On the Power of God in the Mysteries

St. Ambrose of Milan ca. 338-397

Damasus did not cleanse, Peter did not cleanse, Ambrose did not cleanse, Gregory did not cleanse; for the ministries are ours but the Sacraments are Yours. No, it belongs not to human powers to confer things that are divine. That, Lord, is Your function and the Father’s. (On the Holy Spirit Bk. 1: Prol. 18)

Note well that it is through the Holy Spirit that sins are forgiven. Men make use of their ministry in the forgiveness of sins, but they are not exercising any power that is theirs by right. It is not in their own name, but in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit that they forgive sins. They ask and the divinity forgives. The ministration is of man, but the gift bestowed is from the Power on high. (ibid., Bk. 3:18. 137)

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