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  • May 24, 2018 9:41 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    On the heels of Pentecost where Jesus twice proclaimed “Peace be with You” as depicted by the author of John’s gospel, the heartbeat of our worship continues again with Ordinary Time. It is time to put the indwelling of the Holy Spirit theory to the test. My offering here is that while human and social tendencies have and will always gravitate toward the wants and wishes of the individual and tribe, Jesus offers “the Way,” an anti-dote for this social reality.

    I won’t spend much time on individualism, except to say we in the U.S. live in an extremely individualistic society at the all too frequent avoidance of or detriment to the common good. Tribalism however has either taken root, or in my opinion revived itself and deepened its roots across all facets of society. A tribal way of thinking is summed up in the phrase “our way or the highway;” little or no debate, circle the wagons, and defend at all cost.

    Examples (not an exhaustive list):

    Social: Pro-life/Pro-Choice , Pro-gun/Anti-gun, Prowar/anti-war, divisions along racial lines

    Economic: Capitalism/Socialism, Have/Have-nots, 1, 2 or 5% versus the remainder of society

    Political: Republican/Democrat, Conservative/Liberal, Have a voice/have no voice

    Religious: Traditionalist/Evangelical, Ritual/Scripture, One God/Secular Spirituality/No God

    If you follow the resurrection appearance of Jesus as laid out in John 20:19-23, I offer the following outline that echoes Jesus and the charism of Cursillo, and therefore serves as an anti-dote to our individualistic and tribalistic nature.

    Show up: “….(Jesus) stood in their midst” > be willing to stand in the midst of fear, pain, confusion, hatred, and longing.

    Offer up: “Peace be with you.” > acknowledge that things are not as they should or could be, and offer a close encounter with love and understanding.

    Take up: “…(Jesus) showed them his hands and his side.” > you have your own crosses and wounds to bear, and be vulnerable enough to give witness to them.

    Keep up: “Peace be with you.” > be present again, be real, and aim toward Jesus; make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ.

    It is hard to be clueless, cynical, hateful, or dismissive when giving each other a sign of Christ’s peace.

    Dn Mick Humbert 

  • April 25, 2018 8:19 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    The Easter season is a time for the resurrection and the conversation of hearts. It’s a time to reflect on our story, and to consider in what ways we may be called by Christ to a deeper conversion of our heart…to a new story for our lives.

    We heard about one of those hearts in the Easter Sunday Gospel, where we met Mary Magdalene. This is the same Mary that three years earlier was a harlot, and she was possessed by seven demons. Until she met Christ; then her story changed forever. Healed of her afflictions, we met a woman who was one of the few courageous enough to stay with Christ during his crucifixion. On Easter Sunday we find her getting up early, in the cold darkness, intending to anoint Christ’s body, but instead she will be remembered forever as the first person to experience the empty tomb… the resurrection of the one who changed her life forever.

    And who did Mary Magdalene run to and tell, but another person whose story was changed forever. Peter, who just three years earlier was a mediocre fisherman from Galilee; until he met Christ, then his story changed forever.

    Peter’s conversion was a slow journey of healing his own demons…impatient, impulsive, cowardly…just three days earlier, after promising never to deny Christ, he denied him three times in just a few hours. Yet, through the power of the resurrection, the once impatient, impulsive and cowardly Peter became the “rock” of Christ’s bride, the Church; founded by Christ, led by Peter and his successors, and promised to last until the end of time.

    These stories of conversion and change should provide great hope for us today. In spite of all our demons and fears and flaws and weaknesses, we, like Mary Magdalene and Peter, and all the other flawed disciples and followers, are also invited to enter the empty tomb, and to experience the resurrection…to begin a new side to our story.

    And although Christ’s resurrection is a historical event, it’s not just history…it is also a spiritual mystery.

    It’s a mystery in the sense that in the timelessness of eternity, what happened 2,000 years ago in our physical world, is just as assuredly happening now…at this present moment. In the timelessness of the spiritual world, if there is no time, the resurrection is now.

    It means that today we celebrate not what happened, but what is happening at this moment, and at every moment. He is not out there somewhere as a historical Jesus, He is in our hearts, in our very being, deep within us. This is the resurrection story. He is alive…He is alive in our hearts.

    And what is happening is God’s relentless desire to draw us to himself, through his son Jesus, in a deep and intimate way. To work within our hearts to conversion…to begin another side to our story.

