On Christian Marriage

Course Description

This course will explore many aspects of the sacrament of marriage in the Roman Catholic tradition. The U.S. Catholic bishops have undertaken the National Pastoral Initiative on Marriage (NPIM). Our best description of the initiative begun in 2004 comes from its web site:

“In the NATIONAL PASTORAL INITIATIVE FOR MARRIAGE (NPIM) the U.S. Catholic bishops call attention to the meaning and value of married life for the Church and for society. Bringing Catholic belief into dialogue with contemporary needs, the bishops urge the Catholic Church to become a community of hope and help for marriages and to join others in building a culture of marriage. The Initiative weaves together the Catholic faith tradition and its pastoral practice, the data of social science, and the experience of married couples to offer guidance and resources, including a pastoral letter, in order to promote, strengthen, sustain and restore marriages."

It is from these vast resources carefully prepared by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family and Youth where we will draw most of our learning material. Specifically, we will look to conferences co-sponsored by the NPIM to provide us with papers delivered by many different theologians and social scientists to assist in our reflections on Christian Marriage. We will also look to authoritative documents from the church including the Rite of Marriage and various pastoral letters and a document from Vatican II.

This course is designed to give you many different theological resources to discuss and explore the sacrament of marriage. We hope this course fosters for you an ability to reflect deeply on the sacrament of marriage that not only enhances your ministry and teaching, but also your marriage and friendships as well!

Course Content

Unit 1

  1. The Social and Cultural Context of Christian Marriage in the United States

Unit 2

  1. Marriage in the Christian Tradition Explored through its Biblical Foundations

Unit 3

  1. Christian Marriage as Sacrament

Unit 4

  1. The Ecclesial and Juridical Context of Christian Marriage

Unit 5

  1. The Celebration of Christian Marriage: the Rite of Christian Marriage

Course Format

  • Six weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All readings available online in text format.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (150-200 words) required.
  • Facilitator moderated chat sessions with students in course.

Required Texts

  • All course materials are available online in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • Read assigned texts; keep notes, questions, and comments for class discussion.
  • Participate in the class discussion using the Forums area: post at least 2 comments, questions, or responses per unit.
  • Write 150-200 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 3 scheduled chat sessions throughout the course.
  • Complete the course evaluation.

Time Expectations

4 to 6 hours per week, depending on your learning style and schedule.

Course Certificate

A certificate of completion awarding 30 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.

Meet the Developer

Ms. Tracy Rodenborn, M.Div.

Ms. Tracy Rodenborn, M.Div.

Tracy Rodenborn graduated from Bellarmine College (Louisville, KY) in 1996 with an English major, Theology minor and certification to teach high school. After two years of teaching religion at St. Xavier High School in Louisville, she went to Notre Dame to complete her studies for her Master of Divinity. Since, then, she has been working as a Pastoral Associate at St. Clement Church in Chicago, IL where she coordinates the adult education and formation for the parish - especially in RCIA, the young adult community, ministry of care, baptism preparation, and various faith exploration programs. She lives in Chicago, IL with her husband, Steve.

B.A., Bellarmine College, 1996; M.Div., University of Notre Dame, 2001