Who We Are Palanca
Newsletter President
Secretariats Annual meeting
Archives Sp. Director
Locator Contact Us New Movement Links

 

THE DYNAMICS OF THE VIA DE CRISTO WEEKEND

LUTHER PIEL

How do you follow four of the best spiritual directors in the United States? When Wayne called me up, he built me up all right. He said, "You can do it. Thursday night you'll have the workshop." I didn't know that these four guys were going to take all the words that I've already planned on saying - well, almost all of them. I'm glad to be here. Before I start, I'd like to build a little bit on what Fred said, and what Pastor Lundgren talked about. He was talking about the Swedes and the Norwegians up there in Minnesota.

I want to give a little advice to the rectors, and especially rector training, too. You know, our short, clean, and funnies sometimes get into nationalities and get into races, and we really have to be careful about that. Now, I want to tell a joke, but I'll use my own advice and always tell a joke using an extinct race. Now once there were these two Hittites, Oly and Lena.

No, but I do want to tell a little bit about the rest of the story that Fred started about the history of this movement. You've already heard that we struggled for a long time in trying to call this a different name, because in about 1978 the Catholic Cursillo secretariat, which is about a 200 member group of people from all over the United States met and decided that the Cursillo was going off in so many different directions - in the prisons, into kids, into two day happenings, into co-ed happenings, and it was getting into so many different variations, that they decided they had to do something to maintain its authenticity. The secretariat came up with a plan.

The plan was to first of all copyright the word "Cursillo," so that you could only use it by licensing. Then the license had four basic requirements that you must comply with before you could be licensed. Now the one, it had to have the bishop's approval. No problem. Number two, it had to have a three part program in the movement. You had to have a pre-Cursillo, where you prepared the candidates - you had sponsors prior to the weekend. You didn't just bring everybody in. Then the weekend itself. The post-Cursillo weekend. We were required to have, if we licensed, these three parts. No problem. The third item was - what was it? It was, uh, how can you be calm after those four guys? The first, second, third item we could very easily handle. The last item was you had to have all Lutheran team members, and all Lutheran candidates, which meant we could not have ecumenism. Now we struggled with that for quite a while.

About twelve or thirteen of the local secretariats thought they could do that, and we considered licensing. We still have, right now with us -and I hope that some of them are recognized - we do have Lutheran Cursillo movements, because they are licensed, and they are permitted to use the name Cursillo. There are advantages because their supply house in Dallas can provide them with resources that we're just now starting to prepare. They have advantages over us. However, the movements - the Lutheran Cursillo movements are also with us in our Via de Cristo national secretariat, for which we're real grateful. They've signed our constitution, are part of us, and are eligible for our resources, too.

We struggled with the name - real hard for three or four annual meetings. We got to the point where if we didn't change, we were going to be forced into a lawsuit, because we had been playing with this about two or three years. We went to a national meeting in Good News! Via de Cristo movement in southern Michigan - Ottawa Lake, Michigan. I'm going to take a little liberty and I'm going to ask George Steadman to tell you what happened so that you will know the rest of the story.



GEORGE STEADMAN

I thank you, Luther, for asking me to be here. It was on a stormy winter - I think it was January, 1986. It was snowing when we arrived in Ottawa Lake. It had snowed Thursday night, and into Friday. We had been struggling - we started on Thursday when we were there. We struggled with the name. There was quite a difference between us. I think there were twelve secretariats represented there. We had varied ideas. Some wanted to counter-sue. Some of us had the idea we had to change the name. It was very varied. On Friday morning, Bob Sael who was the then pastor of the church there in Ottawa Lake, came to us and said that one of the founding fathers of the church had died, and they would feel very honored if we as a group would come and join them at the funeral at one o'clock in the afternoon. Now what does a funeral have to do with the national secretariat? You can say, "nothing!" But we didn't know how we could get out of it, because to refuse to go the funeral would be sort of a slam in the face of the church. We decided we would go. We went en masse to this funeral, not really understanding why we were going. While we were there, the Spirit came upon us, and for some unknown reason, we walked out of that funeral in one accord that the name of Cursillo would be dropped from the Lutheran Secretariat. At that time, we didn't have the name, but by Saturday morning, the name Via de Cristo was born. So the name "Cursillo," in a sense, we had a closure at a funeral. We put to rest the name Cursillo, and out of that was born "Via de Cristo." God works in strange and mysterious ways.