    This Easter we celebrate with great joy that we are a people, called to conversion, gathered in faith, gifted in a spirit of holiness, and loved unconditionally, forever, to the end of time….warts and flaws and demons and all; and all of humanity included… he desires us all…and he desires all of us…all the time. Our proper response is simply to accept his invitation and to follow him…just like his early followers did.

    This is the other side of our story. This is the Easter story that changes everything, forever, for those who believe it and embrace it, and live it.

    May we all believe and embrace and accept Jesus’s calling to draw us to himself. This is our Easter joy... Easter joy to you all!

    Dn. John Cleveland 

  • March 27, 2018 7:23 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    If you have the same feeling as me, you are glad that winter has now “passed over,” that some of the earliest flowers will open, dawn occurs earlier each day, and we thank God for spring.” Pasch, April, and Easter all have their roots in this theme of spring when we celebrate the resurrection and life of the Son of God, Jesus the Christ. I can even make a case that Easter is appropriately on April Fool’s Day.

    Pasch is the word most traditionally used for Easter in memory of our Jewish roots through the Aramaic word pasha meaning “pass over,” thus celebrating Jesus as the new paschal lamb through which all of us can be reconciled and made whole as we come ever closer to being in full communion with God. The word Easter creeps in with its Old English and Germanic pagan roots (eastre) for a Goddess of the spring and (austron) for dawn respectively. Anglo-Saxon Christians adopted the name, and many of the practices for the Mass of Christ’s resurrection, thus fully transforming that which was pagan to the high point of the Christian liturgical year.

    Hopefully during this 50 day Easter season we can be more open (root meaning of the word April) to the reality of the resurrected Jesus as we once again sing Alleluia in “praise of Jehovah” for the grace given to us through the Son. In fleshing out the root meaning of the words we commonly use this time of year, it is far more important that each one of us not only wrap our heads around a resurrected Son of God, but also become the flesh and bone of Jesus’ presence in the world as the Body of Christ.

    So, if I have a vote for anything to be fools about this Easter, I vote that we be fools for Jesus.

    Dn Mick Humbert 

  • February 27, 2018 8:21 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    De Colores!

     This February our parish had the privilege of hosting two Cursillo weekends. As my pastor and I attended the men’s clausura, I was brought back to my own Cursillo experience two years ago as a seminarian. What an amazing thing to hear how men’s lives have been changed forever thanks to an encounter with Jesus Christ and His Church. As we know, that encounter is made real by the overwhelming outpouring of love that is shown to the retreatants. The love of Jesus Christ has the power to transform the world, if only we allow it to flow through our lives and actions.

     In one of the Gospel readings from daily Mass in Lent, Jesus describes the Last Judgment, when God will separate the sheep from the goats. The basis for each man’s verdict is summarized in five words: “YOU DID IT TO ME.” When we gave a drink to the thirsty, we did it to Him. When we failed to show love to our neighbor, we failed to do it to Him. Everything we do in life is counted as if done directly to God.

     I want to encourage all of you who volunteer your time and resources for the sake of Cursillo. Remember always that it is not merely for the sake of “paying it forward” that you do what you do. It is not merely to share the wonderful experience of fraternity and love that you received from your first Cursillo with a new generation of men and women. When you make sacrifices to serve retreatants on their first Cursillo, you are doing it for love of Jesus. That is the primary reason why Cursillo is so effective, and why your sacrifices have an eternal impact.

     As Cursillo continues to touch lives, may Jesus remain at its center, and may all our efforts be devoted to bringing souls into friendship with Him through an active sacramental life in the Catholic Church.

     May God continue to bless you! And in all that you do, remember Jesus’ words: You did it to me.

    -Fr Paul Haverstock

    Parochial vicar

    Parish of Saints Joachim and Anne 

  • January 24, 2018 8:25 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    After any cold and harsh winter of our soul, when darkness dominates over the light, a “springtime” or “longer daylight” as most root meanings of the word Lent point, is indeed welcome. Lent beckons each of us on a 40 day journey, as a reminder of the 40 year journey in the desert by the people of Israel, to spend time discerning, defining, and refining what we are called to become, what comes after any thawing of the soul. Along the way, we are to face that we are the tempted and the tempter, calling us back to Jesus’ 40 day reckoning with the temptation laid before him. Israel became a faith filled nation on their journey only after facing the worst within themselves. Jesus only became the light after facing the darkness available to himself. Our soul cannot thaw until we allow warmth and light to shine on the most harsh and frozen elements of our soul.

