You can now read the April 2014 Cursillos in Christianity National Newsletter at this link: http://www.natl-cursillo.org/news/nmail0414.pdf or read the attachment to this email. The feature article is by Michael Ciccocioppo who spoke about the Methodology of the Cursillo at last year’s Cursillo National Encounter in New York. Fr. Alex Waraksa, the Cursillo National Spiritual Advisor presents an article about developing our spiritual life. And you will also find more information about registering for the 2014 National Encounter which will be held from July 31 to August 3 at Chapman University in Orange, CA.
Dear Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
Attached you will find the agenda for the Spring 2014 Cursillo Regional Encounter which will be held from 7 PM, Friday, April 11 to 12 PM, Sunday, April 13, 2014 at the Diocese of Fresno Pastoral Center (1536 N. Fresno Street, Fresno, CA 93703). This is a wonderful opportunity to meet Cursillistas from California, Nevada, and Hawaii, hear inspiring talks, share useful ideas to deepen your spirituality and develop dynamic Christian communities, and to worship and thank God for His love and vibrant presence in our lives.
The cost is $55 for lodging and meals ($35 for meals only, if you choose alternative lodging). Please complete and mail the attached registration form today to the appropriate addressee shown on the form for your Cursillo ethnic community. If you’d prefer offsite lodging, here is a listing of nearby hotels from Priceline.com: http://www.priceline.com/hotel/filterListings.do?key=htf8aq6m&jsk=344b050a334a050a20140331035810733010325068&plf=PCLH&gID=0&sLevel=3.5,3,2.5,2&filterAmenities=-1&hotelBrand=-1&filterPriceMin=0&filterPriceMax=300&filterRatingMin=1&filterRatingMax=10&hotelBrand=-1&hotelName=-1&updateHotelList=Y.
Fr. Jose Arong led a very educational and spiritual 4-day parish Lenten mission at St. Catherine Church in Martinez this past week. The topic was “Living our Faith in the Light of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Lumen Fidei (The Light of Faith)”. Here is a link to the document if you would like to read it: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20130629_enciclica-lumen-fidei_en.html. Fr. Arong is kindly sharing his PowerPoint slides for each day’s meditation as attachments to this email for those who may have missed any portion of the mission or for those who would like it as reference material. If you would like to use any of his PowerPoint slides to develop catechetical materials for your parish or organization, Fr. Arong invites you to use them as you wish. Thank you, Fr. Jose, for sharing your knowledge and wisdom so generously with all of us!
For those who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, here is a parish day of reflection for your consideration in furthering your spiritual growth:
· Transfiguration Church in Castro Valley is sponsoring a day of reflection led by Fr. Anthony Gittins on “A Call to Radical Discipleship in a Changing World and Church” today, Saturday, March 29, 2014 from 9:30 AM – 3:00 PM. Fr. Gittins, educated in the UK, has written 15 books, spent 10 years in West Africa as a missionary, and is a professor emeritus from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. The church address is 4000 East Castro Valley Blvd, Castro Valley, CA. Please see the attached flyer for more information.
St. Hesychius of Jerusalem
Not only is the name of today's saint a bit hard to pronounce and spell. It's also difficult to learn about such a modest and gentle man who lived in the fourth and fifth century and who is better known in the Russian Orthodox Church. The birth date of Hesychius (pronounced HESH-us) is unclear, but we know that he was a priest and monk who wrote a history of the Church, unfortunately lost. He also wrote about many of the burning issues of his day. These included the heresy of Nestorianism, which held that there were two separate persons in Jesus—one human, one divine—and the heresy of Arianism, which denied the divinity of Christ. Some of his commentaries on the books of the Bible as well, along with meditations on the prophets and homilies on the Blessed Virgin Mary, still survive.
It's believed Hesychius delivered Easter homilies in the basilica in Jerusalem thought to be the place of the crucifixion.
