Category Archives: School of Leaders

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

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

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

 

 

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)

 

School of Leaders – December 2014

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From Terry Kostel:

Learning Leadership

God commanded us to go and teach all nations, to preach the Gospel to every creature. He tells us that those who hear us, hear him. At the end of each Mass we are told to go forth and announce the Good News. We are all asked to lead.

The School of Leaders helps us to understand that we are all leaders in Christianity. As a leader, we are called to be a witness of Christ at all times and in all environments. Our goal – to become the Good News as we seek to build Christianity in the world. Therefore, living in grace, loving God and our neighbor, can be considered the root, the origin of all Christian being and doing. We well know that the kingdom of God is inside each one of us, and that when this reality becomes conscious, it becomes contagious.

On our Cursillo weekend, we were provided a direction to fulfill our potential of being an authentic Christian. But we need constant guidance, so where do we go to get that guidance? What other source will provide the foundation? The Bible. It is the first place we should go to in order to learn how to become leaders today, preparing for the world tomorrow. There are many books in the world on the subject of leadership, but only one starts with the right foundation. It contains many stories of those whose leadership ability and the principles by which they lived are revealed for us to model. To name a few: Abraham, who through his daily actions was a man of character, was someone who could be trusted and always looked out for the best interest of those around him; Joseph, despite being sold into slavery by his brothers and then later imprisoned, rose to become second-in-command over all Egypt; and Joshua, who took the place of Moses, led Israel into the Promised Land.

God did not waste one word in the Bible. We can discover the traits that made these men successful leaders and how we can become the same. Many of the commandments and statutes are principles that help us become better leaders. Our purpose is to become leaders in the world tomorrow, rebuilding this world the right way.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22, “But the spirit produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

Leadership that evidences love will yield trust and respect. If you have joy, people will follow just because they want to take part in that joy. Peace will relax people and set them at ease. Patience will encourage change. Kindness will encourage growth. Generosity will encourage loyalty. Faith will increase confidence. By showing gentleness, those under you will know that you do not see yourself as better than they. If you display temperance they will know that you are in control.

A final thought: “A Godly Leader finds strength by realizing his weakness, finds authority by being under authority, finds direction by laying down his own plans, finds vision by seeing the needs of others, finds credibility by being an example, finds loyalty by expressing compassion, finds honor by being faithful, finds greatness by being a servant.” –Roy Lessin