Today, November 8, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed John Duns Scotus (1265-1308), referred to both as the “Subtle Doctor” and the “Marian Doctor.” John Duns is considered one of the greatest masters of Christian theology and is the precursor of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Pope John Paul II beatified him on March 20, 1993 calling him “the bard of the Incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate conception of Mary.”
John Duns was born in the village of Duns, in the Berwick district of Scotland, the son of a wealthy farmer. His name “Scotus” means “the Scot,” reflecting his birth and upbringing. John’s uncle, Elias, was a Franciscan who encouraged his nephew in the ways of faith, and provided him an education at Oxford. At the young age of 13, John continued his education in philosophy at Oxford, at the Franciscan school. He joined the Franciscans in 1285, at age 19, and after completing his theological studies, was ordained just six years later.
Saint Augustine, and the Muslim philosophers, and still managed to be an independent thinker. His ideas led to the founding of a school of Scholastic thought called Scotism.
Upon arrival in Paris, however, John found France to be a difficult place for a Catholic theologian at that moment in time. Following a bitter rivalry with Pope Boniface VIII, King Philip the Fair had been excommunicated from the Church. In retaliation, the king ordered all the professors at Paris University to sign a petition calling for the deposing of the pope. John refused to sign, and was immediately exiled from Paris.
Eventually, John Duns Scotus was transferred to the Franciscan school at Cologne, where he died at age 42He was buried in the Minoritenkirche (church of the Minors) near the famous Cologne cathedral. Pope John Paul II beatified him on March 20, 1993 calling him “the bard of the Incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.”
“I see Scotus as the Doctor of the Immaculate Conception, of Christ as king of the universe, of the Church as the bride of Christ, as a defender of Christ’s vicar on earth, as a theologian of the mystery of the Eucharist.”
Father Charles Balic, OFM., the foremost 20th-century authority on Scotus, has written: "The whole of Scotus's theology is dominated by the notion of love. The characteristic note of this love is its absolute freedom. As love becomes more perfect and intense, freedom becomes more noble and integral both in God and in man." (New Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol. 4, p. 1105)
“Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed Duns Scotus teaches us that in our life the essential is to believe that God is close to us and loves us in Jesus Christ, and therefore to cultivate a deep love for him and for his Church. We on earth are witnesses of this love. May Mary Most Holy help us to receive this infinite love of God which we will enjoy eternally to the full in Heaven, when our soul is at last united to God for ever in the Communion of Saints.”
Heavenly Father, You filled John Duns Scotus with wisdom, and through his life and teaching gave us a witness of Your Incarnate love. May we come to understand more deeply what he taught so that we may live in ever growing charity. Amen.
Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed John Duns Scotus
O Most High, Almightily 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 Mother, the Gate of Heaven and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.
Year 2: Day 312 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Rational and faithful thought; Acceptance of the entirety of the Church’s doctrine.
Requested Intentions: Restoration of a marriage (A); Peace and tolerance in a family, support for those with Parkinson’s Disease (M); For the restoration of a daughter’s marriage, end to debt (S); Employment and continued strength (K); Successful examinations for a son (J); Employment and blessings of a child (S); Employment and financial security (F); Successful work placement, continued health (A); Grace and healing for a family (P); Healing of a father (M); Academic success for son, employment for husband and brother (B); Freedom from anxiety and panic attacks (R); Health and healing in preparation for surgery (C); Healing of a chronic illness (P); Safety of a family during storms (A); Successful home ownership (P); Healing of a marriage (M); Employment for a husband, blessings for a marriage (E); Successful examinations for a daughter, healing of a relationships (V); Blessing for a family (V); Healing of baby girl M and all children suffering (M); Special intentions (R); Business success, peace, health (E); Conversion and deliverance of those who suffer, increase in vocations (M); Financial security and safe housing (M); For a daughter (K).