"Most High, glorious God, cast Your Light into the darkness of my heart, and grant me a right faith, certain hope and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may know and do Your holy and true command."
- St. Francis of Assisi: Prayer before the Crucifix
HOMILY FOR THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT, December 2, 2012: . Click here to listen to a Podcast of this homily: First Sunday of Advent
One of Leo Tolstoy’s stories is
called “The Cobbler and His Guest.” I’d like to share it with you today: In the city of Marseilles there was an old
shoemaker named Martin who was loved and honored by his neighbors. One Christmas Eve, as he sat alone in his
little shop reading of the visit of the Wise Men to the infant Jesus, and of
the gifts they brought, he said to himself. "If tomorrow were the first
Christmas, and if Jesus were to be born in Marseilles this night, I know what I
would give Him!" He rose from his stool and took from a shelf overhead two
tiny shoes of softest snow- white leather, with bright silver buckles. "I
would give Him these, my finest work." Replacing the shoes, he blew out the candle
and retired to rest. Hardly had he closed his eyes, it seemed, when he heard a
voice call his name..."Martin! Martin! You have wished to see Me. Tomorrow
I shall pass by your window. If you see Me, and bid Me enter, I shall be your
guest at your table."
Martin did not sleep that night for joy. And before dawn he rose
and tidied up his shop. On the table he
placed a loaf of white bread, a jar of honey, and a pitcher of milk, and over
the fire he hung a pot of tea. Then he took up his vigil at the window. Soon he saw an old street-sweeper pass by,
blowing upon his thin, gnarled hands to warm them. "Poor fellow, he must
be half frozen," thought Martin. Opening the door he called out to him,
"Come in, my friend, warm yourself, and drink a cup of hot tea." And
the man gratefully accepted the invitation.
An hour passed, and Martin saw a young, miserably clothed women
carrying a baby. She paused wearily to rest in the shelter of his doorway. The
heart of the old cobbler was touched. Quickly he flung open the door. "Come in and warm while you rest,"
he said to her. "You do not look well," he remarked. "I am going to the hospital. I hope they
will take me in, and my baby boy," she explained. "My husband is at
sea, and I am ill, without a soul."
"Poor child!" cried Martin. "You must eat something while
you are getting warm. Let me give a cup of milk to the little one. What a
bright, pretty fellow he is! Why have you put no shoes on him?" "I have no shoes for him," sighed
the mother. "Then he shall have this lovely pair I finished
yesterday." Martin took down from
the shelf the soft little snow-white shoes he had admired the evening before.
He slipped them on the child's feet...they fit perfectly. The poor young mother
left, two shoes in her hand and tearful with gratitude.
Martin resumed his post at the window. Hour after hour went by,
and although many people passed his window, and many needy souls shared his
hospitality, the expected Guest did not appear. "It was only a dream," he sighed,
with a heavy heart. "He has not come." Suddenly the room was flooded with a strange
light. And to the cobbler's astonished vision there appeared before him, one by
one, the poor street-sweeper, the sick mother and her child, and all the people
whom he had aided during the day. And each smiled at him and said. "Have
you not seen me? Did I not sit at your table?" Then they vanished. At last, out of the silence, Martin heard
again the gentle voice repeating the old familiar words. "For I was hungry
and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you
welcomed me…Whatever you did for one of the least brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.”
Today is the First Sunday of Advent
and for us it is the start of a new Church year. We find ourselves today once again back at
the beginning of our liturgical cycle.
We triumphantly celebrated Jesus Christ as our Lord and King last
weekend and now we go back to the beginning of the story; back to Chapter one
of the story of how Jesus came and saved us.
In this liturgical cycle, we start
with the things that prepared us for the coming Savior and so today we heard
from the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah who began with the words, “The days are
coming, says the LORD, when I will
fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and Judah.” That promise of course, was fulfilled in
Jesus. Likewise our Gospel called us to begin to seek the signs that something
momentous is on the horizon, something unprecedented, something that will
forever change our lives.
As our Church year has come to its
close the last two weeks, it was a time to review the year behind. Where did last
year’s journey take us? Did the practice
of our faith make a difference? Did we
grow in holiness? Today, I offer a
different challenge. In January, when we
have our new calendar year, many of us will engage in the cultural practice of
making New Year’s Resolutions. Often those
resolutions are very superficial. We
will resolve to eat less chocolate, to lose 10 pounds, to watch less
television. Sometimes, they are more meaningful – we resolve to be a nicer
person, to swear less, to be kinder to strangers.