    Our baptism and repentance lie at the center of Lent. In Hebrew Scripture references, this penitence has to do with our sin and sorrow, while the Christian scriptures increasingly add the word “metanoia,” the element of transformational change of mind, attitude, and life direction. It is a turning away from something to something else; a thawing of the soul so that it can bring forth life. Therefore, during Lent, we are called to renew our baptismal vow, to turn away from that which lessens us toward that which gives life, as the Israelites and Jesus did in their sojourning into the desert as well.

    Quite a juxtaposition this year, with Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day falling on the same day. I leave it up to each of you to comment on the rewards or challenges of that coincidence. The 40 days of Lent, by most accounts, begins with Ash Wednesday and ends at Holy Thursday. Some savvy readers know, or by counting on a calendar realize, that consecutively the time span is more than 40 days. The Sundays are not counted because the theme of Sunday is focused not on ourselves but on Jesus, not on our thawing souls but on the warmth and light of Jesus’ resurrection. May these special 40 days allow you to discern and reflect on your life as a means of turning toward a better version of yourself, the better self that is your call in Baptism; and along the way, especially on Sundays, turn and celebrate the triumph we all find in Jesus.

    Oh, by the way, this year Easter and April Fools Day fall on the same day too...

    Dn Mick Humbert 

  • December 28, 2017 5:05 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

    It truly seems right to thank God for all that occurs in our lives and the lives of those we love. But as in most things in life, we have the best intentions, but from time to time we fall short.

    As I reflect on the past year and a half this reading from Thessalonians has special significance for me and my family.

    Spots on lung, biopsy, partial lung removal, diagnosis, Ewing’s Sarcoma, chemo therapy and all that goes with that.

    Cancer, the dreaded disease, has invaded my body. Feelings of anger, uncertainty, helplessness, dread, worry, fear, and of course, “why me”? Fear of death, oh yeah! Fear of what will happen to my loved ones, absolutely.

    It’s a tumult of emotions, it feels like quicksand and it’s hard to get your footing.

    If only halfheartedly, I did pray and asked God to heal me. I don’t think it was a crisis of faith, but it did test it.

    To my surprise it didn’t take long for God to speak to me. Soon after my diagnosis I was walking with Susan in a nature area near our house. It was a sunny day and we had stopped for a rest. I asked Susan, “do you think I am going to die”? She didn’t miss a beat, and as I recall she looked at me like I had two heads, and said an emphatic NO. Well, she’s my wife, what else could she say? Soon after my sister Sharon told me that she had been praying for me and God told her that it would all end up good. Then my brother-in-law David, a retired pulmonologist, and my sister Jan came for a visit. He offered me good advice, “don’t fight the treatment, keep your faith.”

    I put my skepticism aside and chose to believe that God was speaking to me through these two lovely women and man in my life. From that point on it became easier to deal with what was coming up.

    My prayer to God was different. I still whined to Him but my whining was filled with hope.

    A year and one half after my diagnosis and chemo, and many bumps in the road, I still have hope that I will continue to heal.

    It has brought me closer to God than I thought was possible. At some point, I began to thank God for this life challenge because it brings me closer to Him and those whom I love.

    Most days I have no fear of death. I truly believe that if I live or die through this experience I come out a winner. There are bumps on that road too. At times my conviction waivers. Usually it comes about as family gathers. My fear of what will happen to Susan and the gang if I die gives me pause.

    When that happens a dear wise deacon friend’s wisdom brings me back to reality. He said, they are God’s children and he will take care of them. What a wonderful, comforting, piece of wisdom that is – thank you Deacon John.

    My last scan was cancer free. I suppose I will always dread the CT scan, human nature I guess.

    I no longer think “why me,” but rather “why not me.” Who am I that I should be so special that God would spare me from this disease?

    God has blessed me with many people who have prayed for me, continue to pray for me, send me cards, and offer me hope. My family has been loving, encouraging and supportive. It has truly made the difference. I am humbled and grateful.

    Praise God!

    Dn Rod Palmer

  • November 30, 2017 7:43 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    Advent is a preparatory season, an adventure of sorts.

    Advent is a season observed in many Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The word 'Advent' is from the Latin 'Adventus,' which means 'coming.'

    We are called to discern and to celebrate a threefold anticipation of God in our lives:

    • We prepare to celebrate the anniversary of the incarnate God of love coming into the world in Jesus.
    • We prepare ourselves, our souls, for becoming the indwelling of the Holy Spirit more and more.
    • And thereby we increasingly prepare ourselves to become worthy of our eternal home; the God of joy and love eagerly awaiting our return.

