Friday, January 18, 2013

Mystagogy in the Desert

Friday greetings from the Southwest Liturgical Conference. This is a photo I took yesterday. The soon-to-be-retired bishop of Laz Cruces, New Mexico, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, was the main celebrant for yesterday morning's Mass at Most Holy Rosary Parish here in Albuquerque. I have celebrated Mass with this parish community several times over the years; just good, solid, vibrant, alive liturgy. Yesterday, with the participants of the Southwest Liturgical Conference Study Week as the assembly, my sense of the liturgy was the same. This was not an over-inflated Mass, like most conference Masses are. We celebrated the Memorial of Saint Anthony. Nothing was added just because it was a conference Mass. The singing was stunning, the proclamation of the Word was clear and straightforward, the homily drew us all into the scriptures, and the sharing of the Eucharist was done with reverence and awe.

When Mass ended, we all were served cake and goodies by the hospitality team of the parish, then we gathered in the church again for a mystagogical session on the celebration of Mass.

Patricia Kerwin led us. She began by saying what a daunting task it was, trying to lead a mystgogical reflection session with over a thousand people, quite a difference between this and doing mystagogical reflections with ten neophytes during the Easter Octave! Pat chose not to draw responses out from those gathered. This was surely understandable, given the size of the crowd. I did feel a little disappointment, but certainly understood. She spent an hour walking us through what had just occurred, bringing in the brilliant remarks and writings of poets, theologians, the "greats" among the liturgists, Church fathers, saints, and scholars. I couldn't help but think how much what she was doing was like what Cyril of Jerusalem did with those neophytes gathered around him during the Easter Octave in the Fourth Century.

While I missed the direct engagement of those in the assembly, I thought Pat did an excellent mystagogical reflection on the Mass. It's too bad we didn't have more time to extend the reflection into smaller groups so that we could have probed the meaning even deeper for ourselves. But the buses were waiting and the conference had to go on! So, what I experienced was more of a mystagogical "homily" on the Mass, much more like what the Fathers of the Church would have done in those early centuries, rather than a facilitated reflection, with the group invited to respond and engage in the mystgogical conversation. Pat's "homily" was just excellent.

Fr. Paul Turner's major talk and many more workshops continue today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

1 comment:

Steve Raml said...

Jerry: " This was not an over-inflated Mass, like most conference Masses are."

Thank you so much for stating this Jerry. My colleagues and I talked about this very thing. How refreshing to actually pray at a conference mass! No showcasing disguised as music for mass. We knew all but one piece beforehand and the one piece was very easy to pick up.

The Bishop's preaching was right on target and he was a very engaging presider. And while Pat Kerwin's reflection may have been homily-like, she engaged the imagination and invited us to look deeper in the mystery of our Eucharistic celebrations.

But let me use this space to thank you for your keynote address, and for your honesty as you led us through your personal Paschal Mystery. It was deeply moving and unforgettable. Again, thank you.