Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Monday, April 09, 2012

Must I Go To Mystagogy?

For the Catholic faithful, Easter is not celebrated for just one day, but continues to be celebrated for 50 days until the feast of Pentecost. In the Early Church, after Easter vigil, the neophytes or newly baptized would enter into a period of learning and immersion into the sacraments. This period is called mystagogy, which means to "go deeper into the mysteries."
     Not only is Mystagogy a time of reflection and further immersion into the sacraments of the Church for the neophyte, it is also a time that can be used by the veteran Catholic to re-affirm his or her faith. To slow down after all the liturgical happenings of Holy Week and spend time in prayer and in the Word and in the frequent reception of the Eucharist, daily if possible.
     Most RCIA programs will have Mystagogy to help the new believers to become better acquainted with the Church and the faith.  It is so important that we encourage these folks to continue on in their conversion by attending mystagogy sessions if possible. What marks Catholicism as distinct from much of Protestantism is that we believe that conversion is an on-going process and that one needs to continue their pursuit of holiness and relationship with God. Once we have completed RCIA, we have not "arrived."  Just like Saint Paul, we must continue to  "press on to make it my own….” (Phil 3.) The individual who goes through RCIA to just "get into the Church" but stops there, will find Catholicism much like other religions and sadly may even laspe from the practice of the faith. But for those who are docile to the grace available to them in the sacraments and continue to press on, they will find a continuous unfolding and never-ending treasure of joy and discovery. Mystagogy helps the new believer and "not-so-new" believer go deeper and press on further to know the Lord.  Like the two disciples on their way to Emmaus after the crucifixion, they found that immersion in the Word and participating in the "Breaking of the Bread" opened their eyes and revealed the Lord to them.  May Mystagogy bring us to the place the Lord wants us to be, where we will joyfully and eagerly recognize Him in the Eucharist (breaking of bread) finding our nourishment for the journey here.
   Let us pray for all the new converts that  by God's grace their faith will deepen in this time of Mystagogy and like Saint Paul, "press on to make it their own."


Blogger Tara said...

Well, my coming into the faith--RCIA was more than a bit painful. The people coming in with me, asked to read, what three pages out of a chapter--read zero, week after week after week. Later sitting in on others RCIA experience, well, if it's not taught well can be a most miserable experience. So to the Mystagogy--while in theory it sounds lovely and informative, but for some it is worse than a Chinese water torture :) Most of the faith I learned from my own reading.

April 09, 2012 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Renee Lin said...

Well, I'm going to have to agree with Tara. RCIA was pretty much a total loss from a theological perspective (I say this with eternal gratitude to the folks who gave up hours and hours of their time to ensure that I entered the Church at the Easter Vigil!) But I believe if I had read Russ' exhortation back then, I would have at least tried to tough out Mystagogy....

April 09, 2012 8:41 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

I didnt have to do rcia because I was reverting to the Church but chose to do it because I felt I wanted to experience the Church as a new believer does. I was blessed in that our RCIA was taught and lead by solid folks. I have heard some scary stories about rcia and some folks did it three times in three different churches until they get it right. My fear is that if adult converts bont do mystagogy or some other solid catechetical and sacrament based classes, they can have their faith snatched away as in the parable of the sower.

April 09, 2012 10:07 PM  
Blogger kkollwitz said...

So what sort of topics are discussed during Mystagogy that differentiate it from the preceding RCIA classes?

April 11, 2012 2:23 PM  
Anonymous russ said...

There is no set format but it is supposed to focus on the sacraments and the Word and encourage the neophyte to participate in the Mass.
The new convert should not leave RCIA thinking they are done, they have graduated, rather, thye have just begun their journey, and entry into the Church, and mystagogia is supposed to reinforce and spur them onward to get deeper into the experience and understanding of the sacraments, now that they can participate in receiving the Eucharist and confession. How it plays out is up to the RCIA team. Some parishes don't do mystagogy!

April 11, 2012 8:29 PM  

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