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Mystagogue

Mystagogue

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A mystagogue is a person who initiates others into mystic
Mysticism
Mysticism is the knowledge of, and especially the personal experience of, states of consciousness, i.e. levels of being, beyond normal human perception, including experience and even communion with a supreme being.-Classical origins:...

 beliefs, an educator or person who has knowledge of the Sacred Mysteries
Sacred Mysteries
The term sacred mysteries generally denotes the area of supernatural phenomena associated with a divinity or a religious ideology.-Pre-Christian religious mysteries:...

. Another word is Hierophant
Hierophant
A hierophant is a person who brings religious congregants into the presence of that which is deemed holy. The word comes from Ancient Greece, where it was constructed from the combination of ta hiera, "the holy," and phainein, "to show." In Attica it was the title of the chief priest at the...

.

In ancient mystery religion
Mystery religion
Mystery religions, sacred Mysteries or simply mysteries, were religious cults of the Greco-Roman world, participation in which was reserved to initiates....

s, a mystagogue would be responsible for leading an initiate into the secret teachings and rituals of the cultus. The initiate would often be blindfolded, and the mystagogue would literally "guide" him into the sacred space.

In the early church, this same concept was used to describe the bishop
Bishop
A bishop is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, in the Assyrian Church of the East, in the Independent Catholic Churches, and in the...

, who was responsible for seeing to it that the catechumens were properly prepared for baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

. Homilies given to those in the last stages of preparation, and which deal with the Sacraments are called "Mystagogical Homilies." Sometimes these mystagogical instructions were not given until after the catechumen had been baptized. The most famous of these mystagogical works are the "Mystagogical Homilies" of St. Cyril of Jerusalem
Cyril of Jerusalem
Cyril of Jerusalem was a distinguished theologian of the early Church . He is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. In 1883, Cyril was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII...

 and the work, "On the Mysteries" by St. Ambrose of Milan.

In various organizations, it is the role of the mystagogue to "mystify" pledges. The term is sometimes used to refer to a person who guides people through religious sites, such as churches, and explains the various artifacts. This branch of theology is at times called mystagogy.

Max Weber
Max Weber
Karl Emil Maximilian "Max" Weber was a German sociologist and political economist who profoundly influenced social theory, social research, and the discipline of sociology itself...

, considered to be one of the founders of the modern study of sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, described the mystagogue as part magician, part prophet; and as one who dispersed "magical actions that contain the boons of salvation" According to Roy Wallis, "The primary criterion that Weber had in mind in distinguishing the prophet from the mystagogue was that the latter offers a largely magical means of salvation rather than proclaiming a radical religious ethic or an example to be followed."