Fall in Minnesota is a beautiful season. The colors are vibrant. The air is clean and crisp. The angle of the sun is noticeably different than it was during the summer months. We know that change is occurring. As we go for walks this time of year, we see a changed landscape from the summer. Familiar views become breathtaking.
As often happens on our walks, we can concentrate so much on completing the walk, that we don’t notice the fall colors. We become blind to our surroundings or “trail blind.” Two loons landed on the pond we walk around, dove two or three times, then took off for parts unknown to us. If we hadn’t been paying attention at that moment, we would have missed them. When we actually take time to look around, we notice that the wild grasses which displayed varying shades of green in the summer months, have changed to various shades of tan and brown. The colorful leaves of the deciduous trees are enhanced against the backdrop of a blue sky sprinkled with white clouds.
Our faith lives can be like that. We get caught up in what we are doing and miss opportunities to see the face of Christ in the people we encounter. We can be so focused on the task at hand, that we neglect the immediate need of those closest to us. Perhaps it’s a friend who needs someone to listen without offering suggestions to their situation. Whatever it may be, Christ is in those moments, those situations, those interruptions. Others may need us to be Christ for them right at the moment we are most busy.
The Cursillo movement calls us to a continuous progressive conversion which should lead us to action in our environments. Participating in our Group Reunion and Ultreya are great places to hear what fellow Cursillistas are doing for prayer, study and action. If we are open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, we may be led to a different format of prayer or perhaps a new area of study or action.
These new ideas inspired by what others are doing can help prevent us from going trail blind. They can prompt us to focus on those around us and recognize when someone needs to see the love of Christ, so that we can be Christ.
One of the recent Sunday Gospels was the story about the rich man and the beggar Lazarus. In the homily we heard, the rich man may have been a good person. Perhaps he just never noticed Lazarus because he was trail blind every day going in and out of his door.
Lord, help me to see in a new way so that I can be in a new way.
Tom and Diane Repucci
Being a friend is an essential element of the Cursillo method. In daily life we encounter many people: our family, co-workers, neighbors, and others. Some of these people may be acquaintances others may be buddies, people that we enjoy getting together with for a shared interest such as sporting or athletic activities, others may be people that we know only a little about them.
Then there are those people whom we consider to be friends. True friends are people who know us, know our weaknesses and love us in spite of our imperfections. A true friend is someone that we can trust. A true friend is someone, who, when we haven’t seen them for a long period of time, when we get together again, it’s easy to pick up where we left off. Friendships are formed over a period of time; there is no one fixed timetable for the development of friendships.
The Cursillo motto, “be a friend”, really means that. Not to just be an acquaintance. It requires that we spend time with the person so that we may get to know that person and so that they may get to know us. In order to become friends, we must have a genuine interest in that person: take time to get to know them, what they like and don’t like, what their interests are, etc. Really listen to them as you engage them in conversation. Be authentic. True friends want what is best for their friend. If we want what is best for our friend, we should introduce them to our friend, Jesus.
Does this mean we don’t sponsor the person we just met, or someone who has shown an interest in Cursillo? No, we just need to continue to develop the friendship with that friend before and after their Cursillo weekend. The sponsor needs to be willing to start another small group with them, if needed. Invite them to your group before they live a Cursillo weekend.
“ ….. the most important thing to understand is that our friendship with Jesus must be visible in our friendship with others. It is this kind of friendship that has the creative power necessary to transform the world as Christian men and women acting as leaven in their environments. This is without doubt possible if we make the decision to begin with ourselves.” from Friendship in the Precursillo at natl-cursillo.org.
Please join us at the 4th Day Encounter on October 26 for a Cursillo celebration of 50+ years of friendship in the Twin Cities. The Encounter will be held at The Church of St. Patrick in Inver Grove Heights. We’ll begin with 8:00 AM Mass followed by a catered breakfast and then the program which concludes at 1:00 PM. Online registration and additional information can be found at https://tc-cursillo.org/
"Ultreya" is a Spanish word which means “Onward!” It was commonly used by pilgrims to greet and to encourage one another along the way. In our Twin Cities Cursillo community, we have Ultreyas which meet monthly. The purpose of the Ultreya is to keep the spirit and friendship of the Cursillo ongoing. It’s an opportunity for the community to come together in an attitude of progressive conversion, united in one faith, one Lord and one baptism. It may also serve as an opportunity to help those who may not have joined a permanent weekly Cursillo group.
