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

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Ark Lay Directors’ Article  


Such a month of promise. March brings Daylight Savings Time (March 10th), the official start of Spring (March 19th), and this year, Easter (March 31st). Our days have been lengthening since December 21st, 2023, but somehow the days appear longer as we move closer to Spring with the clock moving forward, giving us more light in the evening. And the increased sunshine certainly adds more joy to each day as well.  


How are we looking at this month in terms of our faith? Since March mostly occurs during the season of Lent, how can we tie our feelings of promise with the exterior changes to our days with the interior feelings of promise that we are growing closer to Our Lord during this time also? Do we feel that our hearts are becoming lighter and brighter, that we are inching our way to a more intimate relationship with Jesus?  


I am making some progress with my Lenten promise. I try to choose something for Lent that will result in my growing closer to Jesus and more at peace with myself. (Those two things are typically tied together for me.) This year, I’m working on procrastination. Putting things off that might not be my favorite thing to do doesn’t make them go away; I know that. The peace that comes from getting things done far outweighs the fleeting “extra” time I get from not addressing them. Now to actually do that! 


This Lent, I am looking to be more methodical about my “to do” list. Taking time with God comes first, and I appreciate all the opportunities I have been given to spend time with Him. This includes surrendering myself to Jesus every day, asking Him to “take care of everything”. From Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Jesus has been very good at helping me to let go of what I can’t control (which is mostly everything). The peace I’ve been finding is helping me to use that newfound energy to address what I can do. I’m making very slow progress, but progress nonetheless. God is so good!  


I hope and pray that your Lent is moving forward to a great celebration at Easter, where you can look at your journey during Lent this year as a time of growth in your relationship with Jesus and growth in your understanding of yourself. Haven’t gotten on board with any Lenten resolutions yet? Or are your Lenten resolutions not helping your spiritual growth? There’s no time like the present. What might bring you closer to Jesus this Lent? If you are moved to try something different, why not start today?  


Your sister and brother in Christ, 

Kathy Otermat,  John Lyons


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Ark Spiritual Directors' Article    


Dear Friends, 


In the opening pages of her book, Field of Compassion, Judy Cannato recounts an incident that happened a number of years ago on a beach in Cape Cod.  Nate Spears, a landscaper, was inspecting a pier when he noticed a 10-foot pilot whale headed toward the shore, and close behind, a second and third whale.  He realized they were going to beach themselves.  He waded into the water and approached the first whale.  The whale’s body had several lacerations due to thrashing against the sand.  Nate instinctively placed his two hands on the whale and held them there. Gradually, the whale stopped thrashing and became still.  Nate then realized that this was his first encounter with a whale and surely the first time a whale encountered a human being.  Each was operating on instinct, yet trusting the other.  Nate slowly turned this whale around and in the same manner, the other two, heading them back out to the sea.  This encounter between Nate and these whales changed the direction for what was about to happen; his compassion met the whale’s receptivity and life was saved.   


That story spoke volumes to me and led me to that famous Cursillo saying, “Make a friend, be a friend, and bring that friend to Christ.”  Can you imagine what might have happened if Nate had approached the whales, yelling, waving his arms or even trying to push those enormous creatures away from the shore?  It’s easy to imagine what would have happened if Nate had stood by watching the inevitable happen with curiosity or mere sympathy rather than compassion.  How did Nate know what to do?  A mixture of instinct and compassion; gifts that are part of being human.  


Yet some of us still find ourselves hesitating in the face of a situation that needs to be changed, a loved one who is making poor choices and/or a person in need of our support or friendship.  “It’s none of my business.”  “I don’t want to come across as self-righteous.”  ”He/she may never talk to me again.” “I don’t know how to start the conversation.”     


Compassion is a divinely given trait that we share, to some degree, with all living creatures.  Yes, plants, animals and people are capable of both giving and receiving compassion.  We are touched and healed when others show compassion to us and we feel a bit more whole and human when we extend compassion to others.  The Latin words are com passio and they mean “to suffer with,” or “to feel deeply with.”  That’s a clue to beginning an encounter with someone: whether they are consciously suffering or heading in a selfdestructive direction.  Yelling, scolding, shaming, or applying guilt will not work; these only cause (the whale) to be more disoriented, to resist or to launch forward out of fear, confusion or anger.  


Making a friend is natural, instinctual.  With a heart of compassion and kindness we reach out to another because we know that being human can be very difficult at times and everyone (including ourselves!) can get discouraged and misdirected.  Being a friend means being a steadying presence in another’s life at least until they can get reoriented and reassured of their belovedness. Then maybe, by the grace of God, such a friendship may become mutual – but that’s a perk that doesn’t always happen. Bringing that friend to Christ means, at the deepest level, to the freedom, joy, peace, light and love that Christ wants all of us to have.   


 At times we are Nate and at other times we are that (almost beached) whale. Let’s hold hands through these turbulent times, giving and receiving the compassion that will save us all!  


Much love,  

Sr. Edna


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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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