Essential Intention

When a suitor meets his girl’s parents and they ask him: “What are your intentions?” he had better have the right answer. Intention is the all important force in our lives that leads us to right or wrong actions. Likewise, intention is vital for a deeper, more meaningful spiritual life.

Our intention thrusts us into a stimulating psychological zone, the zone of willful seeing, the zone of the “third eye” that empowers us to see more, to discover more. It opens our hearts to insight and fires up our energies. Of course, intention implies a life vision. Vision drives our attitudes, values and intentionality, all of which determine how we act.

We have many life visions for the many different aspects of our lives. Late in life I find my life visions converging into one simple vision. That the really important experiences in life are all about transformation.  I have concluded: my overriding life vision should have been one of transformation. For that is the essential vision that generates our essential intention of seeking enlightenment and growth.

Living with that essential intention would have driven me a lot sooner to encounter life, confront life with such questions as: how are my life events and experiences transforming me into a fuller human being, into a deeper spiritual life?

Take the Good News of Jesus. It is all about transformation. His message: life is not about amassing prestige, power, possessions. It is about transforming our life vision into his life vision. How could I have missed that message? Lack of the essential intention for transformation!

Most of my life I have struggled with the ritual of our Eucharistic Celebrations. Jesus’ Love Meal has been so well hidden in the Liturgy of the Mass that it has taken me a lifetime to discover it. And Jesus’ Love Meal is all about transformation of us into the Beloved Community. How could I have missed that vision? Lack of the essential intention for transformation!

My wife and I will celebrate 55 years of marriage in September 2012. Only recently have I realized that marriage is all about transformation. 2,000 years ago in his Dialogues of Love, the pagan Roman historian Plutarch described the transformation process that takes place in committed married lives. How could I have missed that vision? Lack of the essential intention for transformation!

The famous Jesuit writer, Fr. Bernard Lonergan wrote: “…conversion {or transformation} is the experience by which one becomes an authentic human being.” If I were to choose one word to describe the essence of the spiritual life, I would select: “Transformation!”

Today, that is my core understanding of Cursillo. Cursillo is a short course in transformation—transformation of self and society. That was the vision of the Cursillo founders. How could I have missed that vision? Lack of the essential intention for transformation!

An Indian guru once said: “Transform yourself and you will transform the world.” Fr. Richard Rohr in his book, The Naked Now, writes: “Remember, it is only transformed people who have the power to transform others.” The Cursillo founders understood that principle. It is strongly implied in what they have given us: the Weekend talks, the Cursillo tripod, and Cursillo’s community support programs—all tools for transformation.

First, take the talks. Every talk on the Weekend is intended to transform the candidates’ life vision. Let us focus on the goals of just the Friday talks. Change candidates’ attitude:

  • from an unexamined life to searching for the ideal life vision.
  • from an abstract notion of God to a vital, loving relationship with God.
  • from a notional attitude toward Jesus to a real devotion to Jesus.
  • from believing that the impossible dream of the Christian Vision is the possible dream.
  • from a negative attitude toward holiness to commitment to holiness as their enabling force to live a fully human life, a fully Christian life.

How could we have missed those visionary messages? Lack of the essential intention for transformation!

Second, the Cursillo founders gave us the tripod of holiness or piety, formation or study, and evangelization or action intended to transform Cursillistas’ lives. It is a dynamic process with three elements—with the fire of holiness driving the process. Our growth in holiness fires up our desire to search for ways to deepen our holiness. Together holiness and formation drive us to spread the Good News to others. And our evangelization of others transforms us into contemplatives in action.

This dynamic process is all about transformation. The essential intention for transformation will help Cursillistas discover that the Cursillo Tripod is not a static, mechanical device. Not a spiritual shopping list. Not a report card. They will discover that the Spirit operates through the tripod. They will discover the tripod is a dynamic process of transformation.

Third, the Cursillo founders gave us Cursillo’s community support programs of Ultreya and Group Reunion. They are intended to help Cursillistas in the process of transformation. Can you imagine what the dynamics of these communal experiences would be like, if we all envisioned them as invitations to transformation? Why haven’t we realized this sooner? Lack of the essential intention for transformation!

In brief, Cursillo is a short course in transformation—transformation of self and society! But we need the essential vision and intention of transformation to make it happen. This essential vision and intention will re-create and re-vitalize our lives and Cursillo and the world around us!