As Advent I draws ever closer, I know that I want to be at Mass that Sunday with my heart as well as my ears and eyes firmly fixed on what really matters, namely the grace-filled encounter with the real presence of God among God’s people and especially in bread and wine. Given that I teach liturgical studies, however, and that no one will be able simply to pretend that everything is the same as it was the Sunday before, I have begun to think about how not to let myself be moved too far away from that which really matters on Advent I.
Here is one idea I had about how to live this coming Advent I: I think a time of liturgical mystagogy after Mass, with whoever wants to remain from the community of faith that just celebrated the Eucharist, would be a wonderful thing to do. I was guided through such a mystagogy by Rita Ferrone after one morning liturgy at the ISM Congregations Project this July; and thought all of a sudden how wonderful it would be to be guided like that, in reflection on the liturgical encounter with God, after Mass on Advent I. Many people will automatically reflect on how we just celebrated Mass with some new twists (and hurdles, probably), but why not channel our reactions more deeply than complaints or rejoicing over linguistic changes? Why not intentionally gather the community around the central questions in every liturgy: how did I encounter God here? What barriers in me did I have to struggle with? How did the Holy Spirit move among us? How did we hear God speak to our lives? Which symbols came alive at this Mass, suddenly transparent to holiness beyond all telling?
I for one would find it very helpful if a skilled facilitator of mystagogy (for lack of a better term) could lead my community of faith in a time of such reflection after Mass this Advent I.