Syllabus
12:310 Forgiveness and Reconciliation
in the Church

 Saint Meinrad Fifteen Week Online Course
January 27 to May 13, 2011
Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology
St. Meinrad, Indiana

Rev. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M., S.T.D,
Professor of Sacramental and Liturgical Theology

Note:  If you have opened this syllabus a few days ago, I suggest that you click the "refresh" button at the top of your web browser so that you are sure that you are reading the most current version of this syllabus.

Course Description

Assigned Reading

Course Objectives

Method

Schedule of Topics and Assignments

February
March
April

Participants

Course Description

In today's often hostile world, we sometimes wonder if human forgiveness is just and appropriate, or if it is even possible. This course employs contemporary "forgiveness studies" to examine the passage from vengeance to forgiveness and eventually to reconciliation.  We will then study the history of the ways in which the Church as has exercised its mission of forgiveness and examine the Rite of Penance and its implementation in today's parish.

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Assigned Reading

Enright, Robert D. and North, Joanna (Editors). Exploring Forgiveness. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1994. ISBN 0-299-15774-1

Wiesenthal, Simon.  The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness.  Revised and Expanded Edition, New York:  Schocken Books, 1998.  ISBN 0-8052-1060-1. 

Martos, Joseph. Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to the Sacraments in the Catholic Church.  Revised and updated edition. Liguori MO: Liguori/Triumph. 2001. ISBN 0-76480718-8

The Rite of Penance (any edition, e.g. as in) The Rites of the Catholic Church, Volume I,  pp 517-629,  Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1991. ISBN 0-8146-6015-0.

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Course Objectives

The hoped for outcomes of the course are:

1.  Participants will study the dynamics and conditions for interpersonal forgiveness in order to better understand the process of the movement from forgiveness to reconciliation so as to be better able to serve as "ambassadors of reconciliation" (see II Corinthians 5:20).

2.  Participants will gain insight into the ways in which the ministry of reconciliation is central to the mission of the Christian Church.

3.  Participants will become familiar with contemporary ecclesial rituals for celebrating reconciliation.

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Method

1.  Assignments.  This is an ONLINE course.  There will be an assignment due each Monday and Friday during the fifteen weeks of the course.  The assignments are listed below in this syllabus; they must be posted on MOODLE before midnight on the day assigned in this syllabus.  Further information regarding the assignments can be found in the course introduction.

2.  Grading.  Participants will be graded on the quality of the postings;  their ability to articulate what they have read and learned; their ability to enter into dialogue with and to critique the findings of the other participants; the quality of their insight into the process, the method, and the content of the course; and their ability to apply these findings to pastoral situations.   Each week, each participant is expected to post at least one substantial comment on at least one of the postings of a classmate.  This posting (these postings) forms part of the course grade.  I will post 10 grades in the MOODLE grade book, each counting for 10% of the total grade for the course.  I will post one grade for assignments 2,3,4,&5;  6,7,8,&9;  10,11,&12;  13,&14;  15,&16;  18,19,&20;  21,&22;  23,&24;  25,26,&27; and 28.  Each of these ten "groups" of assignments (with your comments on them) will form one 10th of the course grade.  The MOODLE grade book lists your grades numerically whereas the school uses letter grades; the School Bulletin states that 95 (and above) = A; 94 = A-; 93 = B+; 92 (and lower) = B.  [.5 is rounded up]  

3.  Community.  In order to achieve maximum benefit from this course, it is important that we each learn from the experience of one another. It is difficult but possible to build community in cyberspace; the formation of a community is greatly beneficial for the type of dialogue necessary for the course to function well. Due to the interactive nature of this course, assignments must be posted before midnight on the day assigned in the syllabus.  (Late postings will be lowered one letter grade.)

4.  Skype.   Each of the participants in the course is to have Skype installed on their computer.  As the course begins, we will decide together what would be the most convenient time for Skype office hours and group discussions.  

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Schedule of Topics and Assignments

Part One:  Interpersonal Forgiveness

January 27-29, 2010 -- Introduction

Read: Enright pp i - 14.  Look over the syllabus and begin to make a "schedule" for yourself to do the reading and the assignments.  General information on the postings can be found in here

Assignment 1 - Friday January 28  Autobiography. Post a brief autobiography that will help us know something about who you are, your current ministry (if any), your progress toward the degree, and something of what you want to learn from this course.  For help on how to post to MOODLE click here.  For help in how to respond to a post on MOODLE click here.    For the rationale of Assignment 1 click here

Week #1 -- January 30 - Feb 5, 2010 -- Forgiveness Studies (1)

Read:  Enright pp 14 - 45.

