CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION: WHAT DO WE MEAN?

 
My name is Diane Coates; I made Cursillo in Toronto in 1976, with the table group of St. Anne.  The title of my Rollo is:
 
Please join me in the prayer to the Holy Spirit.
 
 Throughout most of my years in Cursillo, the title of this rollo from the US Three Day manual was “Christian Community in Action”.  The message was to form small groups within each of our environments in order to more effectively evangelize them.  The focus was on the environment.
 
Eduardo Bonnin stated in his 1981 
 
Manifesto on Cursillos in Christianity, that 
 
“If the Movement is given the space to live its basic and minimum structure of Group Reunion, Ultreya and School, it can bring the Good News of the Gospel to all the hidden places of human existence: personal, family and social.”
 
In 1992 he wrote:
 
“When we speak of ‘EVANGELIZATION’ in the context of the Cursillo, we do not only mean it in the sense of simply … passing on  … or spreading the Gospel Good News… 
 
but rather … to succeed in …
 
making the person ‘BECOME’ the GOOD NEWS …
 
that joyful good news that Christ is alive in and amongst his people today … just as surely as He was 2000 years ago.
 
“This  … in essence … was the vision and mission of the Cursillo from the beginning… 
of  making the person faraway from God … BECOME the GOOD NEWS.
 
I hope that my sharing will show that Cursillo achieves what Eduardo speaks of… through the method and mentality of the 4th Day … which is based on
 
friendship, conviction and normality, 
that it is all about our being something … and not simply about our doing some things.
 
(BEFORE CURSILLO)
 
Before I made my Cursillo in 1976 I was the epitome of an isolated, paralyzed Christian, indeed, a faraway.  I believed in God but that was about it. I had gone to church most of my life but mostly because I felt I had to.  I knew of Christ only as an historical figure who had died for our sins 2000 years ago, but had no relevance to my life.   Dennis and I had stopped going to Church for a few years but then we had decided to start going back again in 1975, for the sake of our two young daughters.?
At that time my life seemed meaningless and hopeless. In our young own family and most of our extended families there was only struggling, conflict, stress and misery. I had no idea what a difference it would make to have Christ in my life. I only went on Cursillo because Dennis had gone six weeks prior. 
 
(CURSILLO)
 
The Cursillo Weekend was a struggle for me – I didn’t understand what all this was about or what all this had to do with my life.
 
Although I felt drained and confused, I did leave the Weekend with a sense of hope that my life could be different, meaningful. I thought and felt that if I followed through with what was offered on the Weekend, maybe my life could change like the team members who shared how their lives had changed. I truly wanted what they had and to be like them. 
 
Even though it was it was a difficult choice for me since I was so introverted and felt isolated, I decided to follow through and attend Ultreya and to form a group reunion with two other women from the weekend.
 
(THE GROUP)
 
This group only lasted a few months. Then a couple of years later I was invited by a veteran Cursillista and a new Cursillista to join them. This was a wonderful group but unfortunately it lasted only three-four years.
 
Finally, twelve years ago, after twenty-one years in Cursillo, Christ blessed me with a true group reunion with Lucy, Miriam and Irene. Three years ago Irene was taken to be with God. Shortly after, Lena joined our group.
 
The Cursillista After the Cursillo rollo states that life can be a perennial Cursillo.  How can this be…..
 
It’s because the powerful dynamic that brings about conversion on the Cursillo Weekend … the dynamic of 
 
encounter with self …
encounter with Christ … 
encounter with others …
 
is the very same dynamic that occurs in the group reunion … sustaining us in our progressive conversion for the rest of our lives.  
 
This is Christianity in Action … as it is so wonderfully called in the Foundational Charism Cursillo.  
 
In the Rollo of that title, Christianity in Action is defined as: 
a group of Grace filled Christians 
who journey together 
in a climate 
that makes it possible for each one to live the Gospel 
and spread the Gospel in the world.
 
So, let me make it perfectly clear that “Christianity in Action” is what is happening within the group, not what we do outside of the group.
 
Since I was so private and introverted the first thing about being in the group was that I had to learn what and how to share.  
 
It doesn’t come naturally.  
 
Each of us in the group had to learn what to share and how to share our lives in Grace with the others    …    so that our sharing became a source of Grace to each other.  
 
This kind of sharing is not 
simply telling information, like the number of masses attended, how many rosaries said, telling the content of a book read or how much I enjoyed it, or talking about daily events.
or teaching, preaching, discussing, debating, or even just praying together
or trying to solve someone’s problem.  
 
This is of no value from a “passing on Grace” point of view.  
 
True sharing, however, is giving something of myself – something personal.  
 
I am letting you into my life … by exposing to you my thoughts … my feelings … my experiences … my history …my growth and setbacks… my successes and disappointments in my attempts to lead others to Christ … what I’m learning about myself and others that is helping me in my growth as a person and a Christian.  
 
