Preparing our hearts for Lent at this spiritual Encounter with Christ


The Metuchen Cursillo Movement's 8th Annual Encounter With Christ was held on Saturday, February 25, 2017 at Mary, Mother of God Parish, Hillsborough, NJ 08844.  

Be Reconciled to God

This special event occurred just four days prior to Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, 2017.  To prepare us for the coming of Easter, the theme of the Encounter was Bishop James Checchio's Episcopal Motto, "Be Reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20). Bishop James has chosen this passage from the writings of Saint Paul as his motto and episcopal ministry.

Fr. Glenn Sudano, CFR of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (St. Joseph Friary, New York, NY) and Deacon Sal Bonfiglio, OFS (Secular Franciscan Order) were our speakers.  

Deacon Sal Bonfiglio reminded us of the context of this theme, found in St. Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians (5:14-21).  

We are ambassadors for Christ.  Jesus wants us to be reconciled to God so that we can help OTHERS to reconcile to God... we need to help each other get to heaven. And God wants to work through us to do this.  

Dcn. Sal spoke of the world we live in today. "Just because it's legal doesn't mean it's suitable," he reminded us.  Such as what's on TV.  We have become so conditioned to accepting the immoral.  But God's morality has not changed. So be mindful of what you're watching on TV or viewing on the Internet.  "We were created to have an insatiable desire for God, but if we become distracted we develop insatiable desires for immoral things.  Satan loves that," said Dcn. Sal. "Our immoral thoughts and actions strengthen the power of evil."  To be reconciled to God is to trust in Jesus.  We need to ask ourselves, "Is what I'm thinking or doing glorify God?"  If not, don't do it.  We need to ask ourselves, "How does Jesus live in me?  How do I become like Jesus?"  

"Grace is an element like helium", according to Fr. Glenn Sudano.  "Sin is like lead; grace is helium." When we empty ourselves, that's when we can be filled with divine grace.  He urged us to take this time during Lent to look at life in a different manner.  How we see things in life is important. If we look at only one aspect instead of the whole situation, we will only see partially.  When King David faced Goliath in battle, he wasn't focused on the giant in front of him.  He looked beyond, confident in knowing that God was there to help him win the battle, even against all logic.  When we have faith, nothing will crush us. We need to look beyond our problems to see the Lord who saves us.  

Lent is the time to change our perspective... how we look at ourselves, our world, and the church. We need to remain in a state of grace to protect ourselves from evil. "When you have the light inside, evil won't come near you," said Fr. Glenn.  "They are attracted to darkness."  Evil can approach you in the simplest ways... it slips in through the darkness. Therefore, we need to hold no hatred toward anyone.  We have to create an environment within ourselves, our home, and our environment which deters the enemy.  Fr. Glenn reminds us that the best protection is confession, daily prayers and devotionals. Have your home blessed.  Spend time reading the Word of God, go to Mass, receive the Eucharist.  

"In Jesus's time, the ones who stayed home didn't get healed," said Fr. Glenn. "We keep expecting God to make house calls, but it doesn't work that way.  God is God, we are not.He reveals Himself to us.  So we need to continue listening to His voice and continue uniting ourselves with His Body, "not a mind meld, but a physical, touchable encounter with Christ in the Church."  

During the Cursillo Encounter with Christ, six priests were available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Most everyone took these inspiring talks to heart and approached their confessors, unburdening their sins and seeking absolution and forgiveness.  The event concluded with a joyful celebration of the Mass. Fr. Glenn said that many people say they feel better after going to confession. "But you don't just FEEL better," he told us, "you ARE better".  

I'm reminded of my bible studies of Luke, the Gospel of Mercy. Following are just two examples of miracle healings and the mercy of Christ:  

And a woman who had a hemorrhage for twelve years, and could not be healed by anyone, came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His cloak, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped. And Jesus said, "Who is the one who touched Me?" And while they were all denying it, Peter said, "Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You." But Jesus said, "Someone did touch Me, for I was aware that power had gone out of Me." When the woman saw that she had not escaped notice, she came trembling and fell down before Him, and declared in the presence of all the people the reason why she had touched Him, and how she had been immediately healed.  

And He said to her, "Daughter, your faith 
has made you well; go in peace.
"  (Luke 8:43-48)  

"A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?" Simon answered, "I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt." And Jesus said to him, "You have judged rightly." Then turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven, loves little." Then he said to her, "Your sins are forgiven." But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, "Who is this who even forgives sins?" 

And he said to the woman,
"Your faith has saved you; 
go in peace.
(Luke 7:41-50)  

As you can see by the Scriptures above, when people approached Jesus, desiring to be healed, He not only healed them... he forgave them for their sins.   

Which is more important to you?  Healing of your body, or spiritual healing?  I know what I choose...  

Prayer of Absolution

Just a reminder, in case it's been a while since you've gone to confession. When you finish your confession, you will be asked to say a prayer called the Act of Contrition. When you are finished, the priest will conclude with the following prayer:  

God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.