Prayers for a new bishop and WDTPRS: Collect – St. Ambrose

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…

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.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Kindly also remember in your prayers the bishop-elect of Cheyenne who will be consecrated on Wednesday-Bp-elect Paul Etienne. (and I should be at the ordination) and also the new bishop of Pueblo, Bishop-elect Feranando Isern, who will be consecrated on Dec. 10th.

  2. moon1234 says:


    Your translations are very edifying and inspiring. They really convey what the Latin prayer means. Thank You for writing this. Your definition of the Catholic meaning of fortitude should be in all catechims just the way you worded it.

  3. aquinasdad says:

    Fr. Sirba was my parish priest and closest neighbor when he was pastor of the Maternity of the Blessed Virgin in St. Paul; he baptized 1/2 my sons, was there when I got my theology degree, and used to come over for dinner and to watch Veggie Tales with us. We were blessed to have such a good priest and confessor and I know he will be a great bishop.

  4. aquinasdad: he baptized 1/2 my sons

    Which half did he baptize?

  5. aquinasdad says:

    LOL! #3 and #4; Fr. Jack Donohue baptized the oldest 2.

  6. SeanGa says:

    I’ll be in Cheyenne for Bishop-elect Etienne’s ordination. Please pray for safe travels for everyone going out there. Cold winter weather has come to that area with a bit of a fury in the past few days.

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