Thursday, September 11, 2014

If I Taught An Upper Level Undergrad/Masters Sacraments Course

I was asked by a friend of mine yesterday who will be teaching a course on the Sacraments next semester what books I would recommend. They are as follows:

General Sacraments:
-"Swear to God: The Promise and Power of the Sacraments" by Scott Hahn (This covers all the Sacraments and brings in their relation with covenant oaths. It is strong on Scripture, Patristics, and the Magisterium. It is also an easy read.)
-"Christ, and His Sacraments" by Thomas Donlan, O.P., Francis L.B. Cunningham, O.P., and Augustine Rock, O.P. (This is written by three Domincans, how can you go wrong with a book like that! ;-) This covers all the Sacraments and deals with causality, the sign value of the Sacraments, and all that good stuff. It is presented in a systematic manner with due attention to Scripture, the Fathers, and of course, St. Thomas. This is one of my go-to texts on Sacraments. It is an older text, but still available on Amazon here.
-"On the Mysteries" by Ambrose (A must read!)
-"The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy" by Dionysius the Areopagite (Very good! This combined with Ambrose gives a very good understanding of the Sacraments in the Early Church.)
-"Defence of the Seven Sacraments" by Henry VIII (I know, I know, but this was written before he split with Rome and is a good defense against Luther's innovations. Plus, it is rumored to have been ghost-written by St. Thomas More!)

Specific Sacraments:
-"On Baptism Against the Donatists" by Augustine (A must read on baptism!)

-"Christ and the Catholic Priesthood: Ecclesial Hierarchy and the Patter of the Trinity" by Matthew Levering (I wouldn't recommend the whole book for your Sacraments class. Just chapters 2, 3, and 5. Levering does a good job of drawing from the Tradition while engaging contemporary issues relating to the Sacraments.)
-"Theology of the Priesthood" by Jean Galot (This is a good presentation of the Sacrament of the Priesthood combined with the theology of the Priesthood starting with the institution of the priesthood by Christ in Scripture continuing through the history of the Church and also deals with objections to priestly celibacy and the male-only priesthood.)

-"Three to Get Married" by Fulton J. Sheen (This is a wonderful book and very easy to read. You could use the whole book or just chapters 11 [The Great Mystery] and 12 [The Unbreakable Bond].)
-"On the Good of Marriage" by Augustine (Can't go wrong with this!)

-"The Hidden Manna: A Theology of the Eucharist" by James T. O'Connor (O'Connor gives a very good overview of the Eucharist throughout the Church's History, with many quotes from primary sources. He goes from the Fathers, to the Medievals, the Reformers and Protestant understandings of the Eucharist, to Trent through Vatican II. He gets into the specific sacramental theology in the last chapter, dealing with transubstantiation, Eucharist as sacrifice, etc. He also deals with the Eucharist and Our Lady.)
-"A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist" by Abbot Vonier (A classic work. Very Thomistic.)
-"The Mass: The Presence of the Sacrifice of the Mass" by Charles Journet (Also, very Thomistic, and all around great book!)

-"Lord Have Mercy: The Healing Power of Confession" by Scott Hahn (Strong on the relation to covenant and draws copiously from Scripture, the Fathers, and the Magisterium.)

-"Penance and the Anointing of the Sick" by Bernard Poschmann (A good overview of the development from Scripture and in the Early Church with the Tertullian/Montanist controversy. Also, good for the Medieval period to the Council of Trent. Chapter 1-4 are all that is needed. Chapter 5 on indulgences has some questionable stuff. It is best to look to Trent for indulgences.)
-As a bonus, you could also look at Cajetan's defense of Penance and the power of the keys against Luther, the texts of which are contained in "Cajetan Responds: A Reader in Reformation Controversy" edited by Jared Wicks.

For Anointing of the Sick and Confirmation, I would use the Council of Trent's teaching.

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