I think of the eunuch on his road journey (in today’s 1st Mass reading), hearing about Jesus and being baptised by Philip in the water by the roadside. When Philip then left him, I can imagine the joy of the eunuch at his new state of grace, but what conflicting emotions he would carry. Wanting to share his joy with others, avidly reading Isaiah and trying to understand its meaning, the uncertainty of where his baptism was going to take him and perhaps a feeling of loss… that the person who had made sense of his yearnings for something new had gone. How was the eunuch to feed his spiritual journey?
Well it is so much easier for our neophytes and new catholics. After the joy of easter comes mystagogy. Here are some tips for busy catechists.
- Tip Think short and long-term. You’ve got two distinct periods
The initial period of mystagogy until Pentecost, and
the longer period marked by the anniversary of their baptism.
- Tip Read RCIA 234-240, make a list of what goes into the 2 periods.
What do you want to concentrate on in the short-term.
The good news is that even if you have found that mystagogy has suddenly caught up with you and you feel totally unprepared, don’t worry because you still have time until Pentecost.
Your new catholics are still in the spring of their awakening.
- Tip Use the resources you already have- involve the whole community.
The community joins with the neophyte in this period – recalling the importance of their own baptism. How do they recognise the new catholics.
Refer to them in the newsletter. Have photos of them. Let the rest of the community know something about them.
Perhaps have the new catholics sit together in Mass, or in a special row with their catechists and Godparents. If they were given a baptismal shawl, have them wear it.
Ask your clergy to remember the neophytes in his homily, when he opens up the easter scriptures.
Ask the community to pray for your new catholics; within the bidding prayers, in prayer groups and by individuals and families.
- Tip Be flexible and discerning as you help the neophyte make the paschal mystery a part of their daily life.
Like the newly baptised eunuch the neophytes need time to explore and reflect on what they have experienced in the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation.
Ensure they are invited to any parish talks, mini retreats, small groups, discussion groups, prayer groups. Give them an invitation to join in charitable and social action groups. But don’t overwhelm them with tasks. Include some structured quiet time, in a chapel, before the Blessed Sacrament.
- Tip The new catholics may well have their own idea of what they can bring to the community.
Have a listening ear and be supportive and take lots of photos to recall this time.