(Back to Index)


When it comes to considering the ways and techniques used in a Cursillo, we find ourselves faced with the dialectic of Grace and freedom, the role of giftedness in the history of Salvation and humanity’s collaboration in that history. It is an old but always current issue. There is always a clear awareness in Cursillos for the need to respect Grace, but also technique, subordinated one to the other, both of them necessary as elements for living totally a vital life. The boundaries of this dialectic are, always difficult to maintain.[208].

The technique is not something strange or complicated, with hidden purposes. On the contrary, its aim is simple and natural, befitting the reality of the human being. The technique is simply “to prepare the paths of God”, to predispose human channels to receive the Grace obtained through prayer and facilitate man’s way towards this Grace. It is not to embarrass, but to invite; not to force, but to awaken and intensify love; not to obligate, but to set free the path that leads to decision, without ever forgetting that this decision, this acceptance of Grace, is always a totally free act in man and that God himself always respects this freedom.[209]

Mgr Hervàs, in his Pastoral Letter, makes a point of placing and basing the approach of the Cursillo  within the strictest orthodoxy, avoiding both natural error and its related tendencies, such as false spirituality that leads to quietist attitudes[210]. Doctrinal orthodoxy above all, and a serious foundation in the teachings of the latest Pontiffs!

After integrating pontifical teachings and the contribution of education as the natural means to Cursillos, he concludes that the techniques of Cursillos are supported by a series of psychological elements of proven efficiency that well used, explain the achievements of this method, placing Grace above all[211]. In the application he makes of the supernatural means to the Cursillo, he summarizes and specifies —not without emphasizing the primacy of the supernatural[212]— the elements on which the effectiveness of the Cursillo is based upon: from the beginning of the Cursillo(…) three points are highlighted from which stems the efficiency of a Cursillo: the Grace of God, the technical organisation and the personal collaboration of all the participants[213].

Technique is very important in the development of a Cursillo. This is why it requires a correct and balanced application, without falling into technical exaggeration but, at the same time, without devaluing it by falling into inappropriate improvisations which have to be programmed and calculated in detail. It has to be employed rationally, making maximum use of it, but without becoming enslaved or placing in it the trust to produce the fruit, since it is created to serve the Cursillo and the participants, and not the other way round[214]. The spirit of collaboration is also very important. Everyone is included in the personal collaboration of the participants: from those attending the Cursillo for the first time, who have to have a good disposition, to those who are going to give talks—priests or lay persons—or auxiliary people, who will need to be humble collaborators in God’s actions.

But above all, we see a clear awareness in the doctrinal approaches of the work of Cursillos that the birth to Christian life and its development is, above all, a gift of God, which requires the free collaboration of human beings. This is how God has disposed it by creating free men in his own image and likeliness. The same is true for all work for the Kingdom, for all apostolic work, that mysterious reality takes place. God’s Grace concurs, (that is to say, God grants the fruit) but also required is human collaboration, the work of human beings, (which despite their limitations must offer their collaboration for the Kingdom to grow and expand). Grace of God and freedom of human beings to accept it; together the Grace of God and the collaboration of human beings work for the construction of the Kingdom. Without going to extremes interiorly and exteriorly. In collaboration, in harmony, in synergy[215].

The general principles of the technique and methodology of the Cursillo are expressed already in The How and the Why, the oldest authorized work on the original thinking. Later on, they have been gathered and amplified in the most representative works of Literature on Cursillos, and finally, they have been systematized and outlined in Fundamental Ideas. From this last work we will take an overall view of the subject, although with some freedom in our emphasis  We will give a brief treatment to the most common aspects in the different methods of apostolate, and a more exhaustive treatment of what is more specific in this Movement[216].

We will emphasize the following:

A. Education in Cursillo.

The purpose of education in Cursillo is to help create an atmosphere that facilitates the encounter with the Lord, avoiding the pitfalls and obstacles that can impede the arrival of the Message to the head and heart of the participants, trying to cut the ties which enslave the participant, offering a free and clear alternative[217].

The principal aspect of this technique and education lies in the doctrinal structure. A systematic structuring of a series of truths that are orientated to the achievement of a definite goal. It is not about presenting a complete theological course, but rather a living synthesis of faith and Christian life which grows with and by the Grace of God. The personal conversion takes place through the encounter with Christ who gives meaning to life and becomes his central focus[218].

Another important aspect is the personal contact among the members of the team —priests and lay men—and the participants. It is most important to connect profoundly with the person to get to know him, understand him and accompany him in his process of finding himself with God and his community. Everything should be done prudently and with a sense of timing. The object of all this is to allow him to travel the journey he has to cover[219].

A third aspect of this technique consists in the language, strong ideas and style[220]. A simple alive everyday language, which is perfectly comprehensible for the audience, adapted to the listener and avoiding vain grandiloquence. Language used correctly and precisely, but adapted so that it is intelligible to everyone.

Strong ideas that synthesize briefly and powerfully the presentation of the Christian ideal which must be recorded in the depth of the heart. Axioms easy to remember and to be repeated as slogans during the Cursillo, penetrating and taking root in the heart.


An incisive and direct style. A modern, sincere and realistic style. A valiant, joyous embodied style.

