I apologize for the delay in putting out a new blog. In addition to my presenting a number of retreats recently, my “production studio” has been occupied by my 9-month old granddaughter, Camille. I will resume weekly updates to my blog and podcasts.
In our last blog, I promised to give some examples of the rich, exciting life that God has made available to Catholic men. The goal is to encourage Catholic men for whom the life of faith lacks significant energy and vitality.
I have been involved in the Cursillo Movement in the Catholic Church since 1989. My involvement was prompted by a Protestant friend of mine, who told me that the Protestant version of Cursillo, called “Walk to Emmaus,” was flourishing in the Tulsa area while the Cursillo Movement in the Diocese of Tulsa was dormant “This makes no sense,” my friend said, ‘Walk to Emmaus’ is based upon the Catholic Cursillo. Someone needs to get the Catholic Cursillo going again around here, and I think you are that someone.”
“Cursillo” is a Spanish word meaning “short course.” The Cursillo is based upon a short course in Christianity, a weekend experience that packages all of the main elements of our Catholic faith into an extremely effective 3-day program that really brings our faith to life. For many Catholics, both men and women, the Cursillo weekend is a transforming experience.
One of the primary benefits of Cursillo is that it gives “ordinary” Catholics a much different, more intense, more exciting picture of how Catholic life can be lived. Not only that, but people making the Cursillo weekend retreat actually see that the team putting on the Cursillo is living the life they are describing in the various presentations during the Cursillo. It’s not unusual for people new to the Cursillo to think that they never knew before that Catholic life could be like this.
Another benefit of the Cursillo is that the Cursillo weekend retreats are separated by gender. Cursillo is one of the most effective ways I have found of getting Catholic men spiritually energized.
The reason that I bring up Cursillo is that I know hundreds of Catholic men who are now “on fire” with their Catholic faith because of Cursillo. Many of these men are now priests, deacons, lectors, CCD teachers and so on. Almost all of them are active evangelizers for the Catholic faith. I remember a conversation with a friend, named Jerry, in which Jerry was moved to tears describing how Cursillo helped him know in his heart that the love of God for him was real and personal. Jerry was a very good person before his Cursillo weekend. The Cursillo experience brought him to a new level, a new intensity, in his relationship with the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
At a Cursillo meeting in the fall of 2012, I met a man named Brian who had just attended his first Cursillo weekend. Brian stated that he had many health issues, the latest of which was a cancerous tumor in his abdomen which would require surgery in a couple of weeks.
At the end of the meeting, we gathered in the church for closing prayer. It seemed appropriate to invite Brian to come forward for intercessory prayer, so I did that and Brian approached the altar. As we prayed over Brian, there just seemed to be a sense that something special was happening. I had no personal experience with physical healings and wasn’t exactly impressed with my own level of belief in such things.
A month later, at our next Cursillo gathering, Brian attended and reported that when he went to the hospital for the removal of the tumor in his abdomen, the tumor was gone. His doctors could offer no explanation for how the tumor disappeared.
Around 1994, I met a man named Jack who was an attorney in a medium-sized community west of Tulsa. He was intrigued by the fact that I had left the active practice of law to work for the Church in family life ministry. We had a very pleasant initial conversation, just getting acquainted. Several months later, Jack came back for a second visit. There was just something different about him this time. When I mentioned this to Jack, he smiled and said, “My life has been completely different since I gave God control over my law practice.” Today, not only is God doing a good job running Jack’s law practice, but Jack has also had a major positive influence on a great many lives in his community and in his church.
In the fall of 2007, I sensed a prompting from the Holy Spirit that God had something new in mind for me in terms of employment. My wife and I had lived in Tulsa for 25 years, and I had a wonderful position as Executive Director of our diocesan Catholic Charities. Eventually, we discerned that I should accept a position with Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Rochester, New York. So off we went, leaving everything that was familiar to us and moving to an area which would be completely new to us. This was by far the most difficult decision I had ever made, but we were richly blessed by our new life in upstate New York.
Like many other men that I now know, I wake up every morning and wonder what God has in store for me. The day could be very routine, or it could be filled with surprises. What I know for sure is that God’s plan, if I detect the details and go with them, is going to be more exciting, more adventurous and more fulfilling than anything I could come up with.
Here’s a closing passage from Psalm 143:8: “In the morning let me hear of your mercy, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for I entrust my life to you.”