Sermons

Summary: We should look to Albert the Great for inspiration for scientists to work within the divine plan for the real good of humans.

Thursday of the 32nd Week in Course 2018

St. Albert the Great

When is the kingdom of God coming? I’ve always been impressed by the number of Protestant preachers who speculate that we are literally in the last days, that Jesus is coming within the next year, or two years, or five years. It’s like a big business–writing books, selling supplies, speculating that this politician or that is the anti-Christ. When I was young, it was a book called The Late, Great Planet Earth. Later it was a whole series of novels and even movies called Left Behind. I believe that the reason Protestants, who don’t believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, are so attracted to the second coming is that they don’t believe Jesus is right here, right now, Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity. We do. That’s a big reason we don’t waste time with such speculation.

But Jesus didn’t say, and even stated that He didn’t know when the second coming will happen, only that when it does happen, there will be no doubt. All the world will see and understand, and then it will be too late to repent and turn to God’s will as the answer to all our questions.

Human beings were made to seek God, to seek the paths that will lead us to union with God. This means that our fallen intellect and will tend to seek, to discover, and often seek and discover in corners of knowledge that lead to evil. Thus, for instance, the drive to understand reproductive physiology. Once that happened, our self-will directed science to create contraceptives, abortifacients, and in-vitro fertilization, among other God-fleeing human perversions of natural science.

True science seeks only the good of human beings within the parameters God has set down for us. That’s why today’s saint, Albertus Magnus, Albert the Great, is so important. He is the patron saint of scientists, and not because he discovered an element. Actually, the element he discovered was arsenic. It is certainly ironic that the man who worked all his life studying human and divine goodness discovered one of the most deadly poisons.

Albert, who lived into his ninth decade, was one of the Church’s stars of the thirteenth century. He is considered the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages, and is distinguished as one of only thirty-six doctors of the Church. “In 1245, Albert became master of theology. . ., the first German Dominican to achieve this distinction. Following this turn of events, Albert was able to teach theology at the University of Paris as a full-time professor, holding the seat of the Chair of Theology at the College of St. James. During this time Thomas Aquinas began to study under Albertus.”

Between them, Albert and Thomas Aquinas endeavored to understand Aristotle, and show how compatible Aristotle is with the Christian understanding of God and the Christian moral code. Muslim philosophers had tried to do the same thing with Aristotle, so Albert “answered what he perceived as errors of the Islamic philosopher Averroes.”

“Albert molded the curriculum of studies for all Dominican students, introduced Aristotle to the classroom and probed the work of Neoplatonists, such as Plotinus. Indeed, it was the thirty years of work done by Aquinas and himself that allowed for the inclusion of Aristotelian study in the curriculum of Dominican schools.” He was such a good and careful and respected chemist–actually they were called alchemists in that day–that others published their own works with his name on them! That’s the only way they could be believed.

In our day, every science is being abused. We need the power of the Holy Spirit prompting those in science to work within the divine plan for the real good of humans. So we can pray, St. Albert the Great, pray for us.

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