LUTHER PIEL


Introduction

And now you know the rest of the story. In the Cursillo or Via de Cristo movement, we leaders often glibly toss around some words to demonstrate how much we know about the program or about the three day weekend. We use the term "doctrine" of the Cursillo or of the Via de Cristo, "dynamics" of the Via de Cristo weekend, "fundamental ideas" of the weekend. As Leaders School teachers and in our Rector training, we talk about the "disciplines" of the weekend, about "spirituality," about "growth in grace and in faith," and, I admit, I often drew a blank when I tried to correlate what I understood about these words or terms and what was actually happening on the weekend.

The first time I was a Rector, I just repeated the words that I had heard before, even though I really didn't understand it all myself. But when I started helping to teach in Leaders School, I decided to try to sort out what I was hearing or saying, and try to understand more about the weekend so I could explain it to somebody else. Well -- I started talking about "The Dynamics of the Weekend," but didn't really realize how little I knew about it. But the more I got into it, the more I thought about it, the more I think I understood and I finally began, I think, to see at least some of my conclusions to be correct. I don't know if I'm left-brain or right-brain, but us engineers have to understand why things happen, and we have to try to know reasons. I guess this kind of spurred me on.

This is in NO way an exhaustive, theologic study on the subject, but after what I just heard, I think I'm going to throw this whole thing out. Because I think that Pastor Al should be the one who's really giving this. But as a result of serving on about thirty teams, and then trying to reduce it to simple words that even I can understand, I guess maybe I've come to at least some conclusions that I can share with you. Talking and teaching wasn't exactly what I was trained for in the Air Force. Pastor Al ought to be giving this, because he certainly is very versed on the spiritual dynamics, and we heard some good ones tonight. Maybe I can build a little bit on that.

Definition

Let's define the word "dynamics," and if we go to Webster, we'll find that he uses about 150 words to tell us that DYNAMICS is defined as a force that produces motion, a force that moves something. The key word is MOVES. Now on a weekend, everything we do on a Via de Cristo weekend is to "move" the candidates, not physically and not emotionally, but spiritually. We want the candidates to move to a higher spiritual "level," or a higher spiritual plane. Let's define Dynamics of the Via de Cristo weekend as "the things, the events, the actions or words that move the candidates to a higher spiritual plane." There's much on a weekend that has an influence on the candidates, but I understand what we're talking about, we mean those that have a big influence, - a positive influence, - things that motivate the candidates to participate, to open themselves up, to break down walls, to accept God's love and grace in their lives, and then to want to share God's love and grace with others. We want everybody to move to a higher spiritual plane. We want each to grow spiritually, to grow in grace and in faith.

You might say, "Hey, that's the work of the Holy Spirit." You're right, but the Via de Cristo weekend provides times, events, words, insights that make the person more susceptible to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Listen to what the words of the dictionary says about "susceptible." Susceptible is yielding readily, capable of being influenced or acted upon, having delicate sensibilities or sensitivities, -- impressionable, the ability to receive or to be impressed by deep emotions or strong feelings. --- Isn't that what we're talking about? The dynamics of the weekend make the individual susceptible to the work of the Holy Spirit to move that individual to a higher spiritual plane.

Can you order or tell a person to "grow?" No way! What has to happen? They have to open themselves up from the inside. They have to open their hearts and their minds. They have to become susceptible or receptive. They must accept, they must absorb. They must learn. They have to make "head knowledge" "heart knowledge." They have to grow in grace and faith.

Growing in Spirituality

Well, let's talk a little bit about "growing in spirituality" from a simplistic standpoint. We're all at different "levels" in our spirituality, - our spiritual life. Just as everyone of us is different in our physical life, our physical being, each one of us is spiritually different. How many people do we have in this room? 80 to 100? Everyone is different, physically and spiritually. How many do we have in the world? 4 billion? Can you believe that every one is different physically and also different spiritually - at a different level in their relationship to God? But God still loves every one of us - even all 4 billion of us.

Well, everyone is at a different spiritual level, and that's "kinda scary" on Thursday night when you're a rector and you start shaking hands with all the candidates and hand each one a nametag, knowing that one of them may have two doctor's degrees and another may not even be baptized. Maybe you wonder who's going to try to leave tomorrow morning - Friday morning.