Direct and incisive. Without going round in circles and without euphemisms which disguise the forcefulness of the word or the strength of life itself.

Actual. Because it is always updated, because it is in constant renewal and that gives it an uninterrupted validity.

Sincere. Without pretence, not being two-faced, without relying on appearances. Looking for authenticity and coherence of life.

Realist. Without falling into typical conventionalisms. With natural simplicity. Calling a spade a spade.

Brave. Audacious and decided, with the daring and trust of one who cannot cheat, with the fearlessness of one who knows himself as trustee of an irreplaceable mission in quite a hostile world that leads always towards mediocrity.

Jubilant. With a joy which is shown and brims as the result of a happy heart, resulting from the equilibrium and inner security which possession of the truth and service to the Church gives.

Incarnate. A Christian style embodied in reality that avoids spiritualism and the appearance of the typical sanctimonious person. Total participation in the life of the street, in the life surrounding each person and in which each one is immersed. Connecting with human beings, sharing their worries, communicating deeply with them, not from top to bottom, but on the same level. An incarnation which springs from the proper baptismal reality that the layman lives and that constitutes him as an agent of evangelization, in his own right, and not as a second-class  cleric.


In the fourth aspect of education, we emphasize the atmosphere which should be lived in the Cursillo[221]. For it to function and reach its intended efficiency, it is very important that the climate be right. This does not mean that the participants have to be subjected to a series of tricks or psychological reactions. Rather the technique consists in structuring the circumstances to make them live in and from the truth within the proper atmosphere, so that this truth penetrates the soul deeply…[222].

This atmosphere produces simplicity and sincerity, naturalness and spontaneity, and above all cordiality and joy, which will result in deep bonds of intense friendship.

This natural climate is gradually reached through pre-determined means such as funny stories, jokes, songs, together with deep dialogue, the sharing of tasks. Funny stories and jokes relax the atmosphere. Songs relax, entertain and fill with enthusiasm. The sharing of tasks or small jobs brings us nearer. Profound dialogue unites. These and other means, above all predispose positively towards reception and communication in such a way, that persons previously unknown to each other, live an atmosphere of true friendship and of mutual interior openness.

These means are managed and controlled conveniently to avoid possible excesses, always with tact to avoid anyone feeling hurt or annoyed at any time, but rather that harmony and spirit of charity reign instead.

The climate is characterized above all by joy. Joy manifests the convinced Christian and is the consequence of a person’s encounter with truth. Joy fills the heart and makes way for relationships. This joy is the consequence of the happiness of those persons joining into that climate. For some, this will be the fruit of a personal integration from within their faith, which gives sense and plenitude to their lives. For others, it will be the result of overcoming difficulties and problems, a vital feeling that is being discovered, the future path being glimpsed towards God as a goal, in the company of fellow brothers, living with them and sharing everything together.

Every effort is made to use normal psychological means which favour this atmosphere. It is not a question of brainwashing the person attending the Cursillo, nor is it intended; unjustifiable always even with the best of intentions. It is simply about eliminating the obstacles on the path, so that the person is able to receive the message in a brighter light and with more objectivity, enabling him to offer a greater surrender to the Grace of God.

B. Word and testimony

In Part 1[223] we saw how the Movement of Cursillos fits into the kerygmatic pastoral, within the ministry of the word or prophetic pastoral of the Church.

The Cursillo tries, and by the Grace of God usually achieves, to enlighten a person’s whole life in the light of the entire Gospel. (…) To achieve this effectiveness, the Gospel should be preached according to the style which Christ left us: the Word has to be lived, since Christ is the incarnated and proclaimed Word. Cursillo builds the foundations for the search for conversion on experience and testimony, both personal and communitarian. It does this by making present that which is proclaimed. The committed and results-oriented brainwashing the person attending the Cursillo character of the Cursillo and the entire Movement always demands a witness proclamation[224].

The task of announcing the Gospel cannot be done in just any way. It is neither just about communicating, nor about transmitting ideas in a cold way or relating certain events which do not affect real life or challenge it. To announce the Gospel is to proclaim God’s salvation, which influences and penetrates so deeply, that it ends up transforming personal history and the history of mankind.

It does not consist in communicating human pleasantries or good news which produces certain happiness in the listener. It is about proclaiming the salvation of God in Christ through the Holy Spirit, it is about announcing God’s Kingdom, a revolutionary reality that renews all things. When the person proclaiming experiences of the Good News in his own life, his word has a concrete style of strength, of happiness and security, of sincerity, of hope. His word participates in the fire of every prophetic word. His word is at the service of the Word, and is a transparency of the Word. Josep Capmany[225] stresses above all three aspects of the style which the kerygma needs to have: solemnity in its proclamation, which springs from the importance of the contents being announced; the appealing tone which aims directly towards conversion with a touch of joy, logical in the salvation being announced and lived as the result of God’s love. To sum up: a convinced and convincing word.

The ‘testimony’ is a topic or Biblical concept related to the kerygma. Jesus urges the apostles to preach and to give testimony[226]. The apostles appear in the book of the Acts as witnesses of the life, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The apostle is someone called by Jesus to be a witness of his life and paschal mystery and sent out to give testimony.

