Reflections 17th May 2020

A Reflection for The Sixth Sunday of Easter

JN 14: 15-21 ( 

Until recently we rarely had adults or teenagers in Ireland offering themselves for membership of the Church; this usually happened at birth.  As with Irish society, this is also changing. I ministered outside Ireland for some 20 years and this gave me the opportunity during these days of Easter-Pentecost to accompany those in the community who had been baptised, confirmed and, who for the first time, received the Eucharist at the Easter Vigil.

I always found this exciting but I was also more than a little concerned to do it correctly – to get it right … as if there was such a thing.  So, I would diligently prepare what I would say to these newly initiated, as well as preparing with the catechist and / or the sponsors of those who were newly baptized on how we should do this and what we should say. The Greek word – mystagogy – for this process translates as “reflecting on the mysteries”. Knowing this terminology did not help me to simplify this very basic faith-based process.

Unconsciously, I had in my head, loads of teaching and knowledge that needed to be transmitted to these new Christians, as if this was the only opportunity they would ever have to meet Jesus or  reflect on what it means to live a Christian life. And, of course, it had to be all done by me or us, in the here and now, as if the Spirit of God and the community of faith only had this one opportunity to transmit the wonders of our faith. Thankfully, we use the Scriptures, usually that week’s Sunday readings, as a basis for what we would talk about.

I used to marvel at how one older catechist in particular, with a lot less book-learning than me, gently led the discussion with ease and at a level that helped our group to reflect on where God was active in their lives. He never seemed too concerned about doctrine and content, as I probably was. He seemed to have a wisdom and an innate sense that Christian living was fundamentally about love and respect and trusting in the action of the Spirit of God. In many ways he had imbibed the words of the poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama:

                                    “The beginning of Wisdom

                                    was when I learned

                                    the difference

                                    between believing in the truth

                                    and telling the truth

                                    about belief.”


Peter Conaty C.S.Sp.A member of the leadership team of the Irish Province,Fr. Peter leads the Spiritan Community in Ardbraccan, Co. Meath where the Spiritan Spirituality & Retreat Centre is based. He has missioned overseas in the Gambia, Kenya, Mexico and USA.