Monday, December 8, 2014

Duns Scotus on the Sinlessness of Mary; Hopkins on Scotus

Today in the Catholic Church we are celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Holy Day of Obligation. My husband and I will attend Mass in the Extraordinary Form at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Wichita, Kansas tonight at 7:00 p.m.

Of course the connection between England and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, that the Mary the Mother of God was conceived in her mother's womb without the stain of Original Sin, is Blessed Duns Scotus, the 13th/14th century Franciscan (who was born in Scotland, taught at Oxford and Cambridge, and in France, and was quite international). He defended her sinlessless while in Paris, as Gerard Manley Hopkins references in the last line of his poem "Duns Scotus's Oxford":

TOWERY city and branchy between towers;
Cuckoo-echoing, bell-swarmèd, lark-charmèd, rook-racked, river-rounded;
The dapple-eared lily below thee; that country and town did
Once encounter in, here coped and poisèd powers;

Thou hast a base and brickish skirt there, sours
That neighbour-nature thy grey beauty is grounded
Best in; graceless growth, thou hast confounded
Rural rural keeping—folk, flocks, and flowers.

Yet ah! this air I gather and I release
He lived on; these weeds and waters, these walls are what
He haunted who of all men most sways my spirits to peace;

Of realty the rarest-veinèd unraveller; a not
Rivalled insight, be rival Italy or Greece;
Who fired France for Mary without spot.

The Subtle Doctor developed the theological explanation used by Pope Pius IX in the Apostolic Constitution Ineffabilis Deus, that "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

BTW, when Hopkins says to Scotus as he "who of all men most sways my spirits to peace" he is referencing his study of Scotus's "Haecceity" or "thisness"--those qualities that make something a particular thing, while still arguing that things have a common nature. (That is: Scotus is not a nominalist like Occam; he is a universalist.)

No comments:

Post a Comment