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School of Leaders – December 2016

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Our Life Defined

Covetousness, as it is referred to in some Bible scripture, can cause us to make choices and decisions that we normally wouldn’t make if we were to look at things through the eyes of common sense.  But because of all of the subliminal marketing messages, our brains have been trained to think a certain way, and we make most choices without thinking much about them.

There’s no doubt that we live in a materialistic world; it’s all around us, no matter where we look.  The world is in one awful mess.   Our culture has created this mess…it’s too busy, it’s too noisy, there is too much going on in our lives.  The reality is, it is affecting our lifestyle.

As a result, what’s happening causes us to get distracted from our relationship with God to the point that the world itself starts to become our priority.  After all, God made some pretty cool stuff for our enjoyment.  Even He said it was all “very good,” back in the Book of Genesis (1:31).  The problem is that all too often the pleasures of this world have our full attention.  For most people there’s no room for anything else.  This is the difficult situation in which Christianity now finds itself.  The things of God are nowhere near the forefront of most people’s minds.

It’s important that we not let all that we desire distract us from our walk with God.   As Matthew (16:26) says, “What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life?”  Not a single thing here on earth will profit us in lieu of securing our eternity in heaven.

The Gospel of Matthew (6:19-21) states, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

So many times we’re not satisfied unless we’re constantly getting bigger and better things.  We buy homes that have more room than we know what to do with.  Or we keep adding on and/or improving them so they feature the newest and best in amenities.  And the cars we drive get more and more expensive, sporting the newest in luxuries, the fastest engines or the latest and greatest in technology.

With all that we have or can have, there seems to be this discontent in our lives.  And as we become more discontent, we spend more time and effort pursuing things, instead of pursuing God.  But God warns us about this in Deuteronomy (5:21), “Neither shall you covet your neighbor’s wife.  Neither shall you desire your neighbor’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

As Hebrews (13:5) tells us; “Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for He has said, I will never forsake you or abandon you.”

Bottom line: How is your life defined?  I was struck by this question as it was posed to us in a recent Homily.  Something to meditate on – Is it defined by the 3 P’s – Pride, Possessions, and Power, or by the 3 T’s – Time, Talent, and Treasure?

Lay Director – December 2016

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Dear Sister and Brother Cursillistas,

The fall harvest is being gathered into the barns and silos. How are we doing as far as our harvest for the Lord? So far we have two women and one man candidate for the 2017 weekends. Christ is counting on you – His hands, feet and voice in your parishes and social environments. Let’s get out there and make a new friend, be a true friend, and bring this friend into the loving arms of our Lord.

Your Secretariat is in need of volunteers to help with our reorganization efforts. We need people willing to be parish representatives in all parishes of the diocese. These people would be posting Cursillo info into their parish bulletins and stocking the parish information racks with pamphlets, updating our mailing list of known Cursillistas in their parish or area, and other work as necessary to broadly advertise Cursillo.

Having recently spent a day in full “Thanksgiving” to our God of Love, let us remember all those less fortunate then us, those without families, those serving us who cannot be with their families and those who are too sick to participate in this celebration.

May your Advent days be a complete blessing to you and all your loved ones.

Nick Lang

Spiritual Director – December 2016

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As we prepare to bring to a close our liturgical year (Feast of Christ the King) and begin a new one (First Sunday of Advent), we find the readings pointing us to the end times. These remind us of the frailty of human life; we all will, at some time, transition to a new way of living in a kingdom that will last forever.

Jesus made it very clear that the only one to know when life will end is the Father and he did not even share that information with the Son. So, what do we do during this time of waiting?  That is the important question of the Advent Season, how do we wait? Recalling the anticipation of our Hebrew ancestors, waiting for the coming of the Messiah, the Church challenges us to use this Advent as a time to learn patience as we await the celebration of Christmas.

This is a tough call as we are already celebrating christmas (using small “c” as it has NOTHING to do with the birth of Christ). Advertisements are already using the theme of “Black Friday” the customary day after Thanksgiving when the christmas shopping season begins. Decorations, gift ideas and the like are already being pushed in stores and catalogs and it has begun this year BEFORE Thanksgiving! (As I write this I have in the last two weeks received about a dozen catalogs suggesting what I need to buy to give as christmas gifts.)

Why are we in such a hurry? A sad commentary is that even in Catholic realms, this rush to the season is a reality. The beauty of the Advent Season, is the call to be patient, to wait, to be a people of anticipation. We rush through our lives, often at break-neck speed, failing to pause and wait, to reflect and rejoice on the giftedness we have been given. What will we gain by being in such a hurry? Will the anticipated celebration be better because we got there so quickly? Or, will it have more meaning if a period of anticipation allows us to better understand the beauty of what we are preparing to celebrate? Please, take some time this Advent, to truly celebrate it, stepping back, slowing down and reflecting on the anticipated birth of our Savior and Redeemer.

One other thought…  We have just finished one of the most contentious election seasons I can recall in my voting life. Pray that the partisanship that so defined this election cycle can and will be replaced with an attitude that gives rise to conciliation and compromise.

I pray that your Thanksgiving was a time to reflect and give thanks for family, friends and the blessings you have received.

