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Mulder, wearing a dark shirt, sits at a large table looking down as he reads from a book. He is surrounded by wooden bookcases lined with book.

Going Deeper

By Jack Mulder

This past summer, I was honored to be a visiting fellow at the University of Dayton’s Marian Library. I used this time to explore Marian spirituality in more depth. I spent some of the first days looking at icons of the Blessed Mother and how they connect with the tilma of St. Juan Diego, on which a singular miraculous image is preserved.

As this project was well underway, I soon turned to a newer set of inquiries for me. I began reading deeply in St. Maximilian Kolbe’s writings and scholarship about this saint. I explored his theology of Marian consecration and of the person of Mary. I found his work inspiring and devotionally rich, but, as a Thomist philosopher, I also had some concerns about the way his Scotism informed his Mariology. I learned how deeply this was the case and how this revealed certain fault lines in Mariology in ways that I simply don’t think I could have learned without the ease and availability of so much Mariology at my fingertips in the library. 

I then set out to read more deeply on the work of another great saint of Marian consecration, St. Louis de Montfort. Here I found similar kinds of daring assertions about the role of the Blessed Virgin in God’s plan of salvation and in the spiritual life of the individual Christian. Indeed, Montfort and those who follow him do not shrink from discussing mystical union with Mary, even though this is always understood in the wider context of union with Christ. I particularly appreciated the accent Montfort often laid upon the importance of Mary’s consent, as that topic is one to which I have devoted considerable attention in other work and one that I consider fundamental in understanding the Catholic Church’s view on Mariology. 

In all of this, I was blessed to be able to attend daily Mass and contemplate so many objects of Marian devotion from a wide variety of diverse traditions. I felt the presence of the Blessed Mother and found the time to reflect on her role both professionally and personally rewarding. Moreover, I often reflected on how, if I needed to chase down one more link in the chain of Marian thought I was pursuing, invariably all I had to do was walk down the hall, since the Marian Library had everything!

— Dr. Jack Mulder, philosophy professor and philosophy department chair at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, received the 2023 Marian Library Visiting Scholar Fellowship

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