Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Belated Feast of St Albert the Great

The Dominican Breviary, unsurprisingly, provides a beautiful Proper for the feast of St Albert the Great on the 15th of November; pressure of work prevented me from doing more than praying the Day Hours yester-day, but that's life.

I always recall the moving homily of an elderly Dominican, Fr Hilary, who told of how Our Lady appeared to St Albert to reveal that God had gifted him with great understanding of all things – but that God's free gift would be withdrawn ere he died.  This sobering prophecy proved true: Albert was the stupor mundi, the wonder of the world, for his knowledge and skill in every field of science – he even built a greenhouse in Cologne and grew tropical plants, giving rise to the fable that he was a magician! – but, as he aged (for he lived a long life), he was afflicted with mental decay; and when one of the brethren came knocking at the door of his cell, asking for Albert, he replied in sad befuddlement, "Albert isn't here any more".

Such a great saint, and one who himself suffered such affliction, is apt to be invoked as patron of the elderly, especially those suffering from dementia and like conditions.  

St Albert, pray for us, and pray for them; pray for us that, if it please God we also suffer the mental and physical debilities of old age, we may have the strength to bear it, surrendering ourselves into the hands of the Lord Who loves us.

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