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Renewing Cursillo

Two factors call Cursillo to renewal. First, in the 1940’s the Cursillo founders created our Movement to draw young men in Spain to Apostolic Action. They had to keep it simple. So they gave them an Action Plan, an unforgettable Weekend experience and a methodology to live their Cursillo Vision. A very sound psychological approach for the times and their young audience. But more is needed today.

Second, the Catholic Church itself has undergone renewal through Vatican ll to bring Catholics into a more mature, adult practice of their faith. Remember that when the founders created Cursillo, they did not have the advantage of Vatican ll. Or the inspiration of the Charismatic Movement in the 1960’s which opened the Church’s eyes to the Holy Spirit. Or the Church’s newly discovered Resurrection spirituality in the 1990’s. The Church has evolved. Can Cursillo do less? Cursillo needs a spirituality that embraces these advances in theology and spirituality.

Renewal does not mean abandoning Cursillo’s legacy. It requires discovering the implicit spirituality at the heart of the Movement and discerning the intentions of the Cursillo founders. Using this approach, we discover their deep appreciation for the Holy Spirit’s role in empowering the Movement and we perceive three powerful spiritual engines that drive the Movement. They are: the Holiness Engine, the Community Engine and the Evangelization Engine.

First, let us focus on Cursillo’s Evangelization Engine. Note: I am calling the Cursillo tripod  Cursillo’s Evangelization Engine—the familiar Holiness (Piety), Formation (Study) and Evangelization (Action).

The first requirement for Cursillo’s renewal? Realize that the Cursillo tripod is not a checklist of spiritual duties to be followed. Rather, it is a Spiritualization Process. Cursillistas must call upon the Spirit to set in motion the Process. Otherwise, we do the spiritual unspiritually. This dynamic Process is the Spirit at work in us. It is the Spirit who awakens our hearts to desire Holiness. It is the Spirit who enlightens us through Formation. It is the Spirit who incites us to Evangelization.

The result? The Spirit makes things happen. We discover that our pursuit of Holiness is the fire that drives our Spiritualization Process  We discover that our quest for Holiness and Formation activities ignite one another. We discover that together they arouse our desire to Evangelize, and our Evangelization efforts vitalize our Holiness and Formation. For when we evangelize others, we discover that we evangelize ourselves most of all. Put the Spirit into the Process!

The second requirement for Cursillo’s renewal?  Realize that the Cursillo community methodology of Group Reunion and Ultreya are added forms of the Spiritualization Process—the Spirit transforming us through others. Otherwise, Cursillo could become Club Cursillo, or simply intent on methodology. Put the Spirit into the Process. Put the Spirit into Cursillo’s Group Reunions and Ultreyas!

The result? Cursillistas are incited to expect the Spirit’s presence and operation in their communities. That expectancy will produce wonderful experiences. Through our Ultreyas and Group Reunion we will experience personal and spiritual growth in our on-going Spiritualization Process of Holiness, Formation and Evangelization. We will be moved to greater Apostolic Action.

The third requirement for Cursillo renewal is to power up our Holiness Engine. Unlike the other two spiritual engines, we have had to create it from scratch. Why? Because before Vatican ll, the Church held out Holiness as a life vision only for those in religious life, the state of perfection. It took Vatican ll to open up Holiness to all. However, in the article, Recapturing the Vision of the Cursillo Founders, which can be found under this blog’s heading, Founder’s Endorsement, our Cursillo Weekend experience was used to create our Holiness model with its seven virtues. Msgr. Sebastian Gayá, the priest/founder of Cursillo, endorsed this approach in an email, also on this blog.

However, we need to take a fresh look at the seven virtues and see them as our Holiness Engine’s powerful cylinders. First, note that the Church has focused almost exclusively on the Historical Jesus. That left the Holy Spirit as the Forgotten God. The Risen Jesus has been treated as an historical fact, rather than the source of empowering spirituality. We need a threefold spirituality based on all the dimensions of Jesus—the Historical Jesus, the Risen Jesus and Jesus’ Spirit—to fuel Cursillo’s spiritual engines.

For Cursillo’s model of holiness, we will use this chart of Vision, Values and Practice. Vision represents our attitudes toward Jesus in all his dimensions—Historical Jesus, Risen Jesus, Jesus’s Spirit. Values are the virtues needed to live our threefold spirituality; and Practice, the activities that flow from this spirituality. Let’s look at the seven Cursillo virtues in this light:

  • God-centeredness—The Historical Jesus revealed God to us and a new way of life. Jesus’ revelation helps us to move from an Ego-centered life to a God-centered life, our first conversion. We begin to see all through the eyes of God—ourselves, others, life, creation. We discover that this way of life fulfills our deepest heart wishes. It is a virtue that we have to work at constantly.
  • Compassion—The Historical Jesus chose a life mission of compassion for the wounded in society. But Jesus took his compassion to a whole new level—beyond mere pity. Those Jesus healed saw him as a person fully present to them, with a caring heart and attentive mind. Jesus is our model and empowerer of deep compassion for others.
  • Spirit-Dependency—The Spirit gifts us with faith that gives us an intelligence and vision that no human reasoning can provide. The Spirit grants us the strength of hope beyond human expectations. The Spirit inspires us to be generous givers beyond any human measure. We need to depend and call upon the Spirit to live the Cursillo Vision.
  • Courage to Act—The Spirit is our Higher Power who strengthens us for courageous Apostolic Action. But it is not the courage of the foolhardy or the power hungry. It is a faith-based courage that always translates itself into courageous action and even risk-taking. We need to ask the Spirit to transform us into bold evangelizers to transform our environments.
  • Discipline—The Spirit is our coach and trainer who carries on a Divine Dialogue with us to help us discern both the holy and unholy movements of our hearts. Discipline is to the spiritual life what training is to the athlete, or practice is to the musician or dancer. We need to keep in touch with the Spirit and ask for help.
  • Openness to Community—The Risen Jesus sends his Spirit to inspire us through others, if we are open. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am,” promised the Risen Jesus. And powerfully so. Our Cursillo communities of Group Reunion and Ultreya are occasions for our Spirit-empowerment. Before meetings, let us practice openness of heart.
  • Faith in Community—In making community the occasion for Spirit- empowerment, the Risen Jesus empowers us to greater faith in communal prayer and action. We must be believers in the power of prayer. We must practice Palanca to open others to the Spirit in them. We must act with boldness as a community, knowing that the Spirit is our Higher Power.

The Cursillo founders have given us a great legacy—the building blocks to create a Spirit-driven spirituality. We have drawn out Cursillo’s three spiritual engines from their resources. And we have created a threefold spirituality based on Jesus in all his dimensions to fuel those spiritual engines.

In the Gospels, we read of the land owner who provided his stewards with talents to invest for him while he was on a journey. The fearful steward hid his talent in the ground. Isn’t that what we are doing when we imitate slavishly the Cursillo founders’ original methodology? Should we not be using their legacy to renew Cursillo into a Spirit-driven Movement for our times? Remember: if Cursillo is renewed, we will be renewed.