Why is everybody different spiritually, or at a different spiritual level? We're from different families, different backgrounds, different nationalities, different education, different personal experiences, different ages, different receptiveness, different life's trials, different religion and on and on. When somebody tells you "where I'm coming from," he's only telling you a very small part of the story - a very small portion. Because for many reasons we're all at different spiritual levels, and the dynamics of the weekend affect each person differently. -- How are you going to "move" each one to grow spiritually? How do we handle that? -- (The Holy Spirit really has His work cut out for Him, doesn't He??) Well, I think we do it by telling a very simple story over and over again - starting after the Ideal rollo, -- God loves us, therefore, we love God and we love our neighbor. This theme comes out over and over in our talks and our meditations, in prayers, in worship. What was the key word? LOVE!

I'll have to share something. At our Cursillo weekend, Pastor Al Sager and I sat at the same table, heard the same words, saw the same things. But we came from different backgrounds, different experiences, we were different in our ages, and certainly, in our educational backgrounds (my high school diploma against his two doctor's degrees) and I'm sure that he was a lot higher on the spiritual ladder than I was at that time, too. He characterized the weekend as "agonizingly repetitive." After I got over the urge to go home Friday morning, I thought everything was "new." I guess I had to hear it over and over again so that it would sink in. After the weekend was over, I had heard so much "new" that I thought that I was taking a drink from a fire hose for the whole weekend.

I'd like to tell you another contrast in impressions. He thought our Rector was a little guy with a monumental ego. Well, he struck me as a fat little aeronautical engineer that had a little lisp, who was struggling in his faith like I was. He has since become a pastor and now has a little church in Alabama, I think. We have become real good friends.

How did both of us - Pastor Al and I grow spiritually on Atlanta #6? I don't know. The Holy Spirit had to figure that out. I think that the dynamics of the weekend "moved" us both to a higher spiritual level. (I was going to build airplanes in my retired life. I had no idea that I would make the Cursillo or the Via de Cristo my primary apostalate). The dynamics of the weekend helped me to (1) "see things more clearly," (2) to be more receptive or susceptible, and (3) to gain new insights from old truths. I've heard them over and over again, but I heard them all in a new way. (4) To grow in grace, my love for God and my brother Jesus, and my neighbor. (5) To be more mature in my faith.

But what does it mean to "grow spiritually?" I got a lot of nerve talking about this with all the pastors in the room. I bet if we had to write down what we thought it meant to "grow spiritually," we'd have a variety of answers. But let me tell you about a few of my experiences - just what I deduce. After listening to others, I think many people would say that "growing spiritually" would be to become more pious-- maybe like exercising the Piety section of our Reunion Card or Service Sheet. It's worshipping, praying, being penitent, maybe it's grief or sorrow for our sins, sacrifice, it's withdrawing from this evil world to concentrate on God, or going into your closet to pray, maybe joining a monastery to get away from the world, it's separating from the world, trying to get closer to God. A higher level of spirituality would be gained possibly by joining a monastery. (I think Dr. Martin Luther wrote on monastic vows, in about 1520, on monasticism and I think he covered some of these points.) There are many of my Roman Catholic friends in the Atlanta area who have considered these things or at least indicated these things as the primary means for growing spiritually.

Another group would be like those in the fundamentalist faiths. They say, "spirituality is no drinking, no smoking, no cussing, no movies. It's being in church every Sunday and Wednesday night. It's singing, a Bible study, making visits to my house to ask, 'are you saved?'" This group is "in the world, but not of the world." Maybe in the world, but insulated from the world. To these people, abstaining from evil is a goal to grow toward. -- Many of my Southern Baptist friends in Atlanta gave me these impressions during my 17 years there.

Well, I'm sure that you could give me other examples of what you've seen as experiences and conclusions on how to grow spiritually, but I think our Lutheran Via de Cristo understanding of growing spiritually is the best. I think we believe it starts with being enveloped in God's grace, coming to an understanding of that fact, and then growing in our love for God and in our love for our fellow men - our neighbors. It's bringing God's grace to our neighbors - starting in prayer and carrying it to the whole world. It's loving God and loving our neighbor.

