Posted by: fvbcdm | November 15, 2011

Feast of Saint Albert the Great (15 Nov 2011)

Today is November 15th, the feast of our Dominican Saint Albert the Great.  Exactly 55 years ago today, I was a novice at our priory in Winona, Minnesota where the novices spent their first year in the Order.  And it snowed that day.  And some of that drifted snow stayed on the ground until May!  It was my first lesson in northern winters—a lesson I will not forget.  I spent a total of eight years in the north, so that when each of us in the eastern and central provinces had to choose to remain in the mother provinces or join the new southern province, I happily chose to become a charter member of the southern province where I would have a much better chance of never seeing snow again. 

However, we have a special devotion to Saint Albert, the German Dominican, philosopher and theologian, and teacher of Saint Thomas Aquinas.  Today, I remember with joy the several times I’ve been able to visit Saint Albert’s tomb in our church in the city of Cologne and to celebrate Mass there.  In the city of Minneapolis, there is a wonderful statue of Saint Albert produced in 1964 by a Dominican Sister who was an outstanding artist.  With her protective goggles on and her electrical tools in hand, she converted a huge piece of stone into a fine image of this brother of ours who was such a genius both in the sciences of theology and philosophy and also in the experimental sciences like physics, chemistry, biology, and the rest. To portray Saint Albert, she carved a massive image of a friar holding in one hand an open book and in the other, a big frog resting in the palm of his hand, with its legs hanging between the fingers of the friar holding it.  It captures very well the spirit of Saint Albert. We must remember that he lived in the 1200s when science was certainly not as developed as it is now.  But what he could learn, he did, and used it for the glory of God and the benefit of those whom he taught and to whom he preached. 

Of special consolation to me is the fact that as Saint Albert grew old he suffered from the symptoms of what today we call Alzheimer’s disease or perhaps senility and major loss of memory.  He lived to be 74— a great age in those days.  His last years were spent quietly with his Dominican brothers in Cologne and upon his death, he was buried in their church there.  Now, as I feel my ability to walk and to hear and therefore to understand being lost, I can look to Saint Albert and ask for his help at this point in my life.  I suppose it will happen to most of us and we all need to prepare for that time in our declining years when we must learn to say very sincerely, as Our Lady did, “be it done to me according to your word” . . . Thank you for seeking God’s truth.  God bless you.  Father Victor Brown, O.P.


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