Posted by: resparish | April 6, 2010

Mystagogy: Savoring the Easter Mysteries

We prepare, we celebrate, and then we reflect on what we have just experienced so that we can understand it and live it more deeply. Going back to the early days of the Church, this period of reflection following the Easter Vigil, the most sacred moment of the church year celebrating Jesus’ passage from death into life, is called mystagogia, a Greek word which means ‘savoring the mysteries.’ In religious terms, a mystery is not a puzzle to be solved; a mystery is an experience of God that we do not fully understand but are invited to enter into.

The newly baptized (neophytes) initiated at the Easter Vigil begin a 50 day journey to Pentecost reflecting upon the sacraments (called mysteries) they have just celebrated in the midst of the community: Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist. A ritual is only a beginning, not the final destination. What happens in a ritual takes a lifetime to accomplish. A ritual points ahead. But to move forward, we must look back. What did we see, what did we hear, what did we feel when we died and rose with Christ in the waters of Baptism, were anointed, and then led to the table of Eucharist with the community?  How does reflecting on this experience help us grow in our understanding of the paschal mystery, our own identity, and what it means to live as disciples of Christ?

Mystagogia is not just for the new initiates. We journey with them. Mystagogia is for everyone. Every Christian is asked to renew his or her Baptismal Promises at the Easter Vigil. Every year we are asked to take the plunge once again and rise committed to a deeper life in Christ. We too are asked to reflect on what life in Christ means for us today. And we do this together. How can we foster and nurture our new way of being? Is there a blueprint? The document, “Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (#244),  gives us some hints: “(Mystagogy) 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 doing the works of charity.” A great place to begin.  – Nancy Royal