Spiritual vs. Emotional Dynamics

I think there are dynamics that move individuals spiritually, but there are also dynamics that move only emotionally. When we go back to study the Leaders Manual or The Fundamental Ideas of the Cursillo Movement or the talk commentaries, we don't find a lot that would provide Emotional Dynamics. But it seems that as movements "grow," each team or each Rector has to keep adding, has to "outdo" the previous Rector, have to "outdo" the previous team. And they have their own ideas or "neat things" to add to the weekend. Generally, these neat things are only "emotional dynamics." I think we often confuse emotionalism with spiritual growth.

Now we use "shock stories" in our rollos, - we flood the candidates with gifts and call it "palanca." -- We evaluate the weekend by the number of boxes of Kleenex we use, or the number of individuals that speak at Clausura, and we wonder why we have less people "grouping," or fewer people at Ultreyas, less sharing about apostolic successes, fewer people to serve on teams.

You know, TV is good at this. Emotional dynamics, that is. They look for things that "move" us emotionally. Who isn't moved emotionally by a picture of a pitiful child in Ethiopia or Iraq, -- or soldiers rejoining their family after the Gulf Crisis? You know, the flag coming down as the bugler plays "wipes me out," but it doesn't do a thing for me spiritually.

I've seen many "neat things" on a weekend. I've seen very elaborate "Enthronement of Scriptures," where a solemn Cha very ceremoniously places a Bible on the altar behind the Rector's podium with long Scripture reading and prayer. I've seen flowers used in a great variety of neat ways, in the Rollo Room, in the dining room, at the Serenade, or at the Clausura. I've seen a whole bunch of balloons in the sanctuary in Clausura. I've been on weekends where we over and over again thanked the cooks and the community members by name, church, reunion group (each member) for the napkins, for the candy, for the cookies, the gum, the bookmarks (all 21 of them) the warm fuzzies, and on and on. --- I've seen rollos given on a guitar, or with a projector showing beautiful nature scenes on a backdrop screen behind the podium while the rollista spoke, (next slide, please!). We've had elaborate posters or decorations to go along with the "theme of the weekend," that the Rector selected, or we had to learn the Rector's favorite song, and sing it over and over again during the weekend. We've taken up a lot of time in singing each professor's favorite song before his rollo or hearing the rollista's favorite Scripture -- it didn't matter if it didn't fit. You see, the scripture reading gave another Cha a chance to stand before the group to get the experience.

Well, after a number of weekends where we keep adding "neat things," there is soon no time for discussions after the talks, or no time for walks, quiet, or for free time. - We have to cut time for the posters, or bring up the whole table at once at Decurias or our Clausuras, or we save time by doubling up on the Rollos to get them all in, or to make up for our social hours, our Apostolic hours, Cha skits, or kitchen skits, our 4:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon closing times. --- I'm not saying these things are wrong, -- but, -- I've noticed that many times, changes or "neat things" that were suggested, especially by team members, would be more emotional dynamics that spiritual dynamics, -- and were added primarily for the team's benefit, and not the candidates'.

Secretariats must be very thorough in training Rectors, and very critical in the addition of "neat things," to assure that we don't add "emotional dynamics" at the expense of "spiritual dynamics," or, spend our team training time preparing "neat things" instead of the necessary, thorough training. I was really glad to hear a minimum of 25 or 30 hours as team training time. I always said 20 hours, but I'm beginning to think maybe that's not enough. -- We don't want to "major on minors." -- You know, we have some older movements that are struggling to get back to the basics, -- and it's almost impossible, because -- "you can't change that," -- "It's tradition in our movement." -- "We've always done it that way."

Pastor Al made a big point tonight we don't want to set it in concrete. However, if we make changes, we have to be real careful. I want to make this point. Maybe it doesn't fit what I'm talking about, but it might be appropriate. The secretariats that you represent are not democratic organizations, where somebody can bring up a new idea, we vote on it, and if everybody votes for it, we implement it. Before we add, remove, or change anything, - our most knowledgeable people, especially, our Spiritual Directors, should critically consider the proposal to assure that it does not replace a spiritual dynamic with an emotional dynamic, or changes primarily for the team members or the community benefit.

