The Assumption Dogma: Some Reactions and Ecumenical Implications in the Thought of English-Speaking Theologians
Paul E. Duggan
Cleveland, OH: The Emerson Press, 1989.

This is the doctoral dissertation presented at the International Marian Research Institute (Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum) by Fr. Paul Duggan, a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, currently auxiliary chaplain in the United States Air Force.

The work begins with an analysis and commentary on the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus (1950) defining the dogma of the Assumption. Succeeding chapters describe both the intrinsic and extrinsic influences which lead to the definition, the contents of the dogma, the relation of this doctrine to the other privileges of Mary. Especially valuable are the interpretations of both Catholic and non-Catholic theologians on the ecumenical implications of the definition. The ecumenical significance of the dogma is further explored by a discussion of the hierarchy of truths. The final section deals with the Assumption in the thought of John Paul II.

The study concludes with fifty pages of endnotes and a twenty-five page bibliography of books and articles. It is a valuable reference work for information on the Assumption in modern writers.

--Thomas A. Thompson, S.M.

Return to Book Review Index

God Alone: The Collected Writings of St. Louis Marie De Montfort
Montfort Publications, 1987

God Alone is the translation of writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort (1673-1716), known to many primarily for his classic work on devotion to Mary. The collection includes letters, the principal works The Love of Eternal Wisdom, The Secret of Mary, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary sermons, rules for the two religious congregations he founded, and a sampling of the one hundred and sixty-three hymns he composed.

God Alone is a well-chosen title: that all spirituality is ultimately God-centered recurs frequently in these pages. In True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Louis insists several times that "the purpose of devotion to Mary is to give glory to God." Mary, to whom we are dedicated, works only and always for God's glory. "You never praise or honor Mary without Mary joining you in praising and honoring God. Mary is entirely relative to God."

Throughout these pages, one senses the ardor of the preacher to the poor, the fire of the mystic, the heroism of the truly holy person. "Light and unction," he writes, "are the first requirements for perfection, for without these, others will never be attracted to the love of Wisdom." The cross requires more than resignation: to climb Mount Calvary, a person must be "courageous, heroic, and resolute." Summaries and paraphrases of the Scripture abound: "If you have trials and affliction, if you suffer much persecution for justice's sake, if you are treated as the refuse of the world, be comforted, rejoice, be glad, and dance for joy because the cross you carry is a gift so precious as to arouse the envy of the saints in heaven, were they capable of envy."

This volume of St. Louis' writings enables us to see the place Mary holds within his total spiritual perspective. His Marian writings have a rare intensity, but they are only part of a larger panorama. The Marian dimensions of St. Louis' thought are well integrated into his foundational themes of God's glory, eternal wisdom, and the cross. A listing of sermon titles for his Lenten missions reveals that only four out of seventy-six sermons are on specifically Marian topics.

Published during the Marian Year and on the fortieth anniversary of the saint's canonization, this book has explanatory notes, an index of subjects, and an index of biblical references. Attractively printed and bound, this book belongs in every library of spirituality and Marian devotion.

--Thomas A. Thompson, S.M.

Return to Book Review Index

Our Father, Our Mother: Mary and the Faces of God
George T. Montague, S.M.
Steubenville, OH: Franciscan University of Steubenville, 1990.

Similar to the convergence of three rivers, so three concerns come together in this work: the full range of meaning for "father" in both revelation and human experience; the meaning of "mother," of Mary's motherhood, of the motherhood of the Church; and finally, the current desire to use inclusive language in the liturgy.

The first part of the book deals with what is specific about Jesus' revelation: that God is Abba (a loving father). The rich notion of Abba includes God's choice of a people, sealed by the bond of covenant, and God's mercy, compassion, and intimacy. God as Abba, though limited as every human image and concept of God is, belongs to the historical core of revelation. As the address Jesus gave us for God, it is essential, and the liturgy cannot abandon it without dismantling the heart of Jesus' revelation." The concept of God overflows that ofAbba, and feminine imagery is used to describe the compassion and tenderness of God; still the fundamental image that Jesus conveys to us about God is found in Abba.

Father Montague is aware that many say that Jesus' revelation about God has led to political or ecclesiastical patriarchy. In reply, he cites ancient and contemporary societies who had one or several feminine representations of God. Despite the female deities, these societies were not free from a patriarchal structure, nor was the status of women in them noticeably better than in those which had only male representations of the deity.

The second part of the book outlines how several feminine motifs in the Old Testament come to a convergence in the person of Mary, who, through the Holy Spirit, provides a context for experiencing the fullness of God's revelation, especially those qualities of God characterized as feminine. Three Old Testament motifs receive fulfillment in Mary: the Queen Mother, the Virgin Daughter Zion, and Mother Zion. The Holy Spirit continues to use these motifs to bring the disciples of Jesus into the presence of the Holy Trinity within them.

This book does not pretend to answer all the questions raised, especially those dealing with language. It arises from the concern that some inclusive language tends to deprive God both of that which is distinctive in Jesus' revelation and also of being a living person someone we can come to know and love. A fine book for discussion groups and adult education classes.

--Thomas A. Thompson, S.M.

