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Becoming the Good News!
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  • October 28, 2019 9:23 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    Years ago, a music teacher of mine repeated that often. I found that it works when reading Sacred Scripture. Many in our Church pray the OFFICE OF READINGS daily. Dolores and I have prayed those prayers since seminary formation.

    I am constantly amazed at how the Holy Spirit works to awaken scripture for the reader. Last week I read a meditation written by St. Leo the Great on the Beatitudes. Those readings are familiar yet, it took 40 years to get my attention on this verse:

     “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”

    I have always associated that beatitude with grief, loss and separation. I really had missed the point. It has little to do with worldly distresses. St. Leo said “being sorrowful over losses does not make one blessed”. Grief over the death of a family member or good friend is a normal part of living and our emotional growth and maturing. It is also an opportunity to become more open to the Grace of God in our lives and accept His Grace that supports us through that particular crisis. It is a normal and usual human reaction.

    The mourning we suffer that grieves the loss of others is what makes one Blessed. I had never seen, heard or read that approach to mourning before: Where, when or why I had missed that only God knows. It opened an entirely new view of spiritual mourning for me.

    When one mourns the poor, homeless, immigrants in fear and loneliness, those affected by hurricanes and victims of mass shootings we are then Blessed Mourners. Religious grief is Blessed when we are sorrowful for our sins and the sins of others. It mourns for all that is done by human malice.

    To differentiate; victims of a sinful act receive the Grace of God and are raised up. The sinner’s act is mourned and prayed for as an act of compassion. Paul asks us to “pick up the suffering of Christ”. When we pray for those in mourning, we are not only companions in the human suffering but lifting up our prayer spiritually make us “Blessed”. This occurs not only in prayer but most of the time it happens as we become present to them in their suffering.

    Cursillo has moments “close to Christ”. When I read that teaching it became two significant moments for me: One is that it quieted the temptation I have to stop reading the daily “Office” which has been a problem due to repetition, but I was able to go back and say that the most peaceful and serene part of my day is prayer time. Second, it helps me to pray for special problems on my prayer list and if they are not answered it can be a sorrowful time. I can now turn those issues over to the Lord and in my heart know that not only is He in charge, but my personal mourning is not lost.

    How may we apply these principles to our daily living as Cursillistas on our journey to God? First, we should not stop reading and praying Sacred Scripture and daily prayers because they are boring. Second, we need to ask God for aid in making the messages of Scripture more aware to us and to open our eyes for His messages. Third, we need to remember St. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians 1 5:17” Pray constantly” and remember he also wrote “scripture is alive and the living word of God”.

    St. Vincent de Paul tells us: “we must try to be concerned over our neighbor’s distress and sympathize with them fully as in St. Paul’s letter to Hebrews ‘we must become all things to all people.’ “ I try to see Christ in the mourning and grieving. Sometimes that may be very difficult but to do it is a reward in itself.

    Dn John Salchert 

  • September 25, 2019 10:06 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    Jesus was moving in more than one way. Most would first agree, as I would, that he was moving in an emotional/spiritual sense. He moved people away from their normal expectations, and caused people to see either great hope or see a great threat, depending on their point of view.

    Here, I wish to focus on much of the daily Mass gospel readings from Luke this month, which has Jesus increasingly moving, and probably deliberately so, into risky territory. He is on His way toward Jerusalem for the last time, and increasingly gets into confrontations with Jewish leaders, including outright insulting them. He was also increasingly focused on teaching His disciples, and making clear, if not blunt statements, to the crowd following along or seeking Him out.

    One example is from the October 12th gospel reading from Luke 11:27-28: It happened that as he was speaking, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said, 'Blessed the womb that bore you and the breasts that fed you!' But he replied, 'More blessed still are those who hear the word of God and keep it!'

    This reading while very short, is powerful in its implication for personal as well as community faith/worship. Our faith is not about Jesus hero worship, nor Mary worship, much less blind allegiance to mere doctrine or dogmas of the Church. Rather, IT IS about applying and keeping the mission and ministry of Jesus alive in real time, with real issues, with honesty and sincerity. In other words, to move into risky territory at times; actually walking the talk.

    So I leave you with a couple questions:

    How much do you see your Christian life as going through the motions and for mere show?

    How would you characterize this critique as well to the local church you attend?

    Hopefully the mission, the message, indeed the reality of Jesus, moves you toward action, to walk the good talk, grounded in our study and piety. I look forward to seeing many of you at the 4th day encounter on October 26.