    Advent is the beginning of a new liturgical year (in the Western churches), and encompasses the span of time from the fourth Sunday before Christmas, until the Nativity of Our Lord is celebrated. The first Sunday of Advent is the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle (which is November 30th), and so it will always fall somewhere between November 27th at the earliest and December 3rd at the latest.

    While the earliest traditions around the Advent Season were mainly penitential, similar to that of Lent, today we prepare for the coming of our Lord’s anniversary historically, into our lives personally, and of our final destiny with God to come.

    During Liturgy, traditional purple vestments are worn, although deep blue/indigo has emerged in recent decades. Purple is the color of discernment and preparation, while indigo is the color of the winter sky at sunrise, and thereby a color signifying Jesus’ life, mission, and legacy rising into our lives historically, personally, and forever more.

    In Cursillo-speak, you may wish to contemplate the three-legged stool this Advent season. Feel Jesus coming into your life personally through piety. Ponder the coming anniversary of Jesus in history in your study. Finally, know that Jesus’ legacy will live on forever more through your actions on behalf of others. Indeed, this holy season can be an adventure.

    Dn Mick Humbert

  • October 26, 2017 8:09 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    During the month of November we are called in a special way to “… remember our brothers and sisters who have gone to their rest in the peace of Christ.” (Eucharistic Prayer II) In response to that prayer we inscribe in a book of remembrance in our own parish the name(s) of our loved one(s) to be remembered in prayer this month.

    The loss of a loved one is a unique experience for the person going through it. As such, it demands that we listen carefully and have a compassionate presence. I don’t think the human person could survive the loss of a loved one without memories. It would be too great a shock to the human psyche and soul. We need to be able to remember the many fine experiences and values that the person stood for.

    In its ancient wisdom the Church has rituals and feast days that celebrate the memory of those whom we have lost through death. In our Catholic Tradition we have the feasts of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day. It is a way in which we honor our loved ones and those who have gone before us. It is a way of witnessing the Communion of Saints. It is a way of saying that we are a part of a greater whole; the mystical body of Christ. Death has no hold over this reality. It transcends death.

    On All Saints Day we commemorate all those who have attained the beatific vision in Heaven. This is the “church triumphant.” On All Souls Day we commemorate the faithful departed who have not yet been purified and reached heaven. This is the “church penitent.” Catholics celebrate All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the fundamental belief that there is a prayerful spiritual communion between those who have died and those who are living, the “church militant.”

    On All Souls’ Day we remember all those who have passed from this world and especially those we knew and loved. We recall them with a deep love and loss, but time has helped to heal the hurt and we can now see from a better perspective. As the book of life is thrown open, it helps us to think ahead to our own eternal departure time. At death the whole of our life is revealed to us and at an unexpected depth. We realize that the future is not ours and we must rely on others to fulfill the things that we were not able to complete.

    Death ends a life but not a relationship. Our spouses, children, family and friends who have died before us are still in relationship with us. We join them in our spiritual bond to the person of Christ. We memorialize what they stood for. In prayer we communicate with them and finish all the conversations and reconciliations left undone. That is truly the “Communion of Saints.”

    In support groups, journalizing, visits to the grave, memorial services and other rituals, we cope with the loss and enhance the relationship. We believe in the communion of saints. Through faith we are offered immortality with Christ and all the communion of saints. Yes, we echo that ancient phrase, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”

    Fr. Al Backmann

  • September 28, 2017 7:55 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    Change is the essence, and I will add, essential component of not only life, but that of discipleship in Jesus. Though essential, I am not saying change is easy. While it is the drumbeat of life and discipleship, my main question for what follows is: are we listening to that drumbeat and willing to dance? If you look up the word change in the dictionary you will see French, Latin, and Celtic references to root meanings such as "to substitute one for another,” to “alter; exchange, switch," to "bend, crook;” and from the Irish reference to “prisoner” meaning "to take off clothes and put on other ones.”

    In church-speak, the topic would be repentance, transformation, and reformation of one’s life to which Jesus dedicated His ministry. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the good news!” (Mark 1:15) Repent comes from two sources: Hebrew for “to feel sorrow” and Greek word Metanoia meaning to “change of mind and heart.”

    There is the human temptation to stay in the unchanging and sorrow filled state of our brokenness by either rationalizing it away or wallow-ing in it. But the essence of change, of repentance, of metanoia is that there is an after, an alteration, a reformation of self through the grace of God.