In each group reunion we share honestly exactly where we are at in our spiritual journey.
 
I had to learn to identify and share what actually brought me closer to Christ each week … and what it was that I had thought, felt, or experienced. I gradually became aware and conscious of his presence in my daily life. 
 
What is it in a particular Mass, rosary, prayer time, book or event that touched me, changed me, or helped me grow as a person and as a Christian? These are the graces we want to share with each other.
 
Each in the group had to learn to speak in the first person … and avoid generalizations … through the use of, “we, they, or you,” which depersonalizes the sharing….eg. hard for you, we, they to stay focused during the rosary…. I found it hard  ….
 
When each of us kept the sharing totally personal … each of us discovered how rich the sharing became … and what it meant that we were sources of Grace to each other. 
 
Just think about how essential sharing is in Cursillo
We share throughout the weekends in Rollos and table groups 
We share in our group reunions and Ultreyas 
We share in every team meeting, secretariat meeting, at workshops and encounters, and …
We also share with others in our environments.
 
The next important skill I had to learn was to “listen” … TING – to listen with your ears, heart and mind.  I used to listen only with my mind, always thinking what to say in response, find a solution to a problem shared;  I had to learn to just be quiet, present and listen “Ting”.  
 
I’m aware that there are many who just don’t “get” what the group is all about … that some even feel it is something they are obliged to do in order to belong.  
 
This is so disheartening to me, because … I know … in my head … and in my heart … from long experience … that it is the authentic Group that makes possible everything Eduardo sought to achieve.
 
I know how essential the group has become to each of us in my group … in terms of maintaining our lives in Grace at a high level … and its central place in each of us becoming the Good News Eduardo spoke of. 
 
The members of my group have come to really know each other, love each other, and we truly have become special friends (unique from any other friends we have) who are all committed to our journey together to our Father through Jesus.  We have become friends in Christ because of the existence and nature of our group.
 
In the group, Christ is in us and among us. “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am among them.” (Mt. 18:19) In the group the Holy Spirit is active among us, revealing Christ in and through each other. 
 
Each of us could have decided to try to live this life in Grace alone, as many do … but we are so much more effective because of our sharing.  
 
When we see Christ act so uniquely in each of our lives … as He continuously does, when we see that He has done something, He becomes visible to us. We encounter Him … and the faith of each of us is strengthened.
 
Something special continuously happens in our Group. “God loves me” is experienced by each member and is shared within the Group, and the result is that all grow in their love for God. 
 
Because of this it is only natural that each of us wants others to come to know God … to come into relationship with Christ … to know the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives. 
 
I want others to know that God is real … is knowable in the most intimate sense … and that they too can know personally the love of God for them and for those they love. 
 
So there is a natural link between what is being lived within the group     …     to what is desired for all outside the group.
 
Indeed, the sharing of each of our lives in Grace edifies each of us, helping us to overcome complacency or discouragement, helps us to persevere even when all seems impossible.
 
My father and father-in law were alcoholics, my mother was an atheist, my sister was in broken marriage; all were totally separated from God, but over many years, each one eventually accepted Christ.
 
My grandson, born with severe defects, was saved again and again from death through the first year of his life. We stormed heaven’s door with our prayers and we rejoice together that he is now a very healthy teenager.
 
As I shared each of these situations    …    and many others …   with my group week after week, year after year … with all my desires, hope, joy as the births of my 3 other grandsons, struggles, disappointments and pain … I encountered myself. Just like on the Cursillo Weekend, in the group I keep encountering myself.
 
I discovered new things about myself, about how I had to change … or had to know more. How had I had to talk less and listen more, be more patient, learn how to pray, pray more, how to reach out to the lost souls in my environments. I’ve learned to be a true friend, through respect, acceptance and freedom to be themselves.
 
I also recognized how Christ was using me as his instrument to lead others to Himself and I have discovered what Christ is calling me to and how He wants me to serve Him, His Church and others.
 
As my group members shared very difficult and painful situations in their lives … I saw in them such faith, courage and perseverance in never giving up, trusting Christ, relying on Him … which inspired me … and helped me to see my life in the right perspective and to persevere.
 
Lucy, Miriam and I deeply shared in Irene’s spiritual journey as she battled cancer at the age of thirty-nine. Sometimes she shared her fears and anguish about leaving her two teenage daughters and the prospect of disfiguring and painful surgery. Other times she shared her gratitude for small improvements, and even her anger at God when she realized the cancer had fatally returned. 
 
Ultimately, she shared her peace and acceptance of God’s will. Even though she had a large Catholic family, it was our group that she relied on for spiritual support. Many lives were touched and some converted through her incredible faith, especially since she had been a total faraway before her Cursillo.  
 
