On Friday 11 Dec. in St. Paul, Minnesota, my native place, the Archdiocese is formally saying goodbye to one of its sons, now Bishop-Elect Paul Sirba, who will be consecrated as the new Bishop on Duluth on 14 December.
As I think about the great good fortune of the Diocese of Duluth, I have in mind also the Collect of today’s feast of St. Ambrose (+397) whose ministry helped to shape Church and State relations for a thousand years.
Deus, qui beatum Ambrosium episcopum
catholicae fidei doctorem
et apostolicae fortitudinis exemplum effecisti,
excita in Ecclesia tua viros secundum cor tuum,
qui eam fortiter et sapienter gubernent.
A great deal turns on fortitudo and fortis, whence comes the adverb fortiter.
Fortitudo means, in a physical sense, "strength", but is rather rare in that sense in ancient Latin. In the moral sense it is "firmness, manliness; fortitude, bravery, courage, intrepidity". Fortis the adjective also goes beyond mere physical strength.
In the Catholic sense, fortitudo is a cardinal virtue and gift of the Holy Spirit. Fortitude is the virtue by which a man faces evils with self-control when when afraid. It is the virtue by which a man enters into great difficulties, and therefore it is associated with patience and perseverance. This sense flavors my…
SLAVISHLY LITERAL VERSION:
O God, who made blessed bishop Ambrose
to be a teacher of Catholic Faith
and an example of apostolic fortitude,
rouse up in your Church men after Your own Heart,
that they may govern her wisely and bravely.
Consider our times.
The bishops of the U.S.A. are, as those of other countries, beginning to rediscover their voice and influence in the public square. They are expressing the view of the Church in matters of social concerns which are being addressed by the State.
On the feast of St. Ambrose pray for your bishop, and pray for Bishop-Elect Paul Sirba.