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School of Leaders – March 2016

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Finding Joy

The experience of joy, a Metanoia if you will, on the recent Men’s and Women’s Cursillo Weekends was somewhat diminished by our return to reality.  Being “One in Christ” is constantly challenged when the general attitude of people seems to be, “what’s in it for me, what is the very least I can do, and if it feels good do it”?

We are easily distracted.  After all, God has made some really great stuff for our enjoyment.  Even He found everything He made to be “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.  The things of God are not anywhere near the top of most people’s lists.  It is easy to become blind to His presence as a result of worldly influences that cause us to become victims of our own devices.

In Matthew Kelly’s CD, “Becoming The Best Version of Yourself,” he tells the story of a teenage boy who wants a $94,000 sports car for his 18th birthday.  When his father gives him a small rectangular package, he is sure he will find the keys to his new car.  Instead, he discovers a book, the Bible!  Disgusted, he goes to his room, throws it against the wall, slams his door in anger and goes to bed without talking to anyone.  The next day his dad died of a massive heart attack and the boy is devastated.  He again goes to his room, lays on his bed, and weeps nonstop.  Then he sees the Bible, picks it up, and reads the following inscription inside the front cover, “Dear Michael, within these pages, you will find the answers to all life’s questions and the secrets to all life’s success.  With love on your 18th birthday, Dad.”  He wept some more and flipped through the pages hoping to find some words of comfort.  He then discovered that his father had placed a bookmark in the Bible.  He removed it and found that it was a check for $94,000.  In the story, the father was able to give his son everything from a material standpoint, but more importantly, he wanted his son to place the Word of God at the center of his life.

How often are we like the son in the story?  Disappointed instead of joyful for what we have been given?  How much is the sheer business of our life and the ways of the world preventing us from living the life God is calling us to live?  To experience the fullness of joy in His presence?

We all want things to happen in our lives – we have desires, hopes and dreams.  Many of us spend several years of our lives chasing those dreams, hoping they will come true.  We hear it said many times that God wants our hopes and dreams to come true.  And that He will give us the desires of our heart.  But so often, years go by and we feel empty and unfulfilled because so much of our thought has been that things, people, accomplishments, or pleasures of this world will bring us the joy we desire.  Instead, we are left wanting more.  At some point, we finally realize that the joy we are seeking does not come from worldly things.  Just as a person’s hunger indicates the body’s need for food, our longing for more points to the fact that there must be more than this unfulfilling life.

The interesting thing is that God wants all of us to have complete joy.  He created us for it.  Jesus came so that we could be immersed in complete joy: “I have said these things to you so that my joy might be in you and that your joy may be complete.” John 15:11

There’s a secret to making sure God gives us the desires of our heart.  It isn’t some kind of magic prayer or a special type of fasting; it isn’t about attending the right church or singing the right praise and worship songs; and it isn’t about having the right amounts of money – it’s all about our hearts.

As we seek God and build a relationship with him, the desires of our hearts will begin to change.  We will begin to long for the things that God wants in our lives, not just the worldly things that we used to chase.  As this happens, we will begin to see things fall into place for us, and we will have the desires of our hearts.

St. Augustine tells us, “Our hearts were made for you, O Lord, and they are restless until they rest in you.”

The key is to remember that God is not the means to an end.  He is the end.  He is who we should be seeking after continually.  “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.” Mt 6:33

As a Christian, we are invited to follow Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  As we study Christ, we are convinced that without His Way, there is no going; without His Truth, there is no knowing, and without His Life, there is no real living.

As Bishop Robert Barron tells us in a recent Lenten Perspective, “Instead of seeing money, success, fame, power, and pleasure as ultimate goods, see them as nothing compared to the grace of God. Instead of living as though worldly success were ultimate, live as though the things of this world don’t matter at all.  In a word, change your mind, and see things from the perspective of God.”

Experience joy in all you do by placing, Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.

Some final thoughts:  “You don’t have to leave behind all the things of this world to put God first, but you must put God first in all the things of this world.” Author Unknown

“If you can’t find joy in the path you are on and what you are working toward, how do you expect to find joy once you get there?”  Author Unknown

Lay Director – March 2016

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Happy Easter to you all. I sincerely prayed that each of you experienced a truly wonderful Lenten season and celebrated a Blessed Resurrection of our beloved Lord Jesus.

The two Cursillo Weekends have given us 33 new Cursillistas for the Lord to plant where He will and watch over them as they become the fruitful plants He desires. Thanks to all the team members, the staff at the Ruma Center Motherhouse, and especially to the 4th day Palanca army. Please continue to pray for dear, brave Susan Gass as she undergoes treatment for her back.

At this time our thoughts turn toward correcting anything necessary to improve our 3-day materials and prepare for our next round of weekends. If you have any constructive comments to aid in this process, please send them to me at nplang415@gmail.com.

