University of Notre Dame

432 Malloy Hall • Notre Dame IN 46556
574 631-4118
Rev. Maxwell Johnson Home Page   Courses   Publications   Curriculum Vitae   Recommended LinksOblates of Blues

Theo 445 01: Christian Initiation and Eucharist
Spring Semester 2004

Monday/Wednesday; 10-11:15am, DeBartolo 119

Course Description, Requirements | Schedule of Classes | Printable Version of Syllabus

Course Description

The Rites of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and First Eucharist) and the Eucharistic Liturgy as the primary sacramental celebrations of and in the Church: their biblical and anthropological foundations, historical evolution, contemporary forms and pastoral effectiveness.

Goals and Objectives

Through this course students will demonstrate:

  1. an understanding of the historical evolution of Initiation and Eucharist in the life of the Church;
  2. a critical understanding of the theological interpretation(s) of these primary sacramental rites within both the Roman Catholic and other (selected) Christian traditions;
  3. a thorough awareness of the contemporary forms of these rites especially within the Roman Catholic tradition;
  4. the ability to participate actively in these rites (if so desired) with intelligence and understanding.

Course Requirements

The above goals and objectives will be met by:

  1. Attendance at all class sessions. More than three absences will automatically lower the final grade by one letter grade.
  2. Full, active, and conscious participation in class through preparation of assigned reading, discussion, Q/A, etc.
  3. Preparation of Weekly written summaries of, or reflections on, assigned reading due every Wednesday when an exam or other paper is not due.
  4. Writing Assignments. A choice from the following options:
    1. Write the three short papers assigned in the syllabus (due on the dates indicated).
    2. Write a research paper (with notes in proper form) on some topic having to do with initiation or eucharist (10 to 15 pages; due on April 28). Possible research paper topics are listed at the end of this page.
      Bibliography and Outline to be approved by instructor by March 24.
  5. Two Take-Home Unit Exams and a Take-Home Final Exam as announced on the syllabus.
  6. Occasional quizzes, announced or unannounced.


GRADING for this course is based on the successful completion of Numbers 1-5 above.

  • The grade A is reserved for "exceptional work," (95 - 100%) a level significantly above what is required;
  • A- (92-94%); B+ (89-91%) = very good work, the excellent completion of the necessary requirements;
  • B (85-88%) = good work in successful completion of what was expected and required;
  • B- (80-84%);
  • C+ (77-79%);
  • C (74-76%);
  • C- (70-73%);
  • D (65-69%);
  • F (below 65%).

Grades will be computed according to the following point system:

  • Weekly Summaries, etc. = 10 points (total points will vary)
  • Unit Exams = 50 points each (150 points total)
  • Papers = 25 points each (75 points total)
  • (Or Major paper) = 75 points each (75 points total)
  • Quizzes = 10 points each (total points will vary)
  • Class Participation = 30 points total (30 points total)

Required Texts

  • M. Johnson, The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Collegeville: Pueblo, 1999.
  • M. Johnson, Images of Baptism. Forum Essays 6. Chicago: LTP, 2001.
  • A. Bouley, Catholic Rites Today (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press).
  • N. Mitchell, Eucharist as Sacrament of Initiation (Chicago: LTP).
  • Ed Foley, From Age to Age (Chicago: LTP).
  • USCC, The Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist: Questions and Answers, United States Catholic Conference, 2001.
  • Course Packet, Theo 445, available in the Copy Shop, 3rd Floor, O'Shag.

On Library Reserve

  • M. Johnson (ed.), Living Water, Sealing Spirit: Readings on Christian Initiation.
    Some essays from this collection, as noted in the Syllabus, will be required reading.

There will also be required reading from:

  • R. Cabié, History of the Mass
  • G. Macy, The Banquet's Wisdom, and
  • G. Austin, Anointing With The Spirit (Collegeville 1985).

Possible Research Paper Topics

Christian Initiation

  1. Is there any good justification for withholding communion from baptized infants and children?
  2. When is the Holy Spirit "given" in Christian initiation?
  3. Is there any good justification today for keeping the sacrament of confirmation separated from the sacraments of baptism and Eucharist?

Eucharistic Liturgy and Theology

  1. How do contemporary churches understand the Eucharist as sacrifice?
  2. What is the relationship between the Eucharist and social justice?
  3. What does contemporary Catholic theology say about the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist?
  4. How is the Eucharist a foretaste of the heavenly banquet?

Note: See Dr. Johnson for bibliographical suggestions for these and other topics after you have done initial library research.

Theo 445: Christian Initiation and Eucharist
Course Description, Requirements | Schedule of Classes | Printable Version of Syllabus

Top of pageTop of page

Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame
130 Malloy Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556-5602
Phone: 574-631-7811