Recent scholarship has shown that 'liturgical theology' is distinct from a 'theology of liturgy' even though the terms are often used interchangeably. In a theology of the liturgy, the liturgy remains an object of theology whereas with liturgical theology the liturgy itself is the source of theology; it is the elucidation of the theological meaning of worship.

With due reference to the ancient maxim Lex orandi, lex credendi (the law for prayer is the law for faith) and to the notion of human symbolic ritual activity, this unit will explore some of the Catholic Church's liturgical and sacramental rites. It will also examine how liturgical theology is an independent theological discipline with its own special subject (the liturgical tradition of the Catholic Church) distinct from other methods and theological disciplines. The unit will demonstrate that the liturgy, of its very nature, is always expressive of the faith of the Church.

Unit code: CT3102C (Approved)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Explain the thesis that the liturgical assembly and its action – particularly the sacraments – serve as the “primary locus” for the Christian’s encounter with God.


Identify the ways that Christ’s paschal mystery is at the heart of liturgical and sacramental celebration.


Use the liturgical and sacramental rites of the Church as theological sources.


Apply this knowledge to reflect on the celebration of the liturgy and the sacraments in the cultures in which they are likely to worship or minister.


Articulate relationships between liturgical theology and other branches of theology

Unit sequence

  • Chauvet, Louis-Marie. Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1995.
  • Collins, Patrick W. Bodying Forth: Aesthetic Liturgy. New York: Paulist Press, 1992.
  • Fagerberg, David W. Theologia Prima: What is Liturgical Theology? 2nd ed. Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2004.
  • Irwin, Kevin W. Context and Text: Method in Liturgical Theology. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1994.
  • Kavanagh, Aidan. On Liturgical Theology: The Hale Memorial Lectures of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, 1981. New York: Pueblo, 1984.
  • Kubicki, Judith M. The Presence of Christ in the Gathered Assembly. New York: Continuum, 2006.
  • Lathrop, Gordon W. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1993.
  • Power, David N. Sacrament: the Language of God’s Giving. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 1999.
  • ———. Unsearchable Riches: The Symbolic Nature of Liturgy. New York: Pueblo Publishing, 1984.
  • Saliers, Don. Worship as Theology: Foretaste of Glory Divine. Nashville: Abingdon, 1994.
  • Schmemann, Alexander. Introduction to Liturgical Theology. Translated by Ashleigh E. Moorhouse. Crestwood: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003.
  • The Rites of the Catholic Church. 2 vols. New York: Pueblo, 1976, 1983.
  • Vatican Council II. Sacrosanctum concilium. Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. 4 December 1963. In The Liturgy Documents: A Parish Resource, 4th ed. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2004.
  • Vogel, Dwight W., ed. Primary Sources of Liturgical Theology: A Reader. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2000.


Lectures, Tutorials, Seminars


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

2,000-word essay

2000 35.0

2,000-word essay

2000 35.0
Oral Examination

15 -minute oral exam

0 30.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 20 Jul, 2016

Unit record last updated: 2020-10-30 19:16:47 +1100