    Dn Mick Humbert 

  • August 25, 2019 5:03 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    “Jesus, I love you; Jesus, I trust you; Jesus, I thank you.” I have taken to saying this litany many times throughout the day. I like to think of my relationship with Jesus as being very simple. Love, trust, and thankfulness are what helps me make sense of what I experience in life and how I need to include Jesus in all that occurs; from the mundane to those life situations that at times test my relationship with Him. As I look at each element of my relationship with Christ, I know that I have unwavering love for God. In all that occurs, the good, the bad, the ugly – I love Him. As much as I love Christ I do from, time to time, find myself questioning why life experiences turn out the way they do.

    Recently a good friend of mine who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, was able to get a referral to the Mayo hospital in Rochester for surgery for cancer in his arm. Joe had been suffering with arm pain for a long time and he finally was going to get relief. I had flooded the heavens with prayers for Joe. Many rosaries later, my prayers and those of many more were being answered. The surgery went well, and we all were happy that he was on the road to being free of the pain.

    A long story short, right after surgery he developed blood clots in his lungs along with other unexpected issues. It was time to storm the heavens with prayer again; rosaries, intercessory prayer, novenas. God had helped him get this far, surely it was just another bump in the road, after all, he was at Mayo. Two weeks later Joe was dead. His wife, his daughters, his siblings, his friends, in a state of shock. There was no indication that it was anything more than an operation to relieve the pain in his arm.

    As much as I love Jesus, this truly tested my trust in him. What about all the prayers? Where did they go? What good were they? My mind tells me that he is with God. My heart tells me that we have lost someone we love and who loved us. Jesus didn’t ask us what we thought; he claimed what was his and took Joe to himself. But what about all the prayers, all the tears, all the memories that would never be? Wasn’t God listening?

    As I reflect on Joe’s death and the pain it brings to those left behind, I am reminded that our life’s journey is only a drop in an everlasting pool. That we are created for so much more. God asks us to trust that he knows what he is doing no matter how much it hurts. It is hard to do because we want to be in charge and our loved one’s death isn’t part of how we want to live our life. The prayers are not lost. As time passes it will become easier to see that our efforts were not in vain; they helped us through a difficult time and God continues to comfort us as we realize that our loved one is right where God created him to be. It is in that time of awareness that we can truly thank God for the gift of our loved one, Joe.

    Dn Rod Palmer 

  • July 29, 2019 1:47 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    I had the honor and privilege of serving with and witnessing the faith of all the men (and woman – liaisons) on weekend #373; candidates, and rollo – kitchen – palanca – liaison teams. I have no doubt the depth of faith was equally profound on weekend #374.

    One piece of scripture used during the weekend was the transfiguration of Jesus (Mt 17:1-8, Mk 9:2-8, or Lk 9:28-36). I wish to focus on four points within the event portrayed by the synoptic gospel writers:

    Mountain top experiences (like Cursillo generally or a weekend specifically, are important); echoing Peter, “Lord it is good that we are here.”

    Jesus outshined, was of most importance, compared to the law and prophets as symbolized by Moses and Elijah.

    Our human nature is that we wish to stay in that moment, that event of Actual Grace; echoing Peter again, “let us build three shelters…”

    When the cloud came and the voice (God) spoke, it is Jesus that is chosen or within whom pleasure is seen.

    Now four questions and/or points of reflection

    Jesus proclaimed that all people are worthy of speaking to, engaging with, ministering to, especially those on the periphery of cultural and religious acceptance. Is this perhaps part of what Eduardo Bonnin had in mind with his strong focus on “the far away?” How do we minister to them when so relatively few experience the mountain top (a Cursillo weekend or grouping)?

    Does Jesus shine the most on the weekend? Or, have we perhaps trapped ourselves into thinking the “Law and the Prophets” of Cursillo are the shining points: rollo talks, the food, the “surprises”, etc?

    Have we “sheltered” Cursillo from the new Cursillistas or the far away? With fewer candidates annually than 20-30 years ago, it is even more vital that the far away and new Cursillistas be engaged if Cursillo is to remain healthy as an important method by which people can deepen their relationship with Jesus.

    The chosen, pleasure, focus of Cursillo is Jesus, not in making better Catholics (good if it does). Nor is it the primary focus of Cursillo to get new members/keep the movement alive (great if it does), or to put on weekends because team members are spiritually nourished as well. THE focus of Cursillo is that individuals come closer in their relationship with Jesus, and they be introduced to a method that can assist them on their faith journey. Has the focus become blurred?

