Presentation to Neophytes after 2015 Archdiocesan Paschal Eucharist
It was a delight to celebrate the Eucharist with our newest members of the Church today. Welcome to all of you, dear neophytes, and to your loved ones, your devoted pastors and fellow parishioners, to Catherine Hilder the Director of the Catechumenate Office with our loyal RCIA team members. Thank you to everyone who has helped you along the path of discernment.
Tired old parish priests sometimes joke that Confirmation is the sacrament of departure from the Church! I often say to the children after ordinary parish Confirmation ceremonies: dear children, you have now received the sacraments of baptism, first Confession, first Communion and Confirmation: what will be the next sacrament you receive? Some say marriage; some say funerals! The correct answer, I explain to them, is Holy Communion, since they are lucky enough to be invited back, again and again, to that one, and we especially look forward to seeing them with their families, next Sunday. Well, I know that I don't have to exhort your attendance at your second, third or fourth Communion: you are our converts, our exemplars of enthusiasm for Christian faith and life, and I know that I can rely upon you to extend your Easter celebration out to the rest of your life!
Mystagogy is one of those strange Catholic words, ancient Greek Catholic words to be precise. I sometimes say to neophytes: Mr Gogy is all very well but where is Mrs Gogy? Mr Gogy lasts from Easter and Pentecost, as a time of letting the Easter mysteries sink in and deepen within you. But Mrs Gogy keeps on keeping on, long after Pentecost, as you'd expect of a faithful woman. She asks you to keep praying to God as your intimate friend, keep reading His Word in Holy Scripture, keep pondering and learning more about your Catholic faith, keep trying to live that daily, keep coming to Confession and Communion to make that possible. Mrs Gogy has a job for you, too: to draw other people to Christ and His Church.
And while you ponder what your ministry might be, how it is that you will be a truly missionary disciple, let me offer you a warning of sorts. Our Greek word neophyte can be found in St Paul's First Letter to Timothy (1 Tim 3:6), where, speaking about candidates for the office of bishop, he says: “He must not be a neophyte [a recent convert] or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the devils hands!” Let that be a warning for any of you coveting the office of Archbishop of Sydney! I suspect you will find equally useful ways in which to serve God and His people! May you continue to grow in faith, hope and love in the years to come. May Easter 2015 extend into all eternity for you!