Mystagogy: The Art of Asking Questions of Life

question mark over shadowy forest - image by chenspec from Pixabay

In a recent post about mystagogy, I quoted Orthodox bishop and theologian Kallistos Ware, who said, “We see that it is not the task of Christianity to provide easy answers to every question, but to make us progressively aware of a mystery. God is not so much the object of our knowledge as the cause of our wonder.” I also wrote that mystagogy is the task of becoming progressively aware of mystery.

In order to become progressively aware of mystery, we need to learn (and teach) the art of asking questions of life—questions that do not lead to easy answers but rather to a deeper appreciation of the mystery of life. The practice of mystagogy involves reflecting on an experience in our life and asking questions such as the following:

What in this experience…

  • was good and beautiful?
  • caught my attention?
  • caused me to grow?
  • revealed God’s presence?
  • provoked fear, sadness, or despair?
  • brought about a sense of calm, hope, or joy?

What from this experience reminds me of a…

  • Scripture story?
  • story from the life of a saint?
  • teaching of the Church?

Next, when we connect our experience to our faith tradition, we ask questions such as:

What from this experience and from my reflection…

  • might God be saying to me?
  • might God be calling me to be or do?
  • have I learned about God?
  • have I learned about being a disciple of Jesus?

When we master the art of asking questions of life, we find that our mystagogical mind and heart enables us to work this process in reverse. In other words, when we experience liturgy or hear Scripture proclaimed, we find ourselves drawn to a moment in the liturgy (or a symbol or ritual gesture or song) or a word or phrase in Scripture that leads us to ask, What in my life does this liturgical moment, symbol, ritual gesture, or word or phrase in Scripture remind me of or make me think of and, perhaps, see differently?

By asking questions of life—and by teaching others to do the same—we become—and help others to become—progressively aware of mystery, and, thus, mystagogical!

Image by chenspec from Pixabay.

About Joe Paprocki 2520 Articles
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press, where, in addition to his traveling/speaking responsibilities, he works on the development team for faith formation curriculum resources including Finding God: Our Response to God’s Gifts and God’s Gift: Reconciliation and Eucharist. Joe has more than 35 years of experience in ministry and has presented keynotes, presentations, and workshops in more than 100 dioceses in North America. Joe is a frequent presenter at national conferences including the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the Mid-Atlantic Congress, and the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership. He is the author of numerous books, including the best seller The Catechist’s Toolbox, A Church on the Move, Under the Influence of Jesus, and Called to Be Catholic—a bilingual, foundational supplemental program that helps young people know their faith and grow in their relationship with God. Joe is also the series editor for the Effective Catechetical Leader and blogs about his experiences in faith formation at www.catechistsjourney.com.

4 Comments on Mystagogy: The Art of Asking Questions of Life

  1. Seems to me that, in our preparation for Confirmation, we are called to gradually lead our youth into a mystagogical approach in their faith journeys. You’ve once again provided some food for thought and session planning, Joe. Thank you!

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