November 7, 2016

Blessed John Duns Scotus, Doctor Subtilis, Theologian of the Immaculate Conception

Bl. John Duns Scotus
November 8th, is the optional memorial of Blessed John Duns Scotus, (c. 1266 – 1308) a 13th century, Franciscan Priest and theologian, who, alongside Saint Bonaventure, is the most influential theologian in the history of the Franciscan Order. He founded the Scotistic school of theology, which dominated Roman Catholic faculties of theology throughout Europe up until the period of the French Revolution.

He is best known for his theology on the Absolute Kingship of Jesus Christ, and for his eloquent explication and staunch defense of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His nuanced positions and concise argumentation earned him the title "Doctor Subtilis".

The theological justification of Bl. John Duns Scotus regarding the Immaculate Conception is found in Volume XX of the Lectura in Librum Tertium Sententiarum, in the third distincio, first quaestio, under the title Utrum Beata Virgo fuerit concepta in peccato originali (Regarding whether the Blessed Virgin was conceived in original sin). He answers in the negative, with these words:

"We can therefore say that it was possible that the Blessed Virgin was not conceived in original sin. This assertion does not diminish in any way the universal redemption of her Son, as we have outlined above. We can furthermore confirm this, since the passion of Christ was immediately and principally ordered to delete original guilt as well as actual guilt, in such a way that all the Trinity, since it had the foresight of the merits of the passion of Christ, applied them to the Virgin and preserved her from all actual sin, and also from all original sin."

His theology is the basis for the Church’s official declaration of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception found in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, by Pius IX, who solemnly defined it an article of the Faith on December 8, 1854.

Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed John Duns Scotus

O Most High, Almighty and gracious Lord, Who exalts the humble and confounds the proud of heart, grant us the great joy of seeing Blessed John Duns Scotus canonized. He honored Your Son with the most sublime praises; he was the first to successfully defend the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary; he lived in heroic obedience to the Holy Father, to the Church and to the Seraphic Order. O most holy Father, God of infinite love, hear, we beseech You, our humble prayer, thorough the merits of Your Only-Begotten Son and His Holy Mother, the Gate of Heaven and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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