2012 | 57 | 277-296
Article title

Tematyka społeczna w pismach św. Ambrożego z Mediolanu

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Social issues in the writings of saint Ambrose of Milan
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Numerous remarks which refer to the Christian social life in the writings of St Ambrose (339-397) offer us a relatively homogeneous picture of his pastoral opinions on marriage and family, work, property and virtues as considered in the theological context. God is the single aim of every man’s activity in the social activities. A systematic theological analysis led St. Ambrose to the conclusion that: 1) Marriage can have either a positive or negative sense and 2) that the male component in marriage is dominant over the female. He argued that the full libera­tion of both sexes would come only in Eternal Life. The emancipation of women is possible in this world through the Christian religion, through the role of a wife, mother or the consecrated virginity. Labor is inseparately related to human nature from its creation and before original sin. After original sin, human labor changed in the punishment for sin (pain and hardship) however in the same time became the means of salvation, and the redemption of sins. It is also necessary to sustain living and gives a chance to achieve moral virtues. Work and mutual assistance were made by the Bishop of Milan a model work in the society. St Ambrose ac­cepted both private possession rights and a community property of goods. The earthly goods should be used always with the religious perspective of the sole des­tiny – God. The main Aim-God, a temporary possession of goods (worldliness) and the purpose of the Main Owner- the good of every man (justice, fraternity, solidarity, mutual love) are the limits of a possession rights. The Bishop of Milan also introduced to the Christian moral theology the system of evaluation of the human deeds based on the Stoic categories of virtues and vices. St. Ambrose com­bined this system with the allegoric conception of the Four Rivers of the Philo of Alexandria and St. Paul’s moral theology. A Christian should be guided by the vir­tues of humbleness and fear of God. They will lead him to the wisdom and divine blessing, subsequently to the real knowledge of God. In this world the Christians should respect the sense of responsibility, the virtue of silence, freedom, cardinal virtues, honesty, charity and usefulness of his work. In the social life Christians are obliged to denounce the vices of egoism and arrogance, usury, greediness, vice behavior or giving unwise promises. The social problems were always subordi­nated to the theological purposes in the writings of St. Ambrose. The Christian are always obliged to be guided by Gods Commandments. St. Ambrose did not manage to work out a code of Christian moral behavior in a society, however he discussed many different problems, which were used by others (cf. St. Thomas of Aquino) to construct such a code. A synthesis of the Stoic philosophy, the philoso­phy of Philo Judaeus and St. Paul’s moral theology can be legitimately regarded as his valuable contribution to the studies of ethics.
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