His words on the Eucharist, written centuries ago, speak to us today: "Keep yourselves free from sin so that every day you may share in the mystic meal; by doing so our bodies become the body of Christ."
Hesychius died around the year 450.
Blessed Francis Faa di Bruno
Francis, the last of 12 children, was born in northern Italy into an aristocratic family. He lived at a particularly turbulent time in history, when anti-Catholic and anti-papal sentiments were especially strong. After being trained as a military officer, Francis was spotted by King Victor Emmanuel II, who was impressed with the young man's character and learning. Invited by the king to tutor his two young sons, Francis agreed and prepared himself with additional studies. But with the role of the Church in education being a sticking point for many, the king was forced to withdraw his offer to the openly Catholic Francis and, instead, find a tutor more suitable to the secular state.
Francis soon left army life behind and pursued doctoral studies in Paris in mathematics and astronomy; he also showed a special interest in religion and asceticism. Despite his commitment to the scholarly life, Francis put much of his energy into charitable activities. He founded the Society of St. Zita for maids and domestic servants, later expanding it to include unmarried mothers, among others. He helped establish hostels for the elderly and poor. He even oversaw the construction of a church in Turin that was dedicated to the memory of Italian soldiers who had lost their lives in the struggle over the unification of Italy.
Wishing to broaden and deepen his commitment to the poor, Francis, then well into adulthood, studied for the priesthood. But first he had to obtain the support of Pope Pius IX to counteract the opposition to his own archbishop's difficulty with late vocations. Francis was ordained at the age of 51.
As a priest, he continued his good works, sharing his inheritance as well as his energy. He established yet another hostel, this time for prostitutes. He died in Turin on March 27, 1888, and was beatified 100 years later.
It wasn’t Francis’ lack of scholarly ability or deep-down goodness that almost kept him from the priesthood, but his bishop’s distrust of “late vocations.” Until the later part of the 20th century, most candidates for the priesthood entered the seminary right out of grade school. Today no bishop would refuse a middle-aged applicant—especially someone whose care for people in need is constant. Francis is a holy reminder that God’s call to reassess our life’s direction can reach us at any age.
The feast of the Annunciation, now recognized as a solemnity, was first celebrated in the fourth or fifth century. Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us. From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human. Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized. The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love. Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Mary has an important role to play in God’s plan. From all eternity God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world. We could say that God’s decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation. Because Mary is God’s instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption. It is a God-given role. It is God’s grace from beginning to end. Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God’s grace. She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.
She is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).
Together with Jesus, the privileged and graced Mary is the link between heaven and earth. She is the human being who best, after Jesus, exemplifies the possibilities of human existence. She received into her lowliness the infinite love of God. She shows how an ordinary human being can reflect God in the ordinary circumstances of life. She exemplifies what the Church and every member of the Church is meant to become. She is the ultimate product of the creative and redemptive power of God. She manifests what the Incarnation is meant to accomplish for all of us.
Sometimes spiritual writers are accused of putting Mary on a pedestal and thereby discouraging ordinary humans from imitating her. Perhaps such an observation is misguided. God did put Mary on a pedestal and has put all human beings on a pedestal. We have scarcely begun to realize the magnificence of divine grace, the wonder of God’s freely given love. The marvel of Mary—even in the midst of her very ordinary life—is God’s shout to us to wake up to the marvelous creatures that we all are by divine design.
“Enriched from the first instant of her conception with the splendor of an entirely unique holiness, the virgin of Nazareth is hailed by the heralding angel, by divine command, as ‘full of grace’ (cf. Luke 1:28). To the heavenly messenger she replies: ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word’ (Luke 1:38). Thus the daughter of Adam, Mary, consenting to the word of God, became the Mother of Jesus. Committing herself wholeheartedly and impeded by no sin to God’s saving will, she devoted herself totally, as a handmaid of the Lord, to the person and work of her Son, under and with him, serving the mystery of redemption, by the grace of Almighty God” (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 56).
