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.

Fueling Cursillo’s Engines

In the article, “Recapturing the Vision of the Cursillo Founders” which appears under the Founder’s Endorsement on this blog’s opening page, three spiritual engines were identified as driving the Cursillo Movement—the Holiness Engine, the Community Engine and the Evangelization Engine. The question remains: What fuels these three spiritual engines?

The short answer? The fuel of spirituality. The spiritual formation process described in this program invites us to fuel up our spiritual engines. A Resurrection-based spirituality is presented that focuses on helping us to develop deep relationships with all the dimensions of Jesus—the Historical Jesus, the Risen Jesus and the Spirit of Jesus–for an integrated and dynamic spirituality. It is this threefold spirituality that provides the high octane fuel to drive Cursillo’s three powerful spiritual engines of growth.

1. Holiness Engine.The Spirit powers our Holiness Engine through invitations to us to grow in faith in God, in the Historical/Risen Jesus and in the Spirit himself. What happens when we accept the Spirit’s invitations? We grow in the seven Cursillo virtues that we have identified as Cursillistas’ path to holiness:

  • We grow in faith in God which leads us increasingly to God-centeredness, our breakthrough conversion from self-centeredness and our lifetime pursuit.
  • We grow in faith in the Spirit which leads us to greater dependency on the Spirit for empowerment, to greater courage to complete Jesus’ mission, and to greater power to live the discipline of love.
  • We grow in faith in the Historical/Risen Jesus which leads us to greater compassion for others and to greater faith in the presence of the Risen Jesus in community as the source of Spirit-empowerment, strengthening our faith in community prayer and action.

Holiness is simply the Holy Spirit inviting us to deepen our relationship with Jesus in all his dimensions, and our gradual, increasing acceptance of those invitations. Further, the practice of Spirit-centered spirituality awakens us to the Divine Dialogue between God and ourselves. Imagine: God dialogues with us! The greatest story NEVER told!

As the star salesman in Music Man said, “You gotta know the territory.” The territory is our deepest, positive feelings. Here God calls us to make changes in our lives for greater growth and to live more creatively and fully. But you gotta know the discernment process! A deep relationship with the Spirit is absolutely essential: “Human life is Christian life in the measure that it is lived under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of Christ,” writes Fr. Jules Toner, SJ.

2. Community Engine.The Risen Jesus powers our Community Engine. He sacramentalized Christian community, and so we can grow our spirituality with one another (Group Reunion, Ultreya, Leaders School) through Spirit-empowerment. Our Community Engine requires the high power energy of both Spirit-centered and Incarnational (Resurrection) spiritualities.

  • The practice of Incarnational spirituality enables us to grow in faith in the promise of the Risen Jesus to be present with us whenever we gather in community in his name. We need the faith that the Risen Jesus here and now penetrates our communities. We must believe that the Risen Jesus still penetrates closed doors and rooms, closed minds and hearts to gift us with his peace and the Spirit’s powers.
  • The practice of Spirit-centered spirituality can power our communities to become Spirit-driven, growth-oriented and evangelizing communities—the signs of truly dynamic Christian communities Cursillistas must come to believe that Cursillo possesses a special charism—Spirit-empowerment through Christian community.

Cursillistas must come to their meetings with the expectancy that that the Spirit will empower them to grow individually and as members of a community. Cursillistas must come to their meetings with a hunger for spiritual growth, knowing that we are all in the development process powered by the Spirit. And Cursillistas must leave their meetings with the desire to spread the Good News to others.

Otherwise, Cursillo communities can degenerate into Club Cursillos (social organizations) if they are not driven by people who are sensitive to the presence and guidance of the Spirit, the gift of the Risen Jesus. And when events call for change requiring communal decision-making and discernment, its success will depend on the daily practice of personal discernment of the Spirit’s directions by the individuals involved. Cursillo is a spiritual enterprise: we need the Spirit as guide and mentor.

3.  Evangelization Engine. This is our dynamic growth process engine of holiness, formation and evangelization. It takes all three spiritualities to drive the Evangelization Engine. Here we will focus on evangelization:

Become evangelizers. We don’t wake up one morning and decide that we are evangelizers. Becoming an evangelizer is a process that begins with our first efforts at evangelization. Our Christ-centered spirituality focusing on the Historical Jesus helps us to put on the mind and heart of Jesus.

Jesus was a fully integrated person. He could be an idealist, but he could also be a Good Samaritan. He      could be an achiever but also an optimist. He could be a  searcher for wisdom but also a feeling person. He could be serene, and loyal to institutions, but also a bold leader who could confront the establishment. As such, Jesus is an ideal model of an evangelist for us. To be successful at evangelization,we must become the fully integrated person that Jesus was.