Positive vs. Negative Dynamics

I think there are both positive and negative dynamics. Before we talk about the positives, let's talk a little bit about the negatives. -- What kind of words, actions, events, or things would have an opposite effect on the candidate? What would cause a person to resist, or maybe, temporarily stop growing spiritually, or moving to a higher spiritual plane? What things that would have a tendency for them to "close the doors to their hearts or minds," or stop the learning process, or "turn them off" for awhile??

I've got a handout I like to have passed out. On the back side of the sheet, I've listed a few what I think are "negatives" that we really have to be careful about. I'm sure that you can add to our list. These are some of the things that I've seen or experienced on weekends and things that have turned me off or people have shared that have really turned them off.

Pastor Al shared some tonight when he says, "over-regimentation" by our rector who had a big ego. At least, he appeared that way. There are many things that can turn people off. I'm going to list one, especially, down a little bit later I'll talk about it. Theological error is a big one. This is another reason why spiritual director rollos should be critiqued at the team meetings.

At one of our weekends, one of the rollistas made the statement, "when I became a Christian on my Via de Cristo weekend," and a pastor shared with me that that turned him off to a point where he didn't hear anything more for about an hour or two, until he finally came to grips and decided that this was just a slip that just wasn't supposed to be in there. He kept wondering what happened to that boy from the time that he was baptized until he went all the way up to Sunday school and what did that pastor do all that time? Theological error is a big negative. That's quite a ways down.

Let me start right at the top with intimidation. Anything that puts people on the defensive will be a real negative. How you say - preaching down to them, or, "You're the president of the congregation, don't you know that?"

Another negative is confusion. (A lot of these are the result of inadequate team training.) Confusion, unorganized. Arguments, wasting time, like waiting for a rollista. Stealing the bell. I heard on one weekend, one of the rectors came in with 14 bells, and I think that they were all stolen in the course of the weekend. There were a couple of schoolteachers that had made that weekend, and they shared that even their fifth grade was better disciplined than the team was on the weekend. That's a negative.

Secrecy is a real negative. You know that we train the team saying, "don't come up and whisper in the rector's ear," or give evasive answers to questions - not be honest. You're counseled, "now if somebody asks you if you've ever been on a weekend, you tell them, not this one," - that's evasive, that's not being honest.

One of the things that really turns people off is bragging, in rollos and conversation and table discussion. They're exhibiting a lack of humility. Humility is one of the most positive dynamics we have on the weekend. Do you know one of the best dynamics we can have is to have a judge or a lawyer or a doctor serving as a server in the kitchen or a cook - in real humility.

Irritation is a real turn-off, including physical discomfort. Childish actions. Agonizingly repetitive. It's a turn-off. Or having to sing "De Colores" 7 times before breakfast.

Charismatics is a real turn-off, too. Speaking in tongues. Maybe to some it might be a positive dynamic. These are some of the things we want to avoid. Team training has to be specifically directed to these.

Fatigue is a real negative. Again I said theological error - we talked about that earlier. Another turn-off is uninteresting rollos - long lectures, long spiritual director sermons. Off the subject. Complicated sharing, especially about somebody else, and you get about three or four people involved, and you can totally lose an audience. Or trying to be clever. Real turn-offs.

Overly regimented is a real turn-off - a real negative. Overly controlled. Being escorted to the bathroom. Not enough freedom or free time. Getting the impression of brainwashing.

Fear of change. What are the seven most used words in the Lutheran language? "We've never done it like that before." The fear of being put down. Worrying I'll say something dumb if I speak before the group.

I'm sure that you can think of others, too. But these take training in our team training because some of these things have a negative effect that we don't want because these negatives are usually the most remembered and often the most used by critics to justify opposition to the movement, often to the total exclusion of all of the positive dynamics. But more importantly, negatives retard and sometimes temporarily close off the growing to a higher spiritual plane and moving up. During our team training meetings we have to look for and try to eliminate the negatives.

Positive Dynamics

Okay! Let's talk about "positive" dynamics.

I finally got to my topic, I guess. On the Via de Cristo weekend, everything is designed to try to achieve some spiritual goals, or to move to some definite goals. We've passed out this list of "Things We Grow in Spiritually," -- and I'm sure you can add to it. -- But why don't you briefly read down the last column, and let's take a look at that for just a moment. Understanding we're part of God's family, sharing God's love with others, worshipping and praising God in songs, ...

