Key to mature faith is education
By Clayton Richard Long
The B.C. Catholic
VANCOUVER--Catholics have been given the task of spreading the message, says Dr. Scott Hahn.
They must be trained to evangelize and catechize, and they must be sacramentalized (partake in the sacraments), Hahn said during a recent lecture on mystagogy at Regent College.
Mystagogy, a Greek term meaning "to be guided into the mysteries," leads believers to a deeper understanding of the Liturgy of the Mass and its Scriptural and historical roots. In recent years Catholic theologians have recovered its value and have applied it to the new evangelization.
Hahn, a popular author and biblical scholar, was in Vancouver as part of the recent 2011 Theology Conference. The Sept. 17 event was hosted by the Centre for Catholic-Evangelical Dialogue.
When Catholics evangelize, Hahn continued, they share the importance of having a personal, covenant relationship with God.
These ideas can be lost for some Catholics, Hahn claimed. The average 30- to 50-year-old Catholic understands his faith in the same way as when he was 10, he said, whereas the average 30- to 50-year-old secular person would not have a natural intelligence that stayed at the same level as when he was 10.
"You would recognize that there is a problem and you would have to work with them to overcome their lack of proper education," he noted.
"Today the Church finds itself with a lot of spiritually handicapped Catholics," Hahn stressed. "(They) need to be awakened and formed so that their adult intelligence of the faith is conformed with their adult experience."
Catholics should not leave evangelizing and catechizing once people are sacramentalized, he reinforced. "Evangelizing is cumulative and organic and should continue to grow deeper. We should move from glory to glory."
He added this new phase of adult instruction reveals the Divine Presence and power in the Liturgy. "That is Mystagogy, which the Catechism of the Catholic Church describes in paragraph 1075."
Hahn concluded his lecture by saying, "Jesus Christ is both victim and priest in the heavenly liturgy. Mystagogy unveils not only the rite, but also the reality it represents. Mystagogy unveils not only a present ceremony but encompasses past and future history.
"In the Divine Liturgy, Christ descends to the altar, and the assembly ascends to heaven with Christ. Heaven has come to earth and hearts rise up to heaven."
Hahn is a professor at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and is a member of the board of directors of Redeemer Pacific College. He is a former Presbyterian minister who gained notoriety with his recorded conversion testimony, which has become the most widely distributed Catholic audio recording of all time.