    My sisters and brothers in Christ, in the transfiguration story, while mountain top experiences are important, we as disciples are called to, and destined for, valley duty. To paraphrase the Salt and Light imagery, while “a city set on a hill (weekend) cannot be hidden”, the light is “put on a stand for ALL to see.”

    Dn Mick Humbert 

  • June 27, 2019 7:59 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    My dear fellow Cursillistas, sons and daughters in Christ, This past Corpus Christi Sunday, we witnessed a mysterious rendez-vous .“In those days, Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine,…Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything” (Gen.14: 18-20). This brief encounter between Abram, “our Father in Faith,” and the priest-king Melchizedek is so ancient that it strikes at the very core of what it means to be human. Walking as a child of God means trusting His Promise and Providence, always giving thanks and giving back to God. Tithing is about a lot more than balancing parish budgets or maintaining aging facilities. God gives us everything, and He asks that we give back just a tenth joined to the offering of bread and wine which are transformed into the Most Holy Body and Blood of His Son. Under such humble forms, the Word through whom the universe was made, choses to divest Himself of every appearance of divinity and majesty so that He can be with us. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus GIVES UP EVERYTHING for us. Yet, the simple tithe (tenth) in response to God’s Providence, often gets twisted, down-played or ignored in our modern materialistic world – even among Catholics. We say things like “God doesn’t care about superficial things like money,” because our spending habits reveal our true priorities. How many of us would be comfortable going over our credit card statement with Christ at our side? St. Erik IX of Sweden
    (d. 1160AD), my Patron, was beheaded after he made the Tithe mandatory for the Swedish nobility. Barbaric, no? But think for a moment of the founding of our nation …High tea taxes?

    A beautiful contrast is St. Juliana of Liege who helped establish the Feast of Corpus Christi. A brilliant and beautiful young woman of Flanders (modern Belgium, and my mother’s homeland) in the 1200s, she was orphaned at age 5 and gave up everything for Christ, her true love, taking the veil as a religious at age 13. Juliana had a deep devotion to the Holy Eucharist from a young age and dreamed that someday there would be a Feast Day dedicated exclusively to Jesus’ Divine Presence in the Blessed Sacrament. At age 16, she had a vision of Our Lord which confirmed His desire for such a Solemnity (Corpus Christi). From her first years as a nun, she ran a hospital, and at age 33 she was made a “Prioress” (a demanding position in medieval Christendom). In her position of authority, she had to stand up to powerful and corrupt men of her day, while still possessing the focus to become one of the first women authors in medieval Europe — and one of first in human history!

    My great-great-grandfather Theodore Verstraete of Antwerp, Belgium, was a fairly famous artist in his day. He still has paintings in several museums in Belgium and through-out Europe. According to family history, he was an atheist and never even baptized. Yet, even he was drawn by something in our Blessed Sacrament. I only recently discovered what is now my favorite painting of his, Le Viatique (Viaticum. Last Holy Communion before death). Although it’s said he publicly ridi-culed Corpus Christi processions, for some reason, Theodore felt moved to paint a priest processing with the Eucharist to the dying. As my mom put it, “For an atheist, he sure did enjoy painting hard-working priests.” Through the intercession of Saint Juliana, I hope old “Theod” came to know the love of our Eucharistic Lord. When my “feeble senses fail” in death, may-be he and I can hash out the rest au purgatoire…

    Tantum ergo Sacramentum           Down in adoration falling,
    Veneremur cernui:                           Lo! The sacred Host we hail,
    Et antiquum documentum             Lo! Oe’r ancient forms departing
    Novo cedat ritui:                               Newer rites of grace prevail;
    Praestet fides supplementum        Faith for all defects supplying,
    Sensuum defectui.                            Where the feeble senses fail.

    Fr Erik Lundgren 

  • May 26, 2019 11:25 AM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    Shortly after you read this, if not already, Pentecost will have come and gone as we enter the long stretch in the Church year, as an outcome of renaming parts of the church calendar after Vatican II, called Ordinary Time.

    These 33 or 34 weeks after Epiphany and before Lent, and now after Pentecost until the next liturgical year begins with Advent, make up 8 months of our entire year. Now in the dictionary, ordinary usually means something not special or too distinctive. While not meant to be so by the Church in theory, our actions sometimes reinforce this sentiment; one little stretch is a breather after Christmas and before Lent, and the other is the six month stretch when Church office hours sometimes change, people take vacations or go to a cabin, and sacramental and faith formation efforts grind to a halt.