From our experience, we have a special love for the people of our North Ultreya. We started attending Ultreya at the first opportunity after we lived our Cursillo weekend in the spring of 1994. Over a period of time, we began forming new friendships with the people we met at Ultreya. When you group at Ultreya or in your small group, you make connections with people in a way that is deeper than the friendships that you have in other areas of your life. This is due to the shared faith that we have in Jesus Christ and the fact that we who live the Cursillo method, strive to be intentional in living out our Christian faith.
We have been motivated by the witnesses we have heard at Ultreya. Some of the witnesses have called us to grow deeper in our faith. Other witnesses have challenged us to increase our prayer life. Sometimes people have shared their struggles and how they have gotten through some very challenging times. This type of witness has provided us with opportunities to hear of others’ need for prayer and to hold these people up in prayer. Several years ago, North Ultreya and Cursillistas from a neighboring Lutheran church joined together for an interfaith Ultreya and potluck. For many years, we alternated between the two host locations for this once a year event. It was beautiful that our different faith traditions which share the core belief in the death and resurrection of our Lord could come together as one community.
During the past two years, we have visited several of the various English speaking Ultreyas. We have enjoyed each of these Ultreyas because it has provided us with an opportunity to meet other Curillistas and to visit with people that we have met over the years as a result of working Cursillo weekends or meeting them at previous Cursillo events. We would encourage each of you to do the same. Visit another Ultreya. The dates and locations are listed in the Kindling and on the website https://tc-cursillo.org/Ultreya-Meeting-Times
Speaking of Ultreyas, when was the last time you attended an Ultreya? If it has been a while, we would encourage you to attend any Ultreya. We need each other. Ultreyas are a great place to come together, united in faith and purpose. You may be missing out on some great friendships if you pass up this opportunity.
Yours in Christ,
Diane and Tom Repucci
Have you ever told a friend something in confidence, expecting that your friend wouldn’t share that with anyone, and yet what you shared ended up being told to others? How did that make you feel? Were you able to trust that person after the breach of confidentiality? Confidentiality in our Cursillo groups is of utmost importance if our small groups are to be effective.
It was recently brought to our attention that confidentiality isn’t always being maintained in our community’s Cursillo groups. This lack of confidentiality creates an environment where the members of the group are not sharing because they can’t trust that what they share won’t be passed along to others. The result is ineffective grouping and damaged friendships. If members of a group can’t trust that what they share won’t be spread to others, what’s the point in having a Cursillo group?
One person tried to explain that sharing close moments was somehow ok. It is not ok without permission from the one who shared the close moment. Changing or omitting the names in someone’s sharing and then repeating it, breaks the confidentiality. Telling the story but changing a few or even many things, breaks the confidentiality.
Gossip can creep into our lives, taking various forms. Have you ever heard a petition presented by a member of the congregation that provided sufficient detail that you felt uncomfortable when you heard it because you knew who was referred to in the petition? Wouldn’t a simple “For a special intention” or offering the petition in silence have been more appropriate to protect the identity of the person for whom the petition was offered?
Please, let’s respect one another by not sharing information that should be confidential, no matter the form or forum. There exists a very hard line that we do not share anything from our grouping. Please, do not cross that line.
When we each lived our Cursillo weekend, at the beginning of the weekend in the rollo room, we were told that what was to be shared and discussed in the rollo room should not be shared with others. The expectation of confidentiality is crucial for effective witnessing and table discussions. The same confidentiality applies to our small groups.
If this is happening in your group, follow the directions in Matthew 18:15-17. Talk to the person. If the behavior does not change, have the entire group talk to the person. If you’re not comfortable with such a confrontation, consider discussing this article or the topic of confidentiality with your group. You could print this article and bring it to your group as a starting point. It may take time for the person to change their behavior.
It takes time and effort for our groups to grow and be a place where all issues can be freely discussed. We need to be able to trust all members in our group. Our Cursillo groups, when effective, help to advance our ongoing conversion. Together, we can work to support one another by giving everyone the courtesy and respect that they deserve. We need each other. Don’t let your group down.
Have you ever wondered why grouping is a part of so many of our Cursillo gatherings such as Ultreya, School of Leaders, team meetings and Secretariat? Cursillo is a journey of friendship which develops by spending time together, thereby providing others an opportunity to know us better. When we share our experiences, our ideals, our failures, our aspirations we deepen those friendships.