In the most recent Pastoral Theology, when speaking of testimony, the contents of the concept is not only confined to the testimony of the word, it also refers to the testimony of life. Paul VI emphasizes the basic importance of the testimony of life in the Evangelii Nuntiandi stating that the Good News must be proclaimed in the first place by means of testimony[227]. The testimony of life is a responsibility of each baptized person, as a member of the Church, and of the entire Church, as community of the baptized.

This means that testimony of Christ the Saviour is given when Christians integrate their minor and greater actions which take in their whole life. The Christian Faith of the person is known, or ends up being known when the person responds to the questions posed by his actions. In this way we see that the testimonies of word and life are reinforced, explained and completed mutually. Both of them have to be given with simplicity, naturalness, and coherence. Life testimony confirms and gives an authentic and credible tone to the testimony of the word. Word testimony throws light, strength and force on the testimony of life[228].

Within the Cursillos in Christianity Movement every effort is made to live the testimonial and kerygmatic dimensions, and the method associated with both concepts. The message is proclaimed, testimony of the word is given. We also try to give testimony of an integrated life. But when we talk about life testimony in Cursillos, we do not only refer to the authenticity and experience of Christian values in daily life, or in the three days of the Cursillo, but we also refer to one of the special elements of this Movement consists in explaining, in placing ideas in common, in sharing testimonies of life. In other words, communicating one’s own experiences to others. They are facts of life which accompany, illustrate and confirm the word. In each Cursillo, each subsequent person gives his testimony, as well as the whole team that runs the Cursillo, together with the Christian community which becomes present through prayer and which will be visible in the Closing Ceremony[229]. The style of communication of the precise life testimonies needs to be done with simplicity and naturalness; and above all, with a clear awareness that they are not personal accomplishments, but gifts of God.

C. Respecting Freedom.

The Cursillos were born and grew with impressive effectiveness and rhythm. One only has to review the copies of the magazine “PROA” from those years to confirm it. The deep change experienced by the participants resulted in the greatest praises and the most foolish accusations. One accusation suggested the possibility of brainwashing, psychological tricks or manipulation of individuals. As we have already noted[230], the initiators of the Movement made it very clear that it is not about obligation or coercion, but rather of facilitating the way, knowing that the decision is a totally free act on the part of man, and that God always respects a person’s freedom.

If God has created persons free and respects their freedom of choice throughout the history of salvation, it would be totally inappropriate for human action which collaborates in that plan of salvation, for it to coerce the freedom of the person.

Vatican II is very clear on this point. It affirmed that religious freedom consists in all men being kept free from coercion of individuals and from social groups and any human authority. In religious matters no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, or prevented from acting out of respect for those beliefs (...)[231].

Even if a Christian wishes the best for his brothers or friends, he must not apply pressure or restriction. Each one must give his own answer, free and personal. The same document emphasises once more that religious communities, while having the right to teach and profess their faith publicly, need to abstain always from all kinds of actions which might have a hint of coercion or of dishonest or inappropriate persuasion, especially when dealing with poor or uneducated people[232]. This is the extent of the respect that we need to have for our neighbour, especially if the person is vulnerable. Even there we see the greatness of human freedom.

True freedom testifies to the reality of the person created in the image of God. And God has placed the decision to accept or refuse Him in the hands of the person. The person acts according to his conscience and his free choice[233]. From this personal choice will come his personal responsibility.

One of the pillars of the Cursillo in Christianity Movement has always been respect for the freedom of the person. The Cursillo tries to maintain the difficult balance between the proclamation of the Christian message with all the pedagogical strength, kerygmatic and testimonial that we have analysed, with respect for the freedom of the person, which is something sacred.

On the other hand, we have the conviction that it is not necessary to employ excessive artifice or psychological pressures to achieve efficiency. The efficiency of the Cursillo results from the Grace of God and the humble human collaboration apparent in the community. This community prays, both the team leaders, who communicate and proclaim, and the participant who freely offers his consent[234].

D. Heterogeneity.

The Cursillos in Christianity were born among young people. It might have been thought at the time that the method would only work at the level of young males, since Catholic Action was rigorously structured by sex and age. But already in its early years, the universality of its method was experienced among people from various ages, sexes, psychologies, social conditions, culture levels… Since the characteristics of the essence and technique of the Cursillo relate to the substance, to the core of being Christian, it is logical that that they have to be valid for everyone[235].

F. Forteza denounces[236] the attempts at tailoring the Cursillo to particular audiences, which, according to him, have always happened since the birth of the Movement. At first, among opposites the young and adults. Throughout its history a variety of attempts at tailoring the Cursillo by professions, stature… despite these experiments, the approach of the Cursillos is universal, not specialised. Heterogeneity is present among its basic principles.

What does heterogeneity consist of? It is the sharing within diverse groups the fundamental and evangelical principles of our Christian being: something simple in its reality, and multiple in its functionality and dynamism[237]. Within the Christian community, there is certainly agreement among all Christians.  As the Cursillo Movement points towards the essence of Christianity, to that which is fundamental for the Christian, which is common to all, it is logical it should meet the needs of heterogeneous groups.

Therefore, all efforts are made to live that heterogeneity both in the team of Leaders who impart the Cursillo and in the group of participants[238].Likewise, the reunions after the Cursillo are set in a heterogeneous way.

