Skip to main content

Course Number: CH 659 or STD 659
Course Title: Documents of Vatican II
Term: Summer 2014  (Version March 27, 2014)

Professor

Professor: Dr. Cynthia Toolin

Email: ctoolin@holyapostles.edu

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is constructed to partially fulfill the Holy Apostles College and Seminary mission statement “to cultivate lay, consecrated and ordained Catholic leaders for the purpose of evangelization.”

To be able to evangelize, a future leader must have a working knowledge of Church doctrine. This course exposes the student to the teachings of Vatican Council II as the student reads each document in its entirety. This is necessary because these sixteen documents are the major body of ecclesiastical teachings accomplished in the 20th Century. In this course, the student is required to demonstrate knowledge of each document through twelve weekly postings.

But to be able to evangelize, knowing basic doctrine is not enough. The evangelizer must be able to recall the doctrine and interpret it in a manner applicable to the situation. Rarely will the leader be asked to present formal lessons on a document. More often the situation will be one where the leader needs to explain or support the doctrine articulated in a document, by formulating a correct answer to a question, or contrasting true Church teaching with teaching “in the spirit of Vatican II.” In this course, the student is challenged to develop such answers in a series of two real-life scenario papers and a term paper.

This is how the content of the course is categorized:

  1. The Constitutions,
  2. The Church, other Christian religions and non-Christian religions,
  3. The members of the Church,
  4. Christian education, and
  5. Social communications.

2. ENVISIONED LEARNING OUTCOMES

  1. Students will demonstrate the ability to locate and define major concepts in, and recall overarching themes of, each Vatican II document in order to construct and present the information in a formal and informal manner.
  2. Students will demonstrate a working knowledge (defined as the ability to recall, paraphrase, and interpret) of Church doctrine by applying it in given scenarios.
  3. Students will formulate answers to common questions to prepare him or her to explain authentic Church teaching as presented in the Vatican II documents as opposed to teaching that is in the “spirit of Vatican II.”

3. TEXT MATERIALS AND RESOURCES

Most of the readings in this course are available on the internet. You must use the Vatican II documents as translated on the Vatican website.

You will need access to a good public or college library that has the latest edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia. The article I assign is in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd. Edition, 2003. Do not use the edition that is available on the Internet that was published in the early 1900s!

IMPORTANT NOTE: I have addressed some of the readings, by week, in the Lessons section. Note that I have not addressed all of the reading, but some of the more important points. Do not substitute what I have written for reading the documents on your own!  

4a. SUGGESTED READINGS

I have given links to sites that provide information about Vatican Council II and/or its documents in the Lesson Tab. Here are some of interest if you would like a general overview.

4b. SUGGESTED VIDEOS

Here is the one on Dei Verbum http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_I6cVm8G-k

5. COURSE SCHEDULE

Week 1: Introduction to Vatican II

This week you will learn about the goals and desires of John XXIII for the council, and about the categories of documents (i.e., constitutions, decrees and declarations) you are about to read. You will also learn about the meaning of the phrase, “spirit of Vatican II.”

Week 2: The Constitutions: Dei Verbum

This week you will learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about divine revelation and how it is transmitted to future generations.

Week 3:  The Constitutions: Lumen Gentium, Part I

This week you will begin to learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the Church: the mystery of the Church, the People of God, her hierarchical structure and the episcopate, and the laity.

Week 4:  The Constitutions: Lumen Gentium, Part II

This week you will continue to learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the Church: the universal call to holiness, the religious, the pilgrim Church, and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Week 5:  The Constitutions: Gaudium et Spes, Part I

This week you will begin to learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the Church and its relationship with the modern world: the situation of man in the modern world, the dignity of man, the community of man, man's activity in the world, and the role of the Church in the modern world.

Week 6:  The Constitutions: Gaudium et Spes, Part II

This week you will continue to learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the Church and its relationship with the modern world: marriage and the family, the development of culture, economic and social life, political life, and peace and fostering a community of nations.

Week 7:  The Constitutions: Sacrosanctum Concilium, Part I

This week you will begin to learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the liturgy: general principles regarding it and the Eucharist.

Week 8: The Constitutions: Sacrosanctum Concilium, Part II

This week you will continue to learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the liturgy: other sacraments and sacramentals, the divine office, the liturgical year, and sacred art and music.

Week 9: The Church, Other Christian Religions and Non-Christian Religions: Dignitatis Humanae, Unitatis Redintegratio

This week you will learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about ecumenism and religious freedom.

Week 10: The Church, Other Christian Religions and Non-Christian Religions: Orientalium Ecclesiarum, Nostra Aetate

This week you will learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about Eastern Catholic Churches and the Church's relationship to non-Christian religions.

