The Escarpment Issue 1 2016
Proof for the existence of God found
God is central in the Cursillo Movement. As we journey through the Fourth Day, we take on the role of evangelisation and, by the way we act and live, bring God closer to others. This action lies at the core as to why we joined Cursillo. This can be a difficult task. Bringing others closer to God opens up a series of difficult questions: Who is God? How do I know God exists? Why am I doing this? Our faith goes a long way in our relationship with God. Through our faith we have a belief in God and the impact God has on our lives. We cannot see God but we believe God is with us. In fact, our opening prayer at our Ultreya and group reunions states: “Though my eyes do not see you, my faith senses you”.
A diversion …..
All of us have a mobile phone. For a very large number of people, it has become central to daily life. All you need to do is travel on a train each day and see nearly everyone using one. We have become addicted to them. Apart from being able to make phone calls, we use mobile phones for a large number of things: to send and receive emails, to search the Internet, to play games, to check the weather, to check train times, and so on. The use of the mobile phone seems limitless. All we need to do is look at the thousands of phone apps (applications) available to see what our mobile phones are capable of. In looking at my iPhone recently, a startling – and some would say controversial – fact appeared to me: my mobile phone proves the existence of God. A mobile phone involves the work of a very large number of people. To name a few: designers (phone designers, circuit board designers, parts designers, etc), model builders, testers, manufacturers, etc. If we look at just one part of the mobile phone, the circuit board (shown left), we can well imagine what work went into creating it, given that it must be able to perform all of the tasks we expect from our mobile phone.
The mobile phone, simply, represents the work of a very large number of people, very much inspired to producing a product that is now very much a part of our lives. This latter point, to me, is a significant one: where did the inspiration come from for each person to do what they did? Who / what gave them that first idea that ended in it becoming part of a working mobile phone? What drove all these people to do better than before? The list of questions I could ask seems endless.
Yet, I can only think of one answer.
And it is because of the gift of creativity given to us by God that allowed us to create the mobile phone (and nearly everything else) that I can say that the mobile phone proves the existence of God.
Stretching the imagination in making a connection between a mobile phone and God? …..I think not ….
End of diversion
The point of this diversion?
If we can see God in a mobile phone, we can also see God in everything around us. We simply need to be reminded of this. Wherever we are, be it our home, workplace, or wherever, there is God. As evangelisers, we can highlight to others that God is not an isolated being living at some unknown place but is all around us, impacting us in many different ways. On a personal level, I also see God in the morning sunrises and the images of Australian native flowers I photograph. The beauty I see and photograph certainly makes my God a very personal God, allowing me to marvel at the beauty he has given us. This is something we can certainly pass on to those we aim to invite into the Cursillo Movement. As evangelisers, we might be tempted to pick up our mobile phone and phone someone who we have wanted to speak to about Cursillo. Well worth a try!
Jubilee Year of Mercy
In 2016, Cursillistas around the world will be celebrating the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. This year began when Pope Francis opened the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica on 8 December 2015, the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council. The Jubilee will end when Pope Francis closes that same door on 20 November 2016. In announcing the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has urged us to reflect deeply on the gracious mercy of God and to hear again Jesus' call to us to "be merciful just as your Father is merciful".
Pope Francis asks us in this Jubilee Year to rediscover the richness encompassed by the spiritual and corporal works of mercy: "The experience of mercy, indeed, becomes visible in the witness of concrete signs as Jesus himself taught us .... Wherever there are Christians, everyone should find an oasis of mercy."
The logo and the motto together provide a fitting summary of what the Jubilee Year is all about. The motto "Merciful Like the Father", taken from Luke 6:36, serves as an invitation to follow the merciful example of the Father who asks us not to judge or condemn but to forgive and to give love and forgiveness without measure.
The logo is the work of Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik and represents an image quite important to the early Church: that of the Son, in the form of the Good Shepherd, having taken upon his shoulders a lost soul. The logo has been designed to express the way in which the Good Shepherd touches humanity and does so with a love with the power to change one's life. One particular feature is that the eyes of the Good Shepherd are merged with those of man. Christ sees with the eyes of Adam, and Adam with the eyes of Christ. Every person discovers in Christ one's own humanity and the future that lies ahead.
