Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Steeped in Mystagogy: St. Cyril of Jerusalem

As the Easter Octave continues to unfold, I am reminded of one of the great mystagogical preachers: St. Cyril of Jerusalem. His mystagogical catecheses on the sacraments are as inspiring today as they must have been to the newly baptized in the middle of the Fourth Century. The period of mystagogy in those times lasted for the eight days of the Easter Octave. Today, of course, that period of the RCIA is extended throughout the Easter Season. Monthly meetings with neophytes are recommended and some kind of celebration to mark the anniversary of baptism is encouraged. 
St. Cyril held an important advantage over today's mystagogical preachers. He would have preached at least some of his homilies during the Easter Octave at the Church of the Anastasis—the Church built over the site believed to be the burial place of Christ. Imagine gathering at the holy sepulcher and hearing these words:
"After these things, ye were led to the holy pool of Divine Baptism, as Christ was carried from the Cross to the Sepulchre which is before our eyes. And each of you was asked, whether he believed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, and ye made that saving confession, and descended three times into the water, and ascended again; here also covertly pointing by a figure at the three-days burial of Christ." 
Those who had been baptized just days earlier must have been awe struck by these words, especially because they were standing at the site of Christ's burial and resurrection. This period in the Church year is an opportune time for us all to reflect on the reality of our own baptism. It is good to be reminded that on the day we were brought to the baptism font, our lives changed forever; we simply would never be the same. As people who have "put on Christ," not only are we changed forever; we are also called to bring Christ into the world. These Easter days are so rich that we need fifty of them (the Easter Season) to deepen fully our grasp of the paschal mystery. Here I've placed an improvisational piece on the chant Victimae Paschali Laudes, found on WLP's Alleluia! Music for Easter Time
Enjoy these days of wonder.


Anonymous said...

Congratuulations, Jerry, on this new venture. Looking forward to future posts.

Paul French

rorycooney said...

Hey Jerry, welcome to the blogosphere. All the best as this thing grows and flourishes. Your 'several colleagues' are right - I can't think of anyone better than you (and Alan, actually) at WLP to do something like this.