This principle finds its foundation in the unity of the People of God, formed to be one single body, encouraged by one Spirit, having one Lord, one faith, one Baptism and one God Father of all[239]. Vatican Council II teaches us that in the Church, the dignity of each and every one of its members is common, there is a common grace of affiliation and the call to perfection is common. There is only one salvation for all, only one hope, and charity is indivisible[240].

On the other hand, the communitarian spirit is lived in the Cursillo, and all effort is made to help the participants to discover their own vocation to fulfil it later in Christian community. However, if we look at the apostolic community gathered around Jesus, or in the communities presented to us in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we realize that they are heterogeneous groups that form heterogeneous communities. This multiplicity and heterogeneity is a highly enriching element for each person and for the community as a whole. The diversity provides a much wider opportunity for the exchange of services, of experiences, of words. In short, for personal enrichment and personal growth. The community is a family, and in a big family we find different ages, sexes, characters...[241]. A heterogenic community is a testimony to the world of the novelty of Christ, the strength of His Spirit, who brings together different people in a communion of life.

E. Practices of piety in the Cursillo.

On this point we will cover four points: prayer in the Cursillo, the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrament, the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and finally, the devotion to Mary[242].

Prayer is the principal way of producing results in the Cursillo. There is a clear awareness, expressed often, that the fruit of the Cursillo is a gift from God, Grace of God, to whom we turn to in prayer with our petitions, trusting not on our own merits, but in His infinite Mercy.

During the Cursillo, communities of “cursillistas” pray; also other Christian communities, religious communities of contemplative life. They pray and offer sacrifices for the conversion of the participants. This is brought to the attention of the participants, not as a means to impress, but so that they know that they are not alone, that there is a unity and spiritual presence of many people who are interceding for them. The team of Leaders also prays during the Cursillo and, with their testimony, they initiate the new “cursillistas” in prayer. In this way, as the Cursillo progresses, all the members turn into a community that prays. A praying community both at the level of personal prayer and in community prayer. During the course of the Cursillo, difficulties which might arise will be resolved by all means, but above all through the means of prayer.

The first act of each day consists of the morning prayers, carried out in community, in which the beginning of the new day is offered to God. The day will finish in the same way in the presence of our Lord with the night prayers, during which thanks to God are given for everything received. A small examination of conscience is also made going over the topics discussed during the day. Following the Sacraments talk (morning of the second day), we try to intensify the visits to the Blessed Sacrament at an individual level and also by groups, in order to deepen the relationship with Christ, present in the Eucharist, and in order to grow in communal unity.

We saw in Doctrinal Foundations of the Cursillo[243] how the Person of Jesus Christ is the centre of the Cursillo. He constitutes the centre of the message which is being proclaimed. He is present in as much as the activities are made in His name[244]. He is substantially present in the Eucharist. The Eucharistic sacrifice is the source and summit of the whole Christian life[245]; of liturgy as a whole, but in a special way in the Eucharist. Grace emanates or springs out to us from Eucharist; and the glorification of God and the sanctification of humanity is carried out with maximum effectiveness[246].

That we can assert that the Eucharist is the centre of life during the three days of the Cursillo; the whole Cursillo creates in the “cursillistas” the awareness that later, in their “fourth day”, the Eucharist must be the centre of their lives, of their encounter with their community, and of their commitment to action[247]. The Eucharist signifies and completes par excellence, the unity of the People of God, of the Church[248]. In the same way, it signifies and brings about unity for those who participate in a Cursillo, and in the communities of “cursillistas”. The Eucharist is also the maximum expression and source of life to live together the Christian fundamentals, which are essential to the individual Cursillo and to the Movement.

One of the functions of the spiritual advisors in the Cursillo consists in “exercising his ministry”. Besides his presence, presiding over the celebration of the Eucharist, giving “Talks” and Meditations, discerning the spiritual rhythm of the participant’s confessions play a very important part in their work. This is so because within the Cursillo the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation plays a very important role[249].

The Guide of the Director in the Manual of Leaders shows the director of the Cursillo reminding and offering us the possibility of confession right after reading the introduction to the praying of the Rosary on the first night. It will be something that will be repeated systematically at the examination of conscience every night, as well as at morning prayers[250].

Further, the Guide of the Spiritual Advisor highlights the importance of confessions in the development of the Cursillo to enable everyone to start living in Grace. The participants’ freedom must be respected to the maximum, but at the same time the maximum spiritual resources must be given them. Therefore, during the acts that take place in the chapel, the priests are in the confessional or appropriate places for confession, and wherever and whenever during the Cursillo[251].

Today there is less director insistence about the possibility and convenience of confession, although it is still offered, and the possibility of a communitarian Celebration of Reconciliation has also been introduced, with individual absolution[252].

Regarding the place of the Virgin Mary within the Cursillo, we must point out that there is no Talk exclusively dedicated to her, although we must admit that all the Cursillo is impregnated with filial devotion to Mary, together with allusions to Mary in many instances and to practices of Marian piety[253]. According to Monsignor Hervàs, the fact that an exclusive talk is not dedicated to her is not an impediment to positioning her to a rightful place within theology and the History of Salvation, as well as in the heart of the “cursillista”. It is supported by the Mystici Corporis of Pius XII which, in spite of dedicating the epilogue to her, does not deal explicitly about her in any chapter.

