Introduction to Sacramental Theology

Next Session: Sep 04, 2023

Sacraments are important to every dimension of pastoral life in the Church. But, what is a sacrament? And why do Catholics care so much about them? In this course, the student will discover the basics of sacramental theology in six units. In unit 1, students will be introduced to the definition of a sacrament drawn from The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Units 2 through 5 will examine each of the 7 sacraments, attentive to the various ways that they conform to the overarching definition from unit 1. In unit 6, students will consider implications of the sacraments for the Christian’s spiritual life. At the end of this course, students will better understand what the Church means by referring to “the sacramental life” of the Christian. 

Course Content

Unit 1

  • Introduction to the definition of sacrament from The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Unit 2

  • Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders

Unit 3

  • Sacrament of Eucharist

Unit 4

  • Sacrament of Marriage

Unit 5

  • Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick

Unit 6

  • Implications of the sacraments for the Christian’s spiritual life


Course Format

  • Seven weeks in duration, with one week for orientation.
  • Typically 15-20 students in each course.
  • All readings available online in course.
  • Supplemental readings are provided to encourage further exploration of topic.
  • Written assignments (200-300 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 lecture text and primary sources; 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 about 250 words in response to the assignment in each unit.
  • Participate in at least 4 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 35 contact hours will be sent upon completion of all course requirements.


Dr. Timothy O'Malley

Dr. Timothy O'Malley

Timothy P. O'Malley is the director of education at the McGrath Institute for Church Life and academic director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy. He holds a concurrent appointment in the Department of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. 

He received his undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame majoring in theology and philosophy. His M.T.S. is in liturgical studies also from the University of Notre Dame. And he completed a doctorate at Boston College in theology and education, focusing on an Augustinian approach to liturgical formation. 

He researches and teaches at Notre Dame in the areas of liturgical-sacramental theology, marriage and family, catechesis, and spirituality. He is the author of a number of books, most recently Off the Hook: God, Love, Dating, and Marriage in a Hookup World (Ave Maria Press, 2018) and Lift Up Your Hearts: Liturgical Formation in the RCIA (Liturgical Press, 2019). He is currently working on a multi-volume work on the history of liturgical formation beginning with St. Augustine. 

Dr. O'Malley is married and has two children. He is originally from Knoxville, TN.

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