MORENO: Church Liturgy offers a template for Christian Life
April 24, 2018
By the time you read this article, Easter Sunday may be a distant memory. We must not forget that, as Catholic Christians, we live by a different calendar.
Upon returning from work after celebrating the Holy Triduum, it was all too common to hear the question: “did you have a good Easter?”
In our secular society, we typically observe holidays in one day, and move on, with barely a thought one day later.
Thus, we witness the barrage of Christmas trees by the sidewalks on December 26, ready to be recycled. All that is left in a secular society’s observance of Easter the next day, is discounted chocolate bunnies on store shelves. This is not so for the Christian.
The highest feasts in our calendar are called solemnities. The two highest of these solemnities, Easter and Christmas, do not last one day. These two solemnities are celebrated not only on the proper day, but are accompanied by an octave: an eight-day celebration.
Another example of the way we celebrate these feasts is the way we prepare for them: Lent as preparation for Easter, and Advent to prepare for Christmas. A further example of the way we celebrate as Catholics is the often-forgotten period of mystagogy.
The welcoming of new Christians into the Church with the celebration of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist is such a momentous, life-changing event for the neophyte, that a period of reflection is needed in order to realize its importance.
This is mystagogy, which means in a sense, reflecting on the mysteries (mysteries being another term for sacraments). Formally, this period of mystagogy is carried over to the Easter season, that is, the seven weeks after Easter leading to Pentecost. For the rest of us, the already-baptized Christians, and speaking in a broader sense, the rest of our lives is a mystagogy. Every Sunday for us is a “little Easter,” where we celebrate the mysteries with ever-deepening faith.
Indeed, if we look at the guidance the Church provides us in the observance of mystagogy, we realize that this is a life-long task (c.f. RCIA 245).
During the period of mystagogy the neophytes are to:
• Be introduced into a fuller and more effective understanding of mysteries through the Gospel message and sacraments
• Discern and prayerfully seek a renewal in mind to seek and think with the mind of Christ
• Taste more deeply the sweetness of God’s Word in study and prayer
• Receive the fellowship of the Holy Spirit through communion with believers
• Grow to know the goodness of the Lord in seeing his faithful actions in daily life
• Expect to gradually discover and inculcate a new perception of faith, the Church, and the world
• Experience a full and joyful welcome into the community and with other faithful Catholics
In other words, neophytes and the already-baptized are called to put aside the old self and integrate God into their lives. This, again, is a life-long task.
We cannot reserve our experience of faith only to a day, or to a compartment of our lives, leaving the rest untouched. Christ died for us and was resurrected on Easter Sunday to redeem us whole.
Let us always endeavor to constantly advance in faith, hope, and love, with God’s grace, so that we may live lives immersed in the mystery of God’s love.
Juan Carlos Moreno is an associate director with the Archdiocesan Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.