In 2001, Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski, OP, arrived at Ave Maria College in Ypsilanti, Michigan to begin her undergraduate study of Classical Languages and Early Christian Literature. She excelled academically, graduating summa cum laude in 2005.
After graduation, she entered the Dominican Sisters of Mary Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Sr. Albert Marie spent two years (2008-2010) completing coursework in Secondary Education at Eastern Michigan University (Ypsilanti, MI). In 2010, she returned to Ave Maria—now University—located at its permanent campus in Southwest Florida. Sr. Albert Marie completed an M.A. in Theology summa cum laude in 2011. Her Master’s thesis included an introduction to and translation of St. Jerome’s Commentary on Nahum; a publication of her thesis is forthcoming in a two-volume series of Jerome’s commentaries on the Minor Prophets, edited by Thomas Scheck for Intervarsity Press’ Ancient Christian Text series.
Sr. Albert Marie went on to earn her Ph.D. in Systematic Theology with a minor in Moral Theology from Ave Maria University in 2014. Her doctoral dissertation was a translation of and commentary on Albert the Great’s work, De Corpore Domini. “Since St. Albert is my patron saint,” she explained, “I wanted to do something that would explore his theology a bit more. De Corpore Domini is very devotional, as well as having the scholastic aspect. … I found it enriching to my Dominican vocation; part of the life of a Dominican is the study of the truth.”
[Above: Sr. Albert Marie presents “The Joy of Christ in Albert the Great’s De Corpore Domini” at the “Wisdom and the Renewal of Theology Conference” (Ave Maria University, Feb 7, 2015).]
In a couple of editions of De Corpore Domini, a prayer attributed to St. Albert is included at the end. The prayer, Sr. Albert Marie explained, “reflects the theology of the work in its careful meditation on the fullness of Christ who in the sacrament gives his body, blood, soul, spirit and divinity, and the way in which it connects various effects and graces of the sacrament to these various parts. It also reflects the theology of the work in its connection of the union of love given in the sacrament to the Father’s union with the Son, as expressed in John 14, an idea which Albert calls the ‘golden chain.’”
Below is the text of Sr. Albert Marie’s translation of this prayer of Albert the Great.
Prayer of St. Albert
Almighty eternal God, Only-begotten Son of God, who took up body and blood and a human soul and spirit from among us and from us and for our sake, and suitably said through the holy prophet Jeremiah that you were made holy from the womb, saying that the souls of the priests would be filled with richness and your people would abound in good things, by this sacrament of your body fill our souls with good things and fulfill our desires and grant that all of your truth, virtue, unity, love, purity, piety, devotion and holiness be made active in us, so that as you are in the Father and the Father is in you, you may be in us through the pure nature of your action, so that in you through your body and soul we may maintain integrity of spirit, made one body with you by your sacred body to share the saving communion of the sacrament and sweet participation in you, filled with your most sacred blood to completely sprinkle and cleanse our innermost being; redeemed by the price of salvation, your sacred soul, to attain true reconciliation with the Father and the Holy Spirit and redemption from guilt, and made to live by your sacred spirit to restore all the spiritual vitality we had lost and to illuminate our senses, filled with grace by your sacred divinity to attain maturity in every virtue, and receiving grace for grace from your fullness from the Eucharist, which is the vessel of every grace, make us share in the graces which your holy Apostles and disciples had communion when they received this sacrament from your hand…
Albert the Great’s De Corpore Domini has never been published in English translation before. Sr. Albert Marie’s translation and commentary is currently in process for publication with The Catholic University of America Press.
Sr. Albert Marie currently lives in Ave Maria, FL in a house with five of her fellow Dominican sisters. She is Instructor of Theology and Research Fellow at Ave Maria University, where she teaches classes on Sacred Doctrine, the Sacraments, and Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue and the Summa. “It’s really been a joy to move on from studying to teaching,” she concluded, “and to share the truth about Christ.”