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April 06, 2011
Encountering the Mystery
Faith Formation Update continues to offer free monthly encouragement and direction for catechetical ministry within the classroom and beyond. I’m Jeanne Hunt. In each issue I offer a brief starter and my “ Every Family” column. My co-worker and fellow religious educator Joan McKamey offers media resources and ideas in her “ Seen and Heard” column. Our co-worker Angela Glassmeyer suggests other faith formation resources for adults in her column, “Sowing Sampler.”

Every RCIA catechist loves the Easter season. We take a deep breath and watch conversion in action as our band of the Elect become one with us. In this edition, we offer a few thoughts on the wonder of mystagogy.

FOR SHARING AND DISCUSSION: Share your ideas and questions on our Faith Formation Forum.
What successes have you had in gathering your RCIA community through the period of mystagogy?
What are some of the things you do to help your new members get involved in the life of the parish community?

Keeping the Momentum
For anyone who works in catechesis and evangelization, these April days are full of magic. Many months of hard work come to fulfillment as RCIA catechists watch the candidates and catechumens pass through the stage of Election to be welcomed into the Church at the Easter Vigil. Our work, however, is not complete.

After Easter, RCIA catechists are challenged to keep the momentum going. Some neophytes (newly baptized) may want to stop attending the RCIA sessions. How do we keep them with us so that deep Catholic roots can continue to grow?

First of all, save some fun for the period of mystagogy. Begin by inviting the neophytes, their families and sponsors to bi-weekly suppers that include parishioners from various ministries. Ask the sponsors to work harder at getting their people to the meetings. Each week, deal with “Questions I was afraid to ask” and have a Catholic Trivia segment. Make these final days the “good wine” that was saved for last.
Online Catalog
Tools for a Lifelong Journey of Faith
When the last RCIA session has ended, we often feel like we’re sending our lambs to the theological wolves. They know so little about what Catholics believe. As any Catholic can tell you, learning the faith is a lifelong process. We need to give them a few tools for the journey.

By this time, each new Catholic should have a catechism, a good Bible and a basic synopsis of Catholic beliefs. Yet what we really want for them is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a strong connection to the community of the Church.

Believing in Jesus by Leonard Foley, O.F.M., is a great companion for first-year Catholics. Through this one book, any Catholic learner can deepen his or her faith. Perhaps your happy “graduates” could continue meeting together while sharing this marvelous book.
Online Catalog
Living the Mystery...Through Scripture
Fill in the blank: “In the beginning was the _______.”

This first line from the Gospel of John differs significantly from the opening lines and chapters of the other three Gospels. While Matthew and Luke begin their Gospels with the coming of Jesus as a man, and Mark begins with Jesus’ teaching, John positions Jesus’ story in eternity. John has had more time to ponder the meaning and mystery of Jesus’ life and calls him the “Word” through which God is revealed to us.

As we enter the period of mystagogy, “the community and the neophytes together…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” (RCIA, #244). The period of mystagogy begins with the Sunday Masses of the Easter Season during which we hear several readings from the Gospel of John.

In the video collection The Vision of the Gospels, Father Michael Himes offers an introduction to the Gospel of John that will help neophytes gain more from the Easter season readings. I’ve selected a video clip to share with you (Windows Media). This program includes presentations on the other three Gospels as well.

Use the presentation on the Gospel of John with your neophytes during mystagogy. Then plan a four-session adult faith formation offering on the four Gospels. Make this DVD set available to small groups and those doing Bible study. The Gospels are our main source of information about Jesus. The more we learn about the Gospels, the better we will be equipped to follow Jesus as his disciples and continue building a personal relationship with him.
Franciscan Radio
Living and Loving Catholicism
We all need reminders of why being Catholic is such a great thing. Shortly after adults join the Church, the excitement of Easter may start to fade. This is the perfect time to remind them of ways they can understand and celebrate their new faith on a regular basis.

A book you may wish to share with them is one that just hit the shelves—Friar Jack’s Favorite Prayers. It gives the full text of the prayers, along with a great explanation of each, and includes many widely used prayers such as the Our Father and Hail Mary. The introduction offers a discussion about different styles of prayer, reminding us that there are many ways to pray. (Fr. Jack Wintz, O.F.M., editor of Catholic Update, writes the popular e-newsletter Friar Jack's E-spirations.)

The second book I recommend is Catholic and Loving It. This book informs us about various Catholic traditions, encourages us to celebrate our Catholicism and provides practical ways to enrich our lives as Catholics.

Its authors write: “Our little book hopes to further the call of the council [Vatican II] by presenting the customs it praised in a way accessible to, well, modern believers. By extending the faith beyond the official, liturgical context, all of life can be ‘evangelized,’ the promise and love of Christ being spread to our whole lives.” –Sabitha Narendran and Andrew Salzmann
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