John Cavadini Syllabus

THEO 60222:  Christian Doctrine for Catechists

John C. Cavadini, Instructor

July 8 to July 26, 2013

12:30 – 3:00 pm


This course is intended to serve as a resource for catechists and religious educators, but also for anyone desiring a synthetic overview of Christian doctrine with an emphasis on how to communicate it to others.  We will cover the material presented in the first two pillars of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, namely, the Creed and the Sacraments. Readings will come mainly from the CCC, with some short readings in primary sources illustrative of the theology that forms its background.  The course is open to all.  The Instructor may be reached at or 631-5510 (office, 344 Geddes, Institute for Church Life,) or 291-6404 (home).  Required Texts: Catechism of the Catholic Church; St. Augustine, De catechizandis rudibus (any translation; New City Press version supplied).  These texts will be supplied free of charge to all students in the class. Teaching Assistants: Jay Martin (; Scott Heffelfinger; Elizabeth Klein; Aaron Sanders; Troy Stefano.


Schedule of Readings


Monday, July 8

First Hour:  Introductory to the Course. Plus, the CCC on the use of the CCC, CCC ##1-25

For further reference: General Directory for Catechesis, pp. 113-32, On the use of the CCC


Second Hour: Natural Knowledge of God; CCC## 26-49

Brief Readings: Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design, pp. 5, 28-39

John Haldane, “Philosophy Lives,” First Things Jan. 2011, 43-46.

Plato, Phaedo 96a to the end (the death of Socrates)


Tuesday, July 9

First Hour: Revelation; CCC## 50-73. 

Brief Text:  Thomas Aquinas, Sum. Th. Q.1.1, Revelation

Second Hour: Revelation cont’d: Scripture and Tradition; CCC## 74-141

Brief Texts: 1 Cor. 15.1-7

Marcion, Antitheses


Wednesday, July 10

First Hour: Faith; CCC## 142-69 (fides qua)

CCC## 142-184; Brief Text: C.S. Lewis On Miracles, chapter 1.

Mother Teresa, Selected Letters

Recommended: J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, pp. 39-81

Faith; CCC## 169-97 (fides quae; the Creed)

Brief text: Augustine, Sermon 212

Second Hour: God

CCC ## 198-231; Brief Text: Augustine, Confessions 1.1-5


Thursday, July 11

Both Hours: The Trinity

CCC ## 232-267

Brief Text: Augustine, The Trinity 9.12-14

Mark 14.32-42; Genesis 18.1-15

Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity (copies handed out in class)

Paul Ekdokimov,The Art of the Icon: A Theology of Beauty, pp. 243-57


Friday, June 12

First Hour: Creation

CCC ## 268-324

Brief Texts: St. Francis, “Canticle of Brother Sun”

Thomas of Celano, First Life of St. Francis; Prologue; Book 1.57-62, 80-82, 94-96

Second Hour:  Creation cont’d: the Problem of Evil

Also skim CCC ## 325-354, the Angels; CCC ## 355-384, Human Beings




Monday July 15

First Hour: The Fall; Original Sin 

CCC ## 385-421

Second Hour:  Two Ancient Texts on the Fall

Irenaeus, Against all Heresies 3.18.1; 3.20.1-2; 3.23.5; 4.14.2; 4.37.1, 6; 4.38.1, 3; 5.1.1 and Augustine City of God 12.22; 14.10, 12-15.


Tuesday, June 16

First Hour: Incarnation

 CCC ## 422-486; Brief Text: Origen, On First Principles 2.6.1-2

Second Hour: The Life and Death of the Lord, the Word Incarnate

 CCC ## 512-637; Brief Texts: On Atonement: Augustine, The Trinity 13.4.13-18

John Paul II: 1986 Speech on the Occasion of the Visit to the Synagogue in Rome

John Paul II: On the Most Holy Rosary (selections)



Wednesday, July 17

First Hour: The Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord

  CCC ## 638-682

Icon of the Women with Spices (handed out in class)

Chora Icon of the Anastasis (icon in Sakai)

Brief Text: Josef Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth vol. 2, “Epilogue,” pp. 278-93

Second Hour: Resurrection of the Body, Judgment, Life Everlasting.

CCC ## 946-62; 976-1075 (NB: this is out of sequence from the last CCC reading);

Brief Text selection from C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce


Thursday, July 18

First Hour: the Holy Spirit

CCC ## 683-747

Second Hour: the Church

CCC ## 748-945


Friday, July 19

Mary, Mother of God

First HourCCC ## 487-511; 963-975; re-read ## 466; 721-26.