Our primary task as Cursillistas is to “Make a Friend – Be a Friend – and Bring that Friend to Christ.” Sponsoring someone for a Cursillo weekend is a true commitment to Christ in that you must prepare them for the Cursillo and support your candidate as they enter the 4th day community by finding them a group and introducing them to the Ultreya.

Our God of Love continues to call us to Himself through the great feast of His Divine Mercy on    April 3rd followed by His outpouring of the Holy Spirit on May 15th. May all His blessings empower you as you go forth to work in His vineyards. As Jesus said, the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

God Bless, Nick Lang

Spiritual Director – March 2016

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Resurrexit sicut dixit, Alleluia!!

He has Risen as He said, Alleluia!!

Greetings and a Blessed Easter Season to one and all. We enter these fifty days of celebration and rejoicing, realizing that the Son of God, the Christ, the Messiah who came into the world as one like us, has offered Himself for us. He who is the Mercy of the Father was given up to death that He might rise to bring us life, life to its fullest, life in the Kingdom.

I hope that your Lenten Season was one that gave you new or renewed insight into the mercy of our God. I pray that it was a time for you to once again find, for yourselves, what it means to be a Baptized follower of Jesus Christ. A time to deepen your relationship with Christ: Piety. A time to come to know more fully your relationship with Christ: Study. A time to share the beauty of your relationship with Christ with others: Action.

Now as the springtime of this year opens to us in its fullness, may you blossom in your faith and love of our God, sharing the beauty of this Holy Year of Mercy with all those whom you love.

To all who made the weekends this year graced moments of God’s mercy and love, thank you for your prayer, work, and witness that was shared with our newest Cursillistas. To those newest members of our Cursillo, welcome and may you continue to grow in your relationship with our Christ, the Son of our Loving and Merciful God.

De Colores,

Fr. Gary

Lay Director – December 2015

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Dear Brother and Sister Cursillistas,

This month our dear mother church doubly blesses us with the season of Advent and the Holy Year of Mercy. Advent – to prepare us for remembering the coming of our Beloved Lord Jesus, and Mercy, – to give us a pathway to examine how our lives can be more productive for Christ as well as a motive to examine our relationship with all we encounter and interrelate.

So, what gift can you prepare for the infant Jesus during Advent? Perhaps you could contact those people you have sponsored on a Cursillo weekend and determine how to help them on the journey, if they need help. Are these friends grouping, attending Ultreyas and School of Leaders? How about your, are you grouping, attending Ultreyas and School of Leaders as often as possible? Are you making friends, being a friend, and bringing these friends to Christ?

During this year of Mercy perhaps we could begin with a review of the subject and make it our year-long effort toward piety, study, and evangelization.

Corporal Works of Mercy are those that tend to bodily needs of others. See Matthew 25:34-40. The last work of mercy, burying the dead, comes from the Book of Tobit.[3][4]

  1. To feed the hungry.
  2. To give drink to the thirsty.
  3. To clothe the naked.
  4. To shelter the homeless.
  5. To visit the sick.
  6. To visit the imprisoned.
  7. To bury the dead.

Just as the Corporal Works of Mercy are directed towards relieving corporeal suffering, the even more important aim of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to relieve spiritual suffering.

  1. To instruct the ignorant.
  2. To counsel the doubtful.
  3. To admonish sinners.
  4. To bear wrongs patiently.
  5. To forgive offences willingly.
  6. To comfort the afflicted.
  7. To pray for the living and the dead.

May Our God of Love be with you throughout this holy season,     Nick Lang

Spiritual Director – December 2015

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Advent and Christmas is a time to prepare and to celebrate the coming of Christ into the world, the Word made Flesh.

But what does that mean to us who seem so caught up on things like “Black Friday” that is now happening almost a week before. Or, how about the stores that are getting the jump by opening at 6pm on Thanksgiving night, is that the type of preparation and anticipation that we should be celebrating?

You all know the answer to that, so why do we in the Church take this time of Advent, to anticipate, to prepare? What we are doing is recalling the patience of our spiritual ancestors, who looked forward to the coming of God’s anointed One, the Christ.

So, what are you doing to make this time special for family? Perhaps taking some time to tell the stories of past Christmases in which you, maybe not so patiently, waited for the gathering of family or on a more basic level, the anticipation of coming gifts.

Take some time to recall what it is that we are waiting to celebrate, and how we can make that celebration a true encounter with our Christ, by the encounter we will have with family and friends.

So as we begin this new Church year, let us make just one resolution, to deepen our encounter with Christ, as we encounter his sisters and brothers in the Church. This would be a good time to also, in those encounters, practice the gift of Mercy. Remember, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has established a Holy Year of Mercy, beginning on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, December 8, to run until the Solemnity of Christ the King in 2016. In what ways can you make the year of 2016 more profound by your practicing of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy?

May you and all those you love have a spirit-filled Advent, a joyful Christmas, and a New Year filled with peace, joy and love.

De Colores,

Fr. Gary