Baptism, Confirmation and Penance

crosslisted as DL2131C/3131C

Semester 2, 2020
Wednesday 2.00pm – 5.00pm

Christian initiation through baptism and confirmation is an insertion into Christ’s death and resurrection as well as entry into the Church. With the help of some anthropological insights into initiation rituals, this unit will look at the scriptural foundations of these sacraments and their subsequent development. The unit will also consider the theological reflection these developments occasioned, particularly the major theological issues of rebaptism, infant baptism, and the purpose of an independent rite of confirmation, as well as contemporary pastoral questions such as the initiation of adults, discerning the readiness of families for infant baptism, and adaptations to the cultures among which the students will be living and working. Having examined how baptism forgives all prior sins, the unit will then investigate the ways the Church deals with sins committed by those who have already imitated Christ’s death in baptism. The unit will reflect theologically upon the various ways that, throughout its history and across the cultures, the Church has administered the forgiveness won by Christ and conclude by addressing the pastoral questions posed by the revised rites and contemporary situations.

Census Date

Tuesday 18 August



face-to-face 3-hour weekly classes in semester


second level
  • one 500-word tutorial paper 10%
  • one 2,500-word essay 55%
  • one 1½-hour written examination (1,500 words) 35%
third level
  • one 500-word paper 15%
  • one 3,000-word essay 55%
  • one 1½-hour written examination (1,500 words) 30%


  • Chauvet, Louis-Marie. Symbol and Sacrament: A Sacramental Reinterpretation of Christian Existence. Translated by Patrick Madigan and Madeleine Beaumont. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995.
  • Connolly, Hugh. The Irish Penitentials: And Their Significance for the Sacrament of Penance Today. Dublin: Four Courts, 1995.
  • Dallen, James. The Reconciling Community: The Rite of Penance. New York: Pueblo, 1986.
  • Irwin, Kevin. The Sacraments: Historical Foundations and Liturgical Theology. New York: Paulist, 2016.
  • Johnson, Maxwell E. The Rites of Christian Initiation: Their Evolution and Interpretation. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1999.
  • O'Loughlin, Frank. The Future of the Sacrament of Penance. Strathfield: St Pauls, 2007.
  • Stasiak, Kurt. Return to Grace: A Theology for Infant Baptism. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1995.
  • Turner, Paul. Confirmation: The Baby in Solomon’s Court. New York: Paulist, 1993.
  • Walsh, Liam G. Sacraments of Initiation: A Theology of Rite, Word, and Life. Hillenbrand Books Studies. Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2011.