What seems like a lifetime ago, before COVID, Rose and I went to Fremantle for an Australian Academy of Liturgy Conference. While we were there, we went on a day trip to Rottnest Island. That’s when I got to know ‘Mystagogue Rose’! Those who have been to Rottnest Island know it involves a lot of walking. If it hadn’t been for Rose, I am sure I would have missed most of the wonder of that place. There is no detail Rose misses.
Look at the colour of that water Louise! Did you see that beautiful little purple plant back there? Did you see the way the wind has bent all those shrubs? Look at all the different colours in that rock.
Rose is attentive to the detail of life and delights in and is expanded by it all.
Cooper, like all young children, is also a mystagogue. Who would have known that a puddle or watching a train could hold so much wonder and delight? I love nothing more than to watch him suddenly squat down with his little hands on his knees, attentive to some small flower that has caught his attention. Then comes the command that I not only pay attention to this flower, but that I participate in his delight in the wonder of this new mystery he has discovered.
Both Rose and Cooper are true mystagogues: they pay attention to the detail, they are present to the mystery contained in their experience, and they share what is revealed, opening my eyes and heart to the wonder I would have missed had they not guided me there. And they both have what I call that ‘mystagogical look’ which transforms their beautiful faces and makes me smile.
Take a moment to think. Who are the mystagogues in your life? Who opens your eyes and heart to wonder? Who invites you to stop, pay attention and reflect? For whom are you a mystagogue? How does your presence guide people into the mystery of God at the heart of life and meaning?
Mystagogical reflection, mystagogy, mystagogue! They are all words about mystery. They are our words that name an essential element of our life of faith. Mystagogical reflection invites us to focus on the presence of Christ in our experience and in the living tradition of our faith. It invites us to pay attention to what Christ reveals in both, to share this, to connect it to life now and to be changed by it. That is, it invites us to participate more intentionally in what we call the paschal – dying, rising – life of Christ.
This Advent you are invited to experience mystagogical reflection and to become a mystagogue.
There’s an Advent Reflection Resource and more
In response to a request from the Synod Working Party, Pastoral Ministries has prepared an Advent resource for our diocese. It’s called, Waiting with Purpose. In doing this we took note of the voice of the faithful heard in the Synod process expressing a longing for different forms of prayer that include faith sharing. And so Waiting with Purpose invites us to use Mystagogical Reflection as our way of encountering Christ in the Advent gospels.
We have prepared a range of resources, some focused specifically on Advent and others on Mystagogical Reflection. Everything will be available soon on the diocesan website and our other online platforms. They include:
- Two versions of Waiting with Purpose: One for those participating in a group. One for those who will guide or lead a group.
- An introduction to Mystagogical Reflection: Encountering the Mystery of God … Living from Christ.
- A video: Let’s Talk about Mystagogy.
- Various outlines of the process of Mystagogical Reflection that accommodate its different foci: Scripture – particularly the Sunday Gospel, the liturgy, a life or ministry experience, with catechumens in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, or as for Advent, with the community of the faithful.
There’s a Plan
During November we are providing opportunities for anyone who is interested to ‘have a go’ at mystagogical reflection. We learn by doing. There are two opportunities across each week. You are welcome to participate just once or twice, or one each week for the month. This experience will be helpful preparation for Advent, particularly for anyone who would like to gather and guide a group.
The groups will be limited to eight participants. The reflection will focus on the gospel from the preceding Sunday. When you register you will receive two documents: a copy of the Sunday readings and an outline of the process of Mystagogical Reflection.
November opportunities are as follows. Click the image to register to be part of a group.
During Advent, our hope is that anyone and everyone will gather a circle of people to reflect on the Advent gospels using Waiting with Purpose, our diocesan Advent Reflection Resource.
Parishes and schools may like to schedule some gatherings to capture those who are not able to form a group. Pastoral Ministries will host four such opportunities across each week of Advent. The Advent Reflection Resource Waiting with Purpose will be available on the diocesan website in the next couple of weeks.
To register for any of the following sessions, click the image relating to the week you’d like to attend. Alternatively, you can view all upcoming events at our Eventbrite page https://mncatholic.eventbrite.com.au/.
Mystagogical reflection meets us where we are. No preparation is needed. It’s not about knowing things. It’s about being open to encounter Christ so we can live from Christ. It’s deeply personal and communal. Stick to the discipline of the process. Trust the process. This is a wonder-filled opportunity that is available to all of us … Have a go this Advent.
Together let us wait with purpose … attentive to what God reveals in Christ so that Christ will be born in in us in this time and place.
Photo by Adam Gonzales on Unsplash