Trinity College

Sanctification of Life - The Orthodox Mysteries (Sacraments)

Course Code: 
Last Offered: 
Winter/Spring 2018
Next Offered: 
Winter/Spring 2021

This course will explore through classroom lectures and seminar discussions the liturgical understanding of human existence from the central liturgical rites of the Orthodox Church covering every aspect of life: birth, marriage, ordination, confession, healing from sickness, and death. The course will thus provide an overview of the history, theology and current practice of the holy mysteries (sacraments), with a view to understanding the sacramentality of the world and the centrality of liturgy and sacraments in contemporary Christian life and ministry.

The main focus on this course will be on the ‘Byzantine’ rite of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, but consideration will also be given to the sacramental rites of the Oriental Orthodox Churches, specifically the Coptic, Ethiopian, Armenian and Syriac traditions.

Students will gain solid familiarity with the actual rites and texts, and learn to reflect theologically upon these mysteries as well as the Trinitarian foundation of all sacramental life, guided by readings of Patristic texts and articles and commentary from modern Orthodox theologians. Students will be expected to apply the theological worldview and meaning of these rites to contemporary life and pastoral circumstances. The evolution through time and modern issues of liturgical practice will also be studied, along with the possibility of renewal and reform ‘for the life of the world’ today.

The course will include at least one visit to participate in the liturgical celebration of one of the holy mysteries. A class trip will be organised in Toronto, though online students may organise their own visits in their local area.

Students will be evaluated on their class participation, a reflection paper on a liturgical visit, a research paper and final oral exam.

There are no required prerequisites for this course, though we will be building on liturgical theology concepts discussed in the other liturgy courses, particularly TRP2123 – Orthodox Eucharistic Liturgies. Students should have a good grounding in both Old and New Testament. Students without such a background should speak to the instructor who will provide some remedial reading prior to beginning the course.