Today’s blog explores the emptiness that often follows Easter and the times of emptiness we all feel in our own lives.
In the old days, when I still worked for the Catholic Church, Easter was IT! All of the ministries that I was involved in (RCIA, Liturgical Coordinator, Adult Education Coordinator, etc. etc. etc. ) culminated in the Easter celebration and the Easter sacraments (Adult baptism and confirmation). After being up all night with the Easter Vigil, then celebrating Easter mass on Sunday morning, when all the cleanup was done, I was left with a feeling of, “Ok, now what?” The pinnacle had been reached. The greatest celebration of the year was complete. And for the remainder of the school year ( I worked in a campus ministry parish), there was nothing to do except facilitate the mystagogia sessions of the RCIA, which ironically helped new members of the Church with the question, “Ok, now what?”
I think this is how it must have been for Jesus’ closest followers too. They just completed an intense week of celebration (Palm Sunday), crisis, confusion, they watched their friend and teacher go on trial for a crime he did not commit, found guilty and sentenced to die. Then, they (ok….really only the women and possibly John) watched him die. Then, he is raised from the dead!!!????? a) What the heck!? and b) NOW WHAT? How does one make any sense of any of it? I can only imagine that the time immediately following the resurrection must have been a time of confusion, of waiting and wondering, a time of mystery and asking the question, “Did any of this actually happen or have we just lost our collective minds?” We also know from scripture that if no one else, at least the Galilean disciples (“the twelve”) were scared to death and probably wondered if they should just go back to the lives they were leading before Jesus showed up and messed it all up. They had to have been asking the question, “Ok, now what!?”
In the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults), the time immediately following the reception of the Easter sacraments (adult baptism and confirmation), is called the period of Mystagogia (a Greek word that means mystery). It is a time in the journey of the newly initiated members of the Catholic Church to explore the question, “Ok, now what?” Now that they have become fully initiated members of a faith community, how are they supposed to live that out and what impact will this have on their everyday lives? It is a time of prayer, discernment and waiting – waiting for God’s guidance as to how they are being called to live out their newly claimed faith.
Mystagogia for Everyone
During the nine years that I facilitated the RCIA process, I often thought that every one of us could use a little RCIA in our lives. In particular, the period of mystagogia seemed like a universal experience. There are times in each and everyone of our lives where we are faced with the question, “Ok, now what!?” Times after something really big has just taken place…..times of profound transformation and change…..times of endings and times of new beginnings. There are many times in our lives when we find ourselves with empty hands, empty minds, blank calendars, devoid of plans or itineraries and we are faced with that gnawing question, “NOW WHAT!?” For me, that time is RIGHT NOW. Having just turned over to my editor 47,000 words of a nearly completed manuscript and facing some significant professional challenges and quandaries, while staring at a nearly vacant appointment calendar, I am forced to ask the question, “NOW WHAT?” and I find it ironic that it should occur in direct correlation with my former, professional bio-rhythms. Apparently I am still living the Catholic liturgical calendar! 🙂 And all I can do is take guidance in the wisdom of the RCIA and the former rhythms I not only lived but taught and know that all I can do during this period of mystagogia is to LIVE IN THE MYSTERY and trust that in the silence and in the waiting, God will have an answer.
When have you been faced with the question, “Ok, Now What?”
What has marked that time of mystery in your own life?
How have you moved through that process and where did you find guidance and answers?
Authentic Freedom Ministries