A native of Socorro, New Mexico, Father Ambrose received his degree at Princeton while intermittently managing his family’s restaurant in Oklahoma—which makes him not only a first-rate intellectual, but a first-rate cook as well! None-the-less, his greatest love is apologetics. The words of 2 Cor 6:1-10 apply well to Father Ambrose, a monk who rises each day to prove himself “an authentic servant of God… by using the weapons of uprightness for attack and for defense” (NJB). Indeed, this soldier of Christ’s ideal day would probably include little more than praying, reading, and “contending earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3). Like the monks of old that he studied at the Collegio Sant’ Anselmo in Rome, his primary passions are spiritual, but a close second is apologetics. He loves to point out that this combination was the case for the monastic Saints of old. They took time away from their contemplation to cast down idols, evangelize pagans, and refute heresies. Like Saint Benedict, Saint Martin, and Saint Boniface, he seeks to re-consecrate the shrines of idolatry to the true God, so that truth may be loved where error once held man captive.
From his reading of John Henry Newman at his Episcopal high school, Father Ambrose learned to appreciate the Catholic elements in Anglicanism, especially in liturgy and sacred music. Though he has never been particularly “ecumenical” in the usual sense, Father Ambrose is grateful to Anglican writers like C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot, Dom Gregory Dix, and E. L. Mascall for introducing him to many neglected aspects of Catholic Christianity.
He takes very seriously Saint Peter’s instruction to have “an answer ready for people who ask [him] the reason for the hope that [he has]” (1 Pet 3:15). Really such preparation constitutes most of the free time for a man whose nearly sole recreation is reading (aside from an occasional game of Canasta with his brothers). In fact, he learned of Saint Louis Abbey from an ad in First Things magazine, one of his favorite publications. His extensive study has earned him a license in Sacred Theology with Distinction, and he has published articles in This Rock, Touchstone, and The New Oxford Review. For those who enjoy a good intellectual joust, be forewarned that this monk “plays for keeps,” having learned this tenacity from his childhood playmates: a puma large enough to knock him over, a bobcat, two Doberman pinschers, a great Dane, and several Siamese cats. Those who live with him know his other side: a prayerful man with a deep devotion to the Sacred Heart who is always eager to help.