Openness to Christian Community

At every stage of our developmental growth from childhood to adult, we become ourselves through the others in our lives—our parents, our teachers, our friends, our spouses, our mentors and spiritual guides. Probably we can all look back at some juncture in our lives and say to ourselves: “How I wish I could have been more open to so and so!”

Grace builds on nature. “Where two or three are gathered in my Name, there I am.” And powerfully so. Beware of entering into Christian community: beautiful and won-derful things can happen. Christ’s Spirit operates on us through others. If we are open!

Our Cursillo Weekend was an experience of Spirit-empowerment through Christian community. Despite the fact that we were told that the Weekend was not a retreat, in our heads we thought of it as a retreat. We discovered that it was an encounter with a Spirit-driven community. On our Weekend, we were drawn gradually, almost effortlessly, into the community. Spirit-empowerment came easy.

In some ways our Cursillo Weekend spoiled us. We expect to be overwhelmed by the power of community, and instead find ourselves underwhelmed. The big difference now is that we must consciously and deliberately choose to be open to the Spirit’s presence and power in our community. The need to choose to be open can be better appreciated if we understand our human condition. We must experience inner freedom to be open to the workings of the Spirit in our lives. It is as if we are closed in on ourselves, and we need a miracle to open us up. Christian community is involved in the miracle of inner freedom and empowerment, the gifts of the Spirit.

Openness is being fully present to others to receive their gifts of the Spirit to us. Openness is being willing to change—our attitudes toward God, self, others, life. The Spirit does not operate in complacency. Openness is being willing to take risks, to be vulnerable; perhaps to reveal in group reunion something that we are not comfortable with. Openness is the willingness to do the uncomfortable; for example, to speak in public. Openness is approaching community with the expectancy that you will experience the Spirit’s empowerment.

Openness happens especially when we have experienced inner change. All of a sudden, due to our altered state, we understand what we have not understood before. We perceive what we could not perceive before. Reality has not changed; we have changed. We are looking at reality through another pair of eyes.

What are the obstacles to openness? Mental blocks—she is only a woman or he is only a man. Misperceptions—religion is all about conformity to laws or spirituality is only for New Agers. Willful obstinacy—we don’t want to accept new ideas, new perceptions, new visions because we would have to change present attitudes, and therefore unconsciously we render ourselves incapable of understanding them.

Another obstacle to openness is our attitude toward ourselves. In Gregory Baum’s book, Man Becoming, the author states that if we perceive ourselves as static, unchangeable, complete, we lock out the Spirit from our lives. Each of us is in the process of becoming, and the Spirit is deeply involved in that process.

The Holy Spirit has given Cursillo a special charism—Spirit-empowerment through Christian community. It does not work automatically. We must perceive it as a gift that our Cursillo community can give us. We must hunger for it. We must be open to it.

Openness to the power of community is essential to our own personal spiritual development, and it is essential to the development of a truly Christian community.