May this Advent teach you the beauty of anticipation and waiting, and may the coming of the Word made flesh that dwelt among us, bless you with happiness and peace in the coming New Year.

With prayers and love,

De Colores,

Fr. Gary

School of Leaders – September 2016

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Our Daily Manna

During our faith journey there are many times we find ourselves struggling with our faith because of how difficult it is to follow God’s word and be what he created us to be.  The Bible is full of ordinary people whom God has called.  Which of them, in their power, their resources, or their ways had what was required to do what God called them to do?… Not one!

As we are called, we should refuse to focus on what we are not, what we can’t do, or do not know.  We need to, “Rely on God’s power, his resources, and his ways” – Christine Cain.  We should center our thoughts on who Christ is in us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.

Matthew 7:7-11 tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.  For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.  Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?  Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

The apostle James asks Jesus what’s going to happen tomorrow – James 4:14.   The length of our lives is like a fog, here for a little while and then vanishes.  God gives us each day, one at a time.  If we think about it…today is all we have because yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never come.

We are reminded as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” – Matthew 6:11.  Not tomorrow’s bread or next week’s bread.  God is a daily provider who provides for our needs today.

As with the manna, called the “bread of angels,” God provided for the children of Israel in the wilderness.  God’s instructions to Moses, was for the people to gather it every morning.  He further warned them not to attempt to hoard it or store it overnight in any way, because if they did, the stored manna would breed worms. They were only to gather as much as they would use on any given day.

Like some of us today, there were those that paid no attention to the restriction, and tried to gather more than what was needed for the day, so they could store the extra away for the next day or two.  After all, what if God didn’t show up with manna tomorrow?  I mean, when it comes to food and survival, you can never be too careful, but we can be short on faith.  As a result, when the disobedient Israelites looked at their stored manna the next day, it was as God had warned them, horrible, rotten, and full of worms.

So, what is the lesson here? God is a daily provider. He provides for Monday’s needs on Monday, and Tuesday’s needs on Tuesday. We are to trust Him one day at a time and not become anxious over what we may require tomorrow. He will be there tomorrow as well, with more than enough grace to help us in our time of need.

Final Thought: “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.”  C. S. Lewis

Lay Director – September 2016

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Dear Brother and Sister Cursillistas,

Your Secretariat has been hard at work for the well-being of Cursillo within our diocese.

At our last meeting, with input from the School of Leaders, we elected Laura Veach to be the Chairperson of the Precursillo Committee as of the close of our meeting in September.

We sincerely THANK Margie Reaka for her long dedicated service.

Assistant Rector and Rectoras were selected for the 2017 Weekends. Margie Reaka will be the assistant for the Women’s team; while Garry Range will be the same for the Men’s Weekend. Further, the 2017 teams have received all of the necessary materials to begin their preparation for two great weekends.

We received a great report on the Spring Encounter of Region IV in Louisville, KY from Linda Bagsby. Most interesting is that there will be a “Cursillo de Cursillo” conducted in a nearby location within a year. This three day weekend is for us older Cursillistas to reignite our flame of love for our Lord.

Another big task is the reorganization of Cursillo within our diocese. We need to have parish representatives willing to work with the Secretariat to advertise our presence, to purify and complete our records, and to reawaken many Cursillistas whom we have not seen in many years. If you are willing to help in this effort, please contact me at 213-6391 or nplang415@gmail.com.

May God richly bless you in works for His kingdom,

Nick Lang

Spiritual Director – September 2016

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We just celebrated the Solemnity of the Assumption, honoring our Blessed Mother, believing that God raised her body and soul into the Kingdom thus avoiding the corruption of the grave. As I compose this missive, I have just finished celebrating the first school Mass of the year, welcoming and praying that God’s Holy Spirit might be with teachers and students in this new school year. So, in theory the hot and humid days of summer should be drawing to a close. But then we live in Southern Illinois and anything weather-wise is possible.

But one thing is now going to take place.  Now that school has started, parishes will again begin gearing up for the many activities that occur during these next months. Youth groups will ramp up many activities, religious education will go into full swing and most parishes will again be looking seriously at inviting folks to join us in the Church through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The downtime of summer is being replaced with excitement of this “new year.”
So, what are you going to do at this time of year to increase your Piety, Study and Action? Is it maybe time to start grouping after having been away for a while? How about going to the School of Leaders to learn more about the Cursillo Movement? If my parish, or a neighboring one, offers some form of adult continuing education, will I work at fitting it into my schedule? Will I take a serious and prayerful look at making a retreat? Will I join others at Adoration or a Rosary or a Divine Mercy prayer group? Will I look to the Church or some other charitable organization at which I could volunteer some time to be of service? Piety, Study and Action were not just talks you heard on the Cursillo weekend. If you add generosity to that list you have the four pillars that Matthew Kelly says are necessary to be a dynamic Catholic.

And a big issue that faces us this fall will be the election of our next President. Are you prayerfully seeking God’s help and the insight of the Holy Spirit in making your decision?

So, this becomes a busy time of year following the lazy days of summer.  It is my hope and prayer that your summer gave you some time for relaxation – a time to recharge batteries. Now I pray that our good and gracious God of Mercy will bless you with the grace you need to live out your call to be a child of God – a disciple of Jesus Christ.

De Colores,

Fr. Gary