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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

 

 

Spiritual Director – June 2015

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From Fr. Gary Gummersheimer:

Since the last time I penned a missive for this newsletter several very interesting things have taken place. The first is a two-part interview of the national leadership of Cursillo that aired on EWTN. You can watch what aired on the National Cursillo Web page (www.Cursillo.org) under the “resources” section of the Web page. They reminded us of the importance that Cursillo can and does play in the Church’s call for a “new” evangelization. I would encourage you to go and take a look at it.

The second is that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has called for a Holy Year to be celebrated: an “Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.” This Holy Year will open on 8 December 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, and will close on 20 November 2016, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Pope Francis, in calling this special time in the Church, said: “We need constantly to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a wellspring of joy, serenity, and peace. The word, mercy, reveals the very mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us; the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of every person who looks sincerely into the eyes of his brothers and sisters on the path of life and the bridge that connects God and man, opening our hearts to a hope of being loved forever despite our sinfulness.”

So we have a unique and wonderful time ahead of us in the Church. The Bishops will meet this fall to continue the discussion of the role of the family in society and the Church in this time of strained understanding of what it means to be family and Church.  Let us pray that the gift of the Spirit of God may guide them in their discussions.

We are reminded, time and again, by our Holy Father that the ultimate gift of God’s love and mercy are what calls each of us to be children of God. It is also what calls each of us, in the gift of the Holy Spirit in our initiation, to become the disciples that Christ calls us to be. Make a friend, be a friend, and bring that friend to Christ.

As I write this in the week before the Solemnity of Pentecost, my prayer for all of you as we enter this summer season, is that the Spirit of Christ may be with you to guide you and keep you always in the love and mercy of God.

De Colores, Fr. Gary

School of Leaders – March 2015

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From Terry Kostel:

Leaders in Christianity

I imagine the best place to begin would be by asking ourselves, “Who is a Leader in Cursillo”?   You might say that all those who are members of the Secretariat are the Cursillo Leaders. Or maybe you might say all those who attend the School of Leaders are Cursillo Leaders. You would not be wrong in either case, but you would not be completely correct, either.

What if I made a slight change to the phrase, “Make a friend, be a friend, and bring that friend to Christ”? What if, instead, I said, “Make a friend, be a friend, and lead that friend to Christ”? Would you then recognize that all Cursillistas are Cursillo Leaders? We are called to lead others to Christ.

James 1:22-25 simplifies it for us, “But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, ongoing away, immediately forget what they were like. But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget, but doers who act – they will be blessed in their doing.”

We need to recognize that we are all on a spiritual journey, a journey that we travel together with the Holy Spirit as our guide in our effort to follow Christ. If our knowledge of Cursillo and being Christian is nothing more than what we hear on the Cursillo weekend without it becoming a part of our lives, then our effectiveness during this journey, as well as the distance we travel, will not be close to our potential. If, however, our knowledge of Cursillo and being Christian truly becomes part of us in and through Jesus Christ daily, then our effectiveness increases and the distance we travel will be great.

Cursillo is a lifelong journey that begins with a “weekend.” For the men and women who have just completed your weekends, the 4th Day has begun. Some have referred to Cursillo as a retreat, however, a retreat is an experience that doesn’t grow. What was learned on the Cursillo weekend will help all who apply the principles to grow in courage to become all that God created us to be.

Our life’s purpose should be to live what is fundamental to being Christian. Our lives should embrace all three phases of the tripod – Piety, Study, and Action, keeping in mind always that this reflects our three relationships represented in the word “JOY”….. Jesus, Others, and Yourself.

Our mission in the world includes our dedication to Christ and our daily decision to share the Good News that God loves us. The best way to share this good news is through practicing friendship in our daily activities in whatever time and place we find ourselves. It is through friendship and love that we will demonstrate to others our life in Jesus Christ.

For the new Cursillistas, some time may be needed to settle into the new reality, but you should never forget that the rest of the 4th Day Community is available to provide help with how to “Make a friend, be a friend, and bring that friend to Christ.” This is our role as Cursillo leaders.

And for all of the 4th Day Community, as our journey continues we need to remember an important tool available that will help each of us travel along the path of making that friend, being that friend, and bringing that friend to Christ – the School of Leaders.

As “Leaders in Christianity,” we must ask ourselves the question, “Are we living the Christ-like example daily in sharing our faith in a loving way to help people to know God”?

A final thought, “Each day is a brand new opportunity to be Jesus to the world.”R. Falcon (Better Tomorrows)

 

Lay Director – March 2015

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From Nick Lang:

De Colores to you Cursillistas!

It has been a long time since I’ve had the privilege to write an article for the “Evangelizer”. Last October I responded to Father Gary’s request to consider being Lay Director for Cursillo in our diocese. I held this honorable position from 1996 to 1999 and understood the amount of work it involves. After numerous prayers and discussions, I accepted the offer and was voted into office in November. I sincerely appreciate all the hard work that Pat Cates devoted to the office even as she battled some serious cancer and its treatment.

So here we are living through another precious Lenten Season. I pray that each of you has chosen your personal sacrifices. May I kindly request that you offer all of these as Palanca for our new Cursillistas as they begin their Cursillo journeys and for the Secretariat leaders. May your Lenten journey bring you to the full grace of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Morning.

For those of you starting your Cursillo journey, we sincerely and prayerfully welcome you to our community. I pray that you will find friendship groups soon and participate in the Ultreya nearest your home. Contact me or any of the secretariat officers if you require help getting started. We hope your recent experiences with Christ and the Holy Spirit throughout the weekend will enrich your spiritual life throughout your life.

To the rest of the fourth day community, I ask your help in examining where we are and what we must do to grow our community. Feel free to call or e-mail me with any suggestions.

God Bless, Nick

 

Spiritual Director – March 2015

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From Fr. Gary Gummersheimer:

Most of you, if asked, could probably answer the question of what is the preamble to the US Constitution. But how many of you could tell me how the Declaration of Independence begins? The answer: “When in the course of human events…” Now why would a spiritual director begin his remarks with something such as this? The simple answer is that “human events” over the last several months have reminded us that we still have a long way to go in making this world we live in a reflection of the Kingdom of God.

The random and brutal slaying of so many, especially the Coptic Christians, by ISIS; the killing of media people in France; the slaying of young black men in this country; all of which leads us to realize that we still have a lot of work to do if we are going to change our environments to reflect the love of Christ Jesus. On this last issue, if you have not read Bishop Braxton’s letter on racism, I would highly encourage you to do so. I believe that it is one of the best articles that deal with that issue, which unfortunately is still very much a part of who we are in this country.

So, with what is left of this Holy Season of Lent, use it to ask our gracious and loving God to give us the insight into how to spread His Kingdom, especially in the troubled places of our world. Let us take the “human events” that fracture our lives and use them as a spring board to establish God’s Kingdom by inviting others to enter into a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

May this Lenten Season bring you challenges that strengthen your faith; a time to renew your commitment to Christ. May we celebrate the Easter Mystery with those who join us in our faith; dedicated to bringing more friends to Christ.

Blessings of the Paschal Mystery to you and all you love.

De Colores, Fr, Gary