Foundations of Liturgy & Sacrament TRS 640

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  • Foundations of Liturgy & Sacrament TRS 640:
  • Professor: S. Alexopoulos
  • Taken: Spring 2016
  • Description: This overview and systematic study of constitutive elements of liturgical rites and sacramental theology analyzes the historical developments which facilitate understanding the contemporary praxis. This process demonstrates the relationship between lex orandi and lex credendi. Should be taken before any other course in sacraments or liturgy.

Class materials on CUA Blackboard

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Credit Hours: 3 Pangborn G024 Class time: MW2:10–3:25

Professor: Rev. Dr. Stefanos Alexopoulos Office: Caldwell 408 Phone: 202-319-6898 Email:

COURSE DESCRIPTION This course develops an understanding of liturgy with an accentuation on liturgical history, sacramental theology, and liturgical theology. It focuses upon the historical theological understanding of liturgy, including the meaning of assembly, environment, ritual, symbol, gesture, proclamation of scripture, and blessing prayers as central to liturgical celebrations which demonstrate the relationship of liturgy to life. This course presupposes a basic familiarity with the general history of liturgy and liturgical principles: if you have no background please read Marcel Metzger, History of the Liturgy.

Instructional Methods: Lectures utilizing PowerPoint presentation, class discussions, critical reading and analysis of key texts and student presentations.

PREREQUISITE READING: History of the Liturgy, Metzger, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1997.

Required Texts:

  • Any source for the Rites.

Required articles and documents available through Blackboard (

Supplementary text: Mazza, Enrico. Mystagogy: A Theology of Liturgy in the Patristic Age. Translated by Matthew J. O’Connell. New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1989.


  • To comprehend how the historical development of the liturgy, both Eastern and Western, is a context for liturgical/sacramental theology
  • To identify and examine liturgical historical sources and their interpretation within the broader theological, cultural and scientific context
  • To deepen the understanding of sacramentality as foundational for sacramental celebration within the broader cultural and scientific context, especially under the historical and contemporary views of the mind-body relation
  • To articulate a liturgical theology of sacrament

GOALS FOR STUDENT LEARNING At the conclusion of the course, the student will be able to apply the historical information within a liturgical theological framework in order to elaborate a lived theological understanding of the sacraments. The written work will reinforce the various issues presented in class and to focus their self-expression as a primer for their own liturgical and teaching missions.


  • (15%) A. Daily Participation
    • Readings listed on the syllabus are to be prepared FOR the class. You will be expected to discuss them in class.
    • Attendance: INCOMPLETES ARE GIVEN ONLY IN THE CASE OF SERIOUS ILLNESS. University requirements assume that students attend all classroom lectures. It is also expected that the student be on time: repeated tardiness will not be tolerated. If you must be absent please inform the professor in advance.
    • Preparation for class discussion and one-page reflection papers will be assigned occasionally.
  • If you happen to be absent for any reason, you are required to write a one page reflection paper on the readings and notes that you have borrowed from a friend.
    • You will be required to do periodic presentations to the class.
    • The instructor reserves the right to administer Quizzes if he deems them necessary.
  • (5%) B. Liturgical Service Reflection Paper You are asked to participate in a Eucharistic Liturgy that is NOT of your own tradition and that you have never previously attended, either Catholic or Orthodox. In the three page essay (double spaced, Times New Roman, 12pt, 1 inch margins) include a brief overall description of the rite and then identify two specific aspects of the liturgy you wish to comment upon in a liturgical theological manner, comparing these with your own tradition. The reflection is due on February 3.
  • (10%) C. Book Review of Catherine Vincie, Worship and the New Cosmology (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2014). Due on April 8
  • (20%) D. Research / Integration Paper – The Liturgical Theology of _________

The student will pick a Sacrament (not Eucharist, Baptism/Confirmation or Holy Orders) or a Sacramental and will illustrate a liturgical theology of that Sacrament/Sacramental by reflecting on its text and ceremony, utilizing the liturgical theological methodology elaborated in class. This 8-10 page paper (double spaced, Times New Roman, 12pt, 1 inch margins) will demonstrate the students grasp of the subject matter and application of the liturgical theological method. Topic is due February 22. Outline is due March 23. The due date for the Research Paper is April 25.

