English Men's Weekend
Third Friday 7:00 pm
Fourth Sunday 3:00 pm
Third Sunday 4:00 pm
This witness was given at the Grand Ultreya following
My name is Beth Longbrake and this is my husband Kenny. We lived Cursillo #26, in the spring of 2000. I sat at the table of St. Therese the Little Flower and Kenny sat at the table of St. Stephen. We are from Saints Peter and Paul Parish in Cushing. We were high school sweethearts and way back in 1965 we were married and have been mostly, happily married for 37 years. God has blessed us with 3 sons, 2 daughter-in-laws, and 4 beautiful grandchildren. I am what they refer to as a "cradle" Catholic. Kenny converted to Catholicism in the mid 70ís. We lived our faith sparingly with our focus being on career and "enjoying life". About 10 years before we made our Cursillos, through the continuing questions of a child, "Mom and dad, why donít we go to church? What one is our church? Where is our church?", we began attending church and CCD regularly, and participating as active church members, by becoming involved in the different organizations. So began this new journey with Christ that we continue today. We thought we were living right and doing what God expected of us. After all, we were attending church on Sunday, what else could he expect? Then the Holy Spirit pulled us to Cursillo, WOW!
I, like a lot of you here, went to my Cursillo not knowing what to expect. But what I really did not expect was a total conversion of my heart and my mind to the strongest presence of the Holy Spirit that I had ever felt. The first time I went in to the Chapel I had a sensation of a veil coming over me. It was Christ himself present with me, and at that moment I realized there was going to be a conversion in my life. I did not know what it would be or how it would happen but I knew I had experienced Christ, and that Christ was expecting more of me, that he was not going to settle for Sundays only.
Prior to attending Cursillo, Beth and I had started a discernment process by asking where Christ wanted us to go and what he wanted us to do We had attended organizational meetings regarding the deaconate, to determine if Christ was calling us to this life of service. Well at the weekend the first thing Christ did was to set me at the table of St. Stephen, the patron saint of deacons. From that point on, during the week end, he continued the conversion process by giving me the Christian ideals he expected of me and the tools to accomplish them with. Then he sent me into the 4th. Day.
The thing that stands out most to me about the Cursillo weekend was the love, from the Holy Spirit, from the spiritual leaders, from the whole team. It started with the Palanca. Then at the agape Mass, to have men of God serving us, by washing the feet, awesome! In the chapel visits, we opened our hearts and were vulnerable, asking Christ for help. The community was there at the closing, and now in the 4th day that has continued. Being from Cushing, on the outskirts of the Tulsa Diocese, we did not know anyone when we would come to the Cathedral. Now Christ has given us a whole new family, a community, with you.
I was not aware prior to my Cursillo weekend, how strong a presence Satan had in my life. I professed to be a Christian and I even thought I was living a Christian lifestyle, but at the weekend I was asked to focus on the ideals that were prominent in my life. It gave me a reality check that my life and my lifestyle was focused around Kenny, and that I allowed Satan to help me run my life and allowed Christ into my life only in times of distress. When I would have difficulties with my employees, I did not need Christ. I could yell and scream and put them in their place. After all, I was in charge. At times when the business would be in financial crisis, I did not need Christ; I was the one responsible for the success or failure of the company. When I would have disagreements with Beth or the kids, I did not need Christ; I was the head of our household. When I would have differences of opinion with fellow parishioners or others in our community, I did not need Christ; I knew they were wrong and that my idea was right. But Christ showed me at the weekend that he could be in charge of the 4th Day if only I would allow him to be.
Before Cursillo, I also thought I was a good Catholic. I had returned to the Church, was receiving the sacraments and going through the motions of what I had been taught by the Church and my parents in my childhood, but not truly appreciating the true presence of Christ on the altar. A revelation at Cursillo came to me of the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The true body and blood of Christ, This revelation is now what gets me through the fourth day, and is what keeps me trying to be more Christ like, in my thoughts, in my words and in my deeds. I now stop when I have unkind thoughts toward others and try to think of how Christ would handle the situation, for if I hurt someone else with my thoughts or deeds, I hurt Christ.
Beth and I now know that we have become three with Christ and are striving to continually ask, "What are we doing for Christ?" We are, as Beth said, trying to be more Christ like. This means I have to treat my employees more Christ like. I have to look at each and every one of them as Christ himself. I have to look at our business as Christís gift to us and realize that the success of the business is by the grace of God, and its success is only to be used as a tool for his good. I have to look at Beth and our children and grandchildren as a gift of God not a possession to control and use. I must look at each and every member of Christís church as one in being with Christ, and to be at odds with anyone of them is to be at odds with Christ himself.
Our journey with Christ has, and will have, day to day obstacles, but through prayer and perseverance, the love of God for us and our love of him will give us that inner peace we all strive for. This inner peace is very hard to describe, but it is coming to Kenny and me by choosing to let Christ become more and more important to us in our day to day life, in our work place, in our marriage, in our family, and in our community. For Christ and with Christ we are increasing our prayer life, we are attending daily mass more often, and we are increasing our formation through our studies.
