This unit aims to present with ecumenical sensitivity the origin, meaning and purpose of the Christian sacraments. It begins by outlining foundational concepts upon which contemporary sacramental theology rests, including the importance of symbol, ritual, Jesus as primordial sacrament and the Church as fundamental sacrament. Using this framework, the unit then undertakes a survey of the seven sacraments, paying particular attention to their historical, symbolic, liturgical and pastoral dimensions. Finally, the unit explores and evaluates more recent directions within sacramental theology as a discipline.

Unit code: CT9310Y

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Yarra Theological Union

Show when this unit is running

Learning outcomes


Articulate the importance of foundational concepts such as symbol and ritual in defining and describing sacraments


Discuss the importance of Jesus Christ as primordial sacrament and the Church as fundamental sacrament in defining and describing sacraments


Identify significant developments in the historical evolution of the sacraments


Analyse the sacraments in terms of their key historical developments, symbolic meanings, and liturgical expression


Analyse how the sacraments manifest the presence and work of the Holy Spirit


Articulate the eschatological, missiological and ethical dimensions of the sacraments


Evaluate recent research and directions within sacramental theology as a discipline

Unit sequence

One Foundational Unit in Systematic Theology


Use of “visible learning” pedagogy Seminar format: short lectures; class discussions and activities

Indicative Bibliography

  • Chauvet, Louis-Marie. The Sacraments: the Word of God at the Mercy of the Body. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2001.
  • Cooke, Bernard. Sacraments and Sacramentality. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1983.
  • Lawler, Michael. Symbol and Sacrament: A Contemporary Sacramental Theology. Omaha, NEB.: Creighton University Press, 1987, 1995.
  • Martinez, German. Signs of Freedom: Theology of the Christian Sacraments. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 2003.
  • Martos, Joseph. Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to Sacraments in the Catholic Church. Ligouri MO/Triumph, 2001.
  • Mitchell, Nathan. Meeting Mystery: Liturgy, Worship, Sacraments (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2006.
  • Noll, Ray. Sacraments: A New Understanding for a New Generation. Mystic, CT: Twenty-Third Publications, 1999 (2nd printing 2001).
  • Osborne, Kenan. Sacramental Theology: A General Introduction. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1988.
  • Rahner, Karl. The Church and the Sacraments. New York: Herder and Herder, 1963.
  • Schillebeeckx, Edward. Christ the Sacrament of Encounter with God. New York & London: Sheed & Ward, 1963.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Essay 2500 words

2500 35.0
Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper

Tutorial Paper 1000 words

1000 15.0

Essay 3500 words

3500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Sep, 2019

Unit record last updated: 2021-06-07 08:43:50 +1000