    Ok, so much for the academic discourse. My question for you to ponder: are you listening and willing to dance with change? Consider some of the following:

    That your baptism is more than you becoming a member of the Christian club, but membership comes with an anointing to be a disciple in the environments of your life.

    That your confirmation was not a graduation of understanding in a moment, but the beginning of your standing with your God in all things of your life.

    That marriage is more than a wedding day of happy ever afters, but a sign and symbol of God’s grace amidst the changes that occur within a life-long relationship.

    That a Cursillo weekend is not the “it,” but an opportunity to become closer to Christ and accountable for one’s discipleship through Group Reunions.

    That Group Reunions are not to be closed minded, but an eager willingness to not only change over time by adding apostolic actions externally but also welcoming new members internally.

    While you take an opportunity this fall to change your clothes, to listen to the rustling in the trees, and dance at least once in a pile of leaves, may you ponder more deeply the drumbeat of change that Jesus is calling you to each day of your life.

    Dn Mick Humbert

  • August 31, 2017 8:44 PM | Cursillo Communications (Administrator)

    As Back to School sales have been in full swing since the 5th of July, it feels like summer is beginning to transition into autumn. We can almost feel the summertime slowness begin to transition into the stress, tension, and frenzy of fall.

    My invitation to you this Fall is we take a slice of summer slowness with you into August and September. And I need to follow my own advice!

    I recently read two articles in the Minneapolis newspaper, one in Janu-ary, and the other in June on the same theme: one on “The Slow Move-ment” and the other on “Slow Art Day”, an international event on the first Saturday of April each year. “The Slow Movement, once only about food is also about slow travel, slow books, slow cities, slow crafts, slow money, slow coffee.” Canadian Journalist Carl Honoré writes in his book, “In Praise of Slow” these telling words: “Fast is busy, controlling, aggres-sive, hurried, analytical, stressed, superficial, impatient, active, quantity-over-quality. Slow is the opposite: calm, careful, receptive, still, intuitive, unhurried, patient, reflective, quality-over-quantity.”

    Those last nine words sound awfully contemplative to me. It describes the right brain, affective versus effective experience of life.

    Your homework? Something you can discuss in your small groups? For the “rest of the summer” and beyond, practice slowing down, that is, giving your activity full attention at the moment in order to be trained to receive the gift of God’s grace when his grace shows up in your life:

    Do slow hobbies:

    knitting, painting, woodworking, bird watching, gardening, baking, etc,.

    Try slow travel:

    stay in one place or do a staycation rather than going on a complicated vacation and getting stressed trying to see too many things.

    Slow relationships and parenting:

    savor and deepen with your family and friends; take time to “encounter” the other by going on a date night with your spouse or go to a local park and just be.

    Sunday is Christian Slow Day par excellence:

    practice your slow hobbies on this day which should be filled with contemplative leisure.

    Slow Fine Arts (Music, Dance, Visual Arts, Film):

    Guess how long the average person spends with beholding one of the world’s most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa? About 15 seconds. Yes, I know the painting is a lot smaller than you thought it would be and there are 1,000 other people taking pictures but 15 seconds? Go to the MIA and don’t try to see every thing. Concentrate on enjoying fewer works of art at a slower pace. Meditating on the masterpieces of Scripture or the Mass are not boring in themselves! It’s just that our attention spans are so short and we do not delve into them with suitable depth. Slow Nature: A brother priest once told me that Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote that that we ought to “adopt the pace of nature.” It takes a while for flowers to grow and for wheat to be ripened for harvest. Nature is reality as it is without man embellishing it or making it better somehow. Enjoy what is already there—trying not adding music of media or superficial conversation, but just be effortlessly affected by reality.

    Watch the movie:

    “Into Great Silence” which evokes a powerful re- sponse of impatience in the viewer.

    I guarantee you that these human skills will help prepare you to be effective receivers of the Gift of God’s Grace. Prayer and spiritual direction are truly slow activities! Sometimes agonizingly slow for me and for many. But practicing, noticing, and staying with and receiving, and gazing are all essential skills for detecting God’s presence and action in your life. These skills will greatly help make your prayer much more interactive and attentive to the voice of the Lord when he speaks in your life. I can still hear echoing in my soul my professor for my Spiritual Direction post-Practicum class at Creighton saying in her fine Jersey accent, “Slow!” Prayer is less about productivity as it is about receptivity -active receptivity-to the Grace of God, in whatever form it takes, to encourage us and strengthen us in our spiritual journey.

    Fr Rolf Tollefson

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