social measures and worse, supported many of the heresies which came out of the East, all combined would lead to its downfall in the West and eventually the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453.
Ambrose’s influence on Valentinian, however, would not be in vain but would bear fruit in the birth of Christendom out of Rome’s decline as Guéranger postulates:
The saint’s [Ambrose] maxim was a strong one; but it was
not to be realized until the new kingdoms, springing up out
of the ruins of the Roman empire, should be organized
by the Christian Church. ‘An emperor’s grandest title is
to be a son of the Church. An emperor is in the Church, he
is not over her.’
Ambrose’s condemnation of false doctrine once again shows that the Church, which the saint belonged to, is not the same institution which currently calls itself “Catholic” where its “pope” criticizes those who seek to convert or evangelize non-Catholics to the One True Faith. Because of such thinking and under the guise of Divine Providence, Newchurch will end up like the pagan Roman Empire, an eventuality, hopefully, that cannot come soon enough!
*Dom Prosper Guéranger, The Liturgical Year. Vol. I, Advent: 360.
Posted by editors/12-8-’19