Saint Albert the Great (Albertus Magnus)
Today's the Feast of Saint Albert the Great! The patron saint of scientists! =)
The picture on your right shows Saint Albert the Great and Saint Thomas Aquinas, Professor and Student, and very good friends!, wonderful servants of God. :) Saint Thomas is the one on the left while Saint Albert is the one on the right with the bishop's mitre. (Convent of Albertinum in Fribourg Switzerland)
Here’s more about Albertus Magnus from the Catholic Encyclopedia. Very good article on this beautiful saint. :)
I was just about to write about something I heard almost 1 year ago, so here goes my thoughts on time and death again. ;)
Time flies, it doesn’t wait for you. I feel so helpless every time I think of time (because of the way it just slips past you), but at the same time, a sense of strength and confidence that one day, in time to come, my time will come. It’s almost like a paradox, but I think St Peter explains this really well and beautifully if you think about it, in his second epistle: “But of this one thing be not ignorant, my beloved, that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. ” (2 Peter 3:8)
I remember some time last year before the men went for their first ever Ignatian retreat, we had Fr. Pfeiffer passing by Singapore en route to Batam to co-preach the men’s retreat together with Fr. Couture. Fr. Pfeiffer gave a Sunday sermon, a very interesting one on Saint Albert the Great and how he became a saint, his life and how Mother Mary helped him in his life. It was hilarious and thought provoking at the same time and o dear me, very very interessant. I will try to relate what I remembered hearing from Fr. Pfeiffer’s sermon, but please forgive me if I do get the facts wrong because, like I said, I heard this 1 year ago. :) Like how one day when Saint Albert was young, he was so very helpless in his studies. He decided to run away from where he was studying, and when he was running away (or something to this extend) Mother Mary dearest appeared to him and told him to go back for she would help him. And when he went back to his studies, he became a genius. Its very amazing how God uses people to fulfill His will. For in this manner, the Mother of God prepared Albertus Magnus, dear saint, to be the teacher of another very dear dear saint, Saint Thomas Aquinas!! Both professor and student, Saint Albert and Saint Thomas Aquinas worked together at the Universität von Köln (Cologne). And of course, my dear reader, you know how great Saint Thomas was and still is. Thomistic Philosophy rocks! Saint Thomas’s Summa has helped the Church in so many ways and it gives the answer to many difficult questions in this our modern times. Thomism is the only answer to Modernism, as Pope Saint Pius X knew very well and as we can see from his encyclical Pascendi. Then, when Saint Thomas died and when after Saint Albert helped to defend his pupil’s writings, Saint Albert reverted back to what he was before Mother Mary appeared to him as a child. (or something like that) For I know he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind became clouded and his body weakened.
Saint Albert the Great was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622, his feast is celebrated on 15th November. The bishops of Germany assembled in Fulda in September 1872 and sent to the Holy See a petition for his canonization. Saint Albert the Great, became, finally, Saint Albert the Great (was canonized) in 1931.
Saint Albert trained and directed a pupil (St. Thomas) who gave the world a concise, clear and perfect scientific exposition and defence of Christian doctrine; under God, therefore, we owe to Albertus Magnus the “Summa Theologica” of St. Thomas.
On a side note, St Thomas Summa has also helped me very well when I was writing my history essays. I found the only rational definition of what a war really is from his book, and dear Saint Thomas explains things so rationally, truthfully and beautifully, the dear saint helped me a lot to “grow up”, in a way. =) Deo gratias et Mariae.
Well now, back to dear St Albert Magnus. He’s the patron saint of scientists and a very good and dear saint, I must say. ;) I was having an email discussion with a friend [Anthony Tardiff @ http://hardsayings.blogspot.com/] some time ago and we were talking about Saint Albert and Saint Thomas. Most of what I’m about to post is stuff I took from emails from him, so thus, credit all goes to him. =)
Saint Albert the Great is the patron saint of scientists for a reason.
He was the one who correctly interpreted Aristotle as saying something different from Plato when he spoke of forms. Before, everyone tried to interpret Aristotle in neoplatonic terms, but it was Albert who showed that Aristotle actually disagreed with his teacher, Plato, and had a very different idea of matter and form. This proper understanding of Aristotle allowed Albert to utilize the scientific method to study natural science. Albert was a great natural scientist. Our entire tradition of experimental science can be traced back to Albert and to this period in the 13th century — that was the REAL scientific revolution, not the 17th century like so many people think. It was in the 13th century that the Latin west got the complete works of Aristotle for the first time, and discovered that 80% of his works were natural science, rather than what we think of as philosophy. Using Aristotle as a base, natural science took off. People think the medieval times were "dark ages," but they most decidedly were not — they were very enlightened, far more than the "enlightenment" later on! It was then, in the 13th century that the system of experimental science that is used today first came to be practiced, because of the influx of Aristotle's writings on the natural sciences into the Latin West, and the works of great men like Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas in interpreting Aristotle correctly (others at the time were trying to interpret him as a Platonist, which caused no end of problems).
Of course, with the influx of all this science there was an apparent conflict between the new science and religion. Until that time, the Catholic Faith had always been intellectually articulated in neoplatonic, Augustinian terms, which did not mesh well with the view of the world that Aristotle gave, the view which allowed for the new science. Albert was concerned with finding a way to reconcile the two, arguing that since science and faith both have the same end — truth — they must agree. St. Thomas took up this great work of reconciliation with resounding success, and gave us a new intellectual articulation of the Catholic Faith in Aristotelian terms, including scientific proof of God's existence! (yay, see how Thomistic philosophy rules!)
Saint Albert the Great, together with his contemporary, Roger Bacon, proved to the world that the Church is not opposed to the study of nature, that faith and science may go hand in hand; their lives and their writings emphasize the importance of experiment and investigation.
The 13th century was when the true scientific revolution occurred! =)
“The aim of natural science is not simply to accept the statements [narrata] of others, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature” (De Miner., lib. II, tr. ii, i).
“In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power: we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass” (De Coelo et Mundo, I, tr. iv, x).
Dearest Sancte Albertus Magnus, ora pro nobis!
From the Collect of today’s Holy Mass:
O God, Who didst make blessed Albert, Thy Bishop and Doctor, great by his bringing human wisdom into captivity to divine faith: grant us, we beseech Thee, so to follow the guidance of his teaching that we may enjoy perfect light in heaven. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Deus propitius esto mihi peccatori
Jesus, Mary, I love Thee; Save Souls!
Jesu mitis et humilis corde, Fac cor nostrum secundum Cor tuum. (ter)
Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam!