The Theology of the Mass

Next Session: Oct 21, 2024


The Mass is not just a service that Catholics attend on Sundays. Rather, the Mass offers a comprehensive theological and spiritual vision of the world that is the very foundation of Catholic life. In this course, students will develop a theological understanding of the Mass. Students will discover in this class a deeper theology of the Church drawn from the Eucharist; an understanding of the role of memory in the Church’s Eucharistic worship; appreciation for the meaning of Eucharistic sacrifice; and a spirituality of communion that leads each and every Christian to “glorify God” in the world. This course is intended for catechists, liturgists, deacons, and all those seeking to contemplate the gift of the Mass for Catholic life in the world.

Learning Objectives

  1. To discover a theological meaning to each part of the Mass.
  2. To think about the catechetical dimensions of teaching the Mass within a parish or school.
  3. Begin to see the Mass as a school of prayer for the Christian.

Course Content

Unit 1: Entrance Rites

Unit 2: Confession and Praise

Unit 3: The Liturgy of the Word

Unit 4: The Sacrifice of the Mass

Unit 5: The Eucharistic Prayer

Unit 6: Communion and the World


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.

Required Texts

  • Participants in the course must have their own copy of Timothy O'Malley's Bored Again Catholic (Our Sunday Visitor, 2017).

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.


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.

Curriculum Vitae