|Abstract (english)|| |
"Mistagogy in Parish Catechesis of Adolescents" is the dissertation which discusses and analyzes the reality of introducing sacramentally initiated believers into the reality of Christian spirituality and faith. The aim of mystagogy is to become more conscious about the meaning and symbolism of the sacraments. It helps us to become an adult, mature and responsible believer. Moreover, mystagogy aims to connect faith and life. Sacramentally initiated believers open up themselves to the Holy Spirit and His sacred gifts. They are encouraged to serve the Church and their fellows, and to give a testimony of faith in a place where they live. Adolescence is a period of intense maturation, seeking self and the meaning of life, one’s identity and one’ life path. It occurs just after the end of receiving the sacraments of Christian initiation. It is precisely in this sensitive and crucial period of life in which mystagogy should be lived and realized. The context in which mystagogy should be practiced is faced with the challenge of growing up, with the crisis of authority, disorientation regarding values, and with the search for one's Self. Adolescents (young people of high school age) are faced with a number of factors and lifestyles - they are especially under the influence of social media, peers, fashion and the wider environment. The question is, to what extent and in what way is mystagogy implemented within parish communities? To what extent it is present in today's parishes? Is this significant dimension of upbringing practiced within the framework of catechetic initiation process? Questions also gain weight when we take into account the actual situation of a certain number of young people who distance themselves from the ecclesial and parish community after receiving the sacraments of Christian initiation. After receiving and celebrating the sacraments of Christian initiation - baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist it is expected intense growth in faith, incorporation into the life of the parish community, attending Sunday Mass, witnessing and defending faith and Christian values. However, to some young people happens just opposite - they distance themselves from what they have recently promised and accepted in the sacrament of confirmation. Consequently, we ask ourselves, whether we have done sufficiently in catechesis and preparing for the celebration of the sacraments? Have we done enough in the formation of faith and mystagogy? The challenge to discover possibilities and the meaning of mystagogy for young people is to be found in twenty years of experience of working with adolescents. Ph.D researcher works for twenty years as a high school teacher, meets every day young people from various parish communities, with different motivations and knowledge about faith, different life situations and life directions. Based on the previous work with young adolescents, he recognizes the necessity to explore mystagogy - profound and experiential learning about faith, and need to embed oneselves into the live faithful community - a parish in which the center is the Sunday Mass. The general aim of this research work is to understand and evaluate responses of adolescents concerning their perception of spiritual-religious experience within the context of liturgy (worship and the sacraments), diakonia (serving the people in need), koinonia (communion in faith) and martyrdom (testimony of faith) within parish catechesis. The general objective of the research, deployed through more specific research goals, is realized through the qualitative research conducted among adolescents from Zagreb. The study of mystagogy in catechesis of adolescents can be found within the framework of the dissertation which consists of three central parts. In the first part theological-catechetical starting points are presented. The second part is related to our own qualitative research and to the assessment of research results. In the third part, directions and suggestions for catecheticalmystagogical work with adolescents are discussed. The first part of the doctoral dissertation introduces challenging and problematic issues, and provides theoretical outlines and starting points for a further reflection and for the analysis of the mystagogical reality. The pastoral-catechetical issues, which are connected to the current difficulties of the catechetical-initiation process of distancing a certain number of young people from the Church, are depicted. Moreover, the dominance of the traditional-external and material-formalistic dimensions of the approach to the sacrament of confirmation and to the other sacraments are discussed. As possible causes for the current situation can be mentioned the following examples – the current approach within the parish community, which is sometimes old fashioned and narrow, the turmoil in society and disorientation in values, the media, the example of parents, families and peers. The absence of mystagogy is significant, as well as the lack of the fundamental conversion that should precede acceptance of the sacraments and completion of the initiation process. It is important to know the basic concepts at least to a sufficient extent. The concept of mystagogy is analyzed in the dissertation, starting with the New Testament examples, the teachings of the Church fathers and the medieval theologians, and continuing with the recent theological reflection, the conciliar and post-conciliar ecclesiastical documents. In this regard, it