The Mystery of Mystagogy! Catholic Education is an Education in the Liturgy…nothing else!

by David Clayton on July 26, 2013

angel ordersAs described before, on my return from the Sacra Liturgia 2013 conference in Rome I wrote an article for Catholic Education Daily in which I argued that the essence of Catholic education is education in the liturgy. The article is A School of Love: the Sacred Liturgy and Education. As part of the recommended reading of the conference and since writing this I got around to reading Sacramentum Caritatis.  Within the section on ‘mystagogy’ this very matter is discussed directly.

Mystogogy means literally in Greek, ‘learning about the mysteries’. Mystagogy in this context is, to quote Stratford Caldecott ‘the stage of exploratory catechesis that comes after apologetics, after evangelization, and after the sacraments of initiation (baptism, Eucharist, and confirmation) have been received’ and is sometimes referred to a formal stage of education of the newly baptised Christian in living out the faith.

Section 64 of Pope Benedicts XVI’s encyclical Sacramentum Caritatis is entitled ‘Mystagogical Catechesis’.
In this he says:

‘The Church’s great liturgical tradition teaches us that fruitful participation in the liturgy requires that one be personally conformed to the mystery being celebrated, offering one’s life to God in unity with the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of the whole world…The mature fruit of mystagogy is an awareness that one’s life is being progressively transformed by the holy mysteries being celebrated. The aim of all Christian education, moreover, is to train the believer in an adult faith that can make him a “new creation”, capable of bearing witness in his surroundings to the Christian hope that inspires him.’

Once again, the full article is here.

Catholic Education Daily is run by the Cardinal Newman Society which is dedicated to the promotion of faithful Catholic education in our schools and colleges.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Adam Hermanson July 29, 2013 at 3:08 pm

David, bravo. Many thanks for this. The heavenly liturgy, and the manifestations through which which it is celebrated and lived in our communal and personal lives could not be of greater importance. It is the proving ground for the Church militant.

I find myself often referring to the three orders – or perhaps ‘trajectories’ – of liturgical prayer – its doxological, cosmological, and eschatalogical orders.

[I believe these are found in BXVI's Spirit of the Liturgy. I know they are referenced by Dr. Denis McNamara with some frequency as well.]

If Catholic education could be founded upon and shaped by an emphasis on God’s surpassing glory; the goodness, beauty, and order of Creation; and the ultimate end toward which He has oriented man, such a formation would of course foster a properly open and receptive disposition toward all else that is true.

As you write, “However, the truth that is communicated is only known fully through an intelligence of the heart. That is, it is known in love. It is participation in the liturgy that increases our capacity for this loving knowledge.”


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