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Welcome to our Lay and Spiritual Directors website blog for the Diocese of Toledo Cursillo Movement!

A Message from the Lay and Spiritual Advisors of the Toledo Cursillo Movement.


Our Spiritual Advisor

Brother and Sister Cursillistas,

New voice! Let me do a little intro: I’m Fr. Charlie Ritter. I made Cursillo #9 in 1967 when men’s and women’s weekends were numbered separately. I made my weekend in Spanish and between then and the late 1980’s probably worked 15-20 weekends in English or Spanish. From the early 70’s to the late 1980’s I was one of the diocesan spiritual directors; after that I shifted my focus to other ministries.

I was asked to do a reflection for this ARK, and my focus was all laid out for me by the fact that this year Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day coincide! Of course—Lent is all about our hearts, and God’s heart, and where they meet (or don’t). My experiences within Cursillo were a major part of God’s helping me come to see that it’s not my behavior that matters so much to God, but where my heart is. What a grace it has been to see that God truly wants me to fall in love—because God has already fallen in love with me!

The Friday rollos spell out God’s tremendous self-gift using the image and terminology of “grace.” God is the “gracious One”—the Creator and Savior who draws us into existence precisely so that we can be drawn into God’s own “circle of life.” God is the One who both says to us “You have no idea how much I love you” and also asks THE question: “Do you love me?”

Saturday and Sunday talk about maintaining and strengthening this love affair—prayer, sacraments, study—and then how to share this Good News with others and invite them to hear and respond to this same loving call from God. Our efforts to reach out are grounded in that command to “love one another,” but the background of our love for others is always the awareness of how much God loves us and them. It’s not a “sell job” to give them what we found; it’s an invitation to them to let God find them. We reach out gently and lovingly to people we realize are already deeply loved by God—they just may not be aware of how much they ARE loved.

And moving from Day Three to Day Four—especially as regards the Group Reunion—we should pay attention to finding and sharing with others our enthusiasm for the treasure we have found. But it’s even more important to be in touch with others who have this same awareness that we are loved—intimately, powerfully, undeservedly. To share the sense of “what have we done to deserve this?” Unless we are humble, grateful and joyous apostles, we can get stuck in an attitude of “What do I need to do?” rather than “How can I keep responding—and invite others to respond—to all that God is already doing and will continue to do?”

So…as we move into this “great season of grace”—as the Church calls Lent—we might best focus on how we can become more aware of, and more generously responsive to, God’s great love. Don’t worry too much about “more this” and “giving up that.” Slow down. MAKE quiet space in which to better listen to God (give up the distractions!). Truly believe that—as St. Ignatius points out—we can indeed find God in all things…but we have to watch and listen. Searching for God isn’t like crashing through the woods looking for the rare and wonderful bird—it’s sitting quietly and letting the bird find you. And God is quite good at finding those who really, hungrily want to be found. May your Lenten journey be filled with joy, with gratitude, with being more and more amazed at how God loves you! 

De Colores!

Fr. Charlie Ritter

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Lay Director  

Jonah and the whale.  A story about running from God. God is calling each one of us to a plan that He has. Do you hear God calling you? As I thought about this, I thought “No, I really haven’t heard God call”.  It’s confusing to me. I think I’m doing what God wants me to do; and then it all ends up in a big mess. I just don’t get it. I thought He loved me and wanted the best for me. My life has been one big disaster! I run from one project to another trying to put fires out. I get so dizzy trying to remember what to do next and where! Maybe I should just give up! I mean really, am I making any difference in my world? There is so much hatred and evil. So much killing.  

Then I listened to a homily by Bishop Barron. He says God calls us always through our conscience.  You know, that still quiet “voice” inside that tells us what is right from wrong. We often say, “I don’t hear God.” I just don’t know what He wants me to do or where to go. But how often do we take the time to be quiet, really quiet and let God “talk” to us? I’m with you, not nearly enough. My life, and maybe yours, is filled to the gills from the time I get up until I go to bed. How much time do I spend praying and “listening” to God? I keep telling myself I’ll do more tomorrow. And truth be told, tomorrow doesn’t come.  

