RCIA 244: Mystagogy

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Mystagogy is the fourth period of the catechumenate. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be much to it: eight sections of instruction and no rubrics or special rituals given. Parishes struggle with its implementation. To their loss when they do, for this final period enables the newly baptized to fully insert themselves into the local faith community as full-fledged members.

How does a parish implement mystagogy? Let’s take it in steps.

Let’s begin reading the two pages of instructions (RCIA 244-251):

244. The third step of Christian initiation, the celebration of the sacraments, is followed by the final period of postbaptismal catechesis or mystagogy. 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 of the Gospel, sharing in the eucharist, and doing works of charity. To strengthen the neophytes as they begin to walk in newness of life, the community of the faithful, their godparents, and their parish priests (pastors) should give them thoughtful and friendly help.

Commentary:

Mystagogy is not something “done” to or for the neophytes. It is a shared experience of the entire Christian community. It should be obvious that during the postbaptismal period (usually Easter) the community orients itself to a special agenda just as it did during Lent. Just as Lent has three pillars (fasting, prayer, and almsgiving) so Easter has three: meditation on the Gospel, the Eucharist, and works of charity.

If it is through Lenten practices we imitate Christ and experience his time in the desert and his sacrifice, the Easter disciplines are intended to help us grow more deeply in the Paschal mystery, namely his Passion and Resurrection.

The last sentence suggests two qualities of a good community: thoughtfulness and friendliness. It might go without saying, but two things: these are similar to the qualities urged during the other periods, and parishes do need such reminders.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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