Most importantly, to become evangelizers, we must become fired up by the love and compassion for others that drove Jesus. Jesus demonstrated the ultimate possibilities of love by showing how far love can drive a person. Jesus revealed God as radical love and manifested God’s radical love in a radical way, becoming our Crucified Lover. In so doing, Jesus gave us a life vision based on radical love, on the primacy of love.

Proclaim the Good News. When Jesus came out of the river Jordan anointed by the Spirit, he became a man passionate about his mission. The Spirit, who was a continuous presence in Jesus’ life, had called forth Jesus’ radical faith, hope and love which transformed him into a kerygmatic evangelizer (an absolutely confident proclaimer of the Good News). Jesus’ holy partnership with the Spirit is another case of the greatest story NEVER told. Jesus lived a Spirit-centered spirituality. To proclaim the Good News, we need the fire of the Spirit. We need the Spirit as our inner guide and mentor. It is the Spirit who will put the right words into our mouths and it is the Spirit who will open up the hearts of those we are striving to evangelize.

Be Jesus to Others. Evangelizing is more than what we do or say to others: it is being the Risen Jesus to others, manifesting the Risen Jesus to others, carrying on Jesus’ ongoing Incarnation. It is in the Program’s Incarnation-centered Spirituality that we discover that Jesus did not live on earth for just 33 years and then disappeared into heaven. Jesus lives on in us. It is in Incarnation-centered spirituality that we discover that as members of Christ’s Body, we are empowered to carry on the work of Jesus. What Jesus did, we can do. Through the presence of Jesus in us, we are empowered to be sacraments of peace, healing and forgiveness to others, as Jesus was in his times. Another case of the greatest story NEVER told!

What we have said is that this threefold spirituality described in this program provides the high octane fuel to drive Cursillo’s three powerful spiritual engines of growth. Christian spirituality is all about Jesus. Spiritual formation is all about discovering Jesus in all his dimensions. But we cannot stop at our new knowledge.

We must practice union with the Historical Jesus in our prayer, study and actions because Jesus’ whole life on earth was sacramentalized by the Risen Jesus and is a source of empowerment for us. We must practice Resurrection with the Risen Jesus by looking upon all of life with a Resurrection mindset. And we must practice Pentecost with the Spirit of Jesus by calling upon the Spirit for wisdom and courage in our daily lives.

Without this threefold spirituality, Cursillo’s spiritual engines run on empty. With this threefold spirituality, Cursillo’s engines roar and Jesus’ mission gets accomplished.

If our pursuit of holiness deepens our faith in God, in the Historical/Risen Jesus and the Spirit, and if evangelization fires up our love of others, then our striving for spiritual formation produces hope in us. And hope energizes our faith and love. As we penetrate more and more the mystery of Jesus through spiritual formation, leading us to increasingly practice the fruits of our search, we become more immersed in hope. Spiritual formation is the dynamic catalyst of the spiritual life, and consequently of the Cursillo Movement itself.

Practice Pentecost

It was by the power of the Holy Spirit that Christ was raised up from the dead at his resurrection and brought back to life.  It was by the anointing of the Holy Spirit that Jesus received the power at the river Jordan to enter public life and work miracles, even casting out devils. Jesus promised his disciples that power from above would be sent down upon them in the form of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the Spirit is our Higher Power. Practicing Pentecost is working at connecting with our Higher Power, who will point us not to himself but to the Jesus in the Jesus Process, the mirror and image of God.

Practice Risk-taking.  When the Spirit rouses our consciousness of social injustice, or calls us to reach out to others to change their life vision or when the Spirit prompts us to move to a different place in our pursuit of holiness, spiritual formation or evangelization, we are faced with the challenge of risk taking. Every move from the accepted, the established, the ingrained requires the practice of risk taking. But we are also faced with the opportunity to connect with our Higher Power. The natural human tendency is to pretend that the social injustice does not exist or that is the responsibility of others. Or we may want to avoid the imagined embarrassment if someone does not respond to our evangelization. Or we may simply not want to try something new. Practice risk-taking. Practice Pentecost.

Practice Awareness. We can’t connect with our Higher Power unless we are aware of the presence and operation of the Spirit in our lives.  We can practice Pentecost by being aware of the Divine Dialogue that God constantly conducts with us. God initiates dialogue with us through the situations and events of our individual and community life to let us know what he wants of us. God does not speak to us in words but in the deep, positive movements of our hearts. And it is the Spirit within us who judges our choices, letting us know whether we have correctly read God’s messages to us. Usually we receive some confirmation through an interior experience of peace and joy.

