St. John’s University, Queens Campus, Fall 2016

Section 74896: 12:15pm - 1:40pm Mon and Thu, SJH 211

Dr. Matthew Lewis Sutton

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Office: St. John’s University, Queens Campus, St. John’s Hall B20–27

Student Hours: 8:30 - 9:00am; 1:45 - 2:45pm Mon and Thu, or by appointment

718.990.5052 | | | @doctorsutton

Your Course Website:

Undergraduate Bulletin: "Prerequisite: THE 1000C. The genesis, historical development and current manifestations of the theology of Mary and the saints and Christian liturgical and devotional practices associated with honoring them. Credit 3 semester hours."

This course provides the student with a detailed analysis of the history of ideas, doctrines, and devotions of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Communion of Saints. From the Bible throughout every century of Christian history, the Mother of Jesus, the martyrs, and the holy men and women of heroic virtue have had a special, honored place in Christian life and thought.

In this course, we will explore how they teach the way of Jesus Christ as the essential witnesses of the fruits of Christianity. These exemplary figures will be approached as biographies of Christian spiritual heroism and more importantly as lives witnessing to the theological understanding of the Christian quest for union with God through Jesus Christ in his Church. Above all, the student will gain a great appreciation of the historical, cultural, and theological foundations of the Catholic Christian faith in Mary and the Saints.

By the conclusion of the course, the student should be able:

  • to identify and interpret Old and New Testament passages that provide information and theological reflection about Mary and saintly life
  • to trace the significant development of theological reflections on Mary and the communion of saints in various Christian traditions
  • to identify and interpret Christian liturgical and devotional practices associated with Mary and the communion of saints

Course Texts: Required:

  • Bible, must be an appropriate translation for academic work, such as the RSV, NRSV, NAB, NABre, NIV, ESV, NKJV. (recommended translation The Ignatius Bible (Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). Second Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780898708349 Paperback or Kindle. If you have questions, see me.
  • Pelikan, Jaroslav. Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press, 1998. Paperback. ISBN: 9780300076615 Paperback.
  • Von Speyr, Adrienne. Mary In the Redemption. Translated by Helena M. Tomko. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2003). ISBN: 0898709555 Paperback or Kindle.
  • Mother Teresa. Come Be My Light: The Private Writings of the Saint of Calcutta. Edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk. New York: Doubleday, 2007. ISBN: 978-0307589231 Paperback or Kindle.
  • Wendy Beckett. Sister Wendy on the Art of Mary. Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2013. ISBN: 978-1616366933 Paperback.

Course Structure:

The course will be structured into three learning units. The first will be on the history of Mary, the Mother of Jesus in theology, culture, and spirituality. The second will be on the mystical theology of Mary. The third will be a detailed study of holiness and saints, but a focused study on a modern saint. Each unit will have assignments and assessments designed to give you an overall understanding and initial mastery of the thought and development of the Catholic Christian faith of the theology of Mary and the saints.

Learning Assessment:

In this course, you can earn a total of 100 points. Progress reports will be emailed to you at the beginning of every month. You earn these points by successfully completing the following:

  • Class Participation: active engagement (questioning, answering, and discussing) = 10 points
  • Encountering Mary and the Saints Assignment Sheets = 25 points (1 points for each)
  • Occasion of Joy Exams = 25 points (2 exams)
  • Encountering the Psalms and the Saints Assignment = 5 points
  • Occasion of Beauty Paper on Mary, Saints, and Art = 10 points
  • Occasion of Jubilation Preparation for Final Paper = 5 points
  • Occasion of Jubilation Final Paper on the Theology of the Saints = 20 points

Grading Scale:

A = 100 - 93 points (100 - 93%); A- = 92 - 90 points (92 - 90 %); B+ = 89 - 87 points (89 - 87%); B = 86 - 83 points (86 - 83%); B- = 82 - 80 points (82 - 80%); C+ = 79 - 77 points (79 - 77%); C = 76 - 73 points (76 - 73%); C- = 72 - 70 points (72 - 70%); D+ = 69 - 67 points (69 - 67%); D = 66 - 60 points (66 - 60%); F = 59 - 0 points (59 - 0%)

We are at our best when:

  • We act with Academic Integrity, which means no plagiarism, no cheating, no damaging of other people’s work, and no assisting someone else’s dishonesty. Plagiarism is the act of appropriating and using the ideas, writings, or works of another person as your own without giving proper citation to the person who created it. I will follow the university’s procedure for plagiarism and discipline to the highest extent allowable, which can include an “F” for this course and the act of plagiarism noted in your academic file. Any further offenses entail suspension or expulsion.
  • We are Actively Engaged with each other. As a student, you must attend class regularly, attentively, and promptly with readings and assignments completed. As a professor, I must be available to you for encouraging and guiding you to excel in your education. St. John’s College mandates “Regular and prompt attendance is expected of all students and is an individual student’s responsibility. Absence from class does not excuse a student from any work missed. There is no penalty for absence from class considered in itself. Students are, however, responsible for all announced exams and for submitting all assignments given in class at the proper time. Ignorance of such exams and assignments is not an acceptable excuse for failure to complete them.”
  • You are Responsible for Everything said in class. You are responsible for getting class notes from another student. Only after you have received and read those notes can you contact me with further questions about the class.
  • We do not use any Digital Devices inappropriately during class time such as cell phones, text messaging, mp3 players, tablets, or laptops. If you do not follow this policy, you will not be able to earn participation points for the class meeting. If it continues to be a problem, your overall point total will be reduced according to the severity of your lack of engagement. ASK PERMISSION IF YOU NEED TO USE A LAPTOP OR TABLET FOR NOTE TAKING AND READING ASSIGNMENTS.
  • We turn in our Assignments and Papers promptly as directed by the professor. Even if you are absent, you are still responsible for turning in your assignments by the beginning of class or as directed. If your assignment is late, your grade for that assignment will be lowered at least by 10% for each day that it is late. Your grade will continue to be lowered to zero at my discretion until it is submitted.
  • We attend Prepared for all Exams and the Final Cumulative Exam and these should not be missed. If you cannot attend an exam, you must consult me in advance and receive clear approval from me. No make-up exams will be given unless you receive clear approval beforehand or as determined by me. Since the dates of the exams are clearly communicated to you, it is unlikely that you will receive approval.
  • We learn because We Are Human and we desire to know the truth about the divine, the world, and ourselves. We strive for Excellence without Excuses.