During the Cursillo the Rosary is prayed, insisting on the role of Mary as Mother of the divine Grace. In the participants’ book of prayers —the Pilgrims’ Guide—, the Holy Rosary and the Sabbatical Prayers are included, as well as the Angelus and the prayer of Saint Bernard (Memorare). In the Talk on Life in Grace she will be presented as the mediatrix of all graces and her spiritual maternity will be emphasised. It is very significant that the first page of the Pilgrim’s Guide quotes Mary in its definition of what going on pilgrimage is about. It states: To be a pilgrim is to walk through Christ towards the Father, on the impulses of the Holy Spirit, with the help of Mary and all the saints, journeying with fellow pilgrims[254].

We must therefore conclude that Mary occupies a very important place for the participants in the Cursillo. The Movement born in her lap after the celebration of a Marian Year in the diocese of Mallorca, in which numerous demonstrations of popular fervour and profound love were lavished on Mary.

F. Structure of the Cursillo.

In this point and in the following one, we will focus on the structure of Cursillo that The How and the Why offers, enriched with subsequent elements, but maintaining the oldest structure[255].

As fundamental elements which make up the external structure of the Cursillo, we highlight the following:

- The team of leaders. Composed of priests and laymen, they have to form an authentic community of Church and give communal testimony in the Cursillo. They have to be the live incarnation of the doctrine they proclaim. Within the team there is a unity of mission and diversity of functions. The functions are: Spiritual Director, Director or Coordinator, “Rollista” and Auxiliary.

The Priest is the heart and axis of the Cursillo. The Director or Coordinator is the fundamental and key piece of the Cursillo in its working and in everything related to the external order.

The Team meets every night to revise the development of the Cursillo and also to revise their own attitudes in such process. In an atmosphere of prayer and the presence of God the work of the day is reviewed and the following day’s work is programmed.

- The “Cursillistas” (Participants). They constitute the principal recipient. It is not a question of a passive reception, but of entering into the live dynamics of the Cursillo. Personal growth will depend on their disposition and openness. No diploma is required, neither conditions, nor possibilities. The only essential required to attend a Cursillo is to be a person. That is to say, having a minimum level of personality, of personal maturity.

They are arranged in Groups to better facilitate living together dialogue and group work. The activities and stimulation of the Groups is the responsibility of different members of the Team of Leaders. The work in these small groups after each Talk helps to bring alive the doctrine heard, to living together more deeply, to create ties of friendship, and to initiate the community experience with the large group being drawn from within the smaller groups.

At the end of the day there is a general meeting of Groups, in which the synthesis of what each group has obtained is presented, certain points are highlighted, doubts are resolved.  Especially, acknowledge and a growing love begins to be experienced in the larger group, composed of all the members of the Cursillo.

- Meditations and Talks. There are five Meditations. The first one deals with knowing oneself. The other four present the figure of Jesus Christ, underlining specific points depending on when they are given during the Cursillo. .

There are fifteen Talks, without mentioning the initial one, which is an introduction to establish the Cursillo. They are witness talks that deal with doctrine and testimony. Contained in them is the doctrinal body which is offered in the Cursillo, which is a synthesis of the theology of Grace. They are also channels for the participants to achieve a personal experience. They all blend together to form a complete whole.

- Acts of piety. Morning prayers with Daily Offerings included and Meditation. Evening prayers with Examination of Conscience. Stations of the Cross the first night. Celebrations of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

The Pilgrims’ Guide is available for prayers, a publication which contains a variety of general prayers and others typical of Cursillos, in keeping with the pilgrim style of this Movement.

- Place, duration and Timetable. The place is important because of the influence it has for creating a desired atmosphere. It has to be a sufficiently private place so as to avoid interference with the work of the Cursillo from outside.

The duration is of three nights and three complete days. This time is neither long nor short, it is calculated to cope and meet the objectives of the Cursillo. It starts with the so-called introduction that is in fact a Retreat. Its aim is to awaken the awareness of the “cursillista” to analyze his own life and discover the love of God. The three days of the Cursillo follow the same timetable in the practices of piety and celebrations, with a rhythm of two Talks in the morning and three in the afternoon, and in the Group meetings. Between acts the necessary free time is inserted to allow for rest and to exchange impressions and live together in a joyous way.

- Spiritual and material preparation. Since the effectiveness of the Cursillo is mainly the work of Grace, each Cursillo is “levered up”, that is to say, strengthen and spiritually supported by communities of “cursillistas”, by Christian and religious communities who pray incessantly and offer sacrifices to God begging Grace from him to ensure an abundant result. The Leader’s Team, while preparing for the Cursillo, insist upon a special prayer for the participants and the Team itself so that it will be docile to the action of God.

At a material level, a meticulous preparation is required, which has to take into account all the details of organization, schedules, material to be used, etc. Nothing is left to improvisation; everything is previously arranged, even the most minute detail.

