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Sacramental Theology 5241A
Sacraments of Initiation I: Baptism and Confirmation
FALL 2012
Monday 9:30 - 11:30 AM
Room 102, St. Peter's Seminary 
INSTRUCTOR:  Fr. Pierre Robitaille
Office Hours by Appointment


The course examines the theological meaning of Baptism and Confirmation, so that the students will be prepared to enrich the contemporary Church with pastoral action formed by the study of foundational biblical texts and the rich and varied tradition out of which these two rites have developed, and still evolve.


The methodology to be followed in this course is that set down by Vatican II in the decree Optatam Totius (On the Training of Priests), no.16:

Dogmatic theology should be so arranged that the biblical themes are presented first.  Students should be shown what the Fathers of the Eastern and Western Church contributed to the faithful transmission and illumination of the individual truths of revelation, and also the later history of dogma and its relationship to the general history of the Church. Then, by way of making the mysteries of salvation known as thoroughly as they can be, students should learn to penetrate them more deeply with the help of speculative reason exercised under the tutelage of St. Thomas. Students should learn, too, how these mysteries are interconnected, and be taught to recognize their presence and activity in liturgical actions and in the whole life of the Church. Let them learn to search for solutions to human problems with the light of revelation, to apply eternal truths to the changing conditions of human affairs, and to communicate such truths in a manner suited to contemporary people.


By the end of the course the students will be well acquainted with the theology and the history of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation in relation to the mystery of redemption and the living of the Christian life, with the goal of helping students to understand the power of these sacraments for their own lives and to invite others to
experience the power of Christ in these sacraments. 


* 2 Thesis Papers 40%
* 1 Catechetical Presentation 20%
* Class Presence and Participation 10%
* Final Oral Exam 30%

 • 20% - 2 Thesis Papers. You will be given a question and you are to pose a direct answer to the question and defend your answer with material synthesized from the course or required reading. You will be given a question one week before the thesis papers are due. Clarity and brevity are preferred: therefore these thesis papers are to be no more than 1 page double-spaced, about 300 words. Longer papers will receive a lower grade. These papers will be due on October 22, 2012 and December 3, 2012.

• 20% - Prepare a 1 hour Catechetical Presentation for the parents of children who will be baptized. Make an outline which shows me what you will actually say, although word for word presentation is not necessary. The detailed outline should be 7 - 10 pages.  Remember that this group of adults may not always go to church, but are coming because this is required for the children to be baptized. You want them to understand something about the theology of baptism, why it is important for their child, what difference it makes, and what are their responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to give them some real theology, picking the important aspects of the sacrament of baptism and explaining them using scripture and the catechism. Try to be evangelistic/inviting/inspiring and creative with examples to bring these truths to their lives. Included in the 7 - 10 pages but before the actual outline of the lesson plan, answer the following questions:

1. What are the main concepts about Baptism I want them to understand?
2. What is the action I hope they will do after this talk?

Due November 10, 2012


 A. Required

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishop, 1994.
The Rites, Vol. 1. New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1990.
Walsh, Liam F. Sacraments of Initiation: A Theology of Rite, Word, and Life.
Second Edition. Chicago, Illinois: Hillenbrand Books, 2011 (ISBN 978-1-59525-035-3).


Lecture 1 (September 10): Presentation of the Course, What is a Sacrament?

Required Readings:
1. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1076 - 1209 (pp. 237 - 263)

• Lecture 2 (September 17): Introduction to the Celebration of the Liturgy in the Sacraments.
The Teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on Baptism.

• Lecture 3 (September 24): Baptism and the New Testament.

Required Readings:
Johnson, Maxwell. The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation.
Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Press, 1999. Chapter 1: “The Foundations,” 1 - 41.

• Lecture 4 (October 1): Baptism and the Early Church.

• Lecture 5 (October 15): Baptism in the Middle Ages.

Required Readings: Johnson, 219 - 268

• Lecture 6 (October 22): Baptism and Contemporary Theology.

Required Readings: Walsh, 57 - 83

• Lecture 7 (October 29): The Shape of Adult Initiation.

Required Readings: The Rites, Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, 3 - 47.

• Lecture 8 (November 5): The Shape of Children’s Baptism.

Required Readings: The Rites, Rite of Baptism for Children, 361 - 375

• Lecture 9 (November 12); Introduction to the Celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation.
The Teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on Confirmation.

Required Readings: Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1285 - 1321 (pp. 265 - 277)

• Lecture 10 (November 19): Confirmation and its Historical and Theological Considerations.  

• Lecture 11 (November 26): The Rite of Confirmation.

Required Readings: The Rites, Rite of Confirmation.

• Lecture 12 (December 3): Symtheis and review.

Exam: December 10


Students are responsible for knowing the University’s academic policies and regulations and any particularities of their own course of study. These can all be found at the University’s website ( Ignorance of these polices is not an excuse for any violation thereof. The following policies are particularly important to note:

Submission of Assignments: It is the responsibility of the student to organize his or her work so that the assignments are completed on time. A penalty of 10% of the value of the assignment will be deducted for each day it is overdue without permission.

Plagiarism: Students must write their essays and assignments in their own words.  Whenever students take an idea or a passage from another author, they must acknowledge their debt by quotation marks and/or footnotes. Plagiarism is a major academic offense. Students may be required to submit their work in electronic form for plagiarism checking.

Selection and Registration of Courses: Students are responsible for ensuring that their selection of courses is appropriate and accurately recorded, that all prerequisite course(s) have been successfully completed, and that they are aware of any anti-requisite course(s) that they have taken.