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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

School of Leaders – September 2015

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Caught Between Faith and Doubt

From Matthew 14:22-33 – Then He made the disciples get into the boat and precede Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. After doing so, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When it was evening He was there alone. Meanwhile the boat, already a few miles offshore, was being tossed about by the waves, for the wind was against it. During the fourth watch of the night, He came toward them, walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once [Jesus] spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Peter said to Him in reply, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” After they got into the boat, the wind died down. Those who were in the boat did Him homage, saying, “Truly, you are the Son of God.”

This scripture reminds us of our weakness to be easily distracted, which can cause our faith to waiver. Are we more like Peter, ready to ask God to use us, or are we more like the other disciples who sat in the boat watching to see what would happen with Peter? Peter stands for every disciple in every age, caught between faith and doubt. He believed in the presence of Christ, yet his faith wavered.

In the struggles and complexities of life, it seems natural for Christians to seek signs of God’s presence and of God’s will.  Yet the true Christian challenge is to believe in the presence of God precisely when it is least discernible. Peter’s challenge to Christ came not from a strong faith in Jesus, but from the sad reality of “little faith.”  The Christian cannot walk on water, and is not meant to do so.  But God does empower every disciple to believe against the odds, to face the struggles, and to mature and grow in faith in the process.  The essence of Christian life is not signs, but faith.  The desire for signs does not originate from God.  Yet it is precisely from instances of little faith and sin that Jesus is prepared to reach out his hand and catch the waverer.

In the Christian journey, Jesus invites disciples to follow.  In this incident, Peter took the initiative. Interestingly, Jesus accepted his challenge in order to underline for Peter, and for all subsequent believers, the meaning of deep faith.

Faith doesn’t save us from trials and tribulations; what it does is give us strength to face them. The person who has faith has a source of strength and inspiration, especially when trouble strikes. It’s not we who keep the faith – It’s the faith that keeps us.

No one’s faith is perfect. If we ever have a doubt like Peter did, we need to talk to Jesus about it. Mark 9:24 says, then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Just like Jesus reached out His hand and grabbed Peter to keep him safe, He is that close to us, and He will help us too.

The truth is, lots of situations are too big or too scary for us to handle, but nothing is too big for Jesus! We shouldn’t focus on the situation we are in. Instead, we should focus on the One who has power over every situation! In Verse 27, Jesus tells us like He told the disciples; “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”

Our faith will be strong when we keep our eyes on Jesus. When we know Jesus, we know He is completely deserving of our trust. When we keep our focus on His power and His love for us, our faith will be strong.

Final thought: “We shall steer safely through every storm, so long as our heart is right, our intention fervent, our courage steadfast, and our trust fixed on God.” – St. Francis De Sales

Lay Director – September 2015

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Dear Brother and Sister Cursillistas;

I have spent a good amount of time praying over and wondering what to write to you about concerning our lives of “Christ Counting on each of us.” Needless to say, considering that we currently have one man and one woman as candidates for our upcoming weekends, the idea of evangelization comes to mind most frequently.

We’ve all enjoyed a wonderful vacation this summer, and the weather hasn’t been so bad. Now is “Harvest Time,” the time to turn around and get busy working to harvest souls for our God of Love. Have you made some new friends, gotten some new neighbors, or parishioners? How about those who have journeyed through the RCIA, and most importantly do these friends know that you have made a Cursillo? Pick up the pace of your new friendships and bring these friends to Christ through the Cursillo.

I recently listened to a Lighthouse CD titled “Evangelizing Catholics” by Dr. Scott Hahn. It is so interesting that evangelization has been the theme of every Pope since Vatican II. Two years ago the Church was to have been dedicated to a “New Evangelization” but I, for one, failed to see much action from this effort. Perhaps that is the fault of we lay people. We can’t sit around waiting for our priests and bishops to lead us by the hand. Remember go forth and – Be a Friend – Make a Friend and Bring that Friend to Christ.

Our Cursillos are for our Catholic brothers and sister. However, we should also have an ecumenical spirit to our friends of other faiths and guide them to programs of renewal, if these are available, or at least guide them through the process of conversion in their lives to bring them closer to the love which Christ has for each of them and us. One never knows when they are talking to one of our next converts.

Ultreya (Onward), Nick Lang

 

Spiritual Director – September 2015

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We have entered into another school year, a time for many young people to try to gear up once again, for the task of studying that we hope leads to learning.

Studying, one of those three legs on which Cursillo is built and maintained. How is your study going? Spending time getting to know better what Cursillo is about? Attending the School of Leaders? Reading about the movement? How about something spiritual like what helps you to better understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? What Church teaching do you need to better understand? How about Pope Francis’ new encyclical on the use and care of our home we call Earth?

So, as the teachers and students return to the classroom, let us remember them in prayer, and let us come to know how important study is for all of us who experience and try to live Cursillo.

I hope everyone had a good summer, and that this beautiful weather we have been having the last couple of days is a taste of good things to be experienced this Autumn.

Blessings to you all,

De Colores, Fr. Gary

School of Leaders – June 2015

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From Terry Kostel:

A Leader? Who? Me?