But today, at the beginning of this
Church year, I challenge all of us, myself included, to make some spiritual
resolutions. Where do we need to grow in
faith this year? Is it in our prayer
life? In our family life? In our workplace? Where is Jesus calling us to love more, to be
more bold in proclaiming His Word? Where
are we being challenged to grow in holiness this year?
Advent is a time to prepare for the
coming of the Lord. We remember both His historic arrival 2,000 years ago and
we look forward to His return again in glory.
But, as we look both back and forward, don’t forget to look down right
where we are to become always more aware of Christ’s daily arrival in the
ordinary events and the ordinary people in our lives. He wasn’t only present
2,000 years ago and at some point in the future – He is present right here in
our midst today.
Our Gospel today reminds us that we
should be vigilant to recognize and welcome the Lord who comes to us without
warning everyday in the people, the places and the events we least expect. If
we are preparing for the Lord’s coming by looking up to the sky, Luke today
invites us to instead look out, to look to the person on our right and our
left, to see the arrival of God that is before our eyes every day, to look into
the story of our daily lives and recognize the Lord who comes to us in the ways
we least expect.
Jesus doesn’t care how much money we make, how many fancy cars we
own, how nice our home is, how many people work for us. On Judgment Day, Jesus won’t even ask us how
many times we went to Church, or how many times we prayed – because those things
only have value if they have lead us to the main criteria for salvation – did we
love – without restraint, without condition, without measure? Our spiritual lives and prayer practices are
crucial, necessary, we can’t live or be saved without them. But, these prayers are only working if they lead
us to action, to love, to reaching out, to actively loving “these least brothers
and sisters of mine”.
didn't say that the poor would thank us, the hungry share with us, the
imprisoned welcome us back nor the sick be healed by our visits, but He did say
if we recognize His presence especially in them, we will be among those
welcomed into the eternal joy of life with Him in Heaven.
So, let us so resolve on this first
day of a new Church year, to be people ever more conscious of the presence and
action of Jesus in our lives in the big ways and in the small ways. Let us resolve to be people who witness to
that presence of Jesus in the lives of others – especially in those places that
have been difficult for us in the past.
Let us make this a holy Advent, leading to a holy Christmas, an even
holier year for us all.
HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THE KING, November 25, 2012: . Click here to listen to a Podcast of this homily: Christ the King
A woman went on a parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land and one
of the places they visited was the village of Cana where Jesus performed His
first miracle changing water into wine.
At the gift shop there, they sell a fine vintage of wine which they
claim will be the best you’ve ever tasted.
The woman bought several bottles to bring home as gifts for family and
friends. At the end of the pilgrimage,
she and her group were at the airport just about to head through security when
the woman realized that she forgot to put the bottles in her checked luggage
and instead had them in her carry-on.
Thinking quickly, she took out a marker and labeled each of the bottles
“Water.” When she got to the security
officer, he opened her bag, looked at the bottles and said, “What are
these?” She calmly responded, “They are
just water.” The officer looked
suspiciously and said, “Well, we’re going to have to open one to check.” He opened the bottle and poured some out and
of course it was the fine vintage from Cana.
“Ma’am,” he said. “This isn’t water.
It is wine.” Without missing a
beat, the woman threw her arms in the air and cried out, “Hallelujah, Lord,
you’ve done it again!” after which the officer waived her through.
might be hard to believe, but today we celebrate the final Sunday of the Church
year. Like the punch line in our joke –
the Lord has done it again. We have, once
again, made our yearly pilgrimage of faith through the birth, death,
resurrection, teachings and miracles of Jesus and now we come today to the last
act. And as you might expect, as we
again prepare to go back to the beginning of this great story, we end on a high
note. Effective endings tend to be climactic.
Speeches often end with a ringing acclamation; songs try to end on an up
note; operas build up laboriously to a grand finale. And, it is for this reason, presumably, that
the Feast of Christ the King was chosen for this final Sunday of our Church
So, we liturgically ascend to the Throne
where Christ reigns as King today. But,
this is a notion that might have trouble getting traction for us because in our
democratic society, the notion of royalty or of kingship doesn’t have much
appeal. As Americans, we honor the voice of the people above that of the Divine
Right of Kings. If this is the case,
Pontius Pilate, I think, felt the same way.
As we hear in our Gospel today, he had no sympathy for the concept of
Christ’s kingship either. Even though he was an imperialist, Pilate viewed the
claims of Christ’s kingship with suspicion.