Read all the way down. That's a pretty ambitious list of goals, isn't it? As I said, I'm sure you can add to it also. The point is, we have only 72 hours to achieve these goals. The weekend and its schedules were developed to effect the maximum change. Anytime we substitute emotional dynamics or we're not careful about our negative dynamics we can detract from these goals or worse, get into negatives where we're completely turned off.

Well let's start at the top and just review a few of these for a little bit. First of all, at send off we call the candidates by name. We call each one up later by name to give them a name tag. We seat the tables, calling each one by name. We have them give their name, something about their family, their church family. We have them wear their name tag at all times, and repeat their names before speaking giving names, and church and later on, table. You see, their name is important to them. (Your name is important to you.) During the Sacraments rollo, given by the spiritual director, they are told, "In baptism, God calls you BY NAME." "We become members of God's family." After that, every time they speak or we speak we give our name, church, table and it again reminds us that we are part of God's family, -- even when we get up to give a "short-clean-and funny." Some tables get to understand this by the end of the weekend, and they change their name tags to Joe "Christian" Smith, or "Bill Jones, Christian." They have achieved the goal.

You know what the negatives would be? -- mispronouncing a name. It's very important that the whole team, and especially the Rector and at Send-off, know the correct pronunciation of all names. Part of our team training is this responsibility because, as we're in prayer for each one of the candidates, we can get the correct pronunciation.

Another negative? -- deriding someone, or making fun of their names. "Hey, Baldy." -- "Stand up, shorty." -- "Omar, hey Omar the tentmaker."

We introduce the Chas and the kitchen crew just once. We introduce them - we never thank them. That would destroy the positive dynamic of "loving through serving." How many times have you been on a weekend, "Wasn't that a great meal? Let's bring the kitchen crew back out and give them all a clap. That's all the good they're going to do, but we've lost our humility. We've lost the positive dynamic of loving through servanthood.

#3 - let's talk a little bit about singing. -- A team and candidates were riding the bus the one hour that it took to get from the send-off to the site on time. Instead of the conversation which we're supposed to have with the new candidates, the team members started singing. It wasn't long before the team was singing their "favorite" songs, --- "AND I WILL RAISE HIM UP!!!". When we arrived at the site, we had a real problem. Many of the candidates were going to stay on the bus and go back home. --- Singing has to start "low key", and build slowly in intensity. Team members must lead, but they also have to be trained in singing. -- On Thursday nights, we start with generic songs. For the rest of the week, singing should fit in with the mood, or with the thoughts being considered. -- Whether it's praise or worship, joyful or meditative, the singing is a dynamic that matches the rest of the dynamics on the weekend. It's just not thrown in. On one weekend, we had to practice 40 songs in our team training meeting. We were going to sing them all. Well, we want to learn some new songs, but I think 8 to 12 is fine. Songs shouldn't be too long. -- They ought to be sung several time during the weekend. -- We ought to make sure that when the Serenade songs are sung, we've already sung them, or they're the same songs that the team and candidates have sung. Any time you add or detract from the worship or the meditation at a serenade, it also adds a negative. -- Clowning around, singing too much, singing inappropriate songs, or the cook wants "De Colores" another time before we eat. There are many negatives that we can get into just in singing. So singing is a dynamic that really needs thought.

Let's talk about Lutheran lay people getting up before a group and witnessing on number four. -- Or giving a Sunday morning service. -- Or teaching a Bible class. That's a laugh, isn't it? How are we going to accomplish that? -- By hearing everybody else talk? -- No, I'm afraid not. We start in the Via de Cristo weekend where each individual is at, and we start gently encouraging each one to talk. First of all, just to participate in discussions - to share personal thoughts and experiences. To share during decurias - to stand before a non-threatening group and say something. (What isn't important really.) But walks, breaks and meal times are important. (How many times do you talk about this in your team training meeting?) During these times, hearing team members talk is usually not a positive dynamic. In fact, it can be a real negative.