The scene is captured within the so called mandorla (the shape of an almond), a figure quite important in early and medieval iconography. It calls to mind the two natures of Christ, divine and human.
The three concentric ovals, with colours progressively lighter as we move outward, suggest the movement of Christ who carries humanity out of the night of sin and death. Conversely, the depth of the darker colour suggests the impenetrability of the love of the Father who forgives all.
There is a connection between the Jubilee Year of Mercy and Cursillo. In a meeting with Cursillo members at the Vatican on the evening of April 30, 2015, Pope Francis told all that every Catholic needs to learn the works of mercy. He noted that our movement has a significant role in doing this: “Through friendship, three-day retreats and small group meetings”, he said, “the Cursillo movement helps people discover that friendship with Christ is the answer to their heart’s longing for love and for truth”. “One important thing about your movement: you have not engaged in shouting matches or forcing fliers into people’s hands, but instead offer friendship, kindness and a Christian witness”, he said. “This is a virtue. The Church does not grow through proselytism, but through witness as Pope Benedict told us.” “When you realise that God has been so good, so tender, so merciful this has to come out, this has to be shared with others,” the Pope Francis said.
What is the Holy Father asking us to do during this special year?
First, to make a good personal confession and
Second to commit ourselves to perform works of mercy.
These two things are connected. It is important for us to experience the loving and forgiving mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a graced encounter that brings inner healing, peace and joy. Once we have tasted God’s mercy ourselves, we are moved often to share that gift with others who have needs both material and spiritual. We have been asked to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation—to go to Confession— at least once during the Year of Mercy. Pope Francis continually reminds us that we may tire of asking God for pardon and mercy, but he never tires of showing us mercy. Then, in gratitude for God’s forgiveness let us show mercy to those in need. We are invited during this special year to do one corporal work of mercy and one spiritual work of mercy. The corporal works of mercy are well known: to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; to visit the imprisoned; to bury the dead. We are asked by Christ to recognise him in anyone in need: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least of these my brethren, you did for me” (Matthew 25.40)
The spiritual works of mercy are less well known but they are also important for the spiritual vitality of our faith community: to instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offences willingly; to comfort the afflicted; to pray for the living and the dead. The first three may require a special level of authority, competence or even extraordinary tact. The latter four are ways for us to express in daily living our life as disciples of Jesus.
Remember that every Friday is a special day for Palanca in the Cursillo Movement.
Please keep in your prayers all those within our movement who are currently unwell, physically, mentally or spiritually.
If you have any prayer requests, please notify Margaret French at
The School of Leaders
It seems, in general, that many Cursillistas do not have an understanding of the School of Leaders, its purpose, and/or how it operates. When they hear about the School of Leaders, many members tend to have mistaken concepts about it or identify it as a centre for education or formation of leaders to give talks on Cursillo weekends. In simple terms, the School is made up of a core group of people for the Cursillo Movement in a particular Diocese. They are those leaders who have an intense desire to do whatever is necessary to ensure the Movement remains vibrant and authentic; people who are willing to give their time, talent, and treasure to the Movement, as needed. The School is and will always be an essential piece for the continuation and development of the Cursillo Movement.
You might be saying: “School of Leaders, that’s not for me. I am not one of those people called on to be a leader in the Movement.” However, The School of Leaders is NOT a school in which someone learns to be a leader. “One is not a leader because he belongs to the School; rather he belongs to the School because he/she is a leader of Christianity.” The School of Leaders is not a school in the academic sense. It is a forum to educate and discuss various aspects of our own holiness, formation, evangelisation, and our Catholic faith. The School is a dynamic gathering of the Fourth Day Community. Participating in the School of Leaders is really not difficult for anyone who actively participates in the Cursillo Movement and all of the beauty it has to offer, to keep us moving towards our personal Ideal.
The School of Leaders has a vital role in keeping us moving towards our personal Ideal which we first came across as one of the first talks on our 3-day Cursillo weekend. As Leaders of Christianity, the School helps each of us accelerate and live the fundamentals of being a Christian
IN ONESELF –
IN THE MOVEMENT –
IN THE ENVIRONMENT.