As a result of having lived a Cursillo weekend, we should be able to see Christ in every situation, every moment. Group reunions and grouping at various Cursillo gatherings, provide us with an opportunity to share how we have seen Christ and how we are leading others to Christ. The group reunion is a method for sharing the type of Christianity which we are living or are striving to live. It is friendship elevated to the highest level – friendship transformed into actual grace.
Grouping is the most important activity we do in Cursillo according to Cursillo literature.
“We must bear in mind that Group Reunions are not held so that there
may be people to attend the Cursillos, but the Cursillos are held so that there
may be people to make a Group Reunion.”
Eduardo Bonin, Bernardo Vadell, Francisco Forteza,
Cursillos in Christianity, Structure of Ideas (page 80).
The little orange book “THE REUNION OF THE GROUP” covers grouping in detail. You can get a copy from your Ultreya rep or at School of Leaders. From the book, our grouping should have 3 parts: The first part is based on sharing the Love of God: Piety, Closest Moment, Study and Action. The second part is based on Love of Neighbor: Apostolic Success, Failure and Was the Apostolic Plan of the Previous Week Fulfilled? The third part is The Plan: What are we going to do in the coming week?
Group reunions should meet regularly. Weekly grouping is recommended because our spiritual life needs regular nourishment. The group members should be serious and sincere in their sharing. The group reunion isn’t intended to be a social hour. Confidentiality is crucial so that group members may share openly and honestly without concern that what is shared will be spread to others. Changing or omitting the names in someone’s sharing and then repeating it, breaks that confidentiality. Please do not share anything from your group.
If we are truly living the Cursillo method, great personal effort is required. Christian living is not a spectator sport; rather, it is an adventure which at times, requires boldness. If your group is not working out for you, perhaps it is time to change groups. Honesty with the existing group about your need to grow in a different direction should be shared with that group. We challenge you to review your group. Our group reunion should be something we look forward to each week. It should be a gathering of very honest friends, who help us stay focused on what is truly important.
May we each continue to grow through this journey of friendship.
Leader. What does that word conjure up in your mind? Fearless champion?
Confident proponent of a worthy cause?
On the second day of the three day Cursillo, the Leaders rollo is given. In that rollo, we learn that a leader is someone who helps bring about the Christian transformation of society.
From the Leaders outline, we learn of four supernatural qualities of a leader; faith, humility, hope and love. We all need to practice living a bold faith, trusting in the grace of God, knowing that we are instruments of God. We can expect that God will provide us with everything we need, if we have given our utmost effort. With humility, we have awareness that we are the Lord’s instruments. Our talents have been given to us by God so that we may put them to use for Him. Hope, as a supernatural quality, is a virtue that increases when all human hope ends. Christian love seeks to find the good in others. All of these qualities are important in helping us to live out our baptismal call of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.
One definition of a leader is someone who can influence others. When viewed with that definition, we are all leaders. Think about the people you encounter on a daily basis: your family, coworkers, neighbors, etc. Many, if not all of the aforementioned, are people that you may influence.
In our families, how are we transforming our family into the family of God? Do we exhibit Christian living by praying daily, attending Mass, receiving the sacraments, helping others, being generous with our time, talent and treasure? In the workplace, do we exhibit the qualities of a Christian by not participating in gossip or conversation that demeans others? Do we give our employer an honest day’s work? In our neighborhood, are we a good neighbor by helping others in their time of need and by welcoming newcomers?
Being a leader doesn’t mean that we don’t make mistakes. Rather, our mistakes provide us with an opportunity to humbly acknowledge our error and correct our course. At a leadership meeting we recently attended, the speaker said “Failure
is the breakfast of champions.” Through our failures, we experience humility and acquire knowledge which can ignite our desire to do better as we go forward.
You are a Christian leader, whether you want to be or not. Anyone who knows you attend church will view you differently from others. Remember, your best leadership may be the example you set for other people as you live your daily life. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the supernatural qualities of a leader. All of your actions can help other people recognize God every day.
Cursillo and the Leaders Rollo call us to fully live out our Baptismal call. The world will receive the good news through lives that radiate the joy, peace and love of Christ.
About 140 people from seven states attended the March Region VI Spring Encounter in Kansas City, Kansas. Eighteen English, Spanish and Vietnamese Cursillistas from the Twin Cities attended. Each of the three language groups had sessions in their respective language.
