In setting out to preface this book, GENESIS AND THEOLOGY OF CURSILLO IN CHRISTIANITY, the beginning of the Letter to the Hebrews comes to my mind: Many times and in various ways God spoke in the past to our fathers through the prophets; in these latest times he has spoken through the Son whom he appointed heir of all things ... (Heb 1, 1-2).. God, who has been revealing Himself to mankind progressively, enters history in a definitive way by sending His Son, the culmination and fullness of revelation, with the aim of establishing the full communion of men with Him and of the entire human race together. His mission consists in proclaiming the Gospel, the good news of salvation to all men, which they come to know the Father through faith in the person and the word of the Son.
Jesus preaches the Kingdom of God. He proclaims in the towns and cities the good news of the Gospel. He announces salvation, which comes through deep conversion of the person; and does so in a new way that astonishes listeners and forces attention. This response is due mainly to His authority, an authority typical of a prophet, but more than just a prophet. For He was not just someone who conveyed the word of God, but was Himself the eternal Word of the Father, the pinnacle of revelation, the culmination of all prophecy.
Throughout Jesusí entire public ministry, culminating in His death and resurrection, He establishes His Church as a sacrament of salvation and sends out the Apostles saying to them: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Mt 28 19-20). The mission of the Church emanates from this command: to spread the faith and the salvation of Christ. A mission that continues, that projects and develops, that updates and applies the mission of Christ throughout history. A mission that the Church realizes inspired by the Holy Spirit, ever present and active.
The Church, therefore, is born of the evangelizing action of Jesus and participates in His mission: she exists to evangelize (EN 14). Those who welcome the Good News and try to make it live, construct a community that is both evangelized and evangelizing. Its life has full meaning only when it becomes witness by announcing the Good News. It needs to be evangelized to preserve its freshness and vitality, to be able to renew itself constantly. As custodian of the Gospel, it sends out the evangelizers. The time following the Ascension of the Lord is the time of the Church. While this time endures, the task of evangelizing is her responsibility.
How does this Church, depositary of the Gospel and continuing Christís mission realize its evangelizing mission? First, by listening carefully to the Word, like Mary and with Mary. Second, by being aware of and faithful to its essential reality, which is missionary: living the mission of Jesus, which is directed to all the baptized. Finally, by being open to the charisms which the Holy Spirit raises throughout history according to the needs of each particular age.
The Cursillo Movement is one of those charismatic moments that the Holy Spirit has inspired in order to build the Church and to evangelize the world. It emerged in early 1940 in Mallorca after a growing process that lasted several years from the youth pilgrimage of Catholic Action to Santiago de Compostela in August 1948.
It was born in an era characterized by a certain religious flowering, both at a popular/social level and at a personal level. Catholic Action was rooted in almost all of the parishes of Spain, and provided an official religious presence in civil demonstrations. It appeared that Spanish society enjoyed the orientation of a more-than-acceptable Christian life.
But a deficiency was detected in evangelization, in testimony, in transformation of structures, as well as in profound religious practice. It was not as simple as the environment of the forties when religious approaches had few differences. Even so, at the time there already existed a number of young people of Catholic Action in Mallorca who denounced the lack of coherence between faith and life, a lack of authenticity, a lack of vitality. For them, religious practice was falling into mediocrity, into conformism, into a lack of apostolic effectiveness. Deep down, as is characteristic of youth, their hearts were dissatisfied, rebellious, restless, non-conformist, while highly idealistic and creative at the same time.
In this situation, Providence brought together that flow of energy. The preparatory activities for the pilgrimage to Santiago fostered that energy of hearts, minds, methods, doctrinal content, Godís graces..., and especially a powerful breath of the Holy Spirit which crystallized itself in a dynamic salutary effect, as a perfect antidote to the mediocrity which was gradually spreading among militants themselves.
Thus was born the Cursillo in Christianity and the Cursillo in Christianity Movement: an instrument and a movement that has consistently placed itself in the prophetic ministry of the Church, in the ministry of the word, whose aims are to awaken and to increase faith. Within this ministry, from the first moment, in the proclamation of kerygmatic evangelization; and more specifically in the evangelization of the environments.
In August of this year the 50th anniversary of that pilgrimage to Santiago will take place. From January 7-10, 1999, the fiftieth anniversary of the first Cursillo in Christianity itself will also be celebrated. With the profound transformations that have occurred in society, the changes in the Church itself, the mentality at the end of the century and Millennium, so different to those of just a few decades ago, we must ask today whether the Cursillo Movement continues to be valid. Does the Movement still hold some validity in its essence, purpose and method? Or has the Movement become something outdated and obsolete? I suppose we could collect nearly as many answers as people who raise the issue. But few will be as clear and compelling as that found in the words of John Paul II:
The mission of Christ the Redeemer, entrusted to the Church, is still very far from being completed. At the end of the second millennium after His coming, an overall view of the human race shows that this mission is still only in its infancy and that we must commit ourselves wholeheartedly to its service (RMI)
If we are in the infancy of the mission of the Church and we should apply ourselves with all strength to the task, and if the Cursillo Movement is above all an evangelizing movement, there can be no doubt about its meaning, about its sense, its relevance and its presence. Of course, it will be necessary to consider how to update and enhance it. The celebration of a golden anniversary is always a special moment to thank God for the gifts received, for the work done and the fruit harvested at the stage coming to an end, as well as to look to the future with a firm hope in the Lord's faithfulness.
Let me elaborate here on some points related to that continuous updating while being faithful to the Movementís charisma. A solid Christ-cantered formation will be fitting for the mission of the Church and for the specific mission of the Cursillo Movement. It will be proper to delve into the characteristics of the environments and the people of today. It will also be advisable to cultivate the most genuine pedagogical elements of the Cursillo mentality: Word from within life, witness, freedom, heterogeneity ... It will be advisable to have an organization that will take care of community aspects and their projection into the environments. It will be proper to feed a spirituality into the relationship between faith and life.
GENESIS AND THEOLOGY OF CURSILLO IN CHRISTIANITY is the Bachelor thesis in Systematic Theology that Josť Ńngel Saiz Meneses, a diocesan priest of the Archdiocese of Barcelona presented at the Faculty of Theology of Catalonia. In it we see the seriousness and objectivity of the study, together with his experience as a young activist first and then as spiritual director.
I feel obliged to congratulate the author for this work. It is a very interesting piece of work divided into two distinct parts. The first, of a historical nature, describes a process that culminates joyfully in the birth of the Cursillo, and consequently that of the Cursillo Movement. It does not go beyond the birth and the fact that it is an evangelizing movement. But in the Genesis part, it provides some fundamental and simultaneously endearing data, some very familiar and others in part unpublished, from those first moments. The second part is a theological description of the Cursillo, based on the original Talks, and articulating the doctrinal framework in four points: Jesus Christ, Grace, the Church and the World.
We hope that together with this work, many other publications and coverage of the events commemorating the anniversary will be written, to help us continue drinking from our most genuine sources. That will help us to deepen our reception of the Movementís charisma. At the same time may we be driven to update the Cursillo and make it effective in the new times and the new environments.
Juan GarcŪa-Santacruz Ortiz, Bishop of Guadix,
Spiritual Director of the National Secretariat of the MCC