Of late nights, library naps, and Ambrose

I am a bit behind in online things today, which was mostly spent doing errands and various time wasting tasks. Then I wound up in the library for some reading and, instead, had a little impromptu nap.

"But Father! But Father!", you are no doubt saying in puzzlement. "With all these wonderful things around you and getting to read authors like Ambrose and Augustine all day, how could you fall asleep?"

Here’s the deal. Last night I was privileged to meet (after an earlier meeting) with a couple great fellows and we had a long chat. It lasted until about 1 a.m. So, with an early morning, I wound up pretty tired today.

Then, I found a really interesting paragraph:

(9.29) … O man, it is not permitted you to know the heights of wisdom, and so it is written for you, "Be not high-minded , but fear." (Rom 11:20) Why do you wish to search with care into something which is not advantageous for you to know, nor is it given to you to be acquainted with it? Paul heard certain secrets of wisdom which he was forbidden to make known to others, and so he was caught up into paradise, caught up end to the third heaven, to hear things which he was not able to hear when he was on earth. (Cf 2 Cor 12:2-4) If it was not permitted you to know the counsels of your emperor on earth, and do you wish to know God’s counsel? It is not permitted you to search out with too much curiosity what takes place on earth, and do you seek out with too much curiosity what is done above heaven? Why do you hold discussion over wisdom’s origin? Man does not know its way, nor has perfect wisdom been found among men. It was not in Moses nor in Aaron nor in Joshua the son of Nun, it was not in David himself who says, "The uncertain and hidden things of your wisdom you have made manifest to me," (Ps 50 (51):8) because he also said in a later passage, "I became like a brute beast in your presence." (Ps 72 (73):22 (23)) O man, it is beyond you to know the depth of wisdom; it is sufficient for you that you believe. "For if you do not believe, neither will you understand." (Is. 7.9)

St. Ambrose of Milan, De interpellatione Job et David.

This woke me up, alright.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Eric the Read says:

    But of course, these days we generally are not only allowed to know the counsels of our President (in the US), but to a very large degree to give our counsel to him. And these days, curiosity about what goes on on Earth is near-universally lauded. And I’m not convinced either of those is a bad thing.

    Therefore, the logical conclusion is that I am not understanding what you meant by that quote at all. :)

  2. Andrew says:

    Taedet mihi saepe multa legere et audire: in te totum est, quod volo et desidero. Taceant omnes doctores, sileant universae creaturae in conspectu tuo, tu mihi loquere solus. (De imitatione Christi: Cap. 3. De doctrina veritatis.)

  3. Séamas says:

    For those less learned in Latin:

    “I am so tired of reading about this and that, being lectured to about this and that, when all that I want, all that I long for, is to be found in you. If only they would hold their tongues, these learned folk! If only the whole of creation would be silent in your presence, and you, you alone, speak to me!” (Imitation of Christ 1.3.2, Knox translation)

  4. Kathryn says:

    Father Z,

    What book of Saint Ambrose is this quote take from? We are living up the nick name of the frozen tundra
    in MN right now.


  5. De interpellatione Job et David, 9.29

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