    I am on a personal mission, and have been for some time, to hold up Ordinary time as it is my favorite time(s) of the Church year. Go Green Go…for a number of reasons. First the color green, commonly named, as the bulk of its time is after Pentecost which lands in spring, to denote the growth and spread of the Gospel to all nations. While we have colors for the Christ as risen (white), sacrifice and the Holy Spirit (red), preparation (indigo), and examination & repentance (purple), we aah, have green which is the liturgical color of HOPE.

    Second, ordinary comes from the latin ordinalis, which refers to numbers in a series; thus as an extension, how to count, structure, organize – thereby the core and heartbeat of the Church. Since 1969, and the efforts of Pope Paul VI in 1969, the Mass was altered to simplify it and make it more user friendly, and is formally called Novus Ordo Missae (new ordinary of the Mass). Those involved in liturgy typically look at a shorthand book called the Ordo. How the Church, at present, structures its ordained vocations specifically in service of God’s people, is called Holy Orders.

    Finally, and for me most compelling, Ordinary Time is the part of the year when we attempt to tell the totality of Jesus’ mission and message; when he walked among us and transformed lives. Needless to say, there is nothing ordinary about that! The time, like in our lives as well, when Jesus had to walk the talk, literally. So, where we all walk our talk, where our “rubber meets the road,” may our faith journeys find a heartbeat of faith that can sustain us, Jesus as reality and not just as history, and in the worries, frustrations, and anxieties of our lives – HOPE.

    Dn Mick Humbert 

  • April 25, 2019 9:06 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    All things done in love, has as a goal, bringing all awareness closer into God. Educating ourselves through our action makes more clear and unified our response to God’s gift of faith, a unique type of intellectual-updating that reaches down into our core. Beyond words though, it is our faith in action, or our walking the talk, that is essential and a prime indicator of a life well lived, and coincidentally the subject of this article — Faith in Action.

    During this season between Easter Resurrection and Pentecost we can celebrate with genuine honesty, what we Catholics collectively provide to large numbers of people in various ways of assistance in many forms. Collectively, and just in the USA, we currently have 6289 Catholic schools, both elementary & high-school serving 1.78 million students in 2019. We also have 260 Catholic colleges or universities serving 891,000 students enrolled in 2017. We have 660 Catholic hospitals in the USA serving one in every seven people in the USA. Our Catholic Charities collected $3.7 billion in 2017 to fund the many services Catholic Charities provide. So contrasting those shining points of light with dark troubling news; even with the current spiritual cleansing taking place and including the bad misadventures found in ancient church history, I believe we can lift-up and celebrate our Catholic achievements made today — made in common, together.

    Why focus on those shining points of light? Well, there are several reasons: remembering and reporting the good we have done reinforces and strengthens our conviction to continue to do Jesus’ work; the good work accomplished together does triumph over evil, displacing it with God’s will for us to be a blessing to others. Further, we can rest assured when we pray and worship that we are indeed operating more and more in God’s will when we are experiencing life in harmony with the beatitudes. Finally, when functioning together as The Body of Christ we can envision Jesus more clearly in our lives, see and recognize Him more visibly in others, those who have been served, in our parishes, and our communities.

    As Cursillistas we can celebrate these great Catholic accomplishments en vivo, because they are happening today! Praise God! Developing our own unique styles and methods of sharing this Good News is to help uplift our friends and neighbors, bringing hope. Benefits of doing this kind of sharing with others can potentially bring about: a restored faith, a more engaged Catholic, a new beginning in faith, or just a closer walk with Jesus. Sharing examples and explaining to others how our beautiful church is a positive influence in our environments, it turns-on that powerful light of God’s love, remember the beginning of Easter Vigil, — remember
    the Light of the World brings our Faith into Action.

    Dn Joe Frederick 

  • March 27, 2019 10:26 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    Indeed something special does spring upon us this time of year beyond the warmer weather and life sprouting from a dormant earth. Here I wish to echo the sentiments of C.S. Lewis in a 1950 essay titled “What are we to make of Jesus Christ?” We are asked with increased purpose and intent to believe the improbable, if not impossible, that death has been conquered, and a new way of being springs forth in the resurrection of Jesus.

    If we confine ourselves within our usual rules, Jesus tends to remain a great moral teacher, a healer, a challenger of conventional wisdom, and a social prophet. But Jesus did not just proclaim a new vision, way of being, social paradigm, or alternative truth, he claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life” John 14:6. No one else talked like this. Either Jesus was and is the Son of God, as he alluded to plenty and proclaimed directly a few times, or he  was a pure lunatic and spewed out lies. Jesus never intended it to be a choice; there is no happy middle ground, although way too often the provocative nature of Jesus is abandoned in favor of a Jesus that is watered down and domesticated to appeal to our social and scientific sensibilities.

