Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



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, videoconferencing, or supervision. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

The Eucharist is the central Christian ritual celebrated in response to Christ’s command to: “Do this in remembrance of me”. The basic shape of the Eucharistic celebration has remained unchanged throughout history despite the evolution of liturgical diversity in different cultural contexts, languages and ecclesial circumstances. This unit studies the Eucharist as an act of thanksgiving and praise, “a sacrificial memorial of Christ and his body, and the presence of Christ by the power of his word and of his Spirit.” (CCC#1358). 

The unit will explore the anthropological and biblical roots of the Eucharist and will trace its major theological themes including Eucharist as participation in the Paschal Mystery, and as sacrifice, presence, communion, blessing and devotion. Studying the liturgical sources and practices of the Church, this unit explores the historical and theological evolution of the Eucharist in a range of Christian traditions and time-periods. It attends especially to the current form of the rite in the Roman Catholic tradition, paying attention to key ecclesiastical legislation pertaining to the celebration of the Eucharist and articulating a theology of the rite drawing on the liturgy itself. This unit aims to provide students with an appreciation of the complex historical evolution, liturgical diversity and theological richness of the sacrament of the Eucharist, in order to enhance their understanding of why its proper ritual celebration today is central to the identity and mission of the Catholic Church.

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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome Description
LO1Demonstrate an understanding of the anthropological roots, scriptural bases and historical evolution of the Church’s Eucharistic practices and theology from the beginning to the present day.
LO2Evidence a critical understanding of the notions of sacrifice, presence, communion, blessing, praise and thanksgiving, and devotion in relation to the Church’s Eucharistic theology.
LO3Navigate the current ritual book for the celebration of this sacrament (The Roman Missal) and its General Instruction (GIRM).
LO4Locate and analyse key ecclesiastical legislation and documents pertaining to the celebration of the Eucharistic rite.
LO5Articulate a theology of the Eucharistic rite drawing on a variety of sources, especially the ritual itself.


Topics will include:

  • Anthropological roots of Eucharist: from human meal to Christian Eucharist
  • Scriptural origins of the Eucharist
  • First Century Greek and Jewish meal practices
  • The Eucharist in the New Testament and early Church
  • The history and development of the Eucharist in Rome
  • The history and development of the Eucharist in East and non-Roman West
  • Eucharist and Sacrifice
  • Medieval Eucharistic Theological Developments: notions of Eucharistic Presence
  • Development of Eucharistic Devotions
  • The reform of the Eucharist after the Second Vatican Council: ecclesiastical documents and legislation
  • Current liturgical books for the celebration of the Eucharist: principles for celebrating Eucharist today
  • Eucharist makes Church makes Eucharist: liturgical theology of the Eucharist 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

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 analyse and report on investigations into historical documents and texts in context. 

Students are encouraged to reflect critically on their observations, theories and analyses 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 reading, 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: Annotated Bibliography. This assessment task requires students to identify, analyse and write a critical summary of a range of appropriate resources directly related to unit content and their major essay topic. This task provides an opportunity for students to research, read and critique resources that are directly related to the unit overall and their essay topic in particular, to enhance the quality of the final essay and to ensure that they are accessing and reading closely materials that will ensure their achievement of the learning outcomes of the unit.

Assessment Task 2: Critical Analysis. This assessment task requires students to complete a critical comparative analysis of contrasting Eucharistic prayers to identify their key structural elements, points of theological divergence and convergence, and their appropriate contemporary usage recognising their ancient origins and subsequent development.

Assessment Task 3: Research Essay. Utilizing the knowledge gained through lectures, exercises, unit materials and readings (along with relevant additional primary and secondary bibliographic references) students will 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. This assessment offers students the chance to demonstrate a synthesis of knowledge and insight gained throughout the unit.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Annotated Bibliography: requires students to identify, analyse and write a critical summary of bibliographic resources directly relating to unit content and their major essay topic.


1000 words

LO1, LO5

Critical Analysis: requires students to compare contrasting Eucharistic Prayers and reflect on their ancient sources and development.


1500 words

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Research essay: requires students to research and write an essay on the liturgical theology of the Eucharist synthesising and demonstrating understanding and application of central concepts of Eucharistic theology explored in the unit.


2500 words

LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5

Representative texts and references

Bradshaw, Paul and Maxwell E. Johnson. The Eucharistic Liturgies: Their Evolution and

Interpretation. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2012.Daly, Robert. Sacrifice Unveiled: The True Meaning of Christian Sacrifice. New York: T & T Clark, 2009.

Irwin, Kevin W. Models of the Eucharist. New York: Paulist, 2005.

Kilmartin, Edward. The Eucharist in the West: History and Theology. Edited by R. J. Daly. Collegeville:

Liturgical, 1998.

Laurance, John D. The Sacrament of the Eucharist. Lex Orandi Series. Collegeville: Liturgical, 2012.

Macy, Gary. The Banquet’s Wisdom: A Short History of the Theologies of the Lord’s Supper. New

York: Paulist, 1992.

Mazza, Enrico. The Origins of the Eucharistic Prayer. Collegeville: Liturgical, 1995.

Mitchell, Nathan D. Cult and Controversy: The Worship of the Eucharist outside Mass. Collegeville:

Liturgical, 1990.

O’Loughlin, Thomas. The Eucharist: Origins and Contemporary Understandings. London: Bloomsbury

Academic, 2015.

Power, David N. The Eucharistic Mystery. New York: Crossroad, 1992.

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