St. Catherine of Genoa
Going to confession one day was the turning point of Catherine’s life. When Catherine was born, many Italian nobles were supporting Renaissance artists and writers. The needs of the poor and the sick were often overshadowed by a hunger for luxury and self-indulgence.
Catherine’s parents were members of the nobility in Genoa. At 13 she attempted to become a nun but failed because of her age. At 16 she married Julian, a nobleman who turned out to be selfish and unfaithful. For a while she tried to numb her disappointment by a life of selfish pleasure.
One day in confession she had a new sense of her own sins and how much God loved her. She reformed her life and gave good example to Julian, who soon turned from his self-centered life of distraction.
Julian’s spending, however, had ruined them financially. He and Catherine decided to live in the Pammatone, a large hospital in Genoa, and to dedicate themselves to works of charity there. After Julian’s death in 1497, Catherine took over management of the hospital.
She wrote about purgatory which, she said, begins on earth for souls open to God. Life with God in heaven is a continuation and perfection of the life with God begun on earth.
Exhausted by her life of self-sacrifice, she died September 15, 1510, and was canonized in 1737.
Regular confessions and frequent Communion can help us see the direction (or drift) of our life with God. People who have a realistic sense of their own sinfulness and of the greatness of God are often the ones who are most ready to meet the needs of their neighbors. Catherine began her hospital work with enthusiasm and was faithful to it through difficult times because she was inspired by the love of God, a love which was renewed in her by the Scriptures and the sacraments.
Shortly before Catherine’s death she told her goddaughter: "Tomasina! Jesus in your heart! Eternity in your mind! The will of God in all your actions! But above all, love, God’s love, entire love!" (Marion A. Habig, O.F.M., The Franciscan Book of Saints, p. 212).
Blessed Claudio Granzotto
Born in Santa Lucia del Piave near Venice, Claudio was the youngest of nine children and was accustomed to hard work in the fields. At the age of nine he lost his father. Six years later he was drafted into the Italian army, where he served more than three years. His artistic abilities, especially in sculpture, led to studies at Venice’s Academy of Fine Arts, which awarded him a diploma with the highest marks in 1929. Even then he was especially interested in religious art. When Claudio entered the Friars Minor four years later, his parish priest wrote, "The Order is receiving not only an artist but a saint." Prayer, charity to the poor and artistic work characterized his life, which was cut short by a brain tumor. He died on the feast of the Assumption and was beatified in 1994.
Claudio developed into such an excellent sculptor that his work still turns people toward God. No stranger to adversity, he met every obstacle courageously, reflecting the generosity, faith and joy that he learned from Francis of Assisi.
In the beatification homily, Pope John Paul II said that Claudio made his sculpture "the privileged instrument" of his apostolate and evangelization. "His holiness was especially radiant in his acceptance of suffering and death in union with Christ’s Cross. Thus by consecrating himself totally to the Lord’s love, he became a model for religious, for artists in their search for God’s beauty and for the sick in his loving devotion to the Crucified" (L’Osservatore Romano, Vol. 47, No. 1, 1994).
St. Turibius of Mogrovejo
Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years. Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.
When the archdiocese of Lima in Peru required a new leader, Turibius was chosen to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.
He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.
He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was St. Rose of Lima, and possibly St. Martin de Porres (November 3). After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, St. Francis Solanus.
His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.
When Turibius undertook the reform of the clergy as well as unjust officials, he naturally suffered opposition. Some tried, in human fashion, to explain God's law in such a way as to sanction their accustomed way of life. answered them in the words of Tertullian, "Christ said, 'I am the truth'; he did not say, 'I am the custom.'"
The Lord indeed writes straight with crooked lines. Against his will, and from the unlikely springboard of an Inquisition tribunal, this man became the Christlike shepherd of a poor and oppressed people. God gave him the gift of loving others as they needed it.
