Sacramental Theology

THL314 / THL 499

This subject traces the origins of sacramental theology from its Jewish antecedents through to the New Testament texts and the early church. It then considers the rise of sacramental theology in the patristic period. Later developments are pursued through historical and liturgical sources, from the medieval Western church and Reformation to the divergent traditions and practices in contemporary churches.The subject addresses challenges brought to sacramental theology by the ecumenical movement and by liberation, feminist and ecological theology.


One Semester


Semester 1 every even year

Subject Points




Delivery Mode

On site at St Francis College Milton


THL111, THL113 and THL215 or equivalent (recommended)

Prescribed Texts

To be advised



This subject will cover the following topics:

  • The concept of sacrament and its relation to sign, word and sacramentality.

  • Biblical and patristic foundations of sacramental theology.

  • The development of sacramental theology in the Western church during the Medieval and Reformation periods.

  • Changes in Catholic sacramental theology from the Council of Trent to Vatican II.

  • Sacramental theology and practice in the post-Reformation period, for example, the Anglican Prayer Books, the Roman Missal and Uniting in Worship 2.

  • The meaning and practice of Baptism, Eucharist and Reconciliation.

  • The impact of the ecumenical movement on denominational sacramental theology and practice.

  • Challenges to sacramental theology from liberation, feminist and ecological theologies.

  • Critical sacramental practice in the current context, for example, reconciliation, church abuse, individualism, multiculturalism.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this subject, students should:

  • be able to demonstrate knowledge of key historical developments in sacramental theology;

  • be able to identify the sacramental theology expressed in liturgical texts and their enactment;

  • be able to discuss and evaluate contemporary sacramental theologies and church practices;

  • be able to give an account of the meaning and practice of baptism, eucharist and reconciliation in various contemporary ecclesial traditions;

  • be able to discuss critically sacramental practice and theology in light of contemporary issues such as reconciliation, abuse, ecology, multiculturalism;

  • be able to demonstrate self-guided learning, including advanced research, writing and communication skills.