Cursillo

Almost a month ago I spent three days in a life-changing retreat.  Although a Cursillo (kur-see-you) is not considered to be a retreat.  The Cursillo movement started in Spain in the late 1940’s and came to the U.S. in 1957 when Spanish Air Cadets, training in Texas, held a Cursillo weekend for a group of Spanish speaking men.  Cursillo is spanish for “short course”, which explains why it is not a retreat.   The weekend is three days, Thursday night until late Sunday, and the retreat is either for men or women, not mixed.  The biggest “lesson” of this course is God’s grace – what it is, how to receive it – but you also come away with an understanding of Jesus’ love for us and how he shows His love.  Through the classes held during this weekend (fifteen of them), I learned that we receive God’s grace through piety (prayer), study of Christ and through our actions in sharing the Good News and love of Jesus.  The weekend is structured.  Everyone is in a class at the same time, everyone eats at the same time, everyone takes breaks at the same time.  As I mentioned above, there are fifteen classes and five of these are given by a member of the clergy and the rest are given by laypersons who have already made a Cursillo.  After the three days of the Cursillo, it is the “Fourth Day”, which is everyday after that when we live the lessons we learned.  There are weekly “group reunion” meetings in which the individuals discuss their past week and how well we lived in God’s grace.  Most dioceses in the U.S. require that participants be Catholic because the weekend reflect Roman Catholic theology.  I am lucky that my Diocese, The Diocese of Peoria, IL, allows non-Catholic Christians to also participate.  In fact, at least one of the team members was a non-Catholic.  So, while a person is only able to make one Cursillo, Cursillista may be on the team of Cursillos after their own to help new Cursillistas with their own journey.  I cannot tell you how powerful this weekend was.  Part of that reason is because there are parts of the weekend that are best experienced without knowledge of them beforehand.  and everyone should experience a Cursillo.  There are also similar weekends that follow the non-Catholic Christian tradition, but still incorporate many of the same aspects of the Cursillo.  So everyone can go to either a Cursillo or a similar weekend and feel God’s grace working in them.

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