My resolution for 2024 was to pray more, worry less, and give more to God to handle. He does a much better job at it than do I. One month in, not too bad. But I still need to find the niche to be quiet! I think sometimes that the devil likes it if I’m too busy. Hmmm. Something to ponder. God wants all of me. Not just the surplus I am willing to give Him. He wants the first and the best not the leftovers. How am I going to do this? Pray some more and see where God leads me. “What do you want of me Lord? Where do you want me to serve you? Where can I sing your praises? I am your song!” There is nothing more beautiful than the name of Jesus! Nothing calms my spirit more. It is the best, no THE best prayer! JESUS.  This helps to calm my spirit. It helps me to hear Him, Jesus “talk” to me. Come Jesus come! 

In a world of so much turbulence, craziness, unlove, unrest, darkness, what do we need? More of the very best love for all of us! Jesus. I really believe that if each one of us would take the extra time to pray, on top of what we already do, we would see a change. I really believe that is what God is calling, no challenging us to do. Take extra time to pray! A rosary, time after Mass, time in adoration, time in chapel, time in a chair in our living room.  St Paul tells us to “pray unceasingly”. What does that tell me? To pray ALL the time. Offer up my work, whatever it is. The daily grind of 8-5. Washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, dusting, watching the grandchildren, helping the neighbor, taking out the garbage. Whatever we do, do it for God. With a joyful spirit!  As it’s been said, who likes a grumpy Christian? SMILE ☺. If nothing else, people will notice and wonder what you are up to. And that opens the door for conversation about God and evangelization. 

And that takes us back to Jonah. So if God were to tell you to go and preach repentance to a community that you are not familiar with, say Galveston, Texas. What would you do? Take the next flight to Antarctica?   That’s similar to what Jonah did. He said, I think I’ll go the opposite way. God kind of has a way of getting us where we need to be/where He wants us to be. God’s timing is perfect! Even if we don’t agree.  

So my challenge to you is to step out in faith and pray more. Give God 10 more minutes each day and see just how much closer you can get to God.  I’d love to hear your stories. 

As a wonderful Deacon (in his 5 th day) said; May the peace of Christ always disturb your life! 


John Lyons, Kathy Otermat

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From our Lay Director

Happy New Year! As often as I share this greeting as a new year is approaching or has just arrived, it usually has a unique meaning for me. Some years, it is the hope of a new year that doesn’t have the difficult losses or changes that I’ve experienced in the past year. Sometimes, it is the hope of a new year that is already inviting me into the excitement of events to come that look to bring much joy and/or fulfillment. At other times, there is a peace with the knowledge that although I don’t know of something special to look forward to in the coming year or have experienced a past year that was particularly challenging, God is still in control (as usual!), and I don’t have to fear the future or regret the past.

This year, I came upon (by God’s providence!), the Surrender Novena written by Padre Pio’s Spiritual Director, Servant of God Fr. Dolindo Ruotolo. The Novena contains 9 days of prayers that Jesus spoke to Fr. Ruotolo, each day ending with “O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!”, recited 10 times. I prayed the 9-day Novena, then prayed it again 2 more times. I couldn’t sustain that practice but have found myself (usually several times daily) praying, “O Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything!” And Jesus does. He continually answers my prayer for Him to take care of everything, often with surprises that exceed anything I could have hoped for.

I have appreciated this verse from Jeremiah 29:11 “Yes, I know what plans I have in mind for you, plans for peace, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” It has been a source of peace and comfort for many years. The verses from Proverbs 3:5-6 have also been a good reminder of who is in control of my life. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” The prayer of surrendering myself has helped to more frequently connect me with my loving Jesus who desires me with His whole heart, who wants nothing for me but what is best for me.

I am looking forward to this new year with the hope that I can become ever more joined to Jesus, my Lord and Savior, the One who came to this earth to teach us how to love and to show us how to surrender ourselves to the will of the Father. Ultreya!

Your brother and sister in Christ,

John Lyons, Kathy Otermat

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