My Uncle Albert (My father’s brother) used to enter our house each evening after supper and announce his presence from the porch with the word – Hoiiiiiiiii! It was classic – one of those moments that you wait for each and every day. Sometimes he was accompanied by Aunt Maude, someties she would follow shortly behind him and sometimes he came alone. Uncle Albert was a great character with a fantastic sense of humour. He did a mean impersonation of Boss Hogg from The Dukes of Hazzard. I can sill hear him say – “Blooood is thicka than waataa!” He loved right behind us and he was a great part of the small community in which I lived. The fabric of a nurturing community like Whiteway is sewn together by the lives of people like Uncle Albert. He and my Father were a good pair together when they were getting their fish for the winter, or when they were chatting after Uncle Albert’s triumphant entry into the house. He would stand at the mouth of living room, usually for half an hour to an hour and Dad would sit in the same chair each night and they would engage in great conversations. Topics included politics, religion, the weather, fish, car problems or what was happening with other folks in the community. They did not always agree, but the conversation itself was always enlightening and I often felt a little wiser by the time Uncle Albert declared, “I must go up, I s’pose.” I can’t say that all the enlightenment was good – I mean I am not sure that 10 year olds need to know some of the things that are happening with people in the community, but hey, I am not complaining. I loved it. I looked at Uncle Albert sort of like a grandfather –my father’s Dad had died quite a few years before I was born. I miss Uncle Albert – he died on Christmas Day 1983. In many was he was to me Albertus Magnus – Albert the Great!
I bring all this up because today in the Roman calendar is the Feast day for Albert the Great. This man was a great doctor of the faith who instructed Thomas Aquinas. He was a man who embraced the teachings of science and of theology and was happy to have them not just co-exist, but also instruct his faith. St. Albert was a great advocate of free will and felt that the idea of absolute predestination was heretical. For that reason alone I am interested in more of what this Albert the Great had to say. It was said that in his lifetime he was referred to as Albertus Magnus or Albert the Great as he, in many ways, was larger than life and people knew it. I am not sure if my Grandmother knew anything about Albert the Great. With her limited education, chances are that she did not even hear of Albert the Great, but she may have unwittingly chosen the most appropriate name for Uncle Albert. So on this feast day for Albert the Great – I pray in thanksgiving for my own Albertus Magnus.