  • Examinations:
    • (25%) Midterm examination: Wednesday, February 24
    • (25%) Final Examination: TBA


  • Evaluation of written work considers the following elements:
    • Comprehension of the material under discussion
    • Ability to write one’s understanding clearly
    • Correct usage of standard English grammar, punctuation, and spelling
    • Organization of material
    • Ability to see relationships and synthesize ideas
    • Ability to reflect on the material and to see implications or issues.
  • Assignments are due in class on the day indicated.
  • Cheating and plagiarism are not tolerated; either will result in a grade of F for the course. Refer to your student handbook concerning consequences of plagiarism. If you use any words, ideas, images, etc. directly or indirectly, that are not your own, you need to note it according to the style indicated in the Chicago Manual of Style or the Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Sixth edition.
  • The final grade is the average of the student’s grades. If the result borders one letter grade and another, then quality participation in class may move the student to the higher grade.

Course Schedule

  • January 13 Course Introduction – Overview of the History of Sacraments and Liturgy
  • January 18 No Class – MLK holiday.
  • January 20 Scripture and Sacraments The Early Sources of Liturgy and the Sacraments
  • January 25 The Early Sources of Liturgy and the Sacraments
    • Bradshaw (Chapter 5) 98-117
    • Tertullian (sections from De Baptismo)
  • January 27 The Patristic Era I: Ambrose
    • Irwin 3-10
    • St. Ambrose of Milan, (sections from De Mysteriis)
    • suggested Enrico Mazza, Mystagogy 14-44
      • Reflection Paper Due ***
  • February 1 The Patristic Era II: Augustine
    • Augustine, “Against the Donatists” (Selections)
    • suggested F. van der Meer, Augustine the Bishop, 277-346; 388-402
  • February 3 The Patristic Era III: Jerusalem
    • Cyril of Jerusalem, Mystagogical Catecheses (Selections)
    • suggested Enrico Mazza, Mystagogy 150-174
  • February 8 The Patristic Era IV: John Chrysostom
    • John Chrysostom, Baptismal Homilies, (excerpt on Blackboard)
  • February 10 Excursus: The Eastern Christian Traditions
    • Stefanos Alexopoulos, “The Liturgy of the Eastern Churches” (Blackboard)
  • February 15 The Emergence of the Medieval University
    • Edward Grant, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996, 33-85.
    • Edward Grant, God and Reason in the Middle Ages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, 83-114.
  • February 17 The Middle Ages I: Lombard
    • Irwin 10-15
    • Elizabeth Rogers, Peter Lombard and the Sacramental System, 46-77, 79-87, 243-246.
  • February 22 The Middle Ages II: Thomas Aquinas
    • Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, Q 60-69.
      • Research / Integration Paper Topic is Due ***
  • February 24 MIDTERM
  • February 29 No Class – Spring Break
  • March 2 No Class – Spring Break
  • March 7 Council of Trent on the Sacraments and the Protestant Reformation
    • Council of Trent: Seventh Session: Decree on the Sacraments; Thirteenth Session, Decree on the Eucharist.
    • The Catechism of the Council of Trent: On the Sacraments
    • Irwin 15-18
  • March 9 From Trent to Vatican II: The Liturgical Movement
    • Kieth Pecklers, “History of the Roman Liturgy from the Sixteenth until the Twentieth Centuries” in ed. Anscar Chupungco, Handbook for Liturgical Studies I: Introduction to the Liturgy, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1997, 153-178
  • March 14 Vatican II
    • Sacrosanctum Concilium
    • USCCB, Stewards of the Tradition
    • Irwin 18-32
  • March 16 Vatican II Vatican II and its Influence on other Christian Liturgical Traditions
    • Sacrosanctum Concilium
    • Jeremy Driscoll, “Reviewing and Recovering Sacrosanctum concilium’s Theological Vision,” Ecclesia Orans 30 (2013) 363-390
  • March 21 Methodological Principles
    • Dwight Vogel (ed.), Primary Sources of Liturgical Theology: A Reader, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2000, 87-124
    • Kevin Irwin, “The Theological Keys of Sacrosanctum concilium. Reflections and Proposals,” Ecclesia Orans 30 (2013) 411-453
  • March 23 Word as Proclamation
    • USCCB, Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily Washington, DC: USCCB Publishing, 2012.
    • Lectionary for Mass: Introduction, Chapter One.
    • Irwin 85-127
    • Research / Integration Paper Outline is due
  • March 28 NO CLASS – Easter Monday
  • March 30 Symbol
    • Irwin 128-175
    • Kevin W. Irwin, “A Sacramental World – Sacramentality as the Primary Language for Sacraments,” Worship 76 (2002) 97-111.
    • Stephen Happel, “Symbol,” The New Dictionary of Sacramental Worship, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1990, 1237-1245
    • John McKenna, “Symbol and Reality,” Worship 65 (1991) 2-26
  • April 4 Symbol (cont.) and Euchology
    • Irwin 176-218
    • Book Review Due
  • April 6 Liturgical Arts – Music – Environment
    • Irwin 219-261
    • “Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship” in The Liturgy Documents, 376-431.
    • “Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship” in The Liturgy Documents, 434-518.
  • April 11 Liturgy, Memory and the Senses
    • Eric Palazzo, “Art, Liturgy, and the Five Senses in the Early Middle Ages,” Viator 41 (2010) 25-56
    • Lucio Maria Pinkus, “The Psychological Aspect of the Liturgy” in ed. Anscar Chupungco, Handbook of Liturgical Studies II: Fundamental Liturgy, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1998, 175-188.
  • April 13 Case Study: The Sacrament of Marriage – History and Theology
    • Introduction to the Rite of Marriage
    • The Rite of Marriage
    • Germán Martínez, Chapter 3 in Worship: Wedding to Marriage, Washington, DC: Pastoral Press, 1993. 51-77.
    • Germán Martínez, “The Newly Revised Roman Rite for Celebrating Marriage,” Worship 69 (1995) 127-142.
    • Jan Michael Joncas, “Solemnizing the Mystery of Wedded Love: Nuptial Blessings in the Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium 1991,” Worship 70 (1996) 210-237.
  • April 18 Liturgical Year
    • “General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar” In The Liturgy Documents, 165-176
    • Leofranc Holford-Strevens, The History of Time: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005
    • A selection from:
    • John Baldovin, “On Feasting the Saints,” Worship 54 (1980) 336-44.
    • Robert Taft, “Toward a Theology of the Christian Feast,” In Beyond East and West, Pastoral Press: Washington, DC, 1984, 15-29.
    • Bradshaw, “Liturgy and Time,” Chapter 8, 171-191.
    • S. K. Roll, “Christmas Then and Now: Reflections on its Origins and Contemporary Pastoral Problems,” Worship 73 (1999) 505-521.
    • Robert Taft, “Marian Liturgical Veneration: Origins, Meaning, and Contemporary Catholic Renewal,” In Orientale Lumen III Conference Proceedings—1999, Fairfax, VA, 1999, 91-112.
  • April 20 Liturgy of the Hours – General
    • Instruction on the Liturgy of the Hours.
    • Robert Taft, Chapters 21 & 22 in The Liturgy of the Hours East and West, 2nd Edition, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1993. 331-373.
  • April 25 Liturgical Spirituality
    • Irwin 311-346
  • April 27 Reading Day


Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologiae. Edited by David Bourke. New York: McGraw Hill, 1975.

Bordeyne, Philippe and Bruce T. Morrill, eds. Sacraments: Revelation of the Humanity of God: Engaging the Fundamental Theology of Louis-Marie Chauvet, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2008.

Carroll, Thomas K. and Thomas P. Halton. Liturgical Practice in the Fathers. Wilmington, Delaware: M. Glazier, 1988.

Chauvet, Louis-Marie. Symbol and Sacrament. Translated by P. Madigan and M. Beaumont. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1995.

Chauvet, Louis-Marie. The Sacraments: The Word of God at the Mercy of the Body. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2001.

Chupungco, Anscar J., ed. Sacraments and Sacramentals, Vol. IV of Handbook for Liturgical Studies. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2001.

Cooke, Bernard and Gary Macy, Christian Symbol and Ritual. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Deiss, Lucien, God’s Word and God’s People, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1976.

Fisch, Thomas, ed. Liturgy and Tradition: Theological Reflections of Alexander Schmemann. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1990.

Freedberg, David. The Power of Images: Studies in the History and Theory of Response. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Irwin, Kevin, “Recent Sacramental Theology: A Review Discussion,” Thomist 47 (1983) 592-608; 52 (1988) 124-147.

Kilmartin, Edward. “Part 1: Systematic Theology of Liturgy.” Christian Liturgy: Theology and Practice. Kansas City, MO: Sheed and Ward, 1988.

