Cursillo? Prayer, truth, evangelization

Given by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at the Diocesan Cursillo Mass and Investiture of Lay Director, at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington.

As we read through the Gospels, we find many occasions in the life of Jesus Christ when Our Lord prayed to His Heavenly Father. Often, these prayers are private, and we are not privy to what Jesus is saying because He went apart from the crowds to pray in secret. However, in those precious occasions when the prayers of Jesus are recorded in the Gospels, we are greatly blessed, for it is then that we get a special glimpse into His mind and heart.

The Gospel of today recalls one of those beautiful occasions. On the night before He died, as He was gathered in the midst of His Apostles in the Upper Room, Jesus prayed what we call His "High Priestly Prayer." We heard a part of this prayer proclaimed to us this evening. In this prayer, Jesus is not just praying for the Apostles that surrounded Him on the night of the Last Supper. He also prayed for "those who will believe in (Him) through their word," (cf. Jn 17:20), that is, He prayed for each and every one of us. Therefore, while this prayer took place 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem, it is the word of God, which is eternal and relevant to each of us who has heard the teaching of Jesus Christ through His Apostles, and gathers in this church this evening, in the presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist.

There are three themes in the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus that tonight make our hearts jump for joy, because they fit so perfectly with the mission and ministry of the Cursillo movement. These themes are unity, truth, and evangelization.

First, Jesus speaks of unity. Jesus prayed to His Father that each of us may be united. "May they all be one as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they may also be in us." He invites us into the life and love of the Trinity. We are each called to be united to the perfect and infinite love of God. But that unity is not just with the Holy Trinity. Instead, it is a unity that encompasses all of us! We are united with God, yes, but we are also united to all of our brothers and sisters. We cannot live the Christian faith in seclusion, united with God alone. We must be Christians united as well with our brothers and sisters!

As Cursillistas, we know the importance of fellowship and unity, especially in prayer. As we live out our Fourth Day, we gather each week with our groups to pray together and encourage each other seeking to grow in our relationship with God and neighbor. Our Ultreya meetings allow us to do this on a larger scale, as we meet with more of our brothers and sisters to enjoy their fellowship in prayer and thanksgiving. The Cursillo movement is not one of isolation. It is one of unity, unity with God and unity with our brothers and sister in Christ.

The second theme of the High Priestly Prayer is truth. Speaking of His disciples, Jesus prayed, "Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth" (Jn 17:17). The word of God is truth, and it plays such an important role in the life of each Cursillista. Study of Scripture and Church teaching are a vital part of being a Cursillista, and it is through this meditation and study that we become "consecrated to the truth," the truth that is Jesus Christ. Not only that, but our Cursillista brothers and sisters help us to remain in that truth as they accompany us on our continuing journey of conversion, encouraging us, inspiring us, even correcting us in truth and love when we need it. All is ordered to God's truth, for we know that when we live in that truth, we are able to rejoice in the love of God, for it is then that we are truly free.

Finally, Jesus prays that His disciples may be evangelists, saying, "As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world." On His last evening with His Apostles, He wanted them to hear that He wants them to go out into the world and spread the Gospel, and He wants the same for us today. As members of the Cursillo family, we are called not only to share the love of God with each other, but also to bring the joy of the Gospel message to our families and friends, to our parishes, in our ministries, in our places of work, and to every place that we go. How fitting is the Cursillo message: "Find a friend, be a friend, bring that friend to Christ." This is what evangelization is!

Yes, we are able to profess the Gospel with confidence and joy because we are Cursillistas, men and women who encourage each other in faith and charity, men and women who immerse themselves in God's truth in Scripture and study, men and women who are intimately united to the Holy Trinity, and to each other.

We in Cursillo prop up our faith by our tripod, sturdy and strong with the legs of piety, study and action. How closely these are related to the themes of Christ's prayer. Our practice of piety unites us to Jesus Christ and to our neighbor. Our study immerses us in God's truth. Our action is centered around spreading the message of God's love to the world!

In His High Priestly Prayer, we are blessed to hear that Jesus interceded for His disciples, and He continues to intercede for each of us as we share our faith in the mission and ministry of Cursillo. We rejoice in His love for us, and we go forth in faith, united in love, consecrated in truth, and ready to spread the Gospel to all we encounter.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016