- Service Sheet.  The “cursillista” is offered a Service Sheet to provide him with possible means with which to nourish and direct his life to attain the ideal that he has discovered. It is not about restricting the individual, but about giving possibilities to channel commitments, so that everything he has known and has started to taste is not diluted for lack of a minimum standard of perseverance.  Each one will decide their own future commitments in the three dimensions of piety, study and action.

- Closing Ceremony. It is the final act of the Cursillo. It is an expression of community life. An expression full of joy in which veteran “cursillistas” discover  and receive the new cursillistas, for whom they have been praying, and the new “cursillistas” discover that community which they had heard about.

The Closing Ceremony has  these main aims:

. To present to the new “cursillistas” a live and real testimony of what has been explained to them, both at a personal and at a community level.

. To serve as a powerful stimulus for novices and veterans. For the new ones, it means proving that not everything ends in the Cursillo, and that it is possible to persevere in the new life they have discovered. For the veterans, it provides memories of their own Closing Ceremony, a renewal of the experience of their own Cursillo.

. To emphasize the sense of Christian community since it is a rich and varied encounter of people, from different origins and communities but united by the same common life. Also to highlight the community of all those who have been participating with their prayers, sacrifices, etc...

. It offers the first contact for the “cursillista” with the “exterior world” and offers him the first opportunity to give testimony of what has occurred in his life and the path he has taken.

G. Development of the Cursillo[256]

In the development of the Cursillo, the themes which are highlighted are articulated gradually. This way as a theme is being developed, it becomes part of a harmonious group of elements (Talks, Meditations, meetings, celebrations...) which have a concrete function within the general structure of Cursillo.

This does not mean that the roll out of themes have to occur rigidly and forcibly. In real life these outlines are much more difficult to be set in concrete than it is to conceive them theoretically. Furthermore, nobody can predict the time of either God’s actions or human liberty.

Taking into account what has already been said, we can distinguish four phases in the Cursillo: the introductory, that of proclamation, that of development or growth of Christian life and that of the insertion or projection into the world.

The introductory phase tries to situate the “cursillista” in the Cursillo, and is fundamentally composed of the Retreat, preceded by the Initial or Preliminary Talk, whose function is to welcome the “cursillistas” and briefly explain what the Cursillo is, what it is for, for whom and its development. Also some general orientations and practical rules are given.

The Retreat is made up of three Meditations. Two of them are given the first night and the third on the following morning. The aim of the first Meditation —Know yourself— aims to awaken and shake the conscience of the “cursillista” so that he enters into himself and revises his life consistently and with courage. The second is a presentation of the merciful God in the parable of the Prodigal Son. A real and authentic presentation of God[257], who is love, is given the participants who are encouraged to enter deeply into this reflection. Together, the presentation and reflection are intended to quiet any possible anxieties that the previous Meditation may have caused. The third Meditation – The three glances–asks the “cursillista” how he feels Christ is looking at him now. It completes the two previous meditations and presents diverse answers, drawn from the New Testament, of persons faced with the offer of Jesus, noting the diversity of ways human beings respond to the offer of love and new life that God makes.

The second phase —proclamation phase— is made up of five Talks: Ideal, Habitual Grace, Layperson in the Church, Actual Grace and Piety[258]. Its aim is to lay out the principal ideas which will serve as foundation and starting point for the development of the Cursillo later.

Ideal is a proclamation of the greatness of being human. At the same time it is a call to live this reality with authenticity. Habitual Grace is the presentation of the life of Grace as the greatest of ideals; it is a call to be a Christian by proclaiming God’s love for human beings and of His free gift of Himself. Laymen in the Church is like a call to the Christian to be a live and responsible member of the Church. This action begins with being a Christian, which is to live the life of Grace in the Church, as community and with a mission over the world. Actual Grace is a call to confidence in Christ who gives us Grace to be able to live this Christian ideal, and a call also for personal responsibility to respond to Grace. Piety tries —from the lay testimony— to present the life of piety not as sentimental or mere routine practice, but as a conscious and growing commitment.

The third phase —of development or growth—begins with the second day and it consists of the fourth Meditation of the Cursillo —The figure of Christ — and five Talks: Study, Sacraments, Action, Obstacles to a life of Grace and Leaders[259].

The Meditation is a real, intimate, modern-day presentation of the figure of Christ, as the Person able to satisfy our heart’s desires and to whom we want to commit our whole life. The Talk Study tries to awaken in the “cursillista” the desire for a greater spiritual formation, namely, a better knowledge of himself, the world and God. It is about opening oneself to being educated, so as to transform the world. Sacraments revolves around the figure of Christ. It presents the Sacraments as signs of God’s love, as encounters with Jesus Christ, it prepares and initiates the “cursillista” in the sacramental life. Action offers a vision of militant Christianity. The apostolate is an obligation of Christian life that derives from Baptism and Confirmation. Obstacles to a life of Grace reminds us that human beings can frustrate God’s plans refusing His love and His life. That is sin. Lastly, Leaders prepares the “cursillista” for their return to the world from where they came with a new vision, with the awareness that we are all responsible for the transformation of the world, and for that reason all of us are or have to be leaders.

The fourth phase begins on the third day of the Cursillo. It is the phase of returning the “cursillistas” to the world. The whole phase is oriented towards the so-called fourth day, namely, the daily life to which one returns when the Cursillo has finished. It is about presenting Christian life as being lived and lived together, and fermenting the environments with the Gospel.