We can also initiate dialogue with the Spirit. In our Group Reunions we share where the Spirit is leading us in our pursuit of holiness, spiritual formation and evangelization. As a Pentecost practice, we could ask the Spirit these questions at the beginning of each day. This practice would enhance our awareness of the Spirit’s role in our lives and would focus our attention on our path of growth.

It is good practice to review at the end of the day on how we have responded to the Spirit’s prompts to love God and others more. The Jesuits call this practice the Awareness Examen, which is described in this program.  St. Ignatius of Loyola considered this practice as perhaps the most important spiritual exercise after the Eucharist. Practice awareness. Practice Pentecost.

Practice Prayer. Much of our lived experiences involve making decisions to get us through difficulties and to make the most of opportunities for growth. Decision time is Spirit time. It is at these times that we should make a practice of connecting with the power and presence of the Spirit and invoking his enlightenment. We need to pray for the Spirit’s help and then allow time to pass. Then return to prayer and earnestly entreat the Spirit to help us peacefully make our decision.

The Cursillo founders believed that the mystery of Christ could not be understood without the light and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We are taught the Come Holy Spirit prayer on our Cursillo Weekend and this prayer should be on our lips daily for the rest of our lives. Practice prayer to the Spirit. Practice Pentecost.

Practice Union with Jesus

We have said that living the spiritual life is a life lived in the Jesus Process. We have defined the Jesus Process as the Risen Christ transforming Jesus’ lived experience on earth into a power source, out of which the Risen Christ gifts us with his Spirit who empowers us to live lives of faith, hope and love.

Now let us ask ourselves: How do we live the reality of the Jesus Process? The simple answer is: Practice union with the historical Jesus in whatever you do in the spiritual life. Practice resurrection with the Risen Christ. Practice empowerment with the Spirit. Not as isolated practices but each flowing from the other in the dynamics of the Jesus Process. Here we will focus just on practicing union with the historical Jesus.

The Cursillo Tripod defines what we do in the spiritual life. Can we apply the Jesus Process to the living of this growth model? Our pursuit of holiness, formation and evangelization are in fact encounters with the Jesus Process. Being a fully human being, Jesus had to grow through this growth model as he grew in wisdom, age and grace, prompted and supported by the Holy Spirit. As the Risen Christ, Jesus perpetuates his developmental process, so that Jesus can now invite us into the Jesus Process of his growth experience.

The reality of the Jesus Process transforms the Cursillo growth process for holiness, formation and evangelization from simply a methodology based on good human psychology into a personal relationship or encounter with Jesus. Previously we defined these terms in the abstract and set them up as a model to live by. But what the reality of the Jesus Process does is to encourage us to unite ourselves with Jesus in his search for holiness, in his efforts for spiritual formation and in his efforts at evangelization. Jesus invites us to experience with him his lived experience of his developmental process and his evangelization activities as here and now experiences.

Practice Union in Holiness. Before praying the Vision for Life prayer, unite with Jesus imagining him praying to obtain God-centeredness: “My God, be the center of my life. Let me see all through Your eyes. Let me see myself as beloved by You from all eternity.” Then let Jesus lead you to the Risen Christ’s resurrection and the Spirit’s empowerment. Before attempting to grow in any virtue such as compassion for others or dependency on the Spirit, or before entering into any prayer, let Jesus lead the way.

Before Mass unite with Jesus at the Last Supper when he washed the feet of the apostles and gave himself as self-gift to us in the Eucharist, truly a love feast. Let the Risen Christ transform that historical event into an ongoing love feast and empower us with the Spirit to make it a here and now experience for us to love Jesus and others more.

Practice Union in Spiritual Formation. Before spending time studying scripture, performing spiritual reading, or attending retreats or lectures to form ourselves in the spiritual life, let us unite with the historical Jesus. Imagine Jesus unfurling the scrolls of the Old Testament and spending much time studying them in an effort to discover His identity and mission. Again, let Jesus lead you in your pursuit of spiritual formation. He will change everything from history into a here and now experience through the Jesus Process.

Practice union in evangelization. Before attempting to help people to enter into themselves and discover themselves as Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well or with Nicodemus who sought Jesus’ wisdom, let us unite with the historical Jesus. Let Jesus begin our evangelization efforts and be the catalyst of the Jesus Process.