Assignment 2 - Monday January 31  Jaeger. What is your reaction to Marietta Jaeger's story of forgiveness [Enright 9-14]? See: General Information   Regarding the Assignments & Postings on MOODLE   See:  General Information Regarding the Assignments & Postings on MOODLE    For the rationale of Assignment 2 click here

Assignment 3 - Friday February 4  Reframing.   Post an example of "reframing" [Enright pp 16, 23, 28, 42,53 71, 151] For further information on this assignment, click here.

Week #2 -- February 6 - 12, 2010 -- Forgiveness Studies (2)

Read: Enright pp 46 - 105.

Assignment 4Monday February 7  Unforgivable. Discuss: "Some offenses are unforgivable". For further information on this assignment, click here.  

Assignment 5 - Friday February 11  Human/divine. Having read Keith Yandell's article "The Metaphysics and Morality of Forgiveness" (North, page 35 ff) how would you describe the difference between the way humans forgive and the way God forgives? For further information on this assignment, click here.

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Week #3 -- February 13 - 19, 2010 -- Forgiveness Studies (3)

Read:  Enright pp 106 - end.

Assignment 6 - Monday February 14  Reconciliation. Discuss the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. For further information on this assignment, click here.

Assignment 7 - Friday February 18  Hell. Having read the article "Forgiveness and Crime" by Walter Dickey (Enright page 106ff) and recalling North's enumeration of the purposes of a prison sentence (page 15) why do you think that God created Hell and Purgatory? What purpose do they serve for God and/or for us? For further information on this assignment, click here.   

Week #4 -- February 20 - 26, 2010 -- Forgiveness Studies (4)

Read:  Wiesenthal pp i - 50.

Assignment 8 - Monday February 21 10, 11, or 12. In a brief essay, comment on something you read in Chapter 10, 11, or 12. For further information on this assignment, click here.

Assignment 9 - Friday February 25  Science and Sacrament. What can the study of interpersonal forgiveness "say" to the way the Church celebrates the Sacrament of Reconciliation? For further information on this assignment, click here

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Part Two:  Divine Forgiveness

Read:  Wiesenthal pp 50 -98. 

Week #5 -- Feb 27 - March 5, 2010 --  Divine Forgiveness (Bible)

Assignment 10 - Monday February 28  O.T. Post an essay on divine forgiveness in the Old Testament. Quote three passages which support your thesis. (Give a summary of the passage and indicate the biblical reference, e.g. Genesis 1:3-9). For further information on this assignment, click here.

Assignment 11 - Friday March 4  N.T. Post an essay on Jesus of Nazareth as the Sacrament of Divine Mercy. Quote three verses from the Gospels which support your thesis.  For further information on this assignment, click here.

Week #6 -- March 6 - 12, 2010 -- Divine Forgiveness (Catechism)

Read: the remainder of Wiesenthal.

Assignment 12Monday March 7  Catechism. What does the Catechism of the Catholic Church say about divine forgiveness? What passages support your thesis.

Assignment 13 - Friday March 11  Sunflower. What is your reaction to the way the prisoner responded to the dying soldier in The Sunflower? For further information on this assignment, click here.

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Week #7 -- March 13 - 19, 2010 --  The Sunflower

Read: the remainder of Wiesenthal

Assignment 14 - Monday March 14 Responses. Selected three of the responses from among those given in The Sunflower and state why you found these three to be particularly insightful or informative.

Assignment 15 - Friday March 18  Jesus. Jesus is the sacrament of divine mercy. In Jesus we see God's mercy revealed. The responses in The Sunflower are listed alphabetically and the authors have various religious backgrounds. Do you find that the Catholic/Christian responses are different from the others? Do you think that Jesus tells us something of divine mercy that we would not know or understand without knowing Jesus?

Week #8 -- March 20 - 26, 2010 -- Our Response to Divine Forgiveness

Read: Chapter r61 Frequency of Reconciliation 

Assignment 16Monday March 21  What? What would you have done (and why) if you were the prisoner in the story confronted by dying soldier?

Assignment 17 - Friday March 25  Experience. What has been your experience of forgiveness and reconciliation mediated by the Church's liturgy?  Note:  this is not to be a long, personal, overly disclosing account.  Simply state in general if you prefer Rite 1 or 2? Which of the 16 "forms" I list in  Forms of the Sacrament in Current Use  do you ordinarily use?   Do not duplicate assignment #19.  For further information on this assignment, click here.