is unquestionable that mystagogy, as a concept and practice, has reached its peak at the time of the Church fathers. In that period, mystagogy represented both experience of faith which was interpreted, and an interpretation which led to experience of faith. Bible examples were compared with the mysteries which were celebrated. The various understandings and interpretations of mystagogy were evident among the Church fathers. However, there was one common feature of mystagogy - an introduction in experience of faith by the gift of the sacraments. The sacraments carry the transformative power for the new quality of life of Christ's disciples - witnesses of faith. Although in the Middle Ages mystagogy was to a certain extent forgotten, nevertheless, reflections of the theologians mystics are valuable and they may even indirectly assist people in their journey for deepening faith. The emphasis is placed on the person’s inner world, especially the soul, while silence, prayer and penance are considered as essential. Theologians mystics highlight experience of divine love and need to unite with God. Modern theological reflections consider mystagogy as closely related to liturgy, everyday life, meditation, prayer, and service to the fellows. The Conciliar and Postconciliar documents concisely contemplate mystagogy within the context of evangelization and catechesis. It is evident a desire to rebuild the institution of catechumenate from the early centuries of Christianity. Additionally, it is noticeable a return to mystagogy in practice and in the life of the Church. The first part of the dissertation analyzes not only the concept of mystagogy, but the concept of catechesis as well. Specifically, it discusses the fundamental characteristics of catechesis, the relation between catechesis and a parish community, evangelization, experiences, reevangelization, and mystagogy. It is expected from the contemporary parish to invest effort in the creative reevangelization, reinitation and recatechesis. The mentioned reality of catechesis occurs while educating and serving contemporary adolescents. When dealing with the world of adolescence, the focus of our assessment is the identity and a personality of adolescents, youth developmental processes, peer influence, the influence of mass media, the system of values, adolescents’ religiosity, and catechesis intended precisely for this young age. The focus of catechesis should be directed towards the conversion of adolescents - from the transition from myself or I to God and to my neighbors. In addition to the key terms contained in the title of this project, the first part of the dissertation elaborates crucial ecclesiastical indicators (liturgy, diakonia, koinonia and martyrdom). These indicators will be helpful especially for the later phase of the research work when we will discuss mystagogy in catechesis of adolescents. Ecclesiastical indicators are reflected in relation to mystagogy and its meaning. A profound connection between liturgy and mystagogy can be observed, in particular when we examine liturgical celebrations. Precisely speaking, mystagogy achieves its actualized expression and strength through liturgy. Liturgical and mystagogical goal is to bring the mystery of salvation to all people. Mystagogy is easier recognized and accepted among the faithful, especially the young, when it is pervaded with the diaconal dimension of service to the neighbors, especially those in need. A realized communion in the parish provides a space for mystagogical learning. The focus is placed on the new quality of relationships - the relationships of God's children, fraternal-sister relationships in the Church as a community of God's people. Finally, mystagogy takes place through martyrdom – a testimony for Christ and the Church through experience. In the openness and in the obedience to the Holy Spirit, an authentic testimony can arise that grows into the proclamation. In the first part of the doctoral project we discuss various understandings and interpretations of mystagogy. We consider possibilities of application and actualization of mystagogy in specific situations and in the education of the youth. All of these issues become a challenge and the subject of the research in the second part of the doctoral project. The qualitative research with the corresponding assessment of results is divided into three chapters. First is presented the methodology of the research. Afterwards are displayed results and the evaluation of the adolescents’ responses. Finally, insights and comments concerning the research and new findings are discussed. In addition, possibilities and suggestions for further research projects and applications in catechesis are provided. With regard to a methodology, it was chosen the method which seemed to be the most appropriate for the theme of the doctoral dissertation. Mystagogy occurs inside the heart of a young person, and captivates the most deepest human and religious experiences. For this reason, the qualitative research was selected for the encounter with adolescents. The qualitative research is helpful for exploring personal and subjective dimensions in adolescents, their questions, doubts, comments, and observations. The general aim, which is operationalized through specific goals, is related to the spiritual-religious experience of interviewed adolescents within the framework of ecclesiastical indicators. Moreover, the specificity of young people’s upbringing, and comparison of their own faith in childhood