Catholic Liturgy

REL688
Fall 2016
TH 1:30pm - 3:20pm
Area: 
Area II
Professor: 
Permission Not Required
Limited Enrollment
Course Description: 

This course offers an introduction to Roman Catholic liturgical traditions and practices.  Given the breadth of the subject-matter (e.g., 2,000 years of history; complex dogmatic developments; numerous rites, rituals and rhythms; contemporary tensions), Catholic Liturgy will attempt to range broadly yet do so quite selectively.  The course will begin with some theological fundamentals and their historical development before focusing on twentieth-century developments, which are crucial to Catholic liturgical life at this point in the twenty-first century.  Key liturgical documents of the last hundred years will be read and analyzed.  Throughout the course and especially in its second half, attention will be paid to the broader cultural realities in which liturgy always finds itself, e.g. gender constructions, ethnic identities, and, more recently, media developments (especially the migration of Catholic liturgical practices into cyberspace).

Given that the Roman Catholic Church not only makes up more than half of all Christians globally but is in fact the largest single faith community on earth, this course will hopefully be of interest not only to Roman Catholics but to lots of other students also.

Course Requirements: 

Since much of the work in this course will center on the close reading and interpretation of texts, the weight of evaluation will fall on a student’s sustained engagement with these texts, as evidenced in class presentations, discussions, and written reflections on the readings.  Each student will submit a written review and critique of one of the assigned weekly session materials during the semester.  This reflection paper (2-4 pp., double-spaced) will be the basis for the student’s presentation in one of the class discussions.  A 12-15pp. final paper will be due at the end of class.  A visit to a Catholic liturgy (preferably a liturgical practice unfamiliar to the student) and a written report on this visit are required; they will, however, not be configured into the final grade.  There will be no exams.

Basis of Evaluation: 

Final grades for the course will be determined according to the following formula:  class participation: 30%; class presentation: 30%; final paper: 40%.