If Christ were claiming to be a king in a political sense, then he could
represent a threat to Pilate’s own position and the empire he was there to defend.
Notice that the question uppermost in his mind was not “Are you the Messiah of
the Jews?” but “Are you the king of the Jews?”
If the answer was a political one, then the Roman Empire would have a
subversive on its hands and Pilate and Jesus would find themselves on a
The answer that Jesus gives is a relief
to Pilate. He says, “My kingdom does not
belong to this world.” This is a truly
shocking statement from Jesus.
Unfortunately, it is one that we have heard so many times that it may
have lost its punch. Jesus tells Pilate
that His Kingdom is not made up of kings and queens, of armies and wars, of
territories and conquest. His Kingdom is
made up of something entirely different – it is made up of the Truth. It is made up of something that can’t be won
or purchased or conquered. And His kingship cannot be stripped away even as He
is stripped and beaten because He is the very Truth of that Kingdom. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” He
said. “No one can come to the Father except through me.” Christ is saying to
Pilate and to us, “I am the Truth from God – I am God’s revelation of Himself.
I am God’s Word. God is speaking to the
world through me.”
This must have been an amazing thing for
Pilate to hear; and it should be something amazing for us to hear as well. St.
John spelled out the reality of this in the prologue to his Gospel, “In the
beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God…The Word
became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory that He has
from the Father as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
What Jesus had to say to Pilate doesn’t
end with His statement. In fact, it ends
with a challenge when He said, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my
voice.” Would Pilate listen? Do we? As
far as we know, Pilate did not choose to accept the invitation of Christ to
become one of God’s children. What he did at the end of the day, instead of
listening to Christ, to the Truth, was to wash his hands of Him. We, too, can
be tempted to wash our hands of what Christ asks of us. But, today’s feast reminds us that our allegiance
belongs to Christ our King; that we are all called to belong to the Truth and
to listen to His voice. This is how Christ is meant to be our King – ruling our
hearts and our lives.
We know there are many voices in our
modern world competing for our allegiance – the call to unbridled materialism
and consumerism; the call to a secular self-sufficiency that convinces us we
can do it all on our own with no need for God; the daily distracting calls to
the trivial and the transitory. There is no shortage of calls. But, in the
midst of it all, Christ is calling too. He is telling us emphatically about the
uniqueness of His authority and the reliability of His claim to be the very incarnation
of God’s Truth. He is calling us to the counter-cultural
truth that we are meant to love radically – both our neighbors and even our
enemies; that we are meant to reach out to the needy, the homeless, the addict,
those on the margins. He is calling us
to transform our broken world into His Kingdom of love and peace and holiness.
As our Church year ends on this high
note, let us raise a cheer for Christ our King, let us abandon all other false
kings that demand our loyalty; let us listen to the voice of the One who saves
us and let us dwell in His abiding and unchanging Truth.
“Everyone who belongs to the truth,
listens to my voice.”
NOTE: While a lot of the individual details of this story might not be great, fewer abortions is always a good thing. Let's hope the decline continues! - FT
By Mike Stobbe | ASSOCIATED PRESS | NOVEMBER 22, 2012
NEW YORK — Abortions in the United States fell 5 percent during the recession and its aftermath in the biggest one-year decrease in at least a decade, perhaps because women are more careful to use birth control when times are tough, researchers say. The decline, detailed on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, came in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Both the number of abortions and the abortion rate dropped by the same percentage. Some analysts theorize that some women believed the couldn't afford to get pregnant.
‘‘They stick to straight and narrow . . . and they are more careful about birth control,’’ said Elizabeth Ananat, a Duke University assistant professor of public policy and economics who has researched abortions.
While many states have aggressively restricted access to abortion, most of those laws were adopted in the past two years and are not believed to have played a role in the decline.
Abortions have been dropping slightly over much of the past decade. But before this latest report, they seemed to have pretty much leveled off.
Nearly all states report abortion numbers to the federal government, but it’s voluntary. A few states, including California, which has the largest population and largest number of abortion providers, don’t send in data. While analysts estimate there are more than 1 million abortions nationwide each year, the CDC counted about 785,000 in 2009 because of incomplete reporting.
To come up with reliable year-to-year comparisons, the CDC used the numbers from 43 states and two cities — those that have been sending in data consistently for at least 10 years. The researchers found that abortions per 1,000 women of child-bearing age fell from about 16 in 2008 to roughly 15 in 2009. That translates to nearly 38,000 fewer abortions in one year.