The overall consensus is that the Cursillo community in general does not have an understanding of the School of Leaders, its purpose, and/or how it operates.  Hopefully, this article will help dispel some of the uncertainty.  For those who have a Leaders’ Manual, it might be helpful to read Chapter 6 entitled, “School of Leaders.”

When we hear about the School of Leaders, we tend to have mistaken concepts about it or identify it as a center for education or formation of leaders to give talks on the weekend. The School of Leaders is the working arm of the Secretariat. In simple terms, the School is made up of a core group of leaders for the Cursillo Movement in a particular Diocese.  They are those leaders who have an intense desire to do whatever is necessary to ensure the Movement remains vibrant and authentic … leaders who are willing to give their time, talent, and treasure to the Movement, as needed. The School is and will always be an essential piece for the continuation and development of the Cursillo Movement. In other words, if there is no School, there are no Cursillo weekends and there is no Secretariat.

At this point, I can here you saying, “School of Leaders, that’s not for me. I am not one of those people called on to be a leader in the Movement.” The reason I can hear those words so clearly is because when I heard about the School of Leaders, I said the same thing. The truth is, not all Cursillistas are called or choose to become Cursillo Leaders. Those behind the scenes are as important in spreading God’s message as those who may be comfortable out front.

The School of Leaders is NOT a school in which someone learns to be a leader …as indicated on page 24 of the Leaders’ Manual, “One is not a leader because he belongs to the School; rather he belongs to the School because he/she is a leader of Christianity.” A more apt name for the School might be, Community of Leaders, Reunion of Leaders, Community of Respondents (those responsible for others), or even the School of Followers. However, keeping in line with the Cursillo literature and terminology, we will refer to it as a School.

The School of Leaders is not a school in the academic sense. It is a forum to educate and discuss various aspects of our own holiness, formation, evangelization, and our Catholic faith.

The School is simply a dynamic gathering of the Fourth Day Community, which articulates, gives voice to, and is the hands and feet of the Ideal of the Cursillo movement.  This is just like the personal Ideal we talk about in the first Rollo, but the School of Leaders envisions and pursues the Ideal of the entire Fourth Day Community.  Participating in the School of Leaders is really not difficult for anyone who actively participates in the Cursillo Movement and all of the beauty it has to offer, to keep us moving towards our personal Ideal. We must be mindful of the fact that we do not invent theology, but as St. Paul has stated, “We pass along that which we have been taught by Christ, through the Church and our Bishop.”

The School energizes and drives the Cursillo Movement towards that Ideal, giving direction and purpose to the Secretariat, and giving constancy and perseverance to the Fourth Day Community.

As Leaders of Christianity, the School helps each of us accelerate and live the fundamentals of being a Christian: IN ONESELF – IN THE MOVEMENT – IN THE ENVIRONMENTS.

During the 3-day Cursillo weekend, the talk on Leaders asks each of us to lead the people in our families, our churches, and our communities, to know the love of Jesus. Now that we have experienced just how much Jesus loves every one of us, He wants us to share that love with everyone else we meet. We are a pilgrim people, always in process, always growing – we continue our formation scripturally, prayerfully, and apostolically, and the School of Leaders provides a place for continuing our growth in our faith journey.

All Cursillistas are encouraged to participate in attending the School of Leaders to enrich their Fourth Day experience.  The School of Leaders is not a school to train speakers for the weekend.  The School of Leaders is an opportunity to develop into Catholic Christian Leaders in the community.

Whether or not you want to be a team leader in Cursillo, we would love to have you join us so we can all help each other continue to grow in His love. The School of Leaders is open to all Cursillistas, and we encourage everyone to attend. Come and enrich your understanding of the Cursillo.

The School of Leaders meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 pm at St Joseph’s in Freeburg.

Let us remember and reflect on, “Do we put into action what Christ has commanded us?” Christ is counting on me, and I on Him!

De Colores, Terry

P.S. The Holy Spirit inspired a Cursillista to write the following which I think is perfect:

School of Leaders Pic

 

 

Lay Director – June 2015

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From Nick Lang:

De Colores, Dear Cursillistas:

Our Loving God has brought our world back to life in this springtime of beauty and color. May your hearts be filled with this radically amazing event of His creation. I recently read that God didn’t have to give us color. Oh, what a blessing it is to us that He did so.

With all the new growth taking place, my soul longs for new growth in our Cursillo movement. I hope and pray that each of you is busy planning for new candidates for the 2016 weekends. Have your groups pray with you for the friend you desire to bring to Cursillo.

I think we should spend some time reading our Leaders Manual (chapter 9 and specifically pages 93 – 96) to gain a better understanding of the sponsorship process and the responsibilities involved. There is also a small booklet available from Linda Bagsby (618-960-1023) on sponsoring.

So often we think we are finished once an application is turned in to the pre-cursillo chairperson. This is just the last step in the preparation phase. After the candidate has made his/her weekend we have many responsibilities to see that they are properly introduced to life in their Fourth Day. Get your friends into a friendship group and attending Ultreyas and the School of Leaders. Stay abreast of their growth and involvement with Cursillistas. Your friendship does not end at the closing of their weekend.

The application and dates of the weekends are available on our website, www.BellevilleCursillo.org.

God Bless you all, Nick