Frank C. Senn writes about the mystagogical process for neophytes in the early church:
During the week after Easter Day, the neophytes attended the liturgy daily, wearing their white robes, while the bishops instructed them in the mysteries (sacraments) they had just experienced. The faithful were also permitted to attend these sessions during the “week of white robes” and to ask questions of the bishop as he sat in his chair (cathedra) and expounded upon the mysteries of the faith. (The People’s Work: A Social History of the Liturgy, 70-71.)
Perhaps your bishop would never be able to clear his schedule for daily Mass at the cathedral during Easter Week. But are you sure? Have you asked him? And perhaps the neophytes would not attend in any significant numbers. But are you sure? Have you asked them?
If the bishop in his cathedra, surrounded by the still-damp neophytes, with the faithful also gathered, asking insightful questions is an ideal that just can’t happen in your diocese, how close could you come? Here are some possibilities. Click on comments to add your own ideas:
- In larger dioceses, ask one or more of the associate bishops to fill in.
- Ask the deans or monsignors of the diocese to each take a day of “cathedra” duty during Easter Week.
- Ask the bishop to write a mystagogical homily for each day of Easter Week that might be read or adapted by the homilists of the diocese.
- Record the bishop’s mystagogical homilies and upload as podcast on the diocesan Web site.
- Provide a place on the Web site for the faithful to ask questions of the bishop about his homilies.
- Focus smaller. Invite the neophytes of a given deanery or region to gather for weekday liturgy and mystagogical preaching.
- Focus still smaller. Ask your pastor to prepare a series of msytagogical homilies for Easter Week.
- For the neophytes who cannot be present for weekday liturgies, e-mail the homilies to them. “Require” them to respond with at least three questions.
- In any of the options above, invite the faithful to ask their questions as part of the homily.
- Publicize the mystagogical nature of this “week of white robes” throughout the diocese, deanery, or parish.
- Begin now to make it clear to the catechumens that they will be expected to be at the liturgies during the “week of white robes” after their own initiation.