Week 11: The Church, Other Christian Religions and Non-Christian Religions: Ad Gentes Divinitus

This week you will learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the Church's missionary activity.

Week 12: Church Members: Christus Dominus, Optatam Totius, Presbyterorum Ordinis

This week you will learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the pastoral office of the bishop, priestly formation, and the ministry and life of priests.

Week 13: Church Members: Perfectae Caritatis, Apostolicam Actuositatem

This week you will learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about the renewal of the religious life and the apostolate of the laity

Week 14: Christian Education and Social Communications: Gravissimum Educationis, Inter Mirifica

This week you will learn what the Vatican Council II fathers said about Christian education and the instruments of social communication.

Week 15: TERM PAPER DUE

6. COURSE REQUIREMENTS

1. Discussion Postings.

In weeks when a discussion post is required, you must post your summary, questions, and answer by Wednesday, 11:59 pm, Eastern Time.

Summary: A summary should be not more than 400 words long, with enough information to enable you to remember the doctrine and pastoral themes in each. Make sure you include important definitions in your summary (e.g., What does subsist mean? What does inter-religious dialogue mean? What does ecumenism mean?)

Questions and Answer: Continue the post as follows. Select one important statement from the document. (Note that in weeks where more than one document is assigned, select one for this portion of the post.) Construct one to three questions from the statement you have selected. Answer the question as if you were speaking to either a devout Catholic OR a fallen away Catholic OR a non-Catholic Christian (i.e., Protestant). Keep in mind your role as a future Catholic evangelist and leader. Remember your audience so that you will formulate questions and answers appropriate to the person you are addressing!

You must address the questions and answers of at least three (3) other students by Saturday, 11:59 pm, Eastern Time.

The posting part of the course addresses Learning Outcome 1.

Exceptions to post after the 11:59 pm due dates will only be granted for serious cases, i.e. serious health/family issues… not for vacations. You must contact your professor for consideration of any exceptions. Thus, if permission is given to post beyond the weekly due date, you cannot receive full credit for the posting of that week.

For ease of reading, you will be adding your own discussion areas to post your summaries. Instructions on how to post your own discussion will be provided for you in each weekly lesson container. Please do not add your summary response as an attachment. I do not comment on postings unless a student has posted an error, an interesting point for further discussion, or a direct question. I do, however, read every post.

Note that 50% of your discussion posting grade is based on your summary, questions and answer and 50% is based on your responses to the questions and answer of three other students.

2. Complete all reading and writing assignments.

Reading assignments are listed in the lessons tab under the appropriate week.

You will have two written homework assignments to email to me during the semester. They will be due on Saturday, 11:59 pm, Eastern Time, of Week 4 and Week 8. You will not have a Discussion Posting assignment those two weeks.

The writing assignments should be double spaced, Times New Roman Font 12, five pages long. In addition to five pages of text, there should be a title page, footnotes and a bibliography of sources you have used in constructing your answer.

If you need an extension on a writing assignment, please request it via email at least one week before the due date. If I do not receive a request, I will reduce the grade of the writing assignment by 1/2 grade each day that it is late. Thus an A writing assignment that is two days late could not receive a grade higher than B+. I am willing to grant extensions for serious reasons, such as health. However, if you need an extension for every writing assignment, you should probably postpone enrolling in distance learning courses until you have more free time."

The two written assignments address Learning Objective 2.

Week 4: Imagine a Protestant, one well informed in the teachings of his or her denomination, approaches you and argues sola scriptura. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading some Vatican II documents, develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on this issue. Be sure to include Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium in your argument. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes a person can remember, taking into account the information the other has in his or her possession.

Week 8: Imagine an atheist, one well informed in the “doctrine” of his or her worldview, approaches you and argues the Church has no business making statements about world issues in general, particularly as concerns marriage and family. Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading some Vatican II documents, develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on this issue. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes a person can remember, taking into account the information the other has in his or her possession.

3. Term Paper

You will have a term paper to email to me by Friday, 11:59 pm Eastern Time, of week 15.

The paper should be double spaced, Times New Roman Font 12, at least ten pages long. In addition to at least ten pages of text, there should be a title page, endnotes and a bibliography of sources you have used in constructing your answer.

The term paper addresses Learning Outcome 3.

Imagine you are having dinner with two Catholic friends. One is a fully Catholic person, but is not well acquainted with Catholic teaching on inter-religious dialogue. The other is a good person, but a nominal Catholic, and interprets Church teaching on inter-religious dialogue within “the spirit of Vatican II.” Using the knowledge you have obtained in reading all the Vatican II documents, develop a well thought out, intelligent, cogent argument articulating the Church’s teaching on inter-religious dialogue. Include the issue of whether missionary activity is still required. Remember that as a future Catholic evangelist and leader, you must answer arguments politely, defining terms, using themes people can remember, taking into account the information the others have in their possession.

