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A Great Season of Grace

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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