and now in adolescence is taken into consideration. The hypotheses have not been formulated due to the nature of the qualitative research which is conducted on a relatively small sample. Concretely, the intention is not to achieve generalization of the results but to gain a fundamental insight into a particular problem. The qualitative research was carried out with the help of research questions which are articulated in a personal way and are focused on crucial human and religious experiences of young believers. The questions are actual and close to the life of adolescents, and are related to the previously mentioned youth relations to the church (parish) community, to the sacraments, to experience of God and His proximity, experience of liturgy, especially the Eucharist, experience of charity, the Church, a parish community and to witnessing faith to others. Questions are formulated in the form of semi-structured interviews in focus groups. Eight focus groups from eight matching parish communities from different parts of the city of Zagreb participated in this research. The number of participants in groups ranged between 4 and 8 persons. The group conversations lasted between 60 and 90 minutes, involving 46 adolescents - 28 girls and 25 young men. The research was conducted between 2013 and 2014, in agreement with parish priests and parish vicars who most often animate parish catechesis. After transferring recorded audio to a written form, relevant quotes (places) are selected which are related to the content (thematic) of the conversation. In the outline of research results an equal number of citations and their interpretation (discussions) are displayed. Quotations are analyzed for themselves, but also in the relation to other focus groups and in the relation with the matching theme. To put it briefly, the adolescents who participated in the research stated that the problem is the inadequate, most often premature age for receiving the sacrament of confirmation, the influence of society and media on the youth population, the growing impact of commercialization and superficial attitudes towards the sacraments (material presents), the lack of time for further gatherings and practicing faith in the parish community. Participants asserted that their parents had the greatest impact on the formation of their faith. In addition, they acknowledged a positive role of various parish activities in which they were involved. Participants’ reflections of the ecclesiastical indicators are examined in various ways. When it comes to liturgy and a prayer life, the focus of their interest is the Eucharist. The meaning of the Eucharist is associated with experience of God's proximity, spiritual empowerment, and experience of freedom and inspiration. In regard to charity and Christian solidarity toward the disadvantaged people, participants are aware that not many of their peers are involved in charitable activities. There is still a lack of a stronger link between faith and the diaconal dimension of service, especially systematic introduction to that experience. In contrast to diakonia, experience of koinonia is encouraging - experience of communion, friendship and belonging to the community within the framework of catechesis and gatherings in the parish. Although both the natural-worldly and Christian-ecclesiastical dimension of communion appear, the living dimension of communion is particularly hopeful. According to adolescents, it is indeed unique and significant for them. Through their experience of catechesis and encounters, they become aware of beauty of the church and the parish community. Those adolescents who were interviewed are delighted with beauty of friendship and communion in catechesis, but at the same time, they are aware of the seriousness of life in faith. Faced with martyrdom - witnessing faith in society, they point out problems and difficulties which they encounter - from negative experiences, such as cursing God to the marginalization which they experience due to their Christian worldview and practicing Christian values. When thinking about experience of God and His proximity in adolescents’ lives, they spontaneously mention in their focus groups the limitations of life situations, traffic accidents, various spiritual renewals, the Mass, a pilgrimage, inspiration, friendship and family experience. Moreover, natural and religious motives are significant for adolescents’ experience of the indescribable closeness of God. The interest in the question of experience of God has shown the openness of young believers with regard to the experiential dimension of faith. Planned goals are largely accomplished while taking into account the specificity of the research, participants, and the theme, which, with its depth, breadth and complexity, touches upon the personal and internal questions of young believers during their religious formation and the development. In addition to planned goals and expectations from the research, some new insights and ideas during the meeting with our focus groups have occurred. One of the greatest values from the empirical research are quotations - adolescent thoughts, their expressions, their way of reasoning, their ideas, suggestions and comments. Some wonderful expressions and statements were created during free and creative communication, for instance, concerning the sacraments or certain situations in life. It is impossible to summarize or generalize these expressions, thus, we rather want to personally reflect, evaluate and explore