Mary Milligan, R.S.H.M. Lecture in Spirituality Featuring Susan Abraham, Ph.D.

The LMU Theological Studies Department will welcome Susan Abraham, Ph.D., who will give the annual Mary Milligan, R.S.H.M. Lecture in Spirituality. This year’s virtual event on March 25 will feature her lecture, “‘Blessed Are Those Who Mourn’: Depression, Anxiety, and Pain on the Path of an Incarnational Spirituality.”

Susan Abraham headshot 1832x2030 1 271x300 - Mary Milligan, R.S.H.M. Lecture in Spirituality Featuring Susan Abraham, Ph.D.
Susan Abraham, Ph.D.

The Mary Milligan, R.S.H.M. Lecture in Spirituality honors the memory of Mary Milligan, R.S.H.M., who served as professor of theological studies, provost, and dean at Loyola Marymount University. It was established to create a forum for critical reflection on spirituality in service to the Church, the academy and the world and in keeping with the charism of the R.S.H.M. community – “that all may have life and have it to the full.”

In many Christian texts, such as C. S. Lewis’ “The Problem of Pain,” pain and sorrow have a remedial function. There is historical precedence for such a view of sorrow. But for people experiencing crippling anxiety and depression, pain does not have a remedial function at all. Depression and anxiety are paralyzing.

Abraham’s upcoming lecture “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn” will address how Christian theologians take stock of such pain, how the broken-hearted learn to trust in the abundant love and faithfulness of God, and how they can come to believe that God wants us all to have “life and live it to the full.”

Scholarly perspectives on depression often begin with the popular psychological-scientific accounts and treatments of medical depression. In a liberal arts university, we have the option to begin in a different place. Cultural studies, undergirded by Critical Race theory, argue that depression has social and cultural roots. Using cultural theory, depression may be understood to be a form of damaged temporality. Cultural studies also open up spaces for forms of spirituality, especially forms of incarnational spirituality that create habits for living life to the full.

Abraham is a professor of theology and postcolonial cultures, vice president of academic affairs, and dean of faculty at Pacific School of Religion. She is the author of “Identity, Ethics, and Nonviolence in Postcolonial Theory: A Rahnerian Theological Assessment” (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and co-editor of “Shoulder to Shoulder: Frontiers in Catholic Feminist Theology” (Fortress, 2009). Ongoing research projects include issues in theological education and formation, interfaith and interreligious initiatives for social transformation, theology and political theory, religion and media, global Catholicism, and Christianity between colonialism and postcolonialism. She brings wide experience and knowledge of higher education and institutional practices through her past affiliations with St. Bonaventure University, Harvard Divinity School, and Loyola Marymount University. Her publications, courses and presentations weave practical theological insights from her experience of working as a youth minister in Mumbai, India, with theoretical perspectives from postcolonial theory, cultural studies, political theory, and feminist theory.

Thursday, March 25, 2021 | 6 p.m.
Virtual Presentation


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