Mississippi had the lowest abortion rate, at 4 per 1,000 women of child-bearing age. The state also had only a couple of abortion providers and has the nation’s highest teen birth rate. New York, second to California in number of abortion providers, had the highest abortion rate, roughly eight times Mississippi’s.
Nationally since 2000, the number of reported abortions has dropped overall by about 6 percent and the abortion rate has fallen 7 percent.
By all accounts, contraception is playing a role in lowering the numbers.
Some specialists cite a government study released this year suggesting that about 60 percent of teenage girls who have sex use the most effective kinds of contraception, including the pill and patch. That’s up from the mid-1990s, when fewer than half were using the best kinds.
Experts also pointed to the growing use of IUDs, or intrauterine devices, T-shaped plastic sperm-killers that a doctor inserts into the uterus.
A study released this year by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization that does research on reproductive health, showed that IUD use among sexually active women on birth control rose from less than 3 percent in 2002 to more than 8 percent in 2009.
IUDs essentially prevent ‘‘user error,’’ said Rachel Jones, a Guttmacher researcher.
Ananat said another factor may be the growing use of the morning-after pill, a form of emergency contraception that has been increasingly easier to get. It came onto the market in 1999 and in 2006 was approved for non-prescription sale to women 18 and older. In 2009 that was lowered to 17.
Underlying all this may be the economy, which was in recession from December 2007 until June 2009. Even well afterward, polls showed most Americans remained worried about anemic hiring, a depressed housing market, and other problems.
HOMILY FOR THE 33rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, November 18, 2012:
Click here to listen to a Podcast of this homily: 33rd Sunday
Two priests were fishing on the side
of the road one day. They thoughtfully made a sign saying, “The End is Near!
Turn around now before it’s too late!” and showed it to each passing car.
One driver who drove by didn’t appreciate the sign and shouted at them, “Leave
us alone, you religious nuts!” The car
sped by and then all of a sudden they heard a big splash. They looked at each other and the one holding
the sign said, “Maybe we should just write ‘Bridge Out’?”
This is one of those times of year when what is
going on in nature and what is going on in the life of the Church match up
pretty well. Just think in nature – you
can’t help but notice that just about all of the leaves have fallen off of the
trees now, and we begin to engage in those annual rituals of digging out our
warmer clothes as winter is close at hand.
This season of the year, in its grayness, its starkness, its cold,
reminds us of endings.
So, too, does our Church calendar remind us of
endings. We heard Jesus say this in our
Gospel passage, “Learn a lesson from the fig tree.” In other words, learn the lesson that the
natural world can teach you. That is why
we traditionally celebrate a month in honor of the dead during November. The natural surroundings of November lend
itself to such thoughts and prayers. We
also head into the final weeks of our Church year. In just two weeks, on the First Sunday of
Advent, we begin again the great cycle in which we recall the history of our
salvation beginning with the prophets, leading on to the birth of our Savior,
eventually recalling His death, His resurrection, His words and His saving
deeds. But, before we get there, we’ll
spend these days reminding ourselves about endings.
The Church gives us this annual cycle for a
reason – not just as a reminder; but in the hopes that we will unite ourselves
to it. We don’t simply, once again, tell
the story of Jesus. Instead, we’re meant
to hear that story and notice ourselves within it. We’re meant to live it. In this way, not only do we recall Jesus
birth, but Jesus becomes born again in us.
We not only recall Jesus suffering and death on the cross, but we see
ourselves on that cross with Jesus, we find Him present in the midst of our own
suffering. We not only recall that Jesus
rose from the dead and returned to the Father in Heaven, but we become
resurrected people. We feel the
resurrection Jesus offers us in this life when we overcome the struggles of our
own lives, we praise God for the gift of the ultimate resurrection when we too
will join Him and all who have gone before us in the glory of Heaven.
Hopefully, we have had moments of connection
with that great story over course of the last year. Today, our Scriptures call us to reflect on
that. Just like any journey when we
reach our destination, we look back at where we’ve been and evaluate what kind
of journey it has been. Well, we are
arriving today and over the next two weeks we should be asking ourselves: How
has this year’s trip been? Have our
spiritual lives advanced in ways we could have never imagined? Or do we, upon reflection, realize that
perhaps we haven’t gone anywhere, still stuck in the same mud we found
ourselves in last year? Have we become better people, holier people, more
Christ-like people? How has the power of
God’s Word, the grace of the Body and Blood of Jesus changed and transformed us
In our First Reading, the Prophet Daniel recalls
some hard times for God’s people. Daniel is writing about 500 years before
Christ. Alexander the Great and others
are ravaging the Middle East as he writes. Wars and distress are all
around. In the midst of this turmoil
what do we hear? That God will take care
of His people, those whose names are in the Book of Life. In the midst of challenge and distress,
Daniel calls the people to trust their faith in God and live accordingly.