The topic of the Encounter was the new Cursillo Weekend Manual called The Step by Step Rector’s Guide. These new manuals will be printed and available sometime in the next two years. Then, it will be up to each Diocese to decide what adaptions they will make to their Cursillo weekends. The presenters attempted to convey why Eduardo planned the Cursillo weekend as he did. Below are a few of the highlights.
The Step by Step allocates a block of time for each Rollo, e.g., two hours. This includes the table discussion, chapel visit, work on the poster (yes after each Rollo) or take a break. After the Rollo is given, the members at each table decide what order of the tasks and how much of each is best for their table. This allows each table the freedom to progress at their own pace. This is similar to group reunions.
The rollistas do not dress up to give a Rollo. This is like Ultreya when an Ultreya member gives the witness. When it’s time for their rollo, the rollista gets up from their table and goes to the candidates’ chapel to receive a blessing from the entire Rollo team.
Eduardo’s Step by Step does not have individual palanca as part of the weekend. Eduardo’s reasoning was that receiving individual palanca can unduly influence candidates while they are encountering self and Christ. Any individual palanca is given to the candidates at the end of the weekend in what we call the Food for the Journey packet. General palanca (one letter to the weekend members) along with Palanca from around the world is part of the three day weekend on Friday.
Mañanitas are officially part of the weekends. “Mañanitas, if conducted properly, will encourage friendship and help build the bridge to the 4th Day. Mañanitas have been lived in Mallorca, Spain over 50 years and are part of the Step by Step Guide.” (From Day 3 of the Step by Step Workshop). Background: The Step by Step is the Rector’s Guide authored by Eduardo Bonnín and used in Mallorca. As stated by Eduardo in THIS IS THE WAY, “…every Cursillo weekend should offer those present as lively, simple, clear and true experience of the Christ of the Gospel as best as possible…. The encounter has to be between Christ and the person, face to face, one-on-one, and everything at the weekend Cursillo has to be focused on that one-on-one encounter.”
For the past two years, the U.S. Cursillo working group, with the assistance of the Cursillo leadership in Mallorca, has been reviewing and translating Eduardo’s notes for the Step by Step Rector’s Guide in preparation to introduce it to our Movement. The Step by Step Rector’s Guide consists of the Schedule of the Three Days and 16 Appendices that clarify and deepen the understanding of all that is pertinent to the Three Day Cursillo.
At the May 7th School of Leaders we will be a giving a presentation on this topic. Please join us!
Tom & Diane Repucci
We welcomed 36 new 4th Dayers into our community in February and March. The witnessing at the clausuras energized those in attendance. The joy of those witnessing was contagious.
Many from the fourth day community traveled to St. Joseph the Worker on the Friday and Saturday of the men’s and women’s weekends to support the weekends by attending a palanca Mass. Each of these Masses was joy filled. Father Marty Shallbetter celebrated the Mass on the Saturday of the women’s weekend and challenged us to be joy filled and to “welcome the kingdom of God like a little child” Mark 10:15. He asked us to think about and describe the attributes of a little child. Trusting, wondering, open, and happy were some of the answers. Father Marty said to imagine being a child holding the hand of Jesus and following his lead.
The excitement of the weekend starts to build when a parish says yes to hosting the weekends. This is done two years in advance of the Cursillo weekends. Rector and rectora are chosen and then announced. Teams are formed and meet for six weeks. Rollistas spend hours writing their rollos. Kitchen teams plan the meals and purchase the food. Musicians plan and practice music. Palanca team collects preference sheets and plans for rollista sendoffs.
Finally the liaison team works with the parish staff to plan for accommodations that need to be made to host the Cursillo weekends at the parish. Then there are the hours put in by the liaison team and many others setting up cots, showers, moving supplies to the various rooms, etc. It is all a labor of love and friendship. Those involved are offering their time and talent so that the candidates can experience Christ’s love and deepen their relationship with him.
Ask any of the previously mentioned volunteers if it was worth it and you are likely to receive a resounding “Yes!” as a response. We each remember what it was like when we experienced our weekend and we want others to have the opportunity to experience Christ’s love through friendship. Without the aforementioned volunteers and many others, Cursillo weekends wouldn’t happen.
You are needed on the next joy filled journey as a team member on the July Cursillo weekends. If you have never worked a weekend or if you have worked many weekends, you will meet new friends as you serve as the hands and feet of Christ. Team applications are on the website https://tc-cursillo.org. You will need to log in to be able to access the team application.
Are you unable to serve as a team member? Please consider supporting the team and candidates with your prayers and sacrifices.
