An Introduction to Sacraments

Course Description

Created by Rev. Joseph Weiss, S.J., a Theology Professor at Notre Dame, this course introduces participants to the Catholic understanding of the created world as sacramental. In so doing, it studies how Jesus Christ is the primordial sacrament of God, how the Church is the basic sacrament of Christ and how in the seven sacraments, as essential manifestations and realizations of its shared life in Christ, the Church fulfills its own divine destiny and that of all creation. At the end of this course participants will be able to:

  • Describe the biblical, historical, and theological developments of the sacraments;
  • Discuss the ritual structure and theology of the sacraments as in the Catechism of the Catholic Church;
  • Describe how participation in the sacramental life of the Church can inform and even transform the manner in which Christians engage in the world around them.

*Note: Participants in this course must have their own copy of Joseph Martos' Doors to the Sacred (Liguori, Missouri: Triumph Books).

Course Content

Unit 1

  1. Foundations of Sacramental Theology.

Unit 2

  1. The Sacraments of Christian Initiation.

Unit 3

  1. The Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Unit 4

  1. The Sacraments of Healing.

Unit 5

  1. The Sacraments at the Service of Communion.

Course Format

  • Created by Notre Dame Theology Professor.
  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • Primary readings from required text, additional readings provided online.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for these readings.
  • Weekly written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Weekly facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.
  • Facilitated by STEP staff.

Required Texts

  • Participants in this course must have their own copy of Joseph Martos' Doors to the Sacred (Liguori, Missouri: Triumph Books). 

Participation Requirements

  • Weekly reading of assigned texts.
  • Participation in class discussion using discussion area (minimum 2 comments, questions or responses weekly.)
  • Weekly written assignment (150-200 words.)
  • Weekly chat session with other students in course (3 required throughout course.)
  • Completion of short objective quizzes.
  • Course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours a week (time varies from student to student depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A Certificate of Completion awarding 35 Contact Hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Rev. Joseph Weiss, S.J.

Rev. Joseph Weiss, S.J.

A member of the Society of Jesus, Rev. Weiss was born and raised in Omaha, NE. He has served as associate pastor at parishes in Lexington, Massachusetts and Pine Ridge, South Dakota, Omaha, Nebraska, and Mishawaka, Indiana. He has been a consultant for liturgical renovation projects throughout the mid-west. In 1994 he was appointed liturgical consultant to the NCCB commission on liturgical inculturation for Native Americans. Rev. Weiss served as chair of the Worship Commission of the Omaha Archdiocese. He is a member of Societas Liturgica and the North American Academy of Liturgy. This course was developed when Rev. Weiss was a professor in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, and he presently is a pastor at a parish outside Minneapolis/St.Paul. Rev. Weiss has written on pastoral issues in the area of liturgy, spirituality, and sacramental theology.

MDiv, Weston; MA, Notre Dame; PhD, Notre Dame, 1993