Though wars and disasters whirl around them, God will send them the Michael,
Prince and guardian to defend them.
In the Gospel passage, Jesus predicts the final
fall of the Jerusalem Temple. He speaks
to His disciples about the end times.
Like Daniel, Jesus speaks of wars and distress everywhere. In the midst of this destruction, the Son of
God, like Michael the Archangel, will come with power and glory to offer
salvation to God’s holy people. He uses that image of the fig tree pointing out
that people pay attention to the signs from nature and adjust their lives
accordingly; and so if we are willing to change our life because of the signs
from nature, all the more should we do when we read the signs of our
salvation. We are called to be alert and
active – to be readying ourselves so that when the end time comes, of which no
one knows the day or hour, we will be ready, our names will be written in the
Book of Life, we too will make our way to Heaven.
We are called to trust in the Lord. As we look back on the past year, we probably
have experienced some joys and triumphs, as well as some storms and distress.
Our trust in God tells us that ultimately – whatever the tribulation or the
triumph, God is always present with us, God is always leading us and guiding
us, and God will always in the end save us.
As we move into the end of our Church year, as
we are reminded of the end things, we are called to reflect – how has this year
been? Am I closer to God? Do I experience God as closer to me? My brothers and sisters, “Learn a lesson from
the fig tree.” Read the signs of our own
spiritual lives. As we look forward to
the new Church year, let us ready ourselves to begin again. As we prayed in our Psalm today, “I set the
LORD ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”
HOMILY FOR THE 32nd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, November 11, 2012: .
A man died
suddenly and found himself in front of the Pearly Gates greeted by St.
Peter. “Welcome,” he said. “I just have
to take a look in the Book of Life here to see if you can get into heaven.” St. Peter looked through the book but kept
shaking his head discouragingly. “It
doesn’t look too good, my friend. Why,
you’ve never done anything for anyone but yourself. You’ve been greedy, selfish, power hungry,
concerned only about your own well-being.
I’m not sure we can let you in.”
The man, now worried, said, “But, St. Peter, how about the time that I
came across that woman who was being harassed by a group of bikers? I grabbed a baseball bat, went right up to
them and said, ‘Leave the woman alone or you’ll have to deal with me.’” St. Peter looked at the book again and said,
“That’s impressive. When did that happen?”
The man said, “About three minutes ago.”
It’s never too
late to give all that we have. We heard
in our Gospel passage today, “She, from her poverty, has contributed all she
had, her whole livelihood.” Today’s
Gospel sets two pictures side-by-side for us.
It is hard to imagine two pictures that could be so different from one
another. The first picture shows us the
scribes with their long robes, the many honors they receive, and their great
skill at praying. Right behind them, rich people are making large offerings to
picture in our passage is of a woman who makes an offering too. But her
offering is so small that the two coins she drops in the offering plate would
be worth mere pennies. And because it is easy to overlook a penny lying in the
street, it could be easy for the people in the Temple – as it could be easy for
us – to overlook this widow if Jesus hadn’t drawn our attention to her.
We all know that
every parish that has ever struggled to meet the budget would be glad to have
the sort of people in the first picture contribute to the mission and ministry
of the Church. Just think, when a parish
sets a strategy to raise money for a new building or something equally grand,
the first step is usually to focus on the respected and the rich in the parish,
people who could have a real impact on the budget and help sustain the
ministry; the so-called big givers.
Compared to five-figure gifts, six-figure gifts or more, what can a
But Jesus focuses
our attention on the widow and her coins because in her, Jesus must see
something of His own life. At the end of
the parable we hear Jesus say, “She, from her poverty, has contributed all that
she had, her whole livelihood.” Or as
other translations put it more bluntly and plainly, “She has given her whole
life.” And that is where Jesus sees a reflection of Himself in this woman’s
She gave everything she had; even just those meager coins;
and in turn she was blessed by the Lord. Perhaps gazing upon this woman, Jesus thought of another widow who
was blessed: His own mother Mary. Maybe
Jesus saw this woman at the temple that day and thought of His own mother -
what she sacrificed, what she had, what she lost. She may very well have had to
struggle to make ends meet. Jesus saw that. He knew that. He knew the value of
those two small coins. He understood where the widow at the temple was coming
from because He'd lived it Himself.And He understood what that widow at
the temple was really doing – giving all that she had to her God.She didn't hold back. She let go.She didn't take. She gave. St. Francis names this eloquently when he said, “Hold back
nothing of yourself for yourself, so that He who gave Himself completely to
you, may receive you completely.”
