Saint Albert the Great told his fellow Dominicans that: “The whole world is theology for us, because the heavens proclaim the glory of God”.
Saint Albert’s intellectual curiosity stemmed from his deep faith in God. He believed that the world was created by the divine Word and that the world is logical, reasonable, and capable of being investigated scientifically. His writings and research cover a wide range of disciplines: anatomy, anthropology, astronomy, biology, botany, chemistry, dentistry, geography, geology, medicine, physiology, physics, psychology, and zoology. No wonder the Church proclaimed him the heavenly patron of scientists.
There have always been those who misuse science to claim that all that can be known about the universe and human existence is explained by the natural sciences to the exclusion of everything else. Saint Albert lived in the open-minded and quite tolerant Middle Ages, the great age of the universities. And like all fine scientists, he knew that the natural sciences and theology, which he called “the first of all sciences”, are the two wings of knowledge that allow the human mind to discover Truth. For Saint Albert faith and reason, science and religion, are not in conflict but lead us to understand the world and our place in it.
Saint Albert was fascinated with creation, which he saw as pointing to the Creator whom he loved deeply. And so he studied the world and observed it because he wanted to know and love God, who is the First Cause of all that is.
Saint Albert’s scientific study is but one way that he lived out the Dominican charism of contemplating God, and studying his Word, a divine Word spoken in the wonder and majesty of creation. And in doing this, he displayed the virtues of courage, as well as humility, which every good teacher and student needs.
It was Saint Albert’s love of God that led him to be such a “good and faithful servant” of the Truth, seeking it, as any good Dominican ought, wherever it can be found. Saint Albert could be trusted in the little things of the natural sciences and human reason that he was also entrusted with the greater things of faith and divine knowledge, leading him into the Master’s joy, and giving him a share in the glory of God.
Saint Albert died on 15th November 1280. Pope Pius XI canonised him in 1931 and declared him a Doctor of the Church. We ask Saint Albert to pray for us, that we may seek Truth with the love, humility, and courage that he had.
Saint Albert the Great, pray for us.