I always remember on St Albert's day an elegaic sermon preached by Fr Hilary, O.P., in which he reflected on the sadness of old age - for, as he told us, St Albert lived a great long life, became the wonder of his age for his prodigious learning in all spheres of knowledge, and yet, at the end, suffered the intellectual decline wrought by extreme old age, to the extent that, when a friar knocked at his cell asking for Master Albert, the saint replied "Albert isn't here any more".
I have been thinking on this because my own father is now in his eighties, having had a number of bouts of cancer, and only to-day Mum texted me that he'd suffered a fall, though praise God he seems alright. His increasing ill-health and frailty is an important factor in my decision to move back to Tasmania for work; I think, and my sister also agrees, that I need to be closer at hand.
As my namesake Jesus son of Sirach says (Ecclus iii, 14f):
Son, support the old age of thy father, and grieve him not in his life; and if his understanding fail, have patience with him, and despise him not when thou art in thy strength: for the relieving of the father shall not be forgotten.
Dad when younger was always interested in learning, but nowadays he searches for the words he needs and doesn't always find them. While his general health remains strong, I have a foreboding that all is not right; and my concern for Dad is especially that he's not a churchgoer, and so I worry that he needs to compose and settle his affairs with the Lord before much longer, as must we all.
I think the connexion with the Collect of St Albertus Magnus is clear enough:
Deus, qui beatum Albertum Pontificem tuum atque Doctorem, in humana sapientia divinæ fidei subjicienda magnum effecisti: da nobis, quæsumus, ita eius magisterii inhærere vestigiis, ut luce perfecta fruamur in cælis. Per...(God, Who didst make blessed Albert Thy Pontiff and Doctor to be great in subjecting human wisdom to divine faith, give unto us, we beseech, so to inhere to the imprints of his magisterium, that we may enjoy perfect light in the heavens. Through...)