In Mark’s Gospel,
this story finds itself chronologically just before the events of Holy Week;
just days before Jesus will give His whole life on the cross. Jesus turns our
attention to the woman not because she shows us how to run a giving
campaign. Rather, when she opens up her
hand and the two coins slip out, she too has given away her life. In the same
way, on the cross, Jesus opens up His own hands and life slips from them as
well. Her giving is total just as, on
the cross, Jesus will completely give of Himself.
You see, in this
woman and in our Lord we see that the Kingdom of God is found not where people
hold on tight to their riches or when they demand respect. The Kingdom is found not in holding on to
what we have, but in letting go. As
Jesus says repeatedly, “Those who want to save their life will lose it. And
those who lose their life for my sake and the gospel will find it.”
This is a lesson we all need to hear. We may suffer terrible
losses that rob us of those we love, like the widow. We may grieve, and we may
mourn, we may face every kind of struggle, challenge and strife in life and we
may ask ourselves “Why?”But
there is only one way through loss – the way of love. The way through our
challenges is by opening our hearts; giving ourselves; holding nothing back;
surrendering everything to the Lord.
In her giving,
this widow gives us a glimpse of our Lord Jesus. She gave her very life. So
does He. St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians gives us even more insight into
this. He writes, “Have this mind among
yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of
God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but He emptied
Himself, taking the form of a servant,” and He died on the cross.
This widow gives
us a glimpse of our life in Christ – hands open, giving away life, in turn to
gain it eternally. We too are called today to find what she has found, that all
we have comes from God and should be returned to God. Only then will we have life to the full. We
too are called to open our hands and release whatever we are grasping; whatever
we are holding; to give all that we are and all that we have to Christ. Only then can we gain the Kingdom He has
Lord, take my
life and form it; take my mind and transform it; take my will and conform it;
to Yours, O Lord.
Most folks know of my love for the great Franciscan philosopher/theologian Bl. John Duns Scotus. Today is his feast day. Though you may not know him by name, if you've heard of the Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, you can think this great thinker for advancing that belief. Here's a bit on his life and at the end a link to some of his writing. - FT
Bl. John Duns Scotus
John Duns Scotus was probably born in the winter of 1266 in the South of Scotland. Around 1279 he was accepted in a Franciscan friary in South Scotland. After eight years of preliminary studies in philosophy, or rather in the artes, at Oxford, he started to study theology there in 1288. Having attained the age of 25 he was ordained a priest in Northampton on March 17th 1291.
In the academic year 1297-98 John Duns prepared his first theological course which would change his life. During the next year he gave this course, on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, the most important textbook of systematic theology at the time. During these years (1297-99) Duns wrote Lectura I-II, his lecture notes on the two first books of the Sentences. Scotus' course based on these notes not only impressed his audience very much, but also the Franciscan leadership, and established his name as an exceptionally penetrating and original thinker.
In the summer of 1301 Scotus had fulfilled all the requirements for being a master (magister). However, he was sent to Paris by the Franciscan leadership in order to continue a Parisian career, at the most prestigious university of Europe.
After having again taught on the Sentences for a year, he and some of his colleagues were banished in June 1303 from Paris because of a conflict between the French king Philip IV and Pope Boniface VIII. He returned to his studium at Oxford and probably spent the first half of 1304 in Cambridge.
At the end of the summer of 1304 he was already back in Paris where he became professor of theology in 1306. Duns Scotus and his socius continued to work very hard on hisOrdinatio together with a staff of assistants. The Ordinatio was meant to be the definitive edition of his Commentary on the Sentences. For this edition he used his Lectura I-III andReportatio Parisiensis IV and piles of other materials he had prepared in the meantime.
In 1307 Duns leaves Paris again, but this time he left for Cologne in order to become the professor of theology at the Franciscan House of Studies (Studium). On November 8, 1308 he suddenly died in Cologne, leaving behind quite a number of unfinished works, including his Ordinatio.