them in their essence, structure, symbolism, and in their message. Group interviews (multiview) demonstrated the value of conversations in the group, the value of exploring life themes which deal with profound experiences - human and religious questions. It is visible need for themes focused on spirituality, experience, on what is essential and vital for faith and Christian life. There is also evident need for addressing difficulties which occur when one wants to live faith and be a witness of faith (e.g. doubts, disputes, injustice, misunderstandings). Adolescents’ conversations in the focus groups were immediate, dynamic, narrative, vivid and emotionally enriched with various examples. When comparing their speech with mystagogy from the early centuries of Christianity, it can be recognized a similarity in seeking authentic spiritual experience as well as the narrative of speech. Some new research projects can be proposed which are based on the multiplicity of citations and on the course of communication which has taken place in religious communities. In addition, as a proposal can be considered preparations for catechetical encounters which will stimulate the dynamics of the group, and formation of a lively community of young believers in learning and work. In the third part of the doctoral dissertation the fundamental guidelines of catecheticalmystagogical work with adolescents are presented. These guidelines are related to theologicalcatechetical starting points, and to the qualitative research carried out among adolescents. The first chapter of this part refers to the basic proposals for concrete work in the parish. The second chapter provides practical examples and worksheets for parish catechesis for adolescents. When analyzing basic suggestions for work in parish catechesis, we recognize need to know interests, motivation, faith status and other circumstances of the young believers. From the beginning, it is necessary to get acquainted as much as possible with the candidates for the sacraments, their parents, their godfathers and godmothers. It is important to develop relationships of trust, sincerity and open communication. Catechesis, which includes mystagogy, requires from believers to develop a practical dimension of faith and give authentic witness. A change of mentality is sought not only from adolescents, but even more from presbyters, and lay teachers of Catholic education. Catechesis should encapsulate all ecclesiastical indicators, and include all dimensions of personality and learning - cognitive, affective, conative and operative. In the preparation of adequate worksheets for mystagogical catechesis and parish gatherings it is recommended one of the most convenient approaches - the catechetical celebration (“celebratio catechetica”). The aforementioned model enables open communication of faith, expression of symbols and mysteries in mystagogical work. The catechetical celebration is related to liturgy and a liturgical year, to the upcoming Sunday Mass and Holy Mass readings. The Eucharist, which is the point of departure, the source and the climax of Christian life remains constant inspiration in planning and conducting catechesis. Practical examples and incentives for the parish catechesis of the adolescents are offered. They serve as a certain guidance for finding and preparing appropriate content, approaches, procedures and media communication in the parish's concrete work. Five preparations, more specifically, five templates are proposed for mystagogical catechesis of sacramentally initiated young believers. Suggested themes embrace the relationship to the sacraments, to beauty, to viewing oneself as a gift, and to the Holy Spirit. Finalized preparations from five parishes and catechetical communities also bring the written answers of students on questions of the open type. Responses of young believers were similar to those in the qualitative research: open, honest, concrete, immediate, and narrative. The adolescents have evaluated the meeting and their own impressions in a written way after the catechetical-mystagogical encounter. These responses are also presented in the doctoral dissertation. At the end of the doctoral project, some proposals regarding the improvement of mystagogy and mystagogical gatherings in the work with young adolescents are suggested. These proposals are focused on the mysterious - merciful dimension of mystagogy which should not be dismissed. Moreover, proposals accentuate the greater openness to the Holy Spirit, His gifts and fruits, and the spiritual guidance. In the Holy Scripture, young believers should be able to feel the mystagogical dimension of faith, the greatness of proclamation, especially in liturgy. The rehabilitation of catechumenate, and specifically the restoration of faith and received grace by the gift of the sacraments, is one of the challenges for future pastoral and catechesis. Mystagogical catechesis should educate for expression of symbols and the mystery, for the salvific dimension which happens in everyday life, visible through human and religious growth. The application of the ecclesiastic indicators in catechesis and mystagogy leads to integrative faith and ecclesiality at all levels of life. It is required education and training of teachers of Catholic education and students - all subjects who participate and grow in faith for the real mystagogical turning point. In addition, it is necessary a willingness for actual change, sufficient wisdom, faith, courage, openness and humility.