Incarnating Jesus

In some mysterious way, the Risen Christ has gathered us all into His ongoing Incarnation, the Body of Christ. This continuity with Christ’s earthly Incarnation opens up new ways to achieve contact and intimacy with Christ. In His earthly life, Christ incarnated the infinite life and compassion of God in a unique way. When we give concrete expression in our lives to the virtues and qualities which He incarnated, we enter into real intimacy with Him.

When we live the Cursillo Tripod of Holiness, Formation and Evangelization, are we not incarnating Christ? After all, the Tripod is the process model for growing in the spiritual life.  Being a fully human person, Christ Himself had to grow through this process as He grew in wisdom, age and grace. At one level, we can say that living the Tripod is in fact imitating the life of Christ. But more significantly, we can say that living the Tripod is our way to intimacy with Christ. For Incarnational Spirituality teaches us that when we live the unique characteristics of Jesus, we incarnate Jesus as a member of the Body of Christ: we bring to birth the Christ within us.

Holiness. Before Christ ever asked the apostles, “Whom do people say that I am,” He had to first ask Himself that question. Like all human beings, He had to experience Self-discovery. He had to face the struggle between God-centeredness and self-centeredness. When Christ went off alone into the mountains for private prayer, He must have prayed: “Where is the Spirit leading Me?” He too had to grow in dependency on the Spirit. He too had to grow in compassion for others. He too had to grow in courage.

Christ put a special stamp on the way He grew in His relationship to God. The result: the spiritual growth process is not just a method; it is not just imitating Christ. When we give concrete expression to our pursuit of holiness, we achieve intimacy with Christ.

Formation. When Jesus returned to Nazareth to preach in the local synagogue, He deliberately chose the scripture that announced the signs of the Messiah’s coming. He knew His scriptures. It is not hard to imagine that Jesus spent much time studying the Old Testament in an effort to discover His identity and mission.

Again, Jesus lived a life of spiritual formation in a unique way. When we spend time studying scripture, performing spiritual reading, or attending retreats or lectures to form ourselves in the spiritual life, we engage in Christ’s unique activities. All these activities become so many opportunities for real intimacy with the Risen Jesus.

Evangelization. When we make a friend, be a friend, bring a friend to Christ, or when we create Christian communities that are charismatic, growth and evangelizing communities within our environments, what are we doing? Are we just following a methodology to transform society? No! Are we just imitating Christ’s life on earth? No!

In reality, what we are doing is to enter into contact with the Risen Christ. Why? Because Christ made His evangelizing so unique that He owns all evangelizing activities. When we evangelize, we enter more deeply into the life of the Risen Christ. We vibrate in real time with the living Risen Christ when we manifest in our small, but unique way, the infinite richness of God’s life and compassion in the way that He did.

We can experience deeper union with Christ in our moments of seeking holiness, in our moments of working at spiritual formation, in our moments of evangelizing. At such times, we are being asked to bring out in ourselves the Christ Who put a special stamp on the way He did Holiness, Formation and Evangelization. At such times, we should pray that the Spirit will empower us to incarnate through our actions Christ in the process of becoming Himself and thereby experience union with Him.

Living Ongoing Incarnation

We are faced with the enormity of living with our new understanding of Christ’s ongoing Incarnation. This is a life vision change of Christ capable of transforming our lives. How do we make it impact our lives?

First, we need to analyze our intentionality toward Christ. Has any change in our attitude toward Christ occurred?  Second, we need to set a goal that is in keeping with our desired intentionality toward Christ. Third, we need to develop an action plan to accomplish our goal. Intentionality, goal, action─a dynamic model for changing our lives.

Intentionality. Rollo May’s book, Love and Will, introduces the concept of intentionality by describing a scene of a house in the woods. He has a number of people come into view of the house. The reality of the house is always the same, but each person’s perception is different, depending on what each brings psychologically to the scene. For example, a real estate agent sees the house one way, an artist sees it very differently. Intentionality is the combination of our mind, heart and will that impacts our vision of reality. So there are two factors in the concept of intentionality, our perception of reality and how we respond to it.

Let us put Christ in the place of the house in the woods. What is our intentionality toward Christ? A wide range of perceptions and responses to Christ’s ongoing Incarnation are possible. From near zero on the scale, to notional, to real, to joyous insight.   Many may still see Christ as both human and divine, a man of radical love, but still as an historical figure. Their response to Christ may still be just great admiration.

However, Incarnational spirituality reveals the Risen Christ: He is not dead but alive, and in some mysterious way alive in us. Further, the Spirit is busy at work penetrating us with Christ’s presence and power. Our relationship to Christ has been entirely trans-formed. We cannot escape Christ. He is present in every part of our lives: eating and drinking, work and play. Has our intentionality toward Christ changed dramatically?

