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THEO 524/324 -- Mary and the Saints in Liturgy, Doctrine, and Life
Spring Semester 2000

Course Description

This course explores the evolution and theology of Mary and the saints in their liturgical and doctrinal expressions in an attempt to discern, evaluate, and articulate their proper place within Christian liturgy, doctrine, and life today in relationship to the central mediatorial role of Christ. Issues of popular piety, "models of holiness," and ecumenical division, dialogue, convergence, the feminist critique, and liturgical renewal will also be examined.

Goals and Objectives

Through this course students will demonstrate

  1. a knowledge of the historical development of the place of Mary and the Saints in the Christian liturgical/theological tradition;
  2. a grasp of the basic theological principles involved in the question of prayer to and invocation of Mary and the Saints in relationship to the central mediatorial role of Christ in liturgical prayer, doctrine, and life;
  3. an ability to critique theologically various manifestations of piety related to Mary and the Saints;
  4. an ecumenical sensitivity related to this issue; and
  5. greater facility in writing and discussion on the graduate and upper-undergraduate theological levels


The above goals and objectives will be met by:

  1. Three short (5 page) papers on ASSIGNED topics selected from topics assigned on the syllabus and three sets of responses/questions prepared in advance to elicit conversation. Both papers and responses will receive a letter grade.
  2. Daily preparation of assigned readings
  3. "Full, conscious, and active" participation in discussions
  4. A research paper (10-12 pages) chosen from a list of topics (to be supplied later) or in consultation with Professor Johnson. Topic is to be chosen by mid-term and the principal conclusions of the paper are to be presented orally to the class (a ten minute presentation) during the last two weeks of the course as indicated on the syllabus. There will be no final exam.

Grading (for graduate students primarily)

Grades will be determined on the basis of the Requirements listed above and are to be interpreted as follows:

  • The grades A and A- are reserved for what is considered to be exceptional work;
  • a B+ means that work is at a level of solid and very high quality, a level above what is necessary to successfully complete the course requirements;
  • a B is a good solid work -- a "normal" grade indicating that the average and minimum required (and expected) for work has been met succesfully;
  • a C+ is a passing grade for graduate-level study indicating that an assignment was completed but in need of improvement and considerable development/clarification; and
  • a C, although a passing grade, indicates serious problems with graduate-level study.

The Position Papers

The assigned papers should contain the following:

  1. A summary of the principal argument(s) in question;
  2. A critical theological evaluation of the author's position; and
  3. A concluding section in which either agreement or disagreement with the author (and why or why not) is clearly stated (hence, a position).

Class Format

Primarily Discussion of assigned Topics and Readings. Role of the instructor is more one of facilitator (and referee?) than content-provider. Students will play a primary role in facilitating discussion for the topics assigned by the presentation of three (3) position papers summarizing and evaluating the topic/readings for a given day in response to the questions/topics provided under each day in the syllabus. Each class session will begin with the presentation of at least two of the assigned/chosen papers, either as read or summarized by the student. When no specific papers are assigned it is expected that all students will have prepared the materials in advance for class discussion. Such preparation will be evidenced by the informed discussion of class participants and will be included as part of individual student work in the determination of the final grade.

Required Texts

NOTE: References to these works appear according to abbreviations in reading assignments below

  • K. Woodward, Making Saints (MS)
  • G. Tavard, The Thousand Faces of the Virgin Mary (TFVM)
  • The One Mediator, the Saints, and Mary (Luths-Caths in Dialogue VIII, OMSM)
  • P. Brown, The Cult of the Saints (CS)
  • John Paul II, Mother of the Redeemer (MR)
  • Paul VI, Marialis cultus (MC)

Additional Readings in the Course Packet

  • Mary and the Saints in Liturgy, Doctrine, and Life

On Library Reserve

  • J. MacQuarrie, Mary for All Christians (MAC)

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