This fourth phase includes a Meditation —Message of Christ to the “cursillista”— and five Talks: Study of the Environments, Life in Grace, Christianity in Action, Total Insurance and The “cursillista” beyond the Cursillo[260].

The Meditation focuses on the meaning of the third day and places its contents that will be developed later in the Talks. It is a call to apostolic action in the world. Christ sends out and accompanies the new “cursillistas” to strengthen them. Study of the Environments, fulfilling the message of the Meditation, is a description of the environments in which the “cursillista” is immersed or will possibly develop, and the way to Christianize them. Christian life is an explanation of the main practices of piety, making it very clear that the practices are not the piety; rather piety is fed with authentic practices. To make specific the future commitments, which each one will carry out freely according to his or her capability, the Service Sheet is distributed, which the “cursillista” will fill in after being advised by one of the priests participating in the Cursillo[261]. The purpose of Christianity in Action is to prepare and motivate the “cursillista” to work apostolically with others and to direct him or her towards Catholic associations, especially towards the parish. The objective of Total Insurance is to reassure the new “cursillistas” and answer possible doubts about the future, offering ways of perseverance. The ideal discovered in the Cursillo has to be lived in community. Perseverance will not be difficult if it is lived in a community that helps move “cursillistas” towards continuous conversion and a progressive Christian maturity. Finally, The “cursillista” beyond the Cursillo completes the previous Talk offering the foundation for perseverance, which is summed up in two ways: to live in a profound union with Jesus Christ through an intense interior life and in union with fellow “cursillistas” in a healthy spirit of community and collaboration.


[208] CPSNE, p. 75.

[209] Ibíd., p. 76.

[210] Cf. CCIRC, pp. 297-324; a clear apologetic tone with respect to Cursillos is observed. This Pastoral is the answer to the one of Bishop Enciso —successor of Mgr. Hervàs in Majorca —, Cf. Official Bulletin of the Bishopric of Majorca, September-October of 1956, year XCVI, nn. 9-10 and above everything it tries to present the work of Cursillos as something doctrinally orthodox, psychologically balanced, effective to the maximum, and in total line with the pontifical magisterium, thereby reason it is based on Pius XI, Divini illius Magistri; in Pius XII, Mystici Corporis, Menti Nostrae, Mediator Dei, Sedes Sapientiae, and in Benedict XV, Maximum Illud, in a special manner.

[211] Cf. Ibid., pp. 314-322.

[212] Cf. Ibid., pp. 303-306.

[213] CCIRC, p. 307; here he gives us three elements: Grace, technical organization and personal collaboration of all participants. In the same work, in the section titled Essence, pp. 54-73, he added a fourth to those three elements: the theological instruction; IF also gathers it, pp. 149-150, emphasizing and supposing the Grace of God and human freedom; we find the same in MD, pp. 35-36.

[214] Cf. CPSNE, pp. 81-82; IF, pp. 152-153.

[215] Cf. J. Rivera; J. M. Iraburu, Espiritualidad católica[Catholic Espirituality], Madrid 1982, pp. 373-382; J. Alfaro, Fides, spes, caritas, Roma, Gregoriana, (ad usum privatum auditorum) 1968; V.M. Capdevila,  Liberación y divinización del hombre. Teología de la gracia, tomo I: La teología de la gracia en el Evangelio y en las Cartas de san Juan, [Liberation and divinization of the man. Theology of the Grace, volume I: The theology of the Grace in the Gospel and Letters of Saint John] Salamanca 1984; M. Flick; Z. Alszeghy, El Evangelio de la gracia [The Gospel of the Grace], Salamanca 1967; M. Flick; Z. Alszeghy, Antropología teológica[Theological anthropology], Salamanca 1970.

[216] Cf. CPSNE, pp. 57-116. Mgr. Hervàs, in CCIRC, pp. 325-391, gathers, develops and systematizes these aspects; in MD, he again gathers them in the introduction pp. 35-66, adding two aspects of content such as the devotion to Mary and prayer; IF tries to gather all the previous and adds the aspect of the Eucharist in the Cursillo pp. 150-181.

[217] IF. p. 152.

[218] Cf. CPSNE, P. 77; CCIRC, pp. 342-343; MD, pp. 37-38; IF, p. 153.

[219] Cf. CPSNE pp. 78-79; VI, pp. 38-53: IF, pp. 153, 169-170; CCIRC, pp. 344-247. Mgr Hervàs does not enunciate this aspect as personal treatment, but as principle of the adaptation, that it is essential psychological law in all formative tasks and of personal relation.

[220] Cf. CPSNE pp. 88-95; CCIRC, pp. 348-354; MD, pp. 38-39; IF, p. 153.

[221] Cf. CPSNE, p. 78; CCIRC, pp. 359-361, it deals about the joy within the application of the technique of the Cursillos; MD, pp. 39-46; VI, p.52 and 62; IF, p. 170.

[222] CPSNE, p. 78.

[223] Cf. Chapter 6, Section B of the first part of this work.

[224] IF, pp. 150-151; Cf. CR.

