In the Kingdom of God, words are not the primary form of expression. Kingdom dwellers are more at home with a language of mystery. Let’s take a quick look at the elements of this language.
Sign and Symbol
In the Kingdom of God, a type of sign language is spoken. Think about how Moses was drawn to encounter God—not through a wordy invitation but through the sign of a burning bush. Signs and symbols speak directly to the heart through the imagination. They invite rather than command and inspire rather than explain.
In the Kingdom of God, rituals abound. They connect us with meaningful events in our past, they ground us in the present, and they lead us confidently into the future. Rituals awaken a deeper level of consciousness within us.
Movement and Gesture
Tai chi is an ancient practice that promotes serenity through controlled movements that connect body, mind, and spirit; what happens to one affects the other. This is true in the Kingdom of God, too; when we use our bodies for prayerful movement and gesture, the mind hears, and the heart responds.
In the Kingdom of God, the primary form of expression is silence. Thomas Keating, a Trappist monk, tells us that “Silence is God’s first language; everything else is a poor translation. In order to hear that language, we must learn to be still and to rest in God” (Invitation to Love).
The Kingdom of God is a place where the music never stops. Few things can touch our hearts and transport our minds better than music and song. “O sing to the Lord a new song,” the psalmist urges us (96:1). Lucky for us, God loves music, and he loves to hear us sing.
Story and Myth
Author John Shea tells us that “story is the most interesting and compelling of language forms” and that “storytelling raises us out of the randomness of the moment and inserts us into a larger framework” (Stories of Faith). That larger framework is the Kingdom of God, and we all have a part to play in it.
If things were simply as they appeared, we would have no need for catechesis. However, life’s ultimate meaning is veiled and mysterious. As such, we catechize others to incorporate these various elements of the language of mystery into their souls’ daily diet.
Joe Paprocki, DMin, is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press. His most recent book is Beyond the Catechist's Toolbox: Catechesis That Not Only Informs But Also Transforms (Loyola Press). Joe blogs about his experience as a catechist at www.catechistsjourney.com<http://www.catechistsjourney.com>.