7. GRADING

  • Writing Assignments 33%
  • Term Paper 37%
  • Discussion Postings 30%

My grading practice has developed over the last few years. In Populi, you will see grades for Posting Summary, Posting Response, Writing Assignments, and Term Paper depending on the week. When you receive your grades in Populi, you will see each is worth 100 points. Instead of giving a letter grade, all your work will be graded numerically. At the end of the semester the posting grades (composed of 50% being the summary, questions and answer and 50% being responses to the questions and answer of three other students) will be averaged and count for 30% of your final grade; the grades for your two writing assignments will be averaged and count for 33% of your final grade; and the grade for your term paper will count for 37% of your final grade.

8. DISABILITIES ACCOMMODATIONS POLICY

Holy Apostles College & Seminary is committed to the goal of achieving equal educational opportunities and full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities who qualify for admission to the College. Students enrolled in online courses who have documented disabilities requiring special accommodations should contact Bob Mish, the Director of Online Student Affairs, at rmish@holyapostles.edu or 860-632-3015. In all cases, reasonable accommodations will be made to ensure that all students with disabilities have access to course materials in a mode in which they can receive them. Students who have technological limitations (e.g., slow Internet connection speeds in convents) are asked to notify their instructors the first week of class for alternative means of delivery.

9. ACADEMIC HONESTY POLICY

Students at Holy Apostles College & Seminary are expected to practice academic honesty.

Avoiding Plagiarism

In its broadest sense, plagiarism is using someone else's work or ideas, presented or claimed as your own.  At this stage in your academic career, you should be fully conscious of what it means to plagiarize. This is an inherently unethical activity because it entails the uncredited use of someone else's expression of ideas for another's personal advancement; that is, it entails the use of a person merely as a means to another person’s ends.

Students, where applicable:

  • Should identify the title, author, page number/webpage address, and publication date of works when directly quoting small portions of texts, articles, interviews, or websites.
  • Students should not copy more than two paragraphs from any source as a major component of papers or projects.
  • Should appropriately identify the source of information when paraphrasing (restating) ideas from texts, interviews, articles, or websites.
  • Should follow the Holy Apostles College & Seminary Stylesheet (available on the Online Writing Lab’s website at http://www.holyapostles.edu/owl/resources).

Consequences of Academic Dishonesty:

Because of the nature of this class, academic dishonesty is taken very seriously.  Students participating in academic dishonesty may be removed from the course and from the program.

10. ATTENDANCE POLICY

Even though you are not required to be logged in at any precise time or day, you are expected to login several times during each week. Because this class is being taught entirely in a technology-mediated forum, it is important to actively participate each week in the course. In a traditional classroom setting for a 3-credit course, students would be required, per the federal standards, to be in class three 50-minute sessions (or 2.5 hours a week) and prepare for class discussions six 50-minute sessions (or 5 hours) a week. Expect to devote at least nine 50-minute sessions (or 7.5 quality hours) a week to this course. A failure on the student’s part to actively participate in the life of the course may result in a reduction of the final grade.

11. INCOMPLETE POLICY

An Incomplete is a temporary grade assigned at the discretion of the faculty member. It is typically allowed in situations in which the student has satisfactorily completed major components of the course and has the ability to finish the remaining work without re-enrolling, but has encountered extenuating circumstances, such as illness, that prevent his or her doing so prior to the last day of class.

To request an incomplete, distance-learning students must first download a copy of the Incomplete Request Form. This document is located within the Shared folder of the Files tab in Populi. Secondly, students must fill in any necessary information directly within the PDF document. Lastly, students must send their form to their professor via email for approval. “Approval” should be understood as the professor responding to the student’s email in favor of granting the “Incomplete” status of the student.

Students receiving an Incomplete must submit the missing course work by the end of the sixth week following the semester in which they were enrolled. An incomplete grade (I) automatically turns into the grade of “F” if the course work is not completed.

Students who have completed little or no work are ineligible for an incomplete. Students who feel they are in danger of failing the course due to an inability to complete course assignments should withdraw from the course.

A “W” (Withdrawal) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the first week of a semester to the end of the third week. A “WF” (Withdrawal/Fail) will appear on the student’s permanent record for any course dropped after the end of the third week of a semester and on or before the Friday before the last week of the semester.

12. ABOUT YOUR PROFESSOR

I am a Professor of Dogmatic and Moral Theology at Holy Apostles, where I have worked since 1997. I hold a Ph.D. and an M.A. in sociology from the University of Massachusetts, a ninety credit M.A. in theology from Holy Apostles, and an S.T.L. in moral theology from Dominican House of Studies.

(860) 632-3010