[225] Cf. J. Capmany, Cursillos y kerigma, Madrid 1984, pp. 32-34.

[226] Cf. Act 10, 42.

[227] EN n. 21.

[228] Cf. J. Capmany, o. c., pp. 34-55.

[229] Cf. LBMCC, pp. 84-85; emphasizes the importance of a testimonial proclamation in the kerygma. It is not merely the explaining of testimonies, but consists above all in converting our religion in the presence of God, causing our conduct to become a supernatural manifestation of divine charity. Aiming to achieve brilliance in our conduct, so that the affirmation of God shines in her, p. 85; LG n. 31 emphasizes on the other hand, that lay people have to sanctify the world fermenting from within, and they have to manifest Christ to the world above all by their testimony of life by the irradiation of faith, hope and charity; IF, pp. 151-152; J. Capmany, o. c., p. 36; J. Capmany, Presencia del cristiano en el mundo [Presence of the Christian in the world], Madrid 1976, pp. 55-66; Md, pp. 45-46 speaks of the experiences — the personal experiences and anecdotes— like didactic elements of the Cursillo, which are positive, and that they must also be worthy of bearing a relation with the doctrine that is being exposed.

[230] Cf. Chapter 3 of the second part of this work.

[231] DH, n. 2.

[232] Ibid., n. 4.

[233] Cf. GS, n. 17.

[234] Cf. CPSNE, pp. 69-72; IF, pp. 154-156

[235] Cf. CPSNE, pp. 36-43.

[236] Cf. F. Forteza, o. c. pp. 53-57

[237] IF, p. 163.

[238] Cf. Ibid., p. 163.

[239] Cf. Efesios 4, 4-5.

[240] Cf. LG, n. 32.

[241] Cf. IF, pp. 156-157; A. Alaiz, La comunidad religiosa. Profecía de la nueva humanidad [The religious community. Prophecy of the new humanity], Madrid 1991, pp. 80-86.

[242] Cf. CPSNE, pp. 97-98; VI, pp. 90-95; MD, pp. 54-66; IF, pp. 157-163, 171-172; IFA, pp. 135-141.

[243] Cf. Chapter 2 of the second part of this work.

[244] Cf. Mt 18,20.

[245] LG n. 11.

[246] Cf. SC, n. 10.

[247] IF, p. 158.

[248] Cf. LG, n. 11.

[249] Cf. CPSNE, pp 110-113; VI, p. 56.

[250] Cf. Md, pp. 272-293. Already for the Meditation on The Prodigal Son the Manual already says in the previous note c, that the subject of confession must be delicately insinuated..., MD, p. 103.

[251] Cf. MD, pp. 313-314.

[252] Cf. IFA, p. 139.

[253] Cf. MD; pp. 61-66; IF, pp. 159-160; IFA, p. 140

[254] GPSNE, p. 2.

[255] Cf. CPSNE, pp. 96-116; IF, pp. 164-181; IFA, pp. 120-134. We centred on The How and the Why because it is the oldest distribution. Some changes in the Talks have taken place in time. Since the theological description of the Cursillo will be based on the oldest Talks, here we prefer to maintain the structure and development in its older formulation. Subsequently, both in FI and in IFA, the structuring of the principles of the technique and the style have had variations, but with the same depth content; VI, pp. 36-100; CCIRC, pp. 74-77; Md, pp. 219-225.

[256] Cf. CPSNE, pp. 100-101; Md, pp. 94-218; IF, pp. 181-185; IFA, pp. 143-161. The LM offers the explanation of the phases with the outlines inside. Here we will remit ourselves to the brief description of the CPSNE, enriched fundamentally with the FI contributions; CCIRC, pp. 77-83, also gives us the description of the Cursillo.

[257] In the beginnings (Cf. MD, pp. 102-107), a picture of the Heart of Christ was seen in the figure of the father of the parable. Later (Cf. FI, p. 182; IFA, p. 145) the figure of the father of the parable identifies itself with God the Father, although the Meditation also serves to influence in the knowledge of Christ.

[258] Two renovations of the Talks have taken place that have supposed some changes. FI presents in this second phase of the Cursillo the Talks Ideal, Grace, Layperson in the Church, Faith and Piety. IFA, on the other hand, presents Ideal, Grace, Jesus Christ, Church, and Faith. This last distribution is the one that is followed at the present time.

[259] At the moment the most direct and specific presentation of the figure of Jesus Christ is made on the first day in the third Talk, however, the Meditation of the second day is titled The Sower, and is a gloss of the said parable directed towards the discovery by the participants of the different attitudes of the heart that can be offered in the seeding of the Word. Cf. IFA, p. 150. The Talks have undergone variation also, and remain in the following way: Formation, Sacraments, Action, and Obstacles to the life of the Grace: sin. The Leaders Talk is abolished.

[260] At the present moment the Meditation is the same one, and the Talks are: The Christian in the world, Fermentation of environments with the Gospel, Christian community and Christian Life.

[261] The Service Sheet was later to be called Commitment Sheet. Although initially the emphasis was put mainly on piety, this sheet is a triptych of Piety-Study-Action. Later (Cf. FI, pp. 202-204) Later on there will be talk of commitments of piety, study and action.


  (Back to Index)