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Part Three:  The Church Celebrates Forgiveness

Week #9 -- March 27 - April 2, 2010 -- Catholic Sacraments

Read:   Read Joseph Martos, Doors to the Sacred, Chapter IX Reconciliation, pp 275-234.  Read my notes on my website at Chapter r20 through Chapter r30

Assignment 18Monday March 28 History. Using the 10 divisions of the historical grid, make one statement (in a self-explanatory declarative sentence) describing the way the Roman Catholic Church celebrated the Sacrament of Penance during each of the 10 historical periods. For further information on this assignment, click here.  The completed assignment should be able to be printed on one side of one page.

Assignment 19 - Friday April 1  Practice. Using the categories given on my website, describe the current practice of the sacrament of reconciliation in your parish or religious community. Evaluate this practice in the light of current legislation and teaching.  For further information on this assignment, click here.

Week #10 -- April 3 - 9, 2010 -- History of The Rite of Penance

Read:  Read Joseph Martos, Doors to the Sacred,   Part One:  A History of Sacraments (pp 1-147).

Assignment 20Monday April 4 Confession. List the pros and cons of scholastic sacramental (devotional) confession, both religiously and psychologically. For further information on this assignment, click here.

Assignment 21 - Friday April 8  Grace. What actually happens in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? For further information on this assignment, click here.  

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Week #11 -- April 10 - 16, 2010 -- The Rite of Reconciliation Today

Read:  Rite of Penance    Overview of the Rite of Penance, its history and theology.  History of the Current Ritual   The Grammatical Forms of the Prayer of Absolution   Current Absolution Prayers   Forms of the Sacrament in Current Use 

Assignment 22Monday April 11 First Reconciliation. If you were a catechist preparing a group of children for their first celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, what would be the principal elements of your catechesis? (What Rite would you use and why?) For further information on this assignment, click here.

Assignment 23Friday April 15  NOTE:  Assignments 23, 24, 25, 26, and 27 are all part of one "concluding" assignment, namely to compose a script for a communal celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation which could be used in a parish setting.  The purpose of the assignment is to see if you can take all the things you have studied and learned about forgiveness human and divine, grace, liturgy, the current rite for the sacrament, etc and put it all together in a liturgical celebration.  I broke up the assignment into various parts so that you do not have to post it all at once, but you would have the total plan in mind for each of the Assignments.  Assignment 23.  Setting. In this posting describe the context (the place, the previous experience of the participants, the liturgical day, etc.) in which your script will be performed.  Assignment 23 is very brief and actually not graded except in conjunction with assignment 24.  For example:  "I am going to compose a script for Saint Paul Parish, Tell City IN, for the First Sunday of Advent, 2011.  The readings will be...  This will be the first time the Parish is celebrating a true Communal Rite; formerly they have been celebrating a Bible Service, followed by individual confessions; consequently I will need to give an explanation of what we are doing differently in the people's Worship Aid." For further information on this assignment, click here.

Week #12 -- April 17-23, 2010 -- Holy Week -- No assignments

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Week #13 -- April 24 - 30, 2010 -- Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Assignment 24Monday April 25  Script. Post the "script" for your celebration. Indicate the hymns, the readings, the prayers, the order of service, etc. For further information on this assignment, click here.  

Assignment 25 - Friday April 29  Handout. Post the "service aid" or "handout" which you will provide the participants attending this celebration so that they can understand what is happening and enter fruitfully into the liturgical prayer. For further information on this assignment, click here.

Week #14 -- May 1 - 7, 2010 -- Rite II critique

Assignment 26Monday May 2 Homily. Post the homily which the priest will give at this celebration. For further information on this assignment, click here.

Assignment 27 - Friday May 6  Feedback. Read the scripts posted by your classmates. In a brief essay state what you have learned from this exercise of composing a script for the sacrament. For further information on this assignment, click here.

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Week #15 -- May 8 - 13, 2010 -- Conclusions

Assignment 28 - Monday May 9 Concluding essay. Post an essay which expresses some aspect of your thoughts at the end of this course. It may be a general "I have learned that..." or you may select some specific aspect of the course or one of the topics we have treated. This is to be a longer posting which will count for 10% of the grade. For further information on this assignment, click here.

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Participants
Spring 2011 Online Course

1. Peter Doane
2. Brian Edwards
3. Tammy Flippo
4. Sr. Kim Mandelkow, O.S.B.

5. Tim O'Donnell
6. Mary Sue Reutebuch
7. Diane Valentine

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Copyright: Tom Richstatter.  All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 01/17/12.  Your comments on this site are welcome at trichstatter@franciscan.org