21st Century Disciples 



I lived my Cursillo weekend in the spring of 2012.  Cursillo is a Spanish word meaning "short course"... it is a short course in Christianity.  It's different from a retreat, in that the aim is to teach you that your Catholic Christian faith goes beyond the three-day weekend.  The "Fourth Day" is a way of life, for the rest of your life.  Those of us who participate in a Cursillo weekend are known as Cursillistas.

There are a series of talks throughout the weekend that build upon each other.  They're intended to get you to thinking about your purpose in life, and hopefully, to consider whether you're serving Christ to the best of your ability.  

There is a strong camaraderie among the team members.  They welcome the candidates, embrace them as sisters or brothers (men and women participate in separate weekends), and form lifelong bonds that with God's blessing, can never be broken.  Two weeks after the weekend, we all get together for a joyous Group Reunion.  And we have opportunities to reconnect at least once a month in Small Group reunions or Ultreyas, where we share our faith journey... our commitment to Christ through our Piety, Study and Action.  

In the words of St. Augustine: "Lord Jesus, let me know MYSELF and know YOU".  In knowing God and ourselves, we come to learn that our lives have purpose and meaning.  But we don't have to do it all alone.  We are guided by His Word (the Bible) and by the Trinity.  To know God in totality is to know the Blessed Trinity... Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Many of us pray to God and to Jesus all the time.  But how many of us know that we can also pray TO THE SPIRIT?

During my Cursillo weekend, I was surprised and pleased to learn that I can pray directly TO the Holy Spirit.  I never realized this before... the Spirit to me was as vague and invisible as the wind.  This revelation opened up new possibilities to me, and over time, I've come to cultivate and develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit, seeking his presence, wisdom, and gifts.  

There are many people who think the Holy Spirit revealed himself just a handful of times throughout time, and that was more than 2,000 years ago.  But that's just not true!  The Holy Spirit is NOT an ancient allegory, but is present TODAY in God's chosen people.  The Holy Spirit was sent then, and now, as our Advocate, Counselor, and Paraclete.

"When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth... He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:13-14)  

Before Cursillo, I spent a lot of time in daily prayer (Piety) and meditating on Scriptures (Study).  As I began my Fourth Day, I thought about HOW God was calling me to serve Him (Action).  My circumstances prompted me to "think small", so I thought a good way to begin was by visiting the elderly in a nearby nursing home.  I'd always been very shy and introverted, more comfortable in one-on-one conversations.  But I think God had something else in mind for me.  Because I don't know what happened to that introvert.  She doesn't exist anymore!  Or perhaps it's just that my faith is a subject I'm so passionate about.  My witness on the power of His Saving Grace is more than just third-person knowledge; it is very personal to me.  So when I was given the opportunity to participate on team during a Cursillo weekend, I jumped at the chance to facilitate and then to give Rollos (the Talks).  

This metanoia (transformation) was made possible by the Holy Spirit.  I've felt the Amazing Presence of the Holy Spirit.  During a dark time in my life when things seemed hopeless, suddenly I was blessed with a feeling of utter calm and the certainty that God was with me and that everything was going to be all right.  I've also felt the Spirit within me on the joyful occasions of being in the presence of the Lord.  Affirming for me that He keeps His promises. And while praying in the chapel for the candidates and team during a men's weekend, I was (coincidentally) reading a book called "Prayers to the Holy Spirit" by Bert Ghezzi. I was startled and delighted to read that the author participated in a Cursillo weekend in December 1963.  "The event was revelatory for me," he wrote, "and I have never been the same since". 

How awesome and fortifying that as I was praying, I stumbled upon a man praying to the Holy Spirit, a man who lived a Cursillo weekend more than fifty years earlier!  How powerful are our prayers to the Holy Spirit!  

"In your hearts reverence Christ as Lord... Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you." (1 Peter 3:14-15)  

As Cursillistas living our Fourth Day, we take these words to heart.  For this is our goal as Catholic Christians. To evangelize; to follow the will of God for our lives (not our own).  To seek His glory (not our own).  After all, think of all the blessings we have received through Him.  Think of all the hurts He healed.  The promises He kept.  And so, He wants us to share this Good News with others!  

For "How can they call on him in whom they have not believed?  And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone to preach?  And how can people preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the Good News.' " (Romans 10:14-15)  

If you think it's too hard or you wouldn't know what to say, Jesus assures us that we can do it:  

"Do not be anxious about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you." (Matthew 10:19-20)  

A while back, when I had the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in my home, someone said that she didn't understand why we pray to Mary; why not just pray to God directly?  I told her, we don't pray TO Mary, but we ask her to intercede to her son on our behalf.  I said to her, "You ask me to pray for you all the time.  Why don't you just pray directly?" and she said, "Your prayers are more powerful than mine".  Well, the Holy Spirit jumped right in because without even thinking I said, "Then just think how much more powerful HER prayers are than mine!"  

To be an effective witness, I need to know what I'm talking about.  I need to immerse myself in the Scriptures, learn about salvation history, study the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and become familiar with apologetics in order to know how to respond to the FAQs from non-Christians or fallen-away Catholics.  Jesus Christ Himself quoted the Old Testament often. He used Scriptures to battle the devil (Deuteronomy 6 and 8, Psalm 91).  He quoted Psalm 22 as he suffered upon the cross.  We can also call upon our knowledge of Scripture to comfort those who struggle by sharing God's message of love and salvation or to refute Satan's influence on their hardened hearts.

"Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:21)  Jesus quoted Isaiah 61:1, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach Good News to the poor".  

Likewise, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon US, because WE have been anointed to preach the Good News to all". 

We all know people who don't have faith in Jesus. We must pray daily for the Holy Spirit to grant us wisdom to recognize the opportunities that abound, if we only pay attention. I recommend Saint Augustine's Prayer to the Holy Spirit plus the Prayer for the Seven Gifts.

These opportunities increase when we ourselves live a life of faith. We show others by our own example. When our family members, friends, coworkers, and so on, see the joy that radiates from within us; when they hear us speak loving praise and thanksgiving to God; they will naturally gravitate toward us. When the questions begin, be ready! When my coworkers come to me with questions, I notice that everyone else around us seem to stop and quietly listen. So we may even be unaware of the far-reaching effects of our powerful witness... I was off of work one day and two of my coworkers called me with a question. I answered the question and this began a dialogue at my kitchen table with a non-believer!  

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)  

De Colores!!!

Cursillo is a worldwide lay movement that began in Mallorca, Spain more than 70 years ago. Visit the National Cursillo web site for more info or check with your local diocese to learn more about Cursillo in your area. 

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!