St. Nicholas Owen
Nicholas, familiarly known as "Little John," was small in stature but big in the esteem of his fellow Jesuits. Born at Oxford, this humble artisan saved the lives of many priests and laypersons in England during the penal times (1559-1829), when a series of statutes punished Catholics for the practice of their faith. Over a period of about 20 years he used his skills to build secret hiding places for priests throughout the country. His work, which he did completely by himself as both architect and builder, was so good that time and time again priests in hiding were undetected by raiding parties. He was a genius at finding, and creating, places of safety: subterranean passages, small spaces between walls, impenetrable recesses. At one point he was even able to mastermind the escape of two Jesuits from the Tower of London. Whenever Nicholas set out to design such hiding places, he began by receiving the Holy Eucharist, and he would turn to God in prayer throughout the long, dangerous construction process.
After many years at his unusual task, he entered the Society of Jesus and served as a lay brother, although—for very good reasons—his connection with the Jesuits was kept secret.
After a number of narrow escapes, he himself was finally caught in 1594. Despite protracted torture, he refused to disclose the names of other Catholics. After being released following the payment of a ransom, "Little John" went back to his work. He was arrested again in 1606. This time he was subjected to horrible tortures, suffering an agonizing death. The jailers tried suggesting that he had confessed and committed suicide, but his heroism and sufferings soon were widely known.
He was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.
Nicholas was a clever builder and architect who used his skills to protect endangered priests. Without his help, hundreds of English Catholics would have been deprived of the sacraments. His gift for spotting unlikely places to hide priests was impressive, but more impressive was his habit of seeking support for his work in prayer and the Eucharist. If we follow his example, we may also discover surprising ways to put our skills to God’s service.
from the American Catholic Website
Saint Benvenute of Osimo
(San Benvenute di Osimo
Feast Day – March 22
The holy prelate Saint Benvenute of Osimo was born at Ancona, of the distinguished family of the Scotivoli. He studied theology and law at the University of Bologna. After his return to Ancona and his ordination to the holy priesthood, the bishop made him archdeacon or auxiliary in the administration of the diocese, because of his eminent knowledge and striking virtues. In this capacity he rendered such remarkable service to the Church that the attention of Pope Urban IV was drawn to him, and the Holy Father believed that he could find no more capable person to whom he could entrust the administration of the diocese of Osimo.
The city of Osimo, which belonged to the Papal States, had formed an alliance with Emperor Frederick II against the pope and the Church. In penalty, it had, for the space of twenty years, been deprived of a bishop. Governing the people gently yet firmly, Benvenute pacified them and succeeded in convincing them of what was for their best interests, so that they repented and returned to the obedience of the pope.
Now that they desired to have a bishop again, the pope chose the former administrator Benvenute, whom he called “a man according to his own heart.” Far from allowing himself to be elated over the preferment, Benvenute asked the Holy Father for permission to be invested with the holy habit of St Francis and to profess the rule before he was consecrated bishop, for he believed that in the practice of poverty, humility, penance, and constant prayer, he would best be able to govern his diocese properly.
Touched by this request, the Holy Father gave his consent, and Benvenute wore the habit of the Friars Minor from that day until his death, observing the rule most faithfully.
Saint Benvenute of Osimo continued to govern the diocese of Osimo for thirteen years with so much wisdom, and succeeded in putting such order into affairs, that at the end of his administration the words of the Psalmist could be applied: “Mercy and truth have met each other; justice and peace have kissed” (Ps. 84,11).
When he felt that his end was drawing near, he caused himself to be carried into the cathedral, and there, after the example of his holy Father St Francis, he begged to be laid upon the bare earth, where, amid the prayers of the priests, he passed away peacefully on the twenty-second of March, 1282.
