Archbishop Lori’s Homily: St. Albert the Great; St. John Paul II Seminary

St. Albert the Great
St. John Paul II Seminary
Washington, D.C.
Nov. 15, 2019

I can’t think of a better saint to celebrate with students of the liberal arts and philosophy than Saint Albert the Great. Nor could a daily lectionary reading be more appropriate than today’s selection from the Book of Wisdom.

As you are no doubt aware, St. Albert was born around the year 1206 in present-day Germany. He entered the Dominican Order and excelled in scholarship in Paris and Cologne. It was Albert who introduced the works of Aristotle into scholastic thought and he was among those who championed the capacity of human reason, albeit wounded by original sin, to attain to truth in both the speculative and practical realms. As you are also aware, St. Albert was among those who laid the foundations for modern scientific observation. His aim was, and I quote, “to investigate the causes that are in nature”.

All this he did as a scholar, religious, and priest of the deepest faith, with his eyes fixed on Jesus, the Word made flesh, the Logos, through whom the world in all its wonder was created and through whom the world was redeemed.

That is why today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom fits St. Albert to a tee. It distinguishes the wise scholar from the foolish scholar. The latter investigates the world but does not find even the traces of the divine artisan who fashioned it. In investigating the forces of nature—the circuit of the stars and the luminaries—the foolish scholar is so taken with their beauty and rationality that he regards them as gods in their own right. By contrast, St. Albert was among the wise; he was possessed of wisdom and holiness. In his intellectual rigor, he understood how “far more excellent” was the Lord than even his mightiest works. From “the greatness and beauty of created things”, Albert discerned their author “by analogy”, perhaps even the “analogia entis”! Re-reading this Scripture passage in light of today’s feast, I almost thought it was written by a Dominican!

Not only did St. Albert find the hand of God in creation, through the eyes of faith, he found it in history and at the very heart of all reality, in the Eucharistic Lord. In the One through whom the world was made he found the Source of all hope, the Source of Redemption, personally present and available in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.

What is the upshot for you who spend many of your waking hours in the study of literature, science, and philosophy? May I suggest that St. Albert can inspire in you a life-long love of learning, a learning focused not so much on the obligations and pressures of “student-hood” but rather a genuine love of learning – knowledge for the sake of knowledge, art for the sake of art – and a curiosity that will take you beyond your intellectual “comfort zone” into new realms of thought and exploration. At the same time, we learn from St. Albert a wise humility that is always alert to the presence of God, reflected in his works and yet deeply personal in calling us to holiness, service to others, and eternal life.

May God bless you and keep you always in his love.

Archbishop William E. Lori

Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th Archbishop of Baltimore May 16, 2012.

Prior to his appointment to Baltimore, Archbishop Lori served as Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., from 2001 to 2012 and as Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington from 1995 to 2001.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Archbishop Lori holds a bachelor's degree from the Seminary of St. Pius X in Erlanger, Ky., a master's degree from Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg and a doctorate in sacred theology from The Catholic University of America. He was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Washington in 1977.

In addition to his responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop Lori serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and is the former chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty.