Catechists as Mystagogues: Helping Others Recognize the Path That Leads to Life

Catechists as Mystagogues - text over watercolor background by Sergey Ryumin/Moment/Getty Images

I’ve previously written about how a mystagogue helps others to recognize unhealthy paths or narratives that diminish and destroy rather than give life. In this post, we explore how catechists as mystagogues help others recognize the path that leads to fullness of life.

The Directory for Catechesis explains that:

Every person, prompted by the disquiet that dwells within his heart, by way of the sincere search for the meaning of his existence, is able to understand himself fully in Christ; in getting to know him, he senses that he is walking along paths of truth. (17)

Once we have helped those we teach to recognize the unhealthy paths or narratives that diminish and destroy life, it is our duty, responsibility, and privilege to proclaim an alternative way—a path to fullness of life. And that path is Jesus Christ, who is “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6) We proclaim a narrative, not of loss, brokenness, or despair, but of rescue, restoration, and reassurance.

Once again, the new Directory says it best:

Evangelizing is not, in the first place, the delivery of a doctrine; but rather, making present and announcing Jesus Christ. Evangelization has as its ultimate aim the fulfillment of human life. (29–30)

Indeed, the world offers us myriad ways to gain short-lived satisfaction. Jesus, however, proposes an alternate reality—a reality in which we find true and lasting fulfillment and the promise of a God-filled future. The call to follow the way of Jesus is not a call to condemn the entirety of secular living. Rather, it is a call to recognize that, in the midst of what we call the secular world, there lies an alternate reality—a true path to fulfillment that is hard to spot but far from illusory. To answer this call is to repent—literally, to turn and look in a different direction and to follow a different path.

This new path of living invites us to:

  • awaken our deepest desires.
  • develop an awareness of our own desirability in God’s eyes.
  • experience God’s nearness.
  • deepen our desire to be actively involved in God’s work.
  • experience intimacy with God.
  • stop trying to save ourselves.
  • seek out others with whom to share the journey.
  • allow God to color our world.
  • profoundly revere each person as he or she is.
  • give thanks.
  • live as a person for others.
  • navigate through the gray areas (mysteries) of life.

In essence, to walk this path is to put on the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16), or, as I like to say, to be “out of our minds.” To encounter mystery, we need to get “out of our minds” and “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19)

About Joe Paprocki 2750 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

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