Return to Book Review Index

The Miracle Accounts of Our Lady and the History of Mentalities
Les Collections de Miracles de la Vierge en Gallo-et Ibéro-Roman Au XIII Siecle
Paule V. Beterous
Available from The Marian Library

Paule V. Beterous, professor of medieval literature at the University of Bordeaux, exhibits a vast and profound knowledge of the thirteenth-century collections of Our Lady's miracles written in Gallic and the Ibero-Romanesque languages in this 733-page, double-issue volume, which includes charts, bibliography, and indices.

Her study retraces the history of Marian miracles between the fifth and the fourteenth centuries. The earliest accounts of miracles of Mary were from the Latin oral tradition, and Gregory of Tours (538-594) seems to have been the first to collect these miracles and put them in writing. Beginning in the eigth century, the miracle accounts were incorporated into collections of exempla (accounts, legends) and sermons. At the beginning of this century, Albert Poncelet mentions no fewer than 1,783 titles of Marian miracles written in Latin, most of these in multiple variations.

Between the twelfth and the fourteenth centuries, miracle accounts written in the vernacular acquired literary status and quality. They reflect a society with a hierarchical and static character, in which the strong dichotomy and interdependence between the natural and the supernatural order, good and evil, punishment and reward, produced a religious outlook with strong anthropomorphic traits and patterns. Miracle accounts are based on a religion of other-worldly hope and the certitude of God's mercy; they appeal to sensitivity more than the intellect; they are based on extraordinary signs and events. In addition to their moral purpose, the miracle stories had the didactic function of explaining Marian feasts and shrines, assisting Marian apologists and fostering Marian devotion.

Mary was presented as domina par excellence (parallel to Christus Dominus). Christians were her vassals. Accordingly, she held different roles, which all reflected her powerful intercession with God. Frequently, she made reparation for evil, both moral and psycho-physical. She commanded through signs, visions, and voices, and brought about the conversion of the sinner. Mary's intervention might be retributive, sanctioning just or unjust judgment, or tutelary, taking the persecuted under her mantle. Mary was the intercessor, using her dialectic abilities in her arguments with Christ. She was comfort and assurance in moral and physical danger, and she assisted in making decisions in time of trial.

The literary analysis of the miracle accounts takes up an important portion of the study. Beterous concludes that the accounts do not constitute a separate literary genre, but should be considered a special category of the narrative genre. The miracle stories combine popular aspects (simplicity of considerations and solutions) with more erudite aspects (literary form and transmission). Their literary value differs from one collection to another. Borrowing from Latin models, the clerical authors wrote for believers whose faith related them to living persons. In the description of the relations, courtly literature began to influence the miracle accounts. The short life of this literature was a result of its lack of adaptation to new social conditions. Written in a monastic and rural context, these accounts did not survive the new emerging urban mentality.

The accounts are of liturgical interest (Marian prayer, especially the "Ave Maria," the joys of Mary, names of Mary, litanies): they reflect a sound christology (virginal conception, incarnation), but sometimes a debatable concept of mediation. Popular piety is mirrored in the miracles. We learn about the official cult of Mary (the five principal feasts); the saints, especially those related to that cult (St. John); the local and international Marian pilgrimages; and pare-liturgical devotions and practices, sometimes of a mixed religious and magical character.

This study is of special interest for scholars of Hispanic literature and culture and for those in medieval studies and comparative literature. It is precisely in comparative studies that the work of Beterous will produce a rich harvest. She admirably explores the miracles of Our Lady from the point of view of the history of mentalities. Specifically, the miracles present a Mariology ad usum populi manifesting the powerful role of Mary with God, in this world, in her fight against the devil, and at the hour of death.

Although limited geographically and linguistically to the regions of southern France and northern Spain, Beterous' work has a paradigmatic character, both methodologically and thematically. The author succeeds not only in establishing a meticulously qualified inventory of the collection of miracles under scrutiny, but also surprises the reader with her comprehensive and qualitative approach to the material. Last but not least, Beterous' study offers to theologians and to Mariologists, in particular, an admirable example of Mariology in situ.

--Johann G. Roten, S.M.

Return to Book Review Index

Mary, Mother and Disciple: From the Scriptures to the Council of Ephesus, with a Woman's Response and Poems
Joseph and Carolyn Grassi
Wilmington, DE: Michael Glazier, Inc., 1988.

Joseph A. Grassi's book deals with the true place that Mary found within the memory, beliefs, and theology of the early Christian communities. The first part follows the Scriptures chronologically from the letters of Paul to the Apocalypse; the second part outlines the history and traditions concerning Mary from the apostolic writings, through the golden age of the Church fathers, to the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. As a result, Mary emerges as Theotokos, the Mother and Disciple of Jesus, and an enduring female archetype.

This book is a valuable contribution to the study and appreciation of Mary after Vatican II. It is recommended for courses in Mariology, for adult education, for biblical study groups and for religious in formation. It is a contribution from lay theologians who present Mary to a world that needs her courageous commitment and feminine strengths.

--Bertrand Buby, S.M.

Return to Book Review Index

Return to Book Review Index

Return to the Resources Menu


This page, maintained by The Marian Library/International Marian Research Institute, Dayton, Ohio 45469-1390, and created by Michael P. Duricy , was last modified Friday, 09/03/2010 15:00:01 EDT by Ajay Kumar . Please send any comments to

URL for this page is