#5 - Do you think the abrazzo is a dynamic?? -- Well, how did you feel after your first Altar Visit? --- Do we start the abrazzo on Thursday night? -- No way! -- But we do start on Thursday night. We start the handshake, - the touch, -- right away. -- Who does this? -- The community at Send-off, the Chas on arriving at the site, -- the Rector when handing out a name tag, -- the Spiritual Directors whenever they talk to an individual, -- the professors when the tables are seated, the table Chas when serving, -- the Chas holding doors open for candidates, the servers, -- the professors at decuria, -- anytime we have an opportunity to give a loving touch, a genuine handshake, an arm around the shoulder, and finally, the abrazzo. Is it important? -- At a weekend in North Carolina, the team was not made aware of this. The Rector was rather cool, and the professors at one of the tables had not been trained. The table had a very "cool" Altar Visit on Saturday afternoon. It was a real concern at our Saturday night team meeting. What are the negatives? Forcing anything. You don't want to force the abrazzo, and that's why the community doesn't do it at send-off, and why it really doesn't start until after the Altar Visit. Or expecting too much, too soon. Don't have the chas overdo the "back rub" on Friday morning already.

Let's talk about prayer for a minute. Is prayer a dynamic? You bet it is!! Someone has said that "Everytime you speak the name of Jesus in prayer, you grow a little bit." That's kind of childish, but the palanca, (the prayer, the sacrifice) that undergirds the weekend is responsible for much more than we can comprehend! -- When the candidates find out about Palanca, -- or the Chapel prayers during the Rollo, or the 72 hour vigil, it is a powerful dynamic. Not only when they find out about it, but while it's being practiced. -- Most candidates come to the weekend with only private prayer experience. We start by praying together (the Lord's Prayer on Thursday night), reading prayers from the Pilgrim's Guide. But we start at meal-times Friday, asking two candidates to ask the blessing, and then return thanks after the meal. That's sixteen candidates who haven't had the chance to pray before a group, and sometimes for the first time before a group in their lives. But the real dynamic comes on Saturday afternoon, after the table community is formed, and when we go to the Chapel for our Altar Visit. -- Where in a non-threatening situation, each individual has a chance to pray, verbally, before a group. (Some movements have a second altar visit on Sunday). Well, each one has an opportunity for a short prayer. Often these moments are remembered for the rest of their lives. They certainly were in mine. What are the negatives? Team members using up all the words. I'm sure you can think of others.

Okay, #7. The Worship and Communion services are a powerful dynamic on the weekend. Special thought and preparation should be given to these services, they are that important! -- Many people have said that they get a lot more out of their church services after attending a Via de Cristo weekend. -- (Why do you think that is?) -- I think that we start right at the beginning in "participating". We "talk back" on lessons. -- In some movements, the Spiritual Directors will change the services - add a little bit. They'll improve concentration and listening by saying, "Fix your eyes on the nail prints" or "on the crown of thorns" as they're giving meditations or some of the talks. Some Spiritual Directors use the overflowing Communion cup during consecration of the elements to vividly show Christ's overflowing abundance of love and grace when He shed his blood for us all, for the whole world. Some of those things stick in our minds vividly for the rest of our lives. (Can you think of any negatives to the Worship and Communion service in the morning?_ Somebody says - breakfast smell.

Let's talk about dynamics that start on Thursday night in the Rector's talk and continue all the way through the weekend. Let's talk about being burdened for just a little bit. I'm sure that you can understand that everyone here is at a different "level." Some of them are "free" Friday morning after worship service. Some of them struggle for a much longer time. -- Many dynamics are involved, -- the love shown by the team members, -- the Spiritual Directors' rollos on Grace, -- the counseling with individuals, -- identifying with the individual rollistas during rollos, -- the professors' sensitivity, -- the Rector's talks. How can we help?? -- By prayer!!! -- The team can always help in this regard with prayer. You know, often on Saturday nights, the Decurias turn into a poster party. The Decuria is still a very important part of the total weekend.

Sometime back, we were at just about the last rollo to review on the decuria. A pastor got up to give the review of the discussion. I guess the Spirit moved him to share many things that had burdened him for a long period of time. He shared this was the first time in his life he'd ever "opened himself up" like that. Why was he able to do that? Because we control the Decuria. We didn't have a poster party. There wasn't all the competition we sometimes get between tables. It was a very solemn moment. It was certainly a learning experience and a terrific dynamic for us all.

