Of Mystagogia, Neophytes and Other Mysteries - 18th May 2015

In many parishes new members were initiated into the Church at the Easter ceremonies.

This period following the celebration of the sacraments at the Easter Vigil is the time when the newly initiated reflect on their experience of the rituals, explore the meaning of initiation and come to a fuller understanding of the mysteries of the faith.

With the help of their godparents, they should experience a joyful welcome into the community. It is the role of every member of the parish, not just the RCIA committee, to encourage these new members and to help incorporate them more fully into the community. Support for these new Catholics is vital as they settle into the pattern of living their newly professed faith and learn to recognise the mystery of Christ which is so alive within them.

This post-Easter period of the RCIA journey is known as the “Period of Post-baptismal Catechesis” or “Mystagogia”. It is a time for the community and the “neophytes” (the title used to refer to the newly initiated during the Easter Season) together to deepen their grasp of the paschal mystery and in make it part of their lives through mediation on the Gospel, sharing in the Eucharist, and doing works of charity.

To make new members feel welcome and included, every effort should be made to have the neophytes and newly received present at Sunday Mass each week during Easter Time, preferably sitting as a group in the front rows of the church with their godparents, families and those parishioners who have been a special part of their journey of faith.

The newly initiated should be included in the homily and the General Intercessions on each of the seven Sundays following, up to and including Pentecost. They can begin to take on some roles in the liturgy, such as bringing up the bread and wine in the procession of gifts, or reading the petitions during the Prayer of the Faithful.

Some of the newly initiated could be invited to offer a brief reflection on the journey of faith that they have been travelling. These could be delivered personally after Communion (after the text has been checked with the Team leader and/or PP) or printed in the parish bulletin.

The parish celebration of the Pentecost Vigil can be fruitfully used to help its new members recall the joyful Easter Vigil celebration that was held seven week earlier. The Missal provides special texts for the Vigil, several readings from which to choose, and a solemn blessing. This is a time to use again the symbols of fire and to have a blessing and sprinkling of holy water.

If the bishop visits the parish for the Confirmation of children during the Easter Season, as is often the case, the bishop can be personally introduced to the neophytes and perhaps preside at a celebration of the Eucharist with them.

In a sense, Christians spend their entire lives in mystagogy as they reflect on what it means to live in Christ. Let us pray for the neophytes, and for ourselves, that we may come to see Christ more clearly, to follow him more nearly and love him more dearly day by day during this season of Easter.


Elizabeth Harrington