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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Feast of St Albert the Great

Albert O Doctor óptime
Ecclésiæ sanctæ lumen
beáte Albérte
divínæ legis amátor
deprecáre pro nobis Fílium Dei.

At Cologne, St. Albert surnamed the Great, at One time Bishop of Ratisbon, and confessor, of the Order of Preachers. Radiant by the holiness of his life, by his zeal for the salvation of souls, and by his surpassing doctrine, he enlightened the Church. Pope Pius XI declared him to be a Doctor of the Universal Church (and Pius XII constituted him patron before God of students of the natural sciences). A totum duplex feast of the first class.

He was the teacher of St Thomas Aquinas and said of him, "You call him a Dumb Ox; I tell you that the Dumb Ox will bellow so loud that his bellowing will fill the world." When he died, he said that the light of the Church had been extinguished.
From the breviary readings
Albert, called Great because of his outstanding doctrine, was born in Swabia, at Lauingen on the Danube. He was carefully educated from his childhood. He left home to pursue his studies, but while staying in Padua, at the insistence of Blessed Jordan, master General of the Friars Preachers, and in spite of his uncle's objections, he asked to become a Dominican.

On being admitted amongst the brethren, he gave himself entirely to God, and was outstanding for religious observance and piety. He was inflamed with a filial and most tender devotion towards the blessed Virgin Mary. Having made profession in an apostolic order, he so ordered his whole life that he might, through study founded on prayer, prepare himself to preach the word of God and work for the salvation of souls.
Early in his career he was sent to Cologne to complete his studies, and did so well that he excelled his contemporaries in his investigation and development of nearly all the profane sciences. As Alexander IV testified, he drank so deeply from the life-giving stream of learning that its fullness flourished in his heart.

II. He was appointed professor at Hildesheim, and later at Fribourg, Ratisbon and Strasbourg, that he might enrich others with the treasures of the sciences. He won the admiration of all while teaching at the famous university of Paris, where he added lustre to the sacred faculty and was appointed master in theology. He reconciled the teachings of the pagan philosophers with the demands of right reason and showed clearly how they were in harmony with the faith. By his genius he explained the wonders of the things of God. His numerous writings, in nearly every sphere of learning, clearly show how greatly by his eager mind and unceasing study he promoted all branches of learning, especially sacred learning.
He returned to Cologne to take charge of a general house of studies of his Order, and such was his success that the authority and fame of his teaching were greatly increased. He had as pupil his beloved Thomas of Aquin, whose loftiness of mind he was the first to discern and proclaim. Having very great devotion towards the most holy Sacrament of the altar he wrote outstanding works concerning it . He laid down more effective ways to form souls in the mystical life, and thus the fruitful zeal of this great teacher extended widely through the church.
III. Amid so many heavy duties he yet shone by the example of his religious life and was elected, by his brethren, Provincial of the German province. He was called to Anagni where, in the presence of Alexander IV, he refuted William who, with irreligious audacity, was attacking the mendicant Orders.
Later this pope made him bishop of Ratisbon. Albert gave himself completely to the care of his flock, nevertheless retaining, with great determination, his humble manner of life and love of poverty. He resigned his see but, with eagerness and zeal for the labours of the episcopal office, he provided spiritual benefits throughout Germany and the neighbouring regions. he untiringly gave such excellent and fruitful advice to those who asked, and showed such prudence in settling quarrels, that it was not only in Cologne that he was known as a peacemaker, but prelates and princes often called him to settle disputes in far-off lands.
From Saint Louis, King of France, he received the relics of Christ's passion and venerated them with great devotion. At the Second Council of Lyons he did work of importance. Finally worn out by age, he retired from teaching and gave himself entirely to contemplation. He entered into the joy of the Lord in the year 1280.

Pius XI set a crown on the sacred honours which, with the permission of the Roman Pontiffs, had been paid to Albert in many dioceses and in the Order of Preachers. He willingly acceded to the request of the Sacred Congregation of Rites and extended the feast of Saint Albert to the whole church, with the added title of Doctor. Finally Pope Pius XII declared Saint Albert the great the heavenly patron before God of those who studied the natural sciences.
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