Elective unit (Min. No. 8)

1st semester: Thursday evening

Cross listed as DR9350Y

“Christians are made, not born” (Tertullian). This unit explores with ecumenical sensitivity the origin, history and meaning of the processes involved in persons becoming Christians. The unit begins by briefly exploring insights drawn from cultural anthropology and ritual studies regarding the significance attached to initiation. On this basis, the unit then follows two lines of inquiry. The first represents an historical survey, charting the practices of Christian initiation in the early Church and the subsequent emergence of the three separate sacraments of initiation: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. The second line of inquiry investigates the sacraments of initiation as they stand in the post-Vatican II Catholic Church, paying particular attention to the RCIA, continuing debates surrounding different approaches to the sacraments of initiation and, finally, the significance of the Eucharist as both the high point of the journey of faith for persons joining the Church, and as the repeatable and ongoing sacrament of Christian initiation.

PREREQUSITES: One Foundational Unit in Systematic Theology

Upon successful completion of this unit, it is expected that students will be able to:
1. explain the cultural significance attached to initiation as a ritual process
2. identify key historical developments in the emergence and evolution of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist as sacraments of initiation
3. articulate major theological insights regarding Christian initiation following the Second Vatican Council, especially in relation to the RCIA
4. demonstrate skills in reading and analysing key texts and rites associated with the sacraments of initiation;
5. discuss the place of the Eucharist in the church’s sacraments of initiation
6. explain debates surrounding the understanding and celebration of the sacraments of initiation in the contemporary Church
7. differentiate between differing ecumenical understandings of initiation, and Evaluate the theological issues involved

2000 word essay on the history of initiation in the early Church (30%); 1000 word seminar paper (20%); 3000 word major essay (50%)

Baldovin, John. Bread of Life, Cup of Salvation: Understanding the Mass. Lanham, MD: Sheed and Ward, 2003.

Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry. Faith and Order Paper No. 111. Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982.

Browning, Ron. Taking the Plunge: Seeking, Accompanying, Baptising. East Melbourne: Spectrum Publications, 2008. (An Anglican adaptation of the RCIA).

Johnson, Maxwell. The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.

Johnson, Maxwell. Sacraments and Worship: The Sources of Christian Theology. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2012.

Lysik, David, ed. The Liturgy Documents: A Parish Resource. 4th ed. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2004.

Mazza, Enrico. The Celebration of the Eucharist: The Origin of the Rite and the Development of its Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.

Mick, Lawrence. Living Baptism Daily. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2004.