I got a press release this week from the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference noting that newcomers to the Catholic Church finish their preparation during Lent.
It lists 10 things Catholics can do to welcome new members: “pray; listen; participate; attend the Easter Vigil; have a welcoming spirit; witness; invite; get involved; ongoing conversion; and…
Know mystagogy is for all.”
Mystagogy? I don’t believe I’ve ever heard the term.
An explanation on the release looked like this: “After celebrating the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist, the newly initiated continue their formation in the faith in the period called Mystagogy (which means “interpretation of mystery”), when they reflect on their encounter with Christ in the sacraments and learn more about their faith. This period is ongoing and essentially what all members of the Church do throughout our lives: grow deeper in faith and relationship with Christ, constantly discerning his will.”
So mystagogy has to do with the period after initiation. It’s a time to begin to come to terms with the…mystery.
The website of Father Paul Turner of Cameron, Mo., explains: “Mystagogy affects new members and old members alike. Newcomers deepen their understanding of what happened to them at Easter. Their presence in the community brings new life to those who have been members for a while. In your kitchen you may have followed the same recipe a hundred times. But when your friends taste the results for the first time, their enthusiasm brings new pride to your work, new joy in the meal, new life to an old dish. Mystagogy enriches the whole community.”
I found a website called mystagogy.info, run by a husband-wife team of Methodist ministers, which states: “Literally, mystagogy means leading those who have been initiated into a mystery into its deeper meaning and significance for their lives.”