Christian initiation through baptism and confirmation is an insertion into Christ’s death and resurrection as well as entry into the Church. With the help of some anthropological insights into initiation rituals, this unit will look at the scriptural foundations of these sacraments and their subsequent development. The unit will also consider the theological reflection these developments occasioned, particularly the major theological issues of rebaptism, infant baptism, and the purpose of an independent rite of confirmation, as well as contemporary pastoral questions such as the initiation of adults, discerning the readiness of families for infant baptism, and adaptations to the cultures among which the students will be living and working. Having examined how baptism forgives all prior sins, the unit will then investigate the ways the Church deals with sins committed by those who have already imitated Christ’s death in baptism. The unit will reflect theologically upon the various ways that, throughout its history and across the cultures, the Church has administered the forgiveness won by Christ and conclude by addressing the pastoral questions posed by the revised rites and contemporary situations.

Unit code: DL9131C

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 24.0

Unit level: Postgraduate Elective

Unit discipline: Liturgy

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Identify and utilise accurately the terminologies, concepts and theology to the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Penance.


Integrate and demonstrate the scriptural foundations of Baptism, Confirmation and Penance within the theological framework of these sacraments.


Situate and explain the various aspects of the practice and theology of Baptism, Confirmation,and Penance within an historical and cultural context.


Articulate and demonstrate a pastoral awareness that enriches the theology of Baptism, Confirmation and Penance


Articulate and demonstrate the relationship of Baptism, Confirmation and Penance to the mystery of Christ and the Church


Undertake a specific topic of research in the theology and practice of the sacrament of Baptism or Confirmation or Penance in a critically rigorous, sustained and self-directed manner.

Unit sequence



Learning consists of lectures/instructions with visual Powerpoint presentation, occasional group discussions and seminars

Indicative Bibliography

  • Chauvet, Louis-Marie. Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence. Translated by Patrick Madigan and Madeleine Beaumont. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1995.
  • Connolly, Hugh. The Irish Penitentials: And Their Significance for the Sacrament of Penance Today. Blackrock: Four Courts Press, 1995.
  • Dallen, James. The Reconciling Community: The Rite of Penance. New York: Pueblo, 1986.
  • Irwin, Kevin. The Sacraments: Historical Foundations and Liturgical Theology. New York: Paulist Press, 2010.
  • Johnson, Maxwell E. The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1999.
  • O'Loughlin, Frank. The Future of the Sacrament of Penance. Homebush: St Paul's Publication, 2007.
  • Stasiak, Kurt. Return to Grace: A Theology for Infant Baptism. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 1996.
  • Turner, Paul. Confirmation: The Baby in Solomon’s Court. New York: Paulist Press, 1993.
  • Walsh, Liam OP. Sacraments of Initiation: A Theology of Life, Words and Rite. Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2011.
  • Wood, Susan K. One Baptism: Ecumenical Dimensions of the Doctrine of Baptism. Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2009.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

7,000 word Essay

7000 100.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 4 Sep, 2018

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