Date of Award

Spring 2003

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Coffey, David

Second Advisor

Barnes, Michel

Third Advisor

Del Colle, Ralph


Catholics born at the time of the Second Vatican Council and perhaps in the decade following it grew up living a peculiar existence between two religious worlds, worlds more often sensed than explained. Too late to have been catechized in the manner of those who were reared before this momentous event and too early to benefit from proper catechetical materials developed as a result of it, our childhood felt the spirit of Vatican II in the air but, especially early in life, observed the vestiges of the Council of Trent and the First Vatican Council everywhere else. Most of the artifacts of a passing age had disappeared by the time we reached adulthood, but early-known traditions linger in memories, the practices and possessions of older family members, and community religious customs retained supplementarily to the liturgy. For some, these may be mere historical curiosities. For others they are links to a heritage warmly embraced even if not always understood, since the theologies supporting these now peripheral Church traditions-if they can even be discovered by today's typical Catholic-are often inaccessible from contemporary intellectual and cultural standpoints. It is possible, then, that the histories of even little observed traditional Catholic practices hold more interest for this latter group, perhaps even for the former, than is commonly surmised. But the theologies of these traditions need reinterpretation if they are to be comprehensible in this new age of the Church and the world. Such reinterpretation is the goal of this project with respect to one particular longstanding Catholic tradition still of central importance ecclesially and liturgically but of marginal consciousness in the private experience of most or many Catholics at the start of the third millennium-intercession of the saints. It is perhaps ironic that while veneration of the saints generally and invocation and intercession of the saints particularly would seem to be a distant concern of many Catholics today, it remains a barrier in dialogue with some Protestants. Yet it has been the topic of profitable ecumenical discussion of late, notably in the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue producing a small flurry of articles and the 1992 book The One Mediator, the Saints, and Mary: Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue. Much of such intra-religious conversation has been concerned with the validity of invocation of the saints, though, while this project's primary interest is the efficacy of invocation, an issue of grace which remains an operative element in the Catholic Church's canonization process and which, more importantly, has been an object of faith in the tradition of the Church from early on...



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