Today we honor St. Ambrose who had been a catechumen as a boy, but didn’t go on to be baptized, although his sister became a nun. As a young man he became a very capable governor of northern Italy where he served in Milan with Gratian, the emperor of the West.
From 350 to 374, the church in Milan had been led by Auxentius, an Arian bishop, who repeatedly told the people that Jesus was no more than a good man. When Auxentius died, Emperor Gratian told Ambrose to gather the Christians and Arians together, to see if they could chose a new bishop whom both sides found acceptable.
As both sides were voicing their views, a boy’s voice rang out, saying, “Let the Governor be our bishop.” All the people suddenly fell in with the boy’s suggestion, and Ambrose was baptized the next day, and made a bishop the following day.
Since the people had not been taught to see Jesus as the Son of God, Ambrose saw a great need to train people to see Christ as more than human. Now, for years he had been in daily attendance of the emperor, always genuflecting before him, and serving him with golden utensils. That gave him the idea of commanding people to honor the Blessed Sacrament with all the rituals they followed when coming near the emperor.
It worked well, with people immediately catching on to bowing and genuflecting before the Eucharist. However, they lost all intimacy with Christ. While attending Mass, they had formally felt they were lying next to Jesus hearing him whispering to them. Now they heard the usher shouting, “Bow, bow, bow!”