God Is Our Refuge

by St. Ambrose of Milan

Our father among the saints Ambrose of Milan came to be bishop of Milan as the only competent candidate to succeed Auxentius, a bishop of Arian persuasion, in 374. A catechumen and trained as a lawyer, he learned his theology through intense study of subject as he was successively baptized and then consecrated as Bishop of Milan. He held to the Nicene belief and through the eloquence of his arguments he persuaded Emperor Gratian to the Nicene confession.

He was known for his sermons which greatly influenced the conversion of St. Augustine of Hippo.

“Where a man’s heart is, there is his treasure also.”

God is not accustomed to refusing a good gift to those who ask for one.

Since he is good, and especially to those who are faithful to him, let us hold fast to him with all our soul, our heart, our strength, and so enjoy his light and see his glory and possess the grace of supernatural joy.

Let us reach out with our hearts to possess that good, let us exist in it and live in it, let us hold fast to it, that good which is beyond all we can know or see and is marked by perpetual peace and tranquillity, a peace which is beyond all we can know or understand.

[…] We have died with Christ. We carry about in our bodies the sign of his death, so that the living Christ may also be revealed in us.

The life we live is not now our ordinary life but the life of Christ: a life of sinlessness, of chastity, of simplicity and every other virtue.

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We have risen with Christ. Let us live in Christ, let us ascend in Christ, so that the serpent may not have the power here below to wound us in the heel.

Let us take refuge from this world. You can do this in spirit, even if you are kept here in the body. You can at the same time be here and present to the Lord.

Your soul must hold fast to him, you must follow after him in your thoughts, you must tread his ways by faith, not in outward show. You must take refuge in him.

He is your refuge and your strength. David addresses him in these words:

“I fled to you for refuge, and I was not disappointed”.

Since God is our refuge, God who is in heaven and above the heavens, we must take refuge from this world in that place where there is peace, where there is rest from toil, where we can celebrate the great sabbath, as Moses said:

“The sabbaths of the land will provide you with food”.

To rest in the Lord and to see his joy is like a banquet, and full of gladness and tranquillity.

Let us take refuge like deer beside the fountain of waters. Let our soul thirst, as David thirsted, for the fountain.

What is that fountain? Listen to David:

“With you is the fountain of life”

Let my soul say to this fountain:

“When shall I come and see you face to face?”

For the fountain is God himself.

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Source: Ambrose of Milan (c. 337-397): from Flight From The World (Cap. 6, 36; 7,44; 8, 45; 9,52).

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