YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
`Doctors' are much in the news at the present - their government; their problems; their shortage. One might be led to analyse this title `DOCTOR'
Is it is in reference to holding the highest University degree in a certain faculty? Examples might be Literature; Music; Forestry; Medicine. It may be an honorary award.
Is the more general• association in the public mind with 'General Practice' in Medicine? An examination of the title leads us to its purpose - Doceo- I teach. When one teaches one 'heals' - heals ignorance; ignorance of a language; an art; a science; of the way to physical, mental or intellectual health.
I write in November, when in sadness together with the Church we remember the loss of dear ones. I am greatly comforted by the remembrance of two Dominican saints - teachers in their own way; viz St. Albert The Great (celebrated on the 15th November) and St. Martin de Porres (3rd November); The former a much celebrated 'doctor' the other unable by colour and birth to carry the title.
St. Martin (1579-1639) born in Lima Peru was the illegitimate son of
Juan de Porres, a Castillian nobleman, who refused for some years to
recognise him, a black infant; but
later marvelling at his son's intelligence made provision for his education. He was given a `trade'- that of a barber, which in those days meant when necessary a surgeon; also an infirmarian, a dispenser of medicines. Martin was attached to the Dominicans from youth and as a young man of twenty three became a co-operator brother with solemn vows.
Dominicans are recognised as the order of preachers. We know that preaching comes under many categories from the silent to the vociferous and many in between; perhaps the strongest is by force of example. He opened his heart and used his gifts.
Was it through his adherence to the Second commandment that he carried the title "Martin the Charitable"? In humanity and charity he resembled St. Dominic - both willing to make enormous personal sacrifices: - Dominic willing to sell his treasured, irreplaceable books to feed the poor during an emergency. Martin offered to be sold into serfdom to pay his convent's debts. Martin's compassion for the poor, the sick, the homeless, the unwashed knew no limits.
Perhaps because of his constant and tireless movement in visiting the sick - there was spread the story that he had the gift of `13i- location' (Many of today's GPs would cherish the gift!). Martin freely gave of himself and his skills - always bestowing dignity on the sufferer, respect and hope. He was a healer and comforter and deserving the title 'doctor.' On May 6th Pope John XX111 canonised Martin, stressing the 'humility' of the new saint, saying of him that while not an academic he possessed "the true Science that enables the Spirit".
In the realms of Academia we reach the heights with St. Albert - 'Albert Magnus' as he is known in history or 'Doctor Universalis' (born in Lauingen, Germany 1206). He was recognised as a leading theologian of the medieval age and as a scientist well ahead of his time. Influenced by Avicenna, he made an important contribution to the study of Aristotle's works and the assimilation of Aristotelian principles; finding a way of reconciling the philosophy of Aristotle with the precepts of the Christian religion and questioning the nature of the human intellect.
His extensive works on natural history and the natural sciences (colour; light; rainbow) are encyclopaedic. A natural academic, although ordained as Bishop of Regensburg in 1260, he resigned after a few years, returning to Cologne to teach. Later he took up a chair in the university of Paris.
Following the Arabian philosophers he represented a Neo-platonic version of Aristotelianism; and aimed to show exactly what Aristotle taught at a time when intellectuals were using Aristotle to support heretical positions.
His teaching ability is marked by the renowned ability of his pupils
(perhaps the most famous being St. Thomas Aquinas) several of whom have
evinced greater study and publicity than their tutor - a not infrequent
phenomenon. Most noticeable is Albert's treatise, "On the Intellect and
the Intelligible." His belief was that the end of human existence is
We are united with God as an act of "knowing."
In spite of his intellectual and scholarly leanings Albert had a care for his fellow man at a practical level. During his time in Regensburg, St Albert made great efforts to secure peace between peoples and between cities. Albert was canonised in 1931 by Pope Pius Xl.
Both Saints Albert and Martin preached God through their actions.
Both, in accordance with their gifts and opportunities raised levels of
consciousness and both in their respective ways removed paths of
Both were doctors in the true meaning of the word.