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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

School of Leaders – June 2016

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Faith is Believing Without Seeing

John 20:24-29 addresses the call to believe without seeing, but Thomas wasn’t willing.  The importance of this event lies in the fact that it presents the relation between seeing and believing.  More specifically, it shows the significance of believing after, or because of, having seen the risen Christ, and believing without having seen him.

The example of doubting Thomas provides both instruction and encouragement.  After being told by the other disciples of Jesus’ resurrection and personal visit, Thomas “doubted” and wanted physical proof of the risen Lord in order to believe this good news.  The testimony Thomas received from the other 10 disciples about Jesus’ return should have been enough, but still he doubted – even after spending three years being intimately acquainted with Jesus, witnessing all His miracles and hearing His prophecies about His coming death and resurrection.

The event occurred eight days after the appearance of Jesus to the other disciples.  After greeting them with the traditional, “Peace be with you,” without any delay Jesus turns to Thomas and addresses him; knowing his human frailty resulted in weakened faith, He accommodated Thomas by inviting him to proceed with the demanded test.

The doubt Thomas experienced is not unlike our own when we face challenges in our life.  Although Thomas did in fact doubt the Lord’s resurrection appearance, once he saw the risen Christ, he proclaimed in faith, “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28).  Jesus commended him for his faith, although that faith was based on sight.   “Because you have seen me, you have believed.”

The encouraging part for all of us today is when Jesus also says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (Jn. 20:29),” thus enabling us to believe that which we do not see with our eyes. This same thought is echoed by Peter, who said of Christ, “Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9).

Although we have the Spirit within us, we can still experience doubt.  True saving faith always perseveres to the end just as Thomas’s did, and just as Peter’s did after he had a monumental moment of weakness by denying the Lord he loved and believed in.

So how do we keep from doubting as Thomas did?  We must go to God in prayer when experiencing doubt.  Sanctification is the process of growing in Him, which includes times of doubt and times of great faith.  Like the man who brought his demon-possessed child to Jesus but was unsure whether Jesus could help him, we go to God because we believe in Him and ask Him for more and greater faith to overcome our doubts, saying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:17-27).

Final Thoughts:  “Faith is permitting ourselves to be seized by the things we do not see.”  Martin Luther

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”
Thomas Aquinas

Lay Director – June 2016

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Dear Cursillistas,

The news from your Secretariat from the recent past is that we are attempting to reorganize this management arm of Cursillo, looking toward the future and what our “younger’ members will need to keep them growing toward a closer walk with our Beloved Lord Jesus for years to come. The primary goal is to be of one mind and heart serving our foundational charism which is “The Lord our God is Lord alone and we shall love the Lord Our God with all our hearts and all our soul and that we shall love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”.

The Belleville Cursillo, for many reasons, has grown to have two central areas of concentration, the Metro East and the Western vicariates.  We need to reestablish Cursillo to be strong in all five of the vicariates of the diocese. To this end, we need parish representatives from all the parishes throughout the dioceses, someone or a group, willing to do the working of placing news articles in their parish bulletins and postings on the parish bulletin boards. If you are willing, please call me at 213-6391 or e-mail me at nplang415@gmail.com .

Our website is doing very well averaging 30,000 hits per month with 500+ detailed reviews. Also, our new Facebook Group (Belleville Cursillo) now has more than 90 individuals signed up.

I invite any of you to give me your ideas on how we can better advertise and more efficiently make ourselves known within the body of Christ in Southern Illinois.

De Colores,

Nick Lang

Spiritual Director – June 2016

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When this is read we will be past the season of Confirmation and Graduation, a time of new beginnings.

Confirmation challenges us to “go forth and proclaim the Gospel,” to use well the gifts of the Spirit to make a difference in our Church and world.

Graduation challenges us to observe and learn from the past, look to the future while we work in the present, beginning a new chapter in our lives.

Neither of these events should be seen as an ending, rather beginning a new phase of being who God has called us to be.

Way back when I was a junior in high school, I served as a junior marshal for the class ahead of me for their graduation. The theme that they chose for the event was: “When you are through learning; you are through.” For some reason that has stuck with me all these years and I have used it often in the classroom when I taught and in speaking to students on various occasions. Think about what it challenges us to do. It calls us to realize that we have much to learn, to study; as we will never know all that there is to know about the world, our profession, how to deal with people or how to be in relationship with our God.

If we study the Scriptures, the Lives of the Saints, we will glean from each the realization that our relationship with God and the Church is a living thing, a reality that ebbs and flows, it is not nor should it be stagnant. It is only in our commitment to prayer and study that we will grow and deepen our relationship with God and our fellow travelers on the pilgrimage to the Kingdom.

The biggest task that comes to all of us who have been Baptized and Confirmed is to strengthen our relationship with Christ, to share it with others; to live the call of the Cursillo weekend, “make a friend, be a friend and bring that friend to Christ.”

May you have a peace-filled and glorious summer!

With prayers and blessings,

De Colores, Fr. Gary

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