Feast of St Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem & Lawgiver of Carmel
Albert Avogadro was born in the middle of the twelfth century in Castel Gualtieri, in the plains of northern Italy. He became a Canon Regular of the Holy Cross, at Mortara, and was elected their prior in 1180. He was appointed Bishop of Bobbio in 1184, Bishop of Vercelli in 1185, and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in 1204. For nine years he was also a papal legate for Pope Clement III. Given the troubles in the Holy Land at the time of his appointment, he spent his time as Patriarch living in the northern coastal town of Acre where he was murdered by an unhappy Hospitaller on September 14, 1214. He is an important figure for the Carmelite Order because during his time as Latin Patriarch he was approached by the hermits living near the Spring of Elijah who asked him for a Rule of Life, a rule to govern their living in community. This he wrote in the form of a letter sometime between 1206 and 1214 and, in so doing, gave the formal beginnings to what is the Order of Carmelites.
Ephesians 6:11-18; Psalm 118; Matthew 20:25-28
The first reading from the letter to the Ephesians is one which was quoted by St Albert in the Rule of Life he left for the first Carmelites. The passage reminds us that even though salvation has been won by Jesus Christ, the Christian is to remain vigilant because evil forces are still at work, trying to lead people away from God. The idea of God’s armour has its origins in the Old Testament (Isaiah 11 and 59, and Wisdom 5) and it is to be worn by the Christian if they are to be successful in the struggle. In his Rule, Albert exhorted the early hermits to be aware of the presence of the evil one and to arm themselves against him. For Albert, the devil or the evil one was no mere symbol, but a living being who works against God.
The gospel text from St Matthew reminds us that we are servants to one another, and we are not to be served. We are servants of God, servants of the Gospel, and servants of one another. This is very much found in the Carmelite Rule where the Prior is first among equals, not their lord or master, but simply their leader for a time. These readings are particularly important for us as Carmelites as they give scriptural grounding to our way of life.