Foundations of Catholic Belief

Next Session: Aug 26, 2024

This course explores the fundamental beliefs of the Catholic Church professed in the Creed and presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In 24 video lectures, six professors from the University of Notre Dame answer the following questions. What is faith, and why does it matter? Why did God create the world? Who is Jesus Christ, and how is he both God and human? What do Catholics mean when they say that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? How does Jesus Christ save us through his life, death, and resurrection? Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does the Spirit have to do with the Church including the sacraments? What do Catholics believe about heaven, hell, and purgatory? These professors, all popular teachers, answer these questions through engaging examples from life, literature, art, and humor. This course is accessible to both Catholics and non-Catholics alike, while also addressing contemporary misunderstandings about the Catholic faith.   

Unit 1: The Creed- Jessica Keating

  • Scriptural Meditation
  • What is belief? (CCC 28)
  • The Reasonableness of Belief (CCC 32-35)
  • Belief in the person of Jesus Christ (CCC 1, 34, 203)

*** This unit is designed to address the particular challenges to faith in at a time when the prevailing worldview is characterized by skepticism, materialism, and scientism.

Unit 2: Creation-Christopher Baglow

  • Scriptural Meditation
  • Setting the Stage for Understanding the Doctrine of Creation (CCC, 268-278)
  • The First Creation Account (CCC, 105-119)
  • The Widest Wisdom: The Christian Doctrine of Creation (CCC, 279-324)

*** This unit addresses some of the challenges believers sometimes face when attempting to understand how the Catholic religion approaches the relationship of faith and science.

Unit 3: Jesus Christ- Joshua McManaway

  • Scriptural Meditation
  • How does Catholic Doctrine help us to know Christ? (CCC 80-82, 85-90)
  • Jesus, Son of God
  • Jesus, Son of Mary

*** Lecture 1 in this unit emphasizes how doctrine develops how scripture and tradition work together and why it is important. Church history about the Council of Chalcedon is shared.

Unit 4: Salvation in Jesus Christ- Leonard DeLorenzo

  • Scriptural Meditation
  • Sin and Its Effects (CCC, 355–421 and 2331–2347)
  • Christ, Savior in Truth (CCC, 456–460 and 606–61)
  • By His Death and Resurrection (CCC, 1, 456–460, and 606–611)

*** In addition to gaining a new understanding of salvation, participants gain a new appreciation for how scripture is read when the unit professor guides them through a proper reading of Genesis 2 & 3.

Unit 5: The Church and Sacrament- Timothy P. O’Malley

  • Scriptural Meditation
  • I Believe in the Holy Spirit (CCC, 232-267, 683-747)
  • The Nature of the Church (CCC 748-810, 963-975, 1113-1199)
  • The Marks of the Church (CCC 811-873)

*** This unit emphasizes the mystery of the Church and how it is distinguished from a sociological entity.

Unit 6: The Last Things- Margaret B. Freddoso

  • Scriptural Meditation
  • The Mysteries of Death and Judgment (CCC, 1021-1022, 1041)
  • The Mysteries of Hell and Purgatory (CCC, 1033-1037, 1030-1032)
  • The Mystery of Eternal Life (CCC, 1024- 1029)

*** This unit addresses the most often-held questions and misconceptions about the mysteries of life after death.

Course Format

  • Seven weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All lecture text available online in text format.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic, internet links provided for all readings.
  • Written assignments (200-250 words) required.
  • Facilitator-moderated Zoom sessions with students in the course.

Participation Requirements

  • View or read the lecture for each unit.
  • 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.
  • Respond to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 4 scheduled Zoom 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 35 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.