PODCAzT 97: Ambrose to a new bishop; In The Bleak Midwinter

Here is a spur of the moment PODCAzT which I put together in record speed!  As I approach 100 PODCAzTs I am trying to figure out what I want to do with these audio projects, change formats, keep going, or if I should hang it up.  So, doing this quickly today, taught me a few things.

In any event, today I was moved by something I read in the Office of Readings, in the Liturgia horarum, an excerpt from Letter 2 of St. Ambrose of Milan (+397) to a shiny new bishop, a fellow named Constantius about whom we know little.  Ambrose gives the new bishop some advice, especially about how to teach and the source of his teaching.

A friend of mine from my native place, Bishop-Elect Paul Sirba, is going to be consecrated soon as the new Bishop of Duluth.  On Friday 11 Dec, in the Cathedral of St. Paul, in St. Paul, there will be a vespers service in the manner of a farewell to their native son as he goes off to a new place in a new role for Mother Church.  Since I cannot be there to fare him well, I offer the words of Ambrose as a little homage.  I am sure he read them today, on the threshold of his departure from his home and friends, and pondered them with emotion.  We shall pray for him.

Then I wax poetical about winter as we in the Northern Hemisphere descend into longer nights and icy chill.  The changes of seasons move me and cause me to think about life, the universe and everything.

In the course of this you may hear some music from Windham Hill’s Winter Solstice Vol. 3 and Vol. 2.

Included is one of my favorite Advent/Christmas tunes, based on a poem by Christina Rossetti set by Gustav Holst.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Marius2k4 says:

    I do hope you don’t “hang it up,” as it were. I really enjoy these, as they are quite informative and rather unique in their depth and content. Keep it up, Father Z!

  2. Bruce says:

    I second Marius 2k4, please don’t “hang it up” Father!

  3. Marq says:

    How fitting, this topic. Just today we got the news that the Holy Father has appointed two new auxiliary bishops in the archdiocese of Utrecht, in my country, the Netherlands. They’ll be consecrated on Saturday 13 February, and I am certain they’ll benefit from anyone remembering them in their prayers.

  4. Ttony says:

    Father, you’ll keep doing these or you won’t, [LOL! Indeed, those are my options. But… I could do something with a slightly different format, or use a different method of putting them together.] but here’s one person in the UK who uses these as a way of putting the commute to good spiritual use. You might not do the podcasts for me, but by doing the podcasts, you do something I can get advantage from.

  5. Melania says:

    Let me add my voice to those who say they’ve benefited from and enjoyed your podcasts. However, if making them has become a burden to you, I would certainly urge you to stop.

  6. Melania: Okay… there’s a “STOP!” vote. o{];¬)

  7. Hans says:

    Can I suggest that Melania meant an undue burden?

    You might consider Fr. Roderick’s example of changing format without changing his overall intent to recapture his energy and enthusiasm for his podcasts; though your format doesn’t seem as set at any one time as his does.

    As for me, my only practical suggestion would be that they might be a better teaching tool for those of us (well, me at least) with poor aural Latin skills if the English and Latin alternated at something like the paragraph level. At least I have found it useful with Spanish/English bilingual homilies.

    So you can count me among those who would appreciate you continuing.

  8. GregH says:

    Please don’t stop. What else will I listen to at work?

  9. I almost wish I hadn’t mentioned anything about stopping, since people are talking about that and not Ambrose! o{]:¬)

  10. Melania says:

    Fr. Z likes to tease.

  11. trespinos says:

    Nothing from me either, alas, about Ambrose, but thanks for the inclusion of In the Bleak Midwinter, in that particular setting, which I prefer to the better known one by Harold Darke. Wikipedia informs us that Darke’s In the Bleak Midwinter “was voted the greatest Christmas carol of all time in a poll of choral experts and choirmasters, published 2008-12-07.” Even so, I find the setting you included even more affecting. Many thanks.

  12. RichR says:

    Request for a future podcazt: The changes in the Divine Office following V2.

  13. An American Mother says:

    How times change!

    It used to be that the Holst setting was the well known one, while the Darke setting was rather avant garde and daring.

    We have sung both. I must say that I like the alternation between solos and SATB in the Darke setting, but you need a good tenor and a good soprano. Fortunately we have both.

  14. I find it interesting that if I put something about the older Mass or Novus Ordo in the title, the stats are higher. I think people are looking for the titillating and controversy.

  15. q7swallows says:

    How I love to hear Ambrose’s works aloud!  And how much more I am enriched by hearing them read by you,  who bring them to us in this medium in the first place.   You not only bring them to us with an enthusiasm that is contagious, but you care to point out in advance some of the vistas you have already come to appreciate.  What a spectacular, fitting gift–what a treasure–you have given your friend (and us in the bargain) with this PODCAzT.  Thank you again.

    I could not help but think that Ambrose’s advice to bishops is for parents– [Good point!] and others in positions of authority–as well.  We may not have been given a bishop’s 5 talents (or his proportionate troubles), but we are still expected to likewise multiply our one or two talents.  Nobody, indeed, can give what he does not have.  

    I guess I found it both an awesome yet provocative thought that a bishop should be so filled that he gives of his overflow when I so often give of my dregs . . . .

  16. jaykay says:

    I’m (somewhat) reliably informed that I may be presented with an Ipod this Christmas so I’m looking forward to downloading the PodcaZsts, and listening to them (for the first time) on my long daily commute, as it’s not possible for me to listen at home. I know so little of Ambrose – well, I know so little of anything!! Please don’t stop, Father Z, although I appreciate how tiring it must be.

    Leaving home in the dark mornings (5.50 this morning, as I wanted to get to the TLM), and returning in the darker evenings, does emphasise the bleakness of mid-winter, particularly over here where we just have rain and damp, rarely any crisp, clear, cold weather, let alone snow. Have sung both the Drake and Holst settings of “In the Bleak Midwinter”. I think I prefer the Darke, mainly because of the organ accomp.

  17. Magpie says:

    I love the podcazts Father. I couldn’t make any suggestions as to what you might do differently.

    ”Request for a future podcazt: The changes in the Divine Office following V2.”

    I’d second that. I’d be interested to learn more about the changes that were made.

  18. joan ellen says:

    Fr., thank you so very much for all that you do for we of the Catholic flock who are so in need of all that your blog brings to us.

    Our youngest daughter’s name is Connie. It seemed prudent years ago to develop a relationship with St. Constantius. According to Lives of the Saints (Tan Books), he is known as a miracle worker. He was a sacristan of the Cathedral of St. Stephen at Ancona, Italy who kept the oil lamps burning with oil or water. One day when he was on a ladder filling lamps, a gentleman approached St. Constantius telling him he was a liar and full of pride. St. Constantius came down from the ladder, hugged the gentleman, and thanked him “for having seen him as he was and telling him so.”

    I did not know that he also was a Bishop, and that he lived during St. Ambrose’s time.

  19. irishgirl says:

    I just began listening to the PODCAzTs since I got my computer upgraded, so please don’t stop making them, Father Z!

    Okay-I’ll go back and listen to St. Ambrose. I also like ‘In The Bleak Mid-Winter’, especially in the Holst version.

  20. bookworm says:

    “The changes of seasons move me and cause me to think about life, the universe and everything.”

    Surely you know, Father, that the ultimate answer to life, the universe and everything is…. 42 :-)

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