Saint Benvenute of Osimo was buried on the spot where he died, and God at once glorified his tomb with so many miracles that Pope Martin IV canonized him within three years after his death.
from: The Franciscan Book Of Saints, ed. by Marion Habig, OFM
Feastday: March 21
Patron of Switzerland, Pontifical Swiss Guards
Hermit and Swiss political figure. Born near Sachseln, Canton Obwalden, Switzerland, he took his name from the Flueli river which flowed near his birthplace. The son of a peasant couple, he married and had ten children by his wife, Dorothea Wissling, and fought heroically in the forces of the canton against Zurich in 1439. After serving as magistrate and highly respected councilor, he refused the office of governor several times and, in 1467, at the age of fifty and with the consent of his wife and family, he embraced the life of a hermit, giving up all thought of political activity. Nicholas took up residence in a small cell at Ranft, supposedly surviving for his final nineteen years entirely without food except for the Holy Eucharist. Renowned for his holiness and wisdom, he was regularly visited by civic leaders, powerful personages, and simple men and women with a variety of needs. Through Nicholas� labors, he helped bring about the inclusion of Fribourg and Soleure in the Swiss Confederation in 1481, thus preventing the eruption of a potentially bloody civil war. One of the most famous religious figures in Swiss history, he was known affectionately as �Bruder Klaus,� and was much venerated in Switzerland. He was formally canonized in 1947. He is considered the patron saint of Switzerland.
From Catholic Online Website
John Buralli, the seventh minister general of the Franciscans, was born at Parma in the year 1209, and he was already teaching logic there when at the age of twenty-five, he joined the Franciscans. He was sent to Paris to study and, after he had been ordained, to teach and preach in Bologna, Naples and Rome. He preached so well that crowds of people came to hear his sermons, even very important persons flocked to hear him. In the year 1247, John was chosen Minister General of the Order of Franciscans. He had a very difficult task because the members of his community were not living up to their duties, due to the poor leadership of Brother Elias. Brother Salimbene, a fellow townsman who worked closely with John, kept an accurate record of Johns activities. From this record, we learn that John was strong and robust, so that he was always kind and pleasant no matter how tired he was. He was the first among the Ministers General to visit the whole Order, and he traveled always on foot. He was so humble that when he visited the different houses of the Order, he would often help the Brother wash vegetables in the kitchen. He loved silence so that he could think of God and he never spoke an idle word. When he began visiting the various houses of his Order, he went to England first. When King Henry III heard that John came to see him, the King went out to meet him and embraced the humble Friar. When John was in France, he was visited by St. Louis IX who, on the eve of his departure for the Crusades, came to ask John's prayers and blessing on his journey. The next place John visited was Burgundy and Provence. At Arles, a friar from Parma, John of Ollis, came to ask a favor. He asked John if he and Brother Salimbene could be allowed to preach. John, however, did not want to make favorites of his Brothers. He said, "even if you were my blood brothers, I would not give you that permission without an examination." John of Ollis then said, "Then if we must be examined, will you call on Brother Hugh to examine us?" Hugh, the former provincial was in the house, but since he was a friend of John of Ollis and Salimbene, he would not allow it. Instead, he called the lecturer and tutor of the house. Brother Salimbene passed the test, but John of Ollis was sent back to take more studies. Trouble broke out in Paris where John had sent St. Bonaventure who was one of the greatest scholars of the Friars Minor. Blessed John went to Paris and was so humble and persuasive that the University Doctor who had caused the trouble, could only reply, "Blessed are you, and blessed are your words". Then John went back to his work at restoring discipline to his Order. Measures were taken to make sure the Friars obeyed the Rules of the Order. In spite of all his efforts, Blessed John was bitterly opposed. He became convinced that he was not capable of carrying out the reforms that he felt was necessary. So he resigned his office and nominated St. Bonaventure as his successor. John retired to the hermitage of Greccio, the place where St. Francis had prepared the first Christmas crib. He spent the last thirty years of his life there in retirement. He died on March 19, 1289 and many miracles were soon reported at his tomb. His feast day is March 20th.
Deacon Ben is the Spiritual Adviser for Cursillo Region XI which consists of San Diego, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, and Fresno.
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