To Close, I would like to read from the Gospel of Matthew:
"When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a scholar of the law tested him by asking, ĎTeacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?í He said to him ĎYou shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.í "
As Bishop Slattery said in his homily last Saturday at the Cathedral, "To love your neighbor as yourself means you must love yourself first. To love yourself, you must love what you are doing, and love Christ for giving you the opportunity to be who you are."
The answer to the question asked earlier, "What are we doing for Christ?" is that Beth and I have accepted Christís gift to continue to pursue deaconate training in the Church and to continue an involvement within the Cursillo movement and through the will of God and support of our Roman Catholic community we will become the hands and feet of Christ.
Kenny and Beth Longbrake
Ed & Gail Hobbs, Three-Day Weekend Section Heads
The Ultimate Goal of the Three Day Weekend is to move the Candidates from Pre-Cursillo into Post-Cursillo. In other words, we want to be sure that they are committed to live the Cursillo Method after the weekend is over, by joining a Group Reunion and attending Ultreyas, to help them persevere in their Fourth Day.
Eduardo Bonnin, one of Cursilloís founders made this very clear, when he said; "We do not have Group Reunions so that there will be some persons to attend a Cursillo, but on the contrary, we have Cursillos so that there will be persons to make the Group Reunions."
Inside the cover of each of the Ministry Headís
notebooks, we put these two questions, that the entire Team needs to reflect on, as they build community as a Team, and
should be asking themselves throughout the weekend:
These two questions should help each of us to put our purpose on the weekend into a clear perspective. We are all there as an instrument of the Holy Spirit to serve and to feed Jesus to the Candidates during the Three Day Weekend. Do they see Christ in each of us as we serve them and as we serve each other as Brothers and Sisters in Christ? If we all do this, on the weekend, the Holy Spirit will take care of everything else, and we will accomplish our Ultimate Goal.
Ü The Cursillo Movement is a movement of the Church which by means of its own method makes possible for people to live what is fundamental for being a Christian. By living it with others, it helps people discover and fulfill their personal vocations. The Cursillo Movement promotes the creation of core groups of Christians who leaven their environments with the Gospel. Ü
This definition contains the basic elements needed to arrive at a full and complete understanding of the Movement.
The purpose (or goal) of the Movement is to make Christian community possible in families, neighborhoods, work situations and other places where people live the greater part of their lives. It attempts to make it possible for anyone in the world to live a Christian life in a natural way.
The ultimate goal of Cursillos in Christianity is that on the Day of Judgement there may be more saints. This can be accomplished if the purpose, as stated earlier has been achieved.
The immediate purpose is to provide and understanding and conviction concerning what is fundamental for being a Christian. The Cursillo Movement strives to strengthen individuals so
that they might live out that understanding and conviction, supported by Christian community life.
The question has often been asked: What is fundamental for being a Christian? The Cursillo Leaders Manual gives the definition as being two-fold:
The Movement is a method of Christian formation that sets into motion a process for the building up of a backbone for Christian living wherever it gains a foothold. The Cursillo Movement, like a being with its own life, has an interior nucleus which makes it what it is, and, makes it remain what it is despite surface changes.
In this sense, the Cursillo Movement has been evolving in the world of experience. It has been adapted; much in it has been changed. This change has come about largely because it is a movement of the Church, and, as the Church evolves so too must the Cursillo Movement. Still, those well versed in the Movement recognize todayís Cursillo Movement as being true to the foundersí vision for its purpose.
A method is the ordered arrangement and employment of specific means to achieve a proposed goal with greater effectiveness.
The method of the Cursillo Movement is the practical application of its essence. It is not just any application left to the mercy of personal whim and the improvisation of the Movement. The Cursillo method aims to achieve the greatest efficiency in its work of evangelization.
Using the definition of the Movement as a basis, it may be said that the purpose of the Cursillo is the Christian leavening of natural groupings of persons. This is achieved by providing key persons who naturally exert a decisive influence within the various environments. The Cursillo Movement provides these key people with the means to find and share those things that are fundamental for living the Christian life. In this way, through the impact of their personalities, they will be able to inject the spirit and the "sense" of the Gospel into those factors that actively shape environments. The Cursillo is a movement that is working toward the structuring of Christian life.
The Cursillo Movement has something specific that it is trying to do; however, that something is not merely just putting people through a three-day retreat. Its purpose is summed up in the phrase "structuring Christian life." Structuring Christian life means working to have authentic Christianity lived in each social environment of society. It means working to bring other men and women to know and love Christ and to Christianize the environment of society as a whole.
For individuals to be part of the Cursillo Movement, they must have accepted the Cursillo ideal. They must, first of all, have made a real commitment to Christ. They must have decided to try to direct their whole life to God, and to have taken the Christian ideal as the ideal for their life. These individuals must be trying to grow in apostolic effectiveness in their own environment. They should be working to draw others to Christ and to Christianize their whole environment. In other words, to be a real part of the Cursillo Movement, they must have caught the Cursillo vision and made it the apostolic ideal for their life.