 Second Hour: Brief Texts from Karl Rahner, Mary, Mother of the Lord;

Brief Texts by Jaroslav Pelikan and Edward Oakes on the Immaculate Conception

The Icon of Our Lady of Vladimir (in Sakai)

Ekdokimov, Art of the Icon, pp. 259-67


Monday, July 22

First Hour: Excursus: Augustine on Catechesis

De catechizandis rudibus (Instructing Beginners in Faith) Book 1

Second Hour: Liturgy and Sacraments in General; CCC ## 1076-1209


Tuesday, July 23

First Hour:  CCC ## 1210-1284, Sacraments of Initiation:  Baptism

Recommended book: Jean Daniélou, The Bible and the Liturgy

Second Hour: Sacraments of Initiation:  Confirmation CCC ## 1285-1321


Wednesday, July 24

Both Hours: Sacraments of Initiation: Eucharist; CCC ## 1322-1419;

Brief Texts: Augustine, City of God, 10.1-6

Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis, excerpts




Thursday, July 25

First Hour: The Sacraments of Healing: Penance and Anointing of the Sick;

CCC ## 1420-1532

Second Hour: The Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Holy Orders

CCC ## 1533-1600,

Brief Text from Sara Butler explaining the Church’s position on who can be ordained


Friday, July 26

Both Hours: The Sacraments at the Service of Communion: Matrimony; CCC ## 1601-1666, Brief Text, unpublished, from J.C. Cavadini

The Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage.


Course Requirements


  1. Preparation of Assigned Readings and Attendance at all Classes
  2. Brief Written Assignments, due most class days (75%); see explanation below
  3. Final Exam (25%).  This is an open-book take home final, due midnight on Friday, July 6.
  4. Class Participation will be used to adjust grades upward where applicable.


Brief Written Assignment Explanation


The CCC is punctuated at certain places by sections called “In Brief.” These sections are summary sections, attempting to encapsulate the doctrine in a brief way, perhaps suitable even for memorization.  Our brief written assignments in this class take their cue from these sections.  For any given segment of text we study from the CCC, the assignment is to write your own “In Brief” summary.  When I say “any given segment,” I am thinking of the segments assigned for any given hour of the class in the list of readings above.  Sometimes, for a very long segment, a part of the assigned segment is acceptable. 

Your summary should:


  1. Provide “access” to the essential teaching
  2. for a particular audience which you will specify each time (for example:  RCIA class at a suburban parish; business associates; college students sitting around talking about faith matters; Confirmation class in a predominantly Hispanic parish; eleventh graders in a rich suburban high school who could care less about religion; suburban parish women’s or men’s bible reading group for young adults; etc.).


The idea is to communicate the essentials of the doctrine you are summarizing, in a way that does not “water down,” but grants access, to the teaching.  Creativity encouraged.  NOTE:  audiences NOT ALLOWED:  any audience in age below high school students, except with special permission of the instructor. Whether or not you receive the full 75% of credit for this course requirement depends in part on how many of these assignments you turn in, and in part on their quality. In terms of quantity:


12 assignments turned in  =  A for this course requirement (see below, however)*

11  =  A- (see below, however)*

10  =  B+

 09 =  B

 08 =  B-

 07 =  C+

 06 =  C


Less than 6 will receive various levels of F, with 6 points of the overall 75 points credit for each assignment turned in.


In terms of quality: The assignments will be graded √, √+, √-.   For every three assignments graded √+, you get credit for one additional assignment (meaning that for the first 3 √+’s, you have to complete only 11 total for an “A”; Exception: +’s cannot be accumulated past the top grade available to you if you have an unexcused absence). An assignment graded √- does not count towards the total.

*Note that *no “A-” grade will be assigned unless at least one of the assignments turned in is graded √+, and no “A” grade unless at least two of the assignments are graded check plus.  If 12 assignments are turned in, but fewer than 2 √+ have been assigned, the grade will be A-. If 11 assignments are turned in and no check plus is assigned, the grade will be B+.  Assignments will be returned to students the next day, with suggestions for improvement.


Attendance Policy:


Attendance is Required.  Unexcused absences will lower the grade by one half-grade assigned for the number of assignments turned in (12 = A-; 11 = B+; etc.). These cannot be made up by accumulated check plusses.