Goal. How do we incorporate this deep spiritual insight into our lives? That is where the second factor of our dynamic process for change must be considered. To help actualize our desired intentionality, we need a goal. Simply, what should we strive for with this new revelation of Christ?

To give birth to the Christ within us. To incarnate Christ in our own unique way. To to be attentive to the Spirit’s inspirations. We still have to study the mind, heart and will of Christ so as to guide the way we live our lives. But it is not slavish imitation. It is not imitating someone outside ourselves. It is attempting to bring out the Christ within us through the thoughts and actions of our unique personalities.

Action. Action is the third member of this dynamic process, but it must be action that is relevant to our desired intentionality and goal. Our intentionality impacts our goal, and our intentionality and goal impact our actions. Working together they can incorporate this new revelation about Christ into our spiritual life. What kind of action is relevant?

The Cursillo Tripod is our process model for growing us in the spiritual life. We have to work at our vision change of Christ through its each element. We have to pray ardently for a deeper grasp of this truth. We have to study its meaning through spiritual reading. We have to act as if we are Christ, attempting to heal, to forgive, to bind others to Christ through love. We have to incarnate Christ in our whole life, in our life as body persons, in our life of the senses, in our everyday lived experiences, in our relationships to others. The place of the divine is in the human. We have a new kind of God Who dwells in the human. Our God was made flesh and continues to dwell among us.


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!



Another way of looking at an integrated spirituality that is Spirit-centered, Christ-centered (Historical Jesus) and Incarnation-centered is to see it as the fruition of our efforts to live a fully human life—based on living the Cursillo Tripod.

We begin our spiritual journey schlepping along as persons with a fuzzy-centered or a self-centered life Vision. Then we experience a break-through conversion and discover a life Vision based on Holiness, Formation and Evangelization. Actually, this tripod is a growth process. But what does this process grow us into? The perfection of this process is an integrated spirituality that is Spirit-centered, Christ-centered and Incarnation centered.

Three dynamic models depict the spiritual journey: a human psychology model (Person), the Cursillo Tripod (Process), and integrated spirituality (Perfection). We will show how they relate to one another and their progression to an integrated spirituality.

Person—A dynamic model of the human person can be represented by three interacting conceptsVision, Values and Actionwith each element impacting the other. The first premise of this model is that all persons are visionaries. Everyone has a Vision that drives his or her Values and Actions. The second premise is that if you want to grow, you must change your Vision.

A person’s Vision is comprised of one’s attitudes toward God, self, others, life and creation. Values mean the virtues that enable a person to live one’s Vision.  For the Cursillista, one needs the virtues of God-centeredness, compassion for others, dependency on the Spirit, openness to community, faith-based courage, faith in community prayer and action, and discipline.

Process—Usually we look upon the Cursillo Tripod as the dynamic model for creating evangelists. But it is more than that. It is the process model for growing in the spiritual life. Say that we experience a vision-changing insight from our spiritual reading. We have been greatly affected. But how do we integrate that change into who we are as persons? We have to take our vision change and work at it through each element of the Cursillo Tripod. We have to pray about it. We have to study its meaning, perhaps through more spiritual reading. We have to act as if we are already the person we want to become.

It is not enough to get a spiritual insight. We have to take possession of it. Like a bud, a vision change or a call to growth has to be nourished or it will die. The danger is that when we experience a vision change or insight, frequently it comes so effortlessly and so fast. We can be lulled into thinking that there isn’t anything more to do. Rather, we must look upon it as a gift that is an invitation to growtha gift requiring work.

If you have ever had the experience of discovering some rich insight only to see it disappear in time, and then rediscovering it years later, you can understand the need to incorporate into your life the rich invitations of the Spirit. The Tripod is the process!

A vision change can come from many sources. From a psychological change in our attitude toward God, self, others, life or creation. From our evangelization, study or prayer life. But it takes the Process of the Tripod for us to really change our life Vision.

Perfection—As we start our spiritual journey, our Vision as persons expands to include a relationship with God (Holiness), but ultimately we want to move to where we are living more fully under the Spirit’s inspiration (Spirit-centeredness). Our human Values begin to take on Christ’s Values through spiritual Formation, but ultimately we want to arrive at where we are assuming Christ’s mind, heart and will (Christ-centeredness). Our human Actions are stretched to perform acts of Evangelization, but ultimately we want to become the Christ that we are already (Incarnation-centeredness).