St. Ambrose, Doctor, on Discerning Charity


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Prescription of the Day (split in two)

St. Ambrose, who’s Memorial we celebrate on December 7, was a student of Church teaching during his 23 years as bishop.  He had to be…he was chosen to be bishop of Milan by popular acclaim while a catechumen preparing for his own baptism!  He applied what he learned in very practical ways and taught so.  Respective to our social obligation he was clear:

“It is not from your own goods that you give largesses to the beggar; it is a portion of his own which you are restoring to him.” The earth belongs to all, not to the rich only. You are consequently paying a debt; do not go away and think you are making a gift to which you are not bound.”

St. Ambrose was also not naive.  He taught to be discerning concerning those who come looking for an unjust handout. He writes:

“Never were there so many beggars as today.  We see coming to us strong, hearty fellows, who have no other title but their vagrancy, and who claim the right to despoil the poor of what they earn and empty their purses. There must be a limit. Let them not go away empty-handed, but let not him who helps the needy to live become the prey of the schemers.  Let us not be inhumane but let us not deprive extreme indigence of all support.”

Applying the prescription:

  • One of the most vexing questions is, “How do I serve the poor humbly and effectively while avoiding becoming prey to the schemer?  It takes much prayerful discernment.
  • Are you OK with being “schemed” from time to time?

St. Ambrose, pray for us!


Deacon Tom Gotschall, The Deacon Dad at





St. Ambrose, Doctor, on Prayer



Prescription of the Doctor:

“O man, you did not dare to raise your face to heaven, you lowered your eyes to earth, and suddenly you have received the grace of Christ: all your sins have been forgiven. From being a wicked servant you have become a good son…. Then raise your eyes to the Father who has begotten you through Baptism, to the Father who has redeemed you through his Son, and say: “Our Father….” But do not claim any privilege.  he is the Father in a special way only on Christ, bu he is the common Father of us all, because while he has begotten only Christ, he has created us.  Then also say by his grace, “Our Father,” so that you may merit being his son.”

And then ask yourself:

  • In what way does saying, “Our Father…” reveal you to yourself?
  • How does the Father reveal himself to you when you pray, “Our Father…”?


Deacon Tom Gotschall, The Deacon Dad at

St. Ambrose, Doctor, on the Gifts of the Holy Spirit received in Confirmation


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Prescription of the day

“Recall then that you have received the spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear in God’s presence. Guard what you have received. God the Father has marked you with his sign; Christ the Lord has confirmed you and has placed his pledge, the Spirit  in your hearts.”

St. Ambrose, who’s Memorial we celebrate on December 7, delivered this powerful prescription on the sacrament of Confirmation.  This spiritual seal is real, an indelible mark, a “character” that gives power to be an effective for Christ.

So here are some questions to consider:

  •  How are you “guarding” the gifts of the Holy Spirit, if in fact, you’ve received them?
  •  Do you let it be obvious that the Spirit is in your heart?
  •  Do you allow to develop a “holy fear in God’s presence”?


Deacon Tom Gotschall

The Deacon Dad, at