    We cannot hold back the coming of summer, and after this past winter, why would we. I suggest each of us take this month to ask ourselves in what ways we are holding back on embracing Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.  In not holding back, something larger and more profound may increasingly transform our life, that Emmanuel feeling, that God is with us. And we should not stop there, because this growth in understanding leads us to believe that God is in us, we are Jesus’ body now on earth, the Spirit indwells within each of us, and that we are the chosen and beloved of God.

    Dn Mick Humbert 

  • February 20, 2019 7:23 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    It's always been striking to me that in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke that the first place that Jesus goes to after his baptism in the Jordan River was to the desert. Since we are in Year C of the Lectionary Cycle on Sundays we will be hearing a lot from the Gospel according to St. Luke. The First Sunday of Lent for 2019 draws from the third Gospel of the New Testament and states it quite succinctly, “Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil” (Luke 4:1).

    Our Lord and Savior went from the cool waters of the Jordan River, where he had heard the words of his Heavenly Father, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22) to the hot and dry desert where he would be tempted by the voice of the Father of Lies. At the Jordan River Jesus was surrounded by his cousin John the Baptist and the crowds who were seeking to be baptized. In the desert he was alone for forty days with the scorching sand, the driving winds, and the devil seeking a way to cause him to sin.  Jesus was tempted to make his own daily bread, to be self-reliant, and to commit the egregious error of  idolatry. Drawing upon passages from Sacred Scripture the Living Word Incarnate, that is to say Jesus himself, was able to reject the lies of those temptations and speak to the Truth. He stood firm in the reality that he indeed was, is, and always shall be the Beloved Son of his Heavenly Father.

    As Catholic Christians we are entering into this holy time of prayer, penance, and purification. Like Jesus we are entering into the   proverbial desert of the Lenten Season. Over the course of the next forty plus days we shall be tested and tried and tempted in varying ways. When faced with great difficulties and the lies of the Evil One we can always return to the example of Christ. He is the source of “living water” (John 4:10) and the Holy One who can truly satisfy our hunger and thirst. We will be hungry and thirsty throughout the desert days of Lent in a literal sense and in a spiritual sense. Like Jesus we will face temptations that could lead us to emptiness and hopelessness. However, with the Grace that comes from Jesus we can affirm our identity as a beloved son or a beloved daughter of our Heavenly Father.

    We can reject those lies that will come our way to rely solely on ourselves or to seek trifles when the Lord wants to share with us the riches of His Mercy. A beautiful prayer to keep us on track throughout the desert days of Lent is the same one that Jesus taught his disciples (Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4). Within the “Our Father” we declare that we are not really alone in the desert but we have a Father in Heaven who wants to help us with our “daily bread” and to give us the strength to “forgive others who trespass against us.” He will “lead us not into temptation” but will provide us with the way to “deliver us from [the Evil One].” Through our daily moments of self-denial and confident acts of faith in God we shall make it through the dryness of the desert to reach the joyous celebrations of the Easter Season. May Jesus bless you with his peace and send forth the Holy Spirit to guide you.

    ¡De colores!

    Fr James Peterson 

  • January 24, 2019 6:36 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    In thinking of this time of year, while anticipating upcoming Cursillo weekends, an article from OUTLOOK magazine from January 2016 crossed my path which I offer to you in adapted form.

    Ordinariness oozes from the pores of Winter.

    After weeks of feasting and celebrating in December, and the chill at times of January settled in, the body screams for us to cease. Short days and dark nights, like black holes, inhale shreds of energy and optimism that could buoy soul and body. Outside, winter pushes cold hard against the fertility of the land and it rests.

    Perhaps we should as well.

    Winter personifies rest - a season of imperative dormancy. In His infinite wisdom and grace, God built rest into the weekly cycle, modeling the consummate balance of work and rest, then offering an imperative designed to regenerate and refresh; the Sabbath Day to be kept holy for rest and prayer (see Ex. 20:8).

    Several thousand years later, Jesus perpetuated His Father’s injunction.

    We think of Jesus healing, teaching, and being pushed upon from many different directions. While true, Jesus also would send people away or disappear without warning giving no excuse or explanation, and retreat to a place of rest. He did not wait until everyone was cured, nor did he ask permission. He left no one ‘on call,’ or even let his disciples know where he was going. Jesus obeyed a deeper rhythm - that of a quiet place and prayer.

    Do we sense and obey such a rhythm? Do we, with open hands and hearts, welcome the winter darkness as an invitation to slow down, reflect, and rest?

    Dn Mick Humbert
     

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