The Memorial of St. Albert the Great
By Melanie Williams (Nov 15, 2016)
Born in the 13th century to the Count of Bollstadt in Swabia, Germany, Albert the Great — whose feast day we celebrate Nov. 15 — grew up in a noble and wealthy family. He was educated in the liberal arts and raised to be a powerful lord like his father.
It is written that at a young age, the Blessed Mother appeared to him and promised to obtain for him extraordinary intellectual graces if he would persevere in the way of the Lord, but that these graces would be withdrawn in his old age.
Despite family opposition, Albert renounced his wealth at 17 years old and became a Dominican. He was educated at the Universities in Padua and Bologna and became a professor and administrator. With his brilliant intellect, he wrote a compendium of 38 volumes on a whole range of subject matter: logic, rhetoric, mathematics, astronomy, ethics, economy, politics, metaphysics, geography, mineralogy, zoology, physics, scripture, and theology.
Saint Albert the Great pioneered the Scholastic method — philosophy and theology — which all seminarians must study today. The writings of Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, were spreading throughout Europe, and Albert was one of the first to study them and integrate them into the study of theology. His most notable student: St. Thomas Aquinas. It is said that we stand on the soldiers of giants — and St. Thomas became a giant of theology because he stood on the shoulders of St. Albert the Great.
Saint Albert was also made bishop of Regensburg and also served as the Dominican provincial. He would travel long distances on the roads of Europe to learn and teach, and he was nicknamed, "the bishop with the boots."
He beautifully wrote the following on the Eucharist and the Gospel of Saint Luke:
"Do this in memory of Me. This Sacrament is profitable because it grants remission of sins; it is most useful because it bestows the fullness of grace on us in this life... Nor can we do anything more pleasant. For what is better than God manifesting His whole sweetness to us... He could not have commanded anything more beneficial, for this Sacrament is the fruit of the tree of life. Anyone who receives this Sacrament with the devotion of sincere faith will never taste death... Nor could he have commanded anything more lovable, for this Sacrament produces love and union... as if to say: I have loved them and they have loved me so much that I desire to be with them, and they wish to receive Me so that they may become My members. There is no more intimate or more natural means for them to be united to Me, and I to them."
In 1278, while lecturing in Paris, suddenly St. Albert's memory failed. A gradual mental deterioration followed, and he died two years later. Our Lady's promise to him remained true. It was this promise of our Lady which brought about St. Albert's sanctity — not the knowledge itself, but the fact that Albert always knew that of himself, he was nothing. All of his knowledge, every gift that he had, he received from God. The only reason for his genius was for the honor and glory of God, and when the time for him to use it for God's glory was completed, it was taken away.
This can be a lesson for us all — all of our talents are gifts from God, they can be taken away at any moment. When we use our talents for God's glory, we can be perfected and made saints. When we abuse our talents for our own ambition, it can lead to eternal perdition.
Saint Albert the Great was canonized and declared a doctor of the Church for his teachings and writings in 1931. He is the patron saints of scientists and philosophers.
Let us pray together this day for St. Albert the Great's intercession, that we may use all of our gifts and talents for the great honor and glory of God.
Father Dan Cambra, MIC, would like to share more with you about St. Albert the Great and his teachings on friendship: