The Spirituality of the Sacraments

This Module aims to deepen our understanding of the Sacraments in the life of the Catholic Church, and how it is through the Sacraments that we, as members of the Church, are drawn into a personal relationship with our God.

Week 1 – A look at the understanding of Sacrament in the broader sense, beginning with Creation as a sign of God’s presence, and how the Canticle of the Creatures reminds us of the relational, and not just the ritualistic, aspect of coming into contact with God in the Sacraments.

Week 2 – Beginning with the Sacrament of Marriage as the key to understanding our relationship with God. Drawing on aspects of Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, we will look at the story of creation of man and woman in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1—2).

Week 3 – An in depth analysis of the story of the fall (Genesis 3) and how the fall from grace leads to a shattering of relationships.

Week 4 – We will explore the healing of relationships in Jesus Christ by looking at the three main themes that dominated the life and thought of Saint Francis of Assisi; firstly the great mystery of the Incarnation and birth of our Lord in that stable in Bethlehem, and how this great event takes away our fear of God.

Week 5 – Secondly, the passion, suffering and death of our Lord on the Cross, and how the Cross is the greatest expression of love and the greatest example of spousal love.

Week 6 – And thirdly, the ongoing presence of Christ in the Eucharist, including an analysis of the Jewish understanding of remembrance and a discussion on the ultimate effect of the Eucharist.

Week 7 – How at Baptism we accept the invitation to enter into a childlike relationship with God our Father and a spousal relationship with Christ, and how through the Sacrament of Confirmation we are called to bring this relationship to others.

Week 8 – The vocation of consecrated life and how this vocation is a radical expression of our baptismal promise to embrace an intimate and loving spousal relationship with God, with Christ, during our time here on earth, as a sign of the future world to come.

Week 9 – The Sacrament of Holy Orders and how it is through the Priest that Jesus Christ, the bridegroom, is made present to His bride the Church. This will include a discussion on the encounter with Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Week 10 – Finding meaning in the midst of suffering and how it is through the Sacrament of Anointing that we are united ever more closely to the suffering Christ on the Cross, so that in turn we may also come to share in the glory of His Resurrection. 

Duration: 20 hours, comprising one 2-hour session per week over a ten week term.
Choosing one of the titles below, write a 1,500 word essay: to be handed in at the end of week 8 of the term.

(1) “Our Blessed Lady is the example of what God can, and hopefully will achieve in each of us”. Discuss how this is achieved through the Sacraments of the Catholic Church.

(2) “The Sacrament of Marriage is the key to understanding our relationship with God”. Discuss.

(3) “The vocation of religious life is intended as a taste of heaven on earth and a sign of the world to come”. Discuss.

(4) Write a reflective paper describing your experience of encountering God through the Sacraments.