________. “Theology of the Sacraments.” In Alternative Futures for Worship, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1987.

Larson-Miller, Lizette, The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2005.

Lathrop, Gordon. Holy Things: A Liturgical Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

Maximus, Saint. Maximus Confessor: Selected Writings. Translated and Notes by George C. Berthold. New York: Paulist Press, 1985.

Mitchell, Nathan D. Meeting Mystery, New York: Orbis Books, 2006.

O’Neill, C. Sacramental Realism: A General Theory. Wilmington, DE: M. Glazier, 1983.

Power, David N. Sacrament: The Language of God’s Giving, New York: Crossroad, 1999.

Power, David N. Unsearchable Riches: The Symbolic Nature of Liturgy. New York: Pueblo, 1984.

Rahner, Karl. The Church and the Sacraments. Translated by W. J. O’Hara. New York: Herder and Herder, 1963.

________. “The Theology of Symbol,” Theological Investigations 4, 221-243.

________. “What is a Sacrament,” Theological Investigations 14, 135-148.

Rogers, Elizabeth. Peter Lombard and the Sacramental System. Merrick, NY: Richwood, 1917. Reprinted 1976.

Satterlee, Craig Alan, Ambrose of Milan’s Method of Mystagogical Preaching. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2002.

Schillebeeckx, Edward. Christ the Sacrament of Encounter with God. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1965.

Schmemann, Alexander. For the Life of the World. Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1994.

________. Introduction to Liturgical Theology. Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1986.

Schulz, Hans-Joachim. The Byzantine Liturgy: Symbolic Structure and Faith Expression. Translated by Matthew J. O'Connell. New York: Pueblo, 1986.

Searle, Mark and Kenneth W. Stevenson, Documents of Marriage Liturgy. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992.

White, James F. Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1989.

van der Meer, F. Augustine the Bishop: The Life and Work of a Father of the Church. Translated by Brian Battershaw and G.R. Lamb. New York: Sheed and Ward, 1961.

Wybrew, Hugh, The Orthodox Liturgy: The Development of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the Byzantine Rite, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1990.

Liturgy and Science

Chupungco, Anscar (ed.), Handbook of Liturgical Studies II: Fundamental Liturgy, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1998, PART III: Liturgy and the Human Sciences, 175 ff.

Grant, Edward, The Foundations of Modern Science in the Middle Ages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996

Grant, Edward, God and Reason in the Middle Ages, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001

Holford-Strevens, Leofranc, The History of Time: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005

Palazzo, Eric, “Art, Liturgy, and the Five Senses in the Early Middle Ages,” Viator 41 (2010) 25-56

Pickstock, Catherine, “Liturgy and the Senses,” South Atlantic Quarterly109 (2010) 719-739

Richards, E.G., Mapping Time: The Calendar and Its History, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999

Vincie, Catherine, Worship and the New Cosmology, Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 2014



  • Prayer from class after easter

Easter Homily

by St. John Chrysostom

Let all pious men and all lovers of God rejoice in the splendor of this feast; let the wise servants blissfully enter into the joy of their Lord; let those who have borne the burden of Lent now receive their pay, and those who have toiled since the first hour, let them now receive their due reward; let any who came after the third hour be grateful to join in the feast, and those who may have come after the sixth, let them not be afraid of being too late; for the Lord is gracious and He receives the last even as the first. He gives rest to him who comes on the eleventh hour as well as to him who has toiled since the first: yes, He has pity on the last and He serves the first; He rewards the one and praises the effort.

Come you all: enter into the joy of your Lord. You the first and you the last, receive alike your reward; you rich and you poor, dance together; you sober and you weaklings, celebrate the day; you who have kept the fast and you who have not, rejoice today. The table is richly loaded: enjoy its royal banquet. The calf is a fatted one: let no one go away hungry. All of you enjoy the banquet of faith; all of you receive the riches of his goodness. Let no one grieve over his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed; let no one weep over his sins, for pardon has shone from the grave; let no one fear death, for the death of our Saviour has set us free: He has destroyed it by enduring it, He has despoiled Hades by going down into its kingdom, He has angered it by allowing it to taste of his flesh.

When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out: "O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world." Hades is angered because frustrated, it is angered because it has been mocked, it is angered because it has been destroyed, it is angered because it has been reduced to naught, it is angered because it is now captive. It seized a body, and, lo! it encountered heaven; it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible.