We always pray for each other, and this prayer support can always be counted on.  
 Our common goal is to become saints, as I believe Irene is now, and to lead all those in our environments to God.
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In all of these things I see how present Christ is … how compassionate he is … and how he shows his love for each person so individually when given a chance.  
 
I am encouraged to persevere, to go beyond myself.  It is this kind of sharing that inspires and motivates me.  
 
In our sharing, grace is multiplied.  
 
All of life is part of the life in Grace … and becomes part of what we share through the process of the Group.
 
All these things show what a perpetual fountain of Grace a group is … and is meant to be.  
 
Ordinary people have a means by which to live their faith naturally and fully for the rest of their lives … faith that produces for the Lord fruit that lasts.
 
Barry Guihan’s (Guy-en) image of the cucumber in the brine captures exactly what the Group is, what the Christianity in Action is. It is the image of how a cucumber becomes a pickle through time through the process of being in the brine.  
 
Remember, Eduardo is thinking primarily of the faraway.
 
And so it is with us.  The presence of Christ and flow of grace through our sharing in the group is the brine that does what it is intended to through time to make us BECOME the Gospel. 
 
 
(Pause)
 
 
Through Cursillo … I have come to know how much God loves me. 
 
From being a stranger to God to loving God as my Father … this is the true fruit in me of being part of this Christianity in Action.  This is Christianity in Action.
 
I have come to know who I am:
God’s beloved daughter
heir to the kingdom
sister of Christ, and 
temple of the Holy Spirit. 
 
This is the GOOD NEWS!  … And it is no longer information outside me … but is part of my very soul.
 
(THE ULTREYA)
 
I’d like now to talk about Ultreya. In the years that I didn’t have group it was the Ultreya that sustained me. I wouldn’t have persevered without it.
 
The kind of sharing I’ve been speaking of is what is found in the witness at the Ultreya, although not in the depth of the intimacy of the group. We have become friends in Christ.  
 
If there were no Ultreya … I’d seldom get to see the other Cursillistas in our area …or get to know them as I have over the years from their sharing.  
 
Without the Ultreya, how could the Cursillistas we sponsor get to be part of the community?  
 
How could we all join together in the journey and share with each other what the journey is like so as to build each other up?  
 
The Ultreya is vital for this. 
 
The Ultreya is the place where we meet all those who have been team members and candidates on our weekends … and  where we learn from one another how to be better … indeed… to be the best we can be and all that God calls us to be.  
 
A new Cursillista has the possibility to meet other Cursillistas with whom he or she could form a group.  
 
We are accepted, understood, encouraged, and forever welcomed in our desire and need to share our life with Christ. 
 
Where else can we freely do this?  
 
It is a unique place that inspires our apostolic Christian life.  
 
The Ultreya is a coming together of all the groups … The members of the groups receive stimulation, balance, breadth …and an ever-expanding vision of Piety, Study and Apostolic Action.
 
Both my group and my Ultreya have … and continue to be … essential in my spiritual growth and ability to persevere.
 
In fact, it is the Christianity in Action that is present in my group, at the Ultreya, and at the School of Leaders has transformed me over time into an apostle for Christ. I am here today and able to share my journey with you because I have experienced and lived for thirty-three years a perpetual Cursillo through the dynamic of ongoing encounter with myself, encounter with Christ and encounter with others in my group, Ultreya and School.
 
 
 
 
 
(CONCLUSION)
 
As I said at the beginning, I wanted a different and meaningful life, not realizing that life with Christ was the answer that would be life-long.  
 
Through the mentality and method of Cursillo I didn’t find what I thought I was looking for needed 33 years ago, but I have found everything I was hoping for. 
 
My 4th Day has been the perennial Cursillo Eduardo intended   …   It is the pearl without price.  
 
Cursillo is a way of life.  It is living “God loves me, God loves us” in every aspect of our lives.
 
I’d like to end by quoting Eduardo again, from his 1992 presentation:
 
“During the Cursillo itself, we attempt to crystallize this unrest and searching  …  through the three essential encounters of the person with himself, with Christ and with others  …  and with the grace of God we almost always do so.
 
“In spite of this success … we should not think that this person is now a ‘Christian’ and that the job is done
 
“All we can say … and feel … is that the person has initiated the conversion process. 
 
“The Postcursillo is designed to facilitate the nurturing of those three essential encounters … so they grow and develop into true friendship:
friendship with himself 
with Christ, and 
with his brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
“The key to this process of friendship building is the last encounter    ….    friendship with others.  
 
“Here we mean especially the friendship with those who are intimately involved in our conversion process … those in our Group Reunions and Ultreya.”
 
(Pause)
 
May God bless us all abundantly this weekend.  It’s wonderful to be with you.
 
 
DE COLORES!