During the 3-day Cursillo weekend, the talk on Leaders asks each of us to lead the people in our families, our churches, and our communities, to know the love of Jesus. Now that we have experienced just how much Jesus loves every one of us, He wants us to share that love with everyone else we meet. We are a pilgrim people, always in process, always growing, and the School of Leaders provides a place for continuing our growth in our faith journey.
Will we see you at the next School of Leaders?
The School of Leaders meets
The first Saturday of each month
St Paul's Presbytery, John Street, Camden.
For more information call Matt on 0451 959 863.
The February Ultreya at Kiama
Matthew Nicholson & images from Ric Jose
We had one of our monthly get-togethers in February, in the form of our first Ultreya of the year. We descended on Kiama Parish to take in the sunshine and look out at the beach whilst enjoying lunch and convivial companionship.
Dapto Men’s Reunion hosted the Ultreya, and after Andy Brookes (MC) introduced Matthew Nicholson (group co-ordinator) for a general introduction and welcome to country and to guests - extra special guests included Mike and Janie Casey’s grandchildren, George and Nora - we were underway.
Steve Pearson delivered a wonderful meditation, and Brian McGrath told us his story about the Lord being continually by his side when he was deployed into the battlefields of Afghanistan as a 58 year-old. One of the things I found of interest was that the only moment they were unarmed was when soldiers handed their firearms to someone else for two seconds while they received Holy Communion at Mass on a Sunday. He also told us a bit about his early, pre-military career as a care worker. I’ve learnt a lot about Brian and all the rest of the chaps in the Dapto Reunion, and I have developed a great respect for the measures they’ve taken in deepening their faith and in their actions they’ve taken to help build up the faith and church of their respective communities. The Dapto Men’s Reunion encompasses people from Kiama and Mt. Warrigal. The sharing when we all split into smaller groups after Brian’s Witness Talk was edifying, as always.
I’m an acolyte at Dapto, and it warms my heart to see the members of the Dapto Reunion who live in the parish come up to Communion each Sunday. I attended a Liturgy Course recently, and I’ve been revived in my duties as acolyte to try and beatify the Mass for the people who are so faithful to and who love God and have a burning desire in their hearts for Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It encourages my professionalism as a budding liturgist and increases my desire to teach though my reading and through symbolic gestures on the sanctuary when I serve Mass on Sunday. I’ve often said to people in Cursillo, “If only I could be consistent!” Please God, I’ll continue to work on this, and not be discouraged.”
I’ve often thought that the benefits of Cursillo are not just spiritual, but are also highly practical. I’ve been provided the opportunity to practice skills in chairing meetings, running trivia nights, presiding at prayer, running liturgies, public speaking(!) and, last but not least, increasing my confidence in people skills; all difficult things for a stutterer and a person with slow processing to master!
It was marvellous to see a couple of our new Cursillistas at Kiama, and I said to Dianne that these people who come all the way down to the South Coast to enjoy the company of fellow Cursillistas impress me with their dedication.
On a personal note, I’m touched by the way people have asked how my Mum and myself were coping after the loss of our dear mother and grandmother last September, and by the way they listened. It’s been a bit of a rough ride, these past few years have been “anni horribiles”, but with friends such as the ones I’ve found in Cursillo to keep me on track, things don’t seem quite as bad. In short, I’m looking forward to the next Ultreya!
A Plea from the Editor ….
Like you, I am a busy person. The list of things I would like to do is endless … if I only had the time to do them! However, being busy has not stopped me from getting the last 21 issues of “The Escarpment” out on time every three months. This, for me, involves writing the introductory editorial – of which I am very proud to have written them all – researching for articles, laying out the issue, making corrections and updates, getting the issue approved and, finally, making the issue available for release.
I have a request for YOU:
We need articles and / photographs from you on any facet of your involvement in Cursillo. As one example, why not tell us about your group reunion? Who are you? When and where do you meet? What do you talk about?
You have just read a report on the February Ultreya at Kiama from Matt. A really good read! (… and thank you, too, Matt!). This is what I am after. More importantly, this is what YOU are all capable of doing!
I can certainly offer assistance.
Please give me the inspiration to carry on beyond Issue 21…………
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