instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Sunday, April 14, 2013

To grow in deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery

In case you were wondering, "mystagogy" is the period of formal instruction of the newly baptized Christians -- or, as likely these days, of the newly received-and-confirmed Catholics. It would be cruel toward those who, after months or more of RCIA, receive all the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil, to simply say, "Congratulations! Now you're Catholic! Go do good!," and shoo them out of the classroom.

Mystagogy, then, ensures that the neophytes (the "newly planted") have time to learn how to live as Catholics. It's not until their first Pentecost that they hear, "Congratulations! Go do good!," and are shooed out of the classroom.

And even though you most certainly weren't wondering, here's the outline (lightly edited) I used to blather at my poor, helpless, but polite brothers and sisters in Christ this morning:

An Introduction to Mystagogia

1. Why we are here
  • Why are you here? (After receiving all the Sacraments of Initiation)
  • “This is a time for the community and the neophytes together to grow in deepening their grasp of the paschal mystery and in making it part of their lives through meditation on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and in doing works of charity.” RCIA n. 244
2. Memories and experiences of the Sacraments of Initiation
  • “Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgment and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.”
  • “For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.” John 3:34
    • Drive your invisible car!
  •  “Welcome aboard. Start bailing.”
  • “Missionary disciples in communion.” (2007 Aparecida Document)
3. The Mountaintop: Go up, encounter God, return
  • Scriptural movement
    • Moses receiving the Law 
    • The Transfiguration 
    • The Crucifixion (St. John’s Gospel) 
  • Christian life
    • The Mass 
    • Confession
    • Daily life (prayer and action), recapitulated daily
  • The RETURN part is critical!
    • “We priests tend to clericalize the laity…. And the laity — not all, but many — ask us on their knees to clericalize them, because it is more comfortable to be an altar server than the protagonist of a lay path.” Cdl Bergoglio, 2011 interview
    • GO! (last words of Mass)
4. Eucharistic Mystagogy (Dr. Gerard F. Baumbach, Notre Dame, Catechetical Sunday 2011)
  1. Accept Jesus’ invitation to love as He loves (GO UP)
    • We are “stewards of God’s love”; let us be wise stewards
    • “Imitate [St. Paul], I beg you, and you will be able to be called newly baptized not only for two, three, ten, or twenty days, but you will be able to deserve this greeting after ten, twenty, or thirty years have passed and, to tell the truth, through your whole life. If we shall be eager to make brighter by good deeds the light within us – I mean the grace of the Spirit – so that it is never quenched, we shall enjoy the title of newly baptized for all time. But just as the sober and vigilant man whose conduct is worthy can continue to be a neophyte, so it is possible after a single day for a man to relax his vigilance and become unworthy of that title.” – St. John Chrysostom, Fifth Baptismal Instruction 
  2. The Paschal Mystery is the center of the sacramental experience (ENCOUNTER GOD)
      “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes.” 1 Cor. 11:26
  3. Learn the language of the Liturgy (ENCOUNTER GOD) (Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis)
    • “Interpret the rites in the light of the events of our salvation”
      • Personal and historical
    • Understand that “signs and gestures…together with the word, make up the rite”
      • “Do the red, say the black”
      • What are the signs and gestures used?
    • See the significance of the rites for the Christian life (ENCOUNTER GOD influencing RETURN)
      • Progressive transformation of your whole life
        • Includes “the missionary responsibility of the faithful”
        • Necessarily so, because Divine love is fecund
  4. The Great “Amen” (RETURN)
    • ‘If you are the body and members of Christ, then it is your sacrament that is placed on the table of the Lord; it is your sacrament that you receive. To that which you are you respond "Amen" ("yes, it is true!") and by responding to it you assent to it. For you hear the words, "the Body of Christ" and respond "Amen." Be then a member of the Body of Christ that your Amen may be true.’ St. Augustine (quoted in CCC 1396)
    • Body of Christ for others – service (what people like about Catholics)
    • Body of Christ to others – teaching (what people don't like about Catholics)
    • Service and teaching become one in love
5. Outside of the Sacraments
  • “Christians pray.” (Best 2 word sermon I've ever heard.)
  • Scripture: read, study, pray 
  • Virtue: 30 days to a holier thou
6. “Do not be afraid.”
  • “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Hint: everyone who is against God, so be prepared.)