Jane Marie Rief, at the March SOL, challenged each of us to invite five people to live a Cursillo weekend. If we each asked five people and of those, one person signed up, we would have an overflowing weekend. Let’s get out there and make a friend, be a friend and bring a friend to Christ.
Prayer should be a two way conversation with God, however, discerning God’s voice and differentiating it from other voices (our own desires, someone else’s voice) is a challenging undertaking. The difficulty shouldn’t deter us from attempting to hear God’s voice. It takes practice and patience.
In my prayer life, there are many ways that God speaks to me. Sometimes it’s through one of the daily readings or reflections that resonates with me and highlights one of my weaknesses or disciplines on which I need to work. Through the sacrament of Confession, I sometimes receive insight as to how I may work to overcome a weakness.
Daily, I pray that I will be mindful of the promptings of the Holy Spirit and that I will respond to the Holy Spirit as he would have me respond. Recently, I had a thought that I should reach out to a friend that I didn’t see at Mass one Sunday. I called and left her a message, indicating that I had missed her at Mass and wanted to make sure that she was okay. She responded with an email, indicating that she was having a difficult time and that she appreciated my concern. I believe that the idea to reach out to my friend was a prompting from the Holy Spirit.
Sometimes God speaks to me through other people, such as members of my small group or my spiritual advisor. The book “Jesus Calling” is another manner in which God speaks to me with the frequent themes of do not be afraid, do not worry, and trust in God.
Back in September, I felt called to change my morning prayer to one based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Each day starts with a short Bible verse, opening prayer, a short reading, 1 minute for reflection, then 4 minutes of meditation to listen if God has something to say. The previous times I have used this devotional I did not get anything from the meditation time. This time through, I have been able to hear God calling me to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is. One morning I clearly heard that I should read the Gospel of Mark to better understand who Jesus is. That night, during evening prayers, Diane and I finished reading through the book of Ezekiel. The next night, we started reading the Gospel of Mark.
I believe that I have been led to a deeper understanding of how God responds to my prayers by how God has answered our prayers for direction for the monthly Kindling articles, daily prayers for the Cursillo movement and prayers for all the tasks we have needed to accomplish as Lay Directors.
How do you hear God speaking to you? God created each of us as a unique person so it’s easy to believe that he has unique ways to communicate to each of us. How are you responding to God’s call?
Our niece was married this past New Year’s Eve. Between her wedding and Christmas gatherings among friends, it was a very busy time. In helping with the last minute preparations for the reception, flowers, and preparing for out of town guests, it was sometimes hard to remember that this was really about the sacrament of joining two people into one with God.
Our Cursillo weekends can also become like that. We have the team meetings, the stress of writing the Rollos, planning the meals and the various other preparations. If we’re not careful and intentional, the focus can become about getting the tasks done and checking off to-do lists.
On the Cursillo weekend, the focus should be on the candidates. Making new friends and being friends with the candidates is how this is accomplished. The Cursillo weekend may be the first time the candidates have ever felt comfortable enough to share their thoughts about how they view God, religion and what ideal they will strive for in their lives. We need to stay focused so that the busyness of the weekend does not interrupt those conversations.
It is very important to allow the candidates to do more of the talking than we do. The weekends provide an opportunity for the candidates to become comfortable speaking about their beliefs. Our role as a team member is to be an active listener, giving the candidate our undivided attention. We need to set aside any distracting thoughts. Don’t mentally prepare a rebuttal, but rather, encourage the candidate to continue with small verbal comments like “Yes” and “uh-huh.”
Personal growth will occur if we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us individually and collectively on the weekend. Remember that metanoia happens on God’s timetable. We need to let go of any expectations we have for how the candidates may be affected by the weekend. The candidates will need time to process all of the information they are receiving on the Cursillo weekend. Cursillo teaches a method that allows for continuous, progressive, conversion. The metanoia may occur long after the weekend has ended.
Serving as a team member is a great gift to give and to receive. The palanca we do leading up to the weekend is a powerful component of our preparation. Prayer and sacrifices offered for the team and candidates pave the way for the metanoia that may occur. You give of your time and talents. What you receive can come in many forms: new friends, both of other team members and new Cursillistas, the experience of serving in a new capacity, deepening of your relationship with Christ, and many other forms. We, too, should be drawing closer to Christ.
We mentioned to our niece and her fiancée that every so often they should slow down and look around so that they will remember the moments. We should do the same on the weekends.
Welcome 4th Day!