O death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Christ is risen and you are abolished. Christ is risen and the demons are cast down. Christ is risen and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen and life is freed. Christ is risen and the tomb is emptied of the dead: for Christ, being risen from the dead, has become the Leader and Reviver of those who had fallen asleep. To Him be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.


  • anamnesis rememberance
  • Ars Celebrandi The fruit of faithful adherence to the liturgical norms in all their richness; Involves
    1. Fidelity to the texts and rubrics of the Church
    2. Prayerful understanding of the liturgical texts, feasts and seasons
    3. Reverent sense of the ministers and assembly engaging in an exchange, which is the dialogue of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit
    4. Proper preparation for celebrating the liturgy USCCB
  • ex opere operato - if you merely say the correct words using the proper elements, then the sacrament was automatically effected.
  • Cosmology "In short, a cosmology is how human persons experience themselves in relation to the cosmos. It is the lens through which reality is viewed and interpreted. A cosmology tells you how things are in reality, what really matters, and provides the foundation for core values, belief systems, and moral norms. A cosmology gives a community meaning and purpose.” Source: Worship and the new cosmology : liturgical and theological challenges, Vincie, Catherine
  • koinonia A continous intimate communion between God and those who believe in Him.
  • Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi A Latin maxim that addresses the centrality of worship in the life, identity and mission of the Church; The phrase in Latin literally means the law of prayer ("the way we worship"), and the law of belief ("what we believe"). It is sometimes written as, "lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi", further deepening the implications of this truth - how we worship reflects what we believe and determines how we will live. The law of prayer or worship is the law of life. Or, even more popularly rendered, as we worship, so will we live...and as we worship, so will we become! [ Catholic On-line
  • Liturgical Theology Liturgy is the celebration of a sacramental reality, the fruit of which is theology. Liturgical theology is fundamentally the paschal mysteries ritually displayed, and derivatively the elucidation of what is celebrated in the Divine Liturgy. This law of prayer, epiphanized and elucidated, establishes the law of belief because lex credendi is describing what the ekklesia witnesses in lex orandi. (Fagerberg p. 227
  • Liturgy is an act of theology, an act whereby the believing Church addresses God, enters into a dialogue with God, makes statements about its belief in God and symbolizes this belief through a variety of means including creation, words, manufactured objects, ritual gestures and actions. Context and Text: Method in Liturgical Theology.
  • Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary criticism, history, and linguistics. It is more commonly defined as the study of literary texts and written records, the establishment of their authenticity and their original form, and the determination of their meaning. from Wikipedia
  • Sacramentality is based on the belief that in the goodness of creation and the engagement of humans in the act of honoring God and in growing in sanctification through the celebration of (sacramental) liturgy. Sacramentality is also based on the value of human labor and productivity (see chapter 12). While on the one hand the act of liturgy takes us out of the every day world in order to worship God in a ritualized way, on the other either directly from creation or from "the work of human hands"; therefore the act of liturgy engages us to see the world and all that dwells in it as revelations of the glory of God. Sacramentality is a worldview, a way of looking at life, a way of thinking and acting in the world that values and reveres the world. Sacramentality acts as a prism, a theological lens through which we view creation and all that is on this good earth as as revelations s of G presence and action among us here and now. The premise The premise of sacra- mentality means that in fact we do not live in "two different worlds," the sacred and the secular, but that we live in one graced world named "good" by God in Genesis 1:3. At the same time, this principle admits that there are moments of particular sacrality in the liturgy that enable as to experience the divine in the human and on this good earth by the use of things and actions from daily life, such as dining and bathing, to worship God. Sacramentality is a worldview that invites us to be immersed fully in the here and now, on this good earth, and not to shun matter or avoid the challenges that such earthiness will require of us, even as we pray through liturgy and sacraments (and other means) to enter into heaven when this earthly pilgrimage has ended. The sacraments : historical foundation and liturgical theology Irwin p. 210)

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Year Event detail Category
October 2005 Eleventh Synod of Bishops dealing with the Eucharist Three concerns were addressed: theological [doctrine & catechetical] ethical, and aesthetical. Post-synodal exhortation, SACRAMENTUM CARITATIS, issued by Pope Benedict XVI.


  • Prosper of Aquitaine 390-455 said The argument of the Indiculus - ut legem credendi lex statuat supplicandi ("the law of prayer grounds the law of belief"