It is not the purpose of the Cursillo Movement to give everyone the experience of having made a Cursillo Weekend. The purpose of the Cursillo Movement is to form a movement of apostolic Christians who have a unified vision of how to bring Christian life to every environment. As Eduardo Bonnin, on of the Movementís lay founders, said, "Cursillos are heldÖnot so that there will be a large number of cursillistas. The goal is not to Ďhave cursillistas all overí but to have living and active Christians."
The Cursillo Movement is a fairly highly developed movement; it is a unified movement with some organization. First of all, it has a clearly unified goal with a developed strategy or approach: structuring Christian life. Secondly, it has a method which helps people become more committed to Christ and His Church, a method which can help them persevere and grow in holiness, a method which can help them remain effectively linked together and linked to Christ. It is this method that provides the organization that is needed to make all this possible.
Cursillo, then, is a movement with a method.
By Steve Krause, Lay director
Community (the Mystical Body of Christ) is the marrow and center of the Cursillo.
It stands at the center of Christian life and places us in vital union with Christ. It helps us fight our American culture of individualismÖ you know the ever popular: "I can do it myself" approach. We canít do it ourselves! We canít function as a Christian living in isolation. We need Community, the unity of people living according to God's plan. Community sustains the missionary work of the Church. It offers a solution to social, political, cultural and economic problems.
"I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser...Abide in me and I in you" (Jn. 15: 1,4). These words reveal the mystery of communion, which serves as a unifying bond between Christ and the baptized. It is a life-giving communion by which Christians no longer belong to themselves but to the Lord, as branches on the vine. This is understood and lived by people of the Cursillo Movement. The Holy Trinity is the source of this communion, for the Father and Son are united through the Holy Spirit, the bond of love. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit Ösounds like a community!
"I am the vine, you are the branches" (Jn. 15:5). These words from the gospel of John express the union of Christians with one another and with the Holy Trinity. This communion is the very heart of the Church. The Apostle Paul, the patron saint of Cursillo supports this concept as he writes in his greetings to the Corinthians: "The grace of the Lord Jesus, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all" (2 Cor. 13:13). Jesus himself prays for this communion: "That they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21).
Vatican Council II speaks of the ecclesiology (the church) of communion. Communion is a central and fundamental concept of "Lumen Gentium." Additional support for it is contained in Holy Scripture and throughout the era of the early Church in our sacred Tradition and in our
liturgy. What does the word Communion mean? It means that there is brought about a union with God, by the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ. This opportunity is to be found in the Word of God and the sacraments; especially Baptism and the Eucharist on a continuing basis. The body of Christ in the Eucharist is a sign of this unity; it sacramentalizes it, and brings about a bond of unity among all the faithful in the Church. Sacraments do indeed "give grace." Yet grace isnít a quantifiable product, like gas at a Texaco station. Grace is a matter of relationship with Jesus Christ. We "increase in grace" as God deepens His relationship with us. The sacraments offer us the means for that deepening. The Cursillo offers us the method to deepen our relationship, before, during and after a 3-Day Weekend. A 3-Day weekend Team is made up of many different and diverse talents, backgrounds, vocations, states in life and gifts. Every member is seen in relation to the whole, and offers a totally unique contribution on behalf of the whole body.
St. Paul tells us that the members of the human body are many yet form one body, so do the faithful in Christ form one body. There is only one Spirit who produces and urges love among members. As a consequence, if one member suffers, all suffer, and if one is honored, all are honored (1 Cor. 12-26).
In closing: We model the Christian Community on the 3 Day weekend and during our Fourth Day group reunions and Ultreyas. We are the instruments of the Holy Spirit and living witnesses to what is fundamental for living as a Christian. A Christian community is a group of persons committed to each other and to being transformed into the image of Christ. The candidates see "the face of Christ" in you and in each other. Community helps us persevere and live out our faith. It is an intimate friendship, not surface one. It becomes a supernatural friendship. A friendship elevated to the highest level of friendship Ė a friendship converted into a permanent actual grace! Whoa!! The weekend, friendship group reunion and Ultreyas are times of grace; they convert souls, determine vocations and create saints. Community is the greatest gift of Cursillo!
In 1988, Pope John Paul II published a document called Christifideles Laici, in English translation: The Vocation and Mission of the Lay Faithful in the Church and in the World. For over two years Fr. Gaalaas, our Spiritual Advisor helped the School of Leaders unpack the highlights of this document. I feel our Pope sums up much of Cursillo in this writing:
"The vocation of the lay faithful to holiness implies that the Holy Spirit expresses itself in their daily activities, it is an occasion to join themselves to God, fulfill His will, serve other people and lead them to communion with God in Christ."
Happy New Year and DeColores!
Your brother in Christ,
Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Cushing is holding its FIRST Ultreya on Sunday, Jan. 19 at the parish hall from 4-6:30 p.m. Cursillistas are urged to make every effort to support this new effort by attending.