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THCP510 - Celebrating Feasts and Seasons

Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit examines the Christian conception and celebration of time by exploring the major feasts and seasons of the Church’s Liturgical Year. It also studies the purposes of prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours, other types of non-sacramental celebrations, popular devotions and blessings. The aim of this unit is to provide students with an overview of the Church’s theology of time expressed in the Liturgical Year through its historical development, its interaction with varied local cultural and environmental conditions, its influence on the Lectionary and its determination of the Christian calendar with its seasons, feasts and variety of prayer forms. This unit also aims to provide students with an understanding of a selection of broader Christian prayer practices including non-liturgical prayer and popular devotions.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1- Explain the purposes of prayer, types of prayer and modalities of prayer (individual and communal) (GA4);

LO2 - Articulate a critical understanding of non-sacramental liturgical prayer, blessings, popular devotions  and celebrations in the absence of a priest (GA4);

LO3 - Give an account of the rhythms of the liturgical day (Liturgy of the Hours), week and year (GA4); 

LO4 - Develop liturgical celebrations that reflect and respect the fundamental link between worship and the physical environment and social context in which a community celebrates (GA2);

LO5 - Plan and present non-sacramental liturgical celebrations for the different seasons of the Liturgical Year, using relevant technologies as appropriate (GA10).

Graduate attributes

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • What is prayer? Why do we pray?
  • Scriptural foundations of the Church’s prayer
  • The liturgy and time
  • Sunday and the week
  • Celebrations in the absence of a priest: Liturgies of the Word, Communion Services and Penitential Celebrations
  • Liturgy of the Hours
  • Major feasts of the liturgical year
  • Seasons of the liturgical year: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, Ordinary Time
  • Celebrating time in ‘place’ – environmental influences on liturgical celebration
  • Veneration of Mary and the saints
  • Popular devotions

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning, video-conferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

The unit is normally offered in interactive online mode which enables students to engage in both synchronous and asynchronous learning activities through live online-class interactions and according to their self-devised schedule as individual learners. Online materials are carefully structured and sequenced in modules with built-in exercises and activities designed to support the achievement of the learning outcomes. Through live-online classes students are provided with the opportunity to work collaboratively in groups with the guidance of the lecturer to apply principles in practical activities which enable them to reflect critically on key information, analyse and integrate new information with existing knowledge, draw meaningful new connections, and then work individually to apply what they have learned to liturgies being prepared and celebrated in their own unique circumstances. Students are encouraged to reflect critically on their personal experience and observations in light of materials covered in the unit. Assessment tasks are integrated into and built upon modular unit materials but extend students beyond the modular materials to engage in analysis and research tasks which require them to apply the knowledge they have gained through completion of the unit’s readings, analyses and exercises.

The interactive online mode of this unit requires students to be independent learners, responsible for managing and modifying their own learning journey in response to frequent constructive feedback provided to them on their learning progress evidenced in exercises and assessment tasks. Students are encouraged to establish a regular study schedule for individual reading and online participation. Key to success in the online mode is regular reading, and interaction with fellow students – through online forums and live-classes students are provided with the opportunity to build a supportive and encouraging learning community so that even when studying at a distance they feel connected to their fellow learners and the lecturer as they proceed through the unit together.

Assessment strategy and rationale

To pass this unit students are required to attempt all assessment tasks and achieve a cumulative grade of Pass (50% or higher). The assessment tasks for this unit are designed to enable students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.

Assessment Task 1: Forum Contributions require students to write online postings and responses to the work of their fellow students which is informed by material presented in the modular materials. This assessment task provides an opportunity for students to demonstrate and articulate their understanding of key aspects of the materials and concepts under consideration in this unit in a focused manner. Online posts and responses provide an opportunity for students to consider, peer-review and offer constructive feedback to each other on postings in light of knowledge gained through study and analysis of unit materials.

Assessment Task 2: Liturgy Exercises provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate their knowledge of and apply key principles studied in the unit. Through these targeted exercises students explore in a focused manner several key concepts of the Church’s Liturgical Year.

 Assessment Task 3: requires students to research and write a Major Essay which enables them to engage in an extended investigation and critical consideration of a topic central to the unit, in dialogue with unit materials and other relevant primary and secondary sources. This assessment offers students the chance to demonstrate a synthesis of knowledge and insight gained throughout the unit and to apply it to a particular topic.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Forum Contributions: require students to demonstrate their knowledge of key aspects of liturgical studies in online posts and to respond critically to the postings of other students.


LO1, LO3, LO4

GA2, GA4, GA10

Liturgy Exercises: require students to demonstrate in practical exercises their knowledge of major concepts of the unit (e.g., Liturgical Year, Prayer, non-sacramental celebrations, popular devotions and blessings), through analysis and application of key principles to practical contexts.


LO2, LO4, LO5

GA2, GA4, GA10

Major Essay: requires students to research and write an extended critical consideration of a set essay topic synthesising and demonstrating understanding and application of central concepts covered in the unit.


LO1, LO3

GA2, GA4, GA10

Representative texts and references

Adam, Adolf. The Liturgical Year: Its History and its Meaning after the Reform of the Liturgy. Collegeville: Pueblo/ Liturgical, 1992.

Burns, Stephen and Anita Monroe, eds. Christian Worship in Australia. Strathfield: St. Pauls, 2009.

Connell, Martin. Eternity Today. Volumes 1 and 2New York: Continuum, 2006.

Green, Thomas. Experiencing God: The Three Stages of Prayer. Notre Dame: Ave Maria, 2010.

Johnson, Maxwell E., ed. Between Memory and Hope: Readings on the Liturgical Year. Collegeville: Pueblo/ Liturgical, 2000.

Leonard, Richard. Why Bother Praying? New York: Paulist, 2013.

Nocent, Adrien. The Liturgical Year Volumes 1-3. Trans. Matthew J. O’Connell. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2013.

Sullivan, Patricia A. Why We Venerate the Saints. New York: Crossroad/Herder and Herder, 2012.

Taft, Robert F. The Liturgy of the Hours in the East and West: The Origins of the Divine Office and Its Meaning for Today. 2nd ed. Collegeville: Liturgical, 1986.

Talley, Thomas J. The Origins of the Liturgical Year. Collegeville: Pueblo/ Liturgical, 1991.

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