Why do you turn your face away?
St. Ambrose of Milan
Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church
This excerpt from Saint Ambrose Explanations of the Psalms (Ps 43, 89-90: CSEL, 64, 324-326) provides moving reflection on the experience of the absence of God expressed by the psalmist with the question "Why do you turn your face away?" (Psalm 43). In the midst of suffering, it is hard to believe that God is indeed present to us. This meditation is used in the Roman Office of Readings for Thursday in the 16th week in ordinary time with 2 Cor 4:5-18 as the accompanying biblical reading.
Why do you turn your face away? We think that God has turned his face away from us when we find ourselves suffering, so that shadows overwhelm our feelings and stop our eyes from seeing the brilliance of the truth. All the same, if God touches our intellect and chooses to become present to our minds then we will be certain that nothing can lead us into darkness.
A man’s face shines out more than the rest of his body and it is by the face that we perceive strangers and recognize our friends. How much more, then, is the face of God able bring illumination to whoever he looks at!
The apostle Paul has something important to say about this, as about so many other things. He is a true interpreter of Christ for us, bringing him to our understanding through well-chosen words and images. He says: It is the same God that said, ‘Let there be light shining out of darkness’, who has shone in our minds to radiate the light of the knowledge of God’s glory, the glory on the face of Christ. We have heard where Christ shines in us: he is the eternal brilliant illumination of souls, whom the Father sent into the world so that his face should shine on us and permit us to contemplate eternal and heavenly truths – we who had been plunged in earthly darkness.
What shall I say about Christ, when even the apostle Peter said to the man who had been lame from birth Look upon us? The cripple looked at Peter and found light by the grace of faith: unless he had faithfully believed he could not have received healing.
When there was so much glory to be seen among the Apostles, Zachaeus, hearing that the Lord Jesus was passing by, climbed a tree because he was small and weak and could not see the Lord through the crowd. He saw Christ and he found light. He saw Christ and instead of robbing others of their goods he began to give away his own.
Why do you turn your face away? Let us read it thus: even if you do turn your face away from us, Lord, its light is still imprinted upon us. We hold it in our hearts and our innermost feelings are transformed by its light.
For if you truly turn your face away, Lord, no-one can survive.
For more Catholic resources to feed your faith, visit the Crossroads Initiative Homepage.
To sign up for our free weekly e-mail with Dr. D'Ambrosio's commentary on the Sunday readings, liturgical feasts, updates on where Dr. D will be speaking, a chance to WIN a FREE CD and MORE, CLICK HERE!
The Early Church Fathers
A society characterized by the violence, loss of respect for life, exotic religious cults, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, and even pedophilia. No, we're not talking about modren times -
The Early Church Fathers succeeded in bringing a Pagan society to Christ. If we pay attention to what they taught, we will succeed in doing the same for our own de-Christianized society!
Album 1: The Apostolic Fathers and Irenaeus
Album 2: The Apologists, Ambrose, and Augustine
Early Church Fathers 2 VHS Set—$49.95
Early Church Fathers 2 DVD Set—$49.95
Early Church Fathers 2 CD Set—$18.00
Early Church Fathers 2 Audio Set—$18.00
The Fathers of the Church - Who They Are and Why They Matter
If you are not familiar with the Fathers of the Early Church, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, in this single, upbeat talk, full of examples and stories about some of the Church's most intriguing personalities. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains who people are talking about when they refer to the "Fathers of the Church" or "Early Church Fathers. Though the ranks of the fathers include a tremendous variety of cultures, locales, and personalities, there is surprising consensus that emerges from them on a variety of the most important questions of our day. In this talk, Marcellino makes clear just how much these figures have to teach us today.
Retail - $9.00 CD Audio Tape - $9.00