#9 - Here's one every team member can participate in. That is to smile! Let them see the joy of the Lord! Let them see our genuine joy in serving others because we love the Lord. Let me tell you about one staid old Lutheran that was thinking about everything else he could have been doing on Thursday night and Friday morning. He wasn't much for the discussion or the poster business. In fact, he was getting ready to go home on Friday. The Chapel was separated from the rollo room building, and every time we had to go from the rollo room building to the Chapel. We had to go through a door that one Cha was standing at, and he had a big smile and a hand shake with a sincere "God bless you" every time we went through that door. I kind of resented it at first, but by Saturday morning that cold heart was melted. Many things maybe contributed, but that one Cha, Lee Gault was, in his smile and his honesty and sincerity and that friendly hand shake, and his joy really moved me spiritually. It was a dynamic. And we can all practice it on the team.

No. 10 Well, -- let's talk about the Grace Talk rollos. -- What do you think is the most important dynamic, -- listening to the rollos? -- discussing the rollos? -- drawing a poster? -- or summarizing the rollo during Decuria?? --I think they're all important. But, I think for the 5 Grace Talks, it's the hearing of the Spiritual Director's words and the sharing of his personal experiences. -- I grouped all 5 of the Grace Talks under No. 10 because the Hearing, understnding, - desiring and finally, living, - is the progression and the result of the Habitual, Actual, Days of Grace, Obstacles and Life in Grace rollos. -- These are powerful talks, and the basis for all the talks of the weekend. But, the discussion, posters, and summaries are also important Friday and Saturday. -- It's pretty hard to discuss all that was covered in the 1 hour, 45 minute Day in the Life rollo, but here, you'll find out what was important to the listeners. -- Again, many other dynamics on the weekend help, but the end result desired of these Grace Talks is that we all "live our lives in Grace", -- that the Life in Grace becomes our Ideal. -- Negatives?? -- I think getting into deep theological lectures or sermons, or wandering off the subject, or poor preparation is a real negative.

No. 11 Next, -- I've listed all the Lay Talks or rollos. We are NOT going to talk about each one in detail because my time is already gone. But, I want to give you some general comments. -- Usually, a subject is introduced, it is defined and expanded so understanding increases, then the rollo tries to create the desire to implement, to grow, to live or practice what was presented. Personal sharing and experiences show that it can be done and that the efforts are worth it. What makes the talks effective, to a great extent, is the telling of experiences by the speaker, which the hearer can relate to. We call that "sharing." The hearer can also see the rollo, as well as hear it. You see a person who can prove what they say works. -- You know, -- you can never argue with a person that shares what the Lord has done for him, or her!!! ---But the sharing has to illustrate the point. -- That's why we select rollistas that can illustrate their talks with their lives. -- If someone does not have a study program, it's pretty hard to give the study rollo. If someone does not practice apostolic action in their daily lives, it's hard to give the Apostolic Action rollo. If you are not active in a Christian community, how can you give CCA?? -- What do you think provides the greatest dynamic for the Lay Talks???, -- listening to the rollo, discussing the rollo, - drawing the poster, - or the Decuria review??? -- I think the ranking would be , No.1) The discussion, -- No.2) Hearing the rollo, -- No.3) The Decuria, -- No. 4) The poster. -- So where should we "save time" if we get behind schedule?? -- I'm afraid we often cut the discussion period. -- (Incidentally, a lot of this valuable time is often lost because of a table leader that dominates the discussion.) -- Why is this "discussion" so important?? -- (Discuss) I think that it's the individual's participation that brings clarification of ideas, making them his or her own. -- Each individual's memory bank is different. The words that the individual just heard bounce off what is in that memory bank, -- to modify it, -- maybe add to it, -- maybe change it. -- During discussion, you're listening to what's happening to that computer's memory bank as the owner grows spiritually. -- They're clarifying their thoughts, adding new thoughts, changing old thoughts. -- After you gave a rollo, didn't you sometimes wonder what you got across, when you hear the Decuria speakers?? -- Everyone was affected differently because everyone started out differently, but everyone was "moved", and, hopefully, grew spiritually.

I've already talked too long. Let me close by telling you about the last item you have on the back of the page. We talk about circles in the Via de Cristo. I want to end by calling your attention to these things on the back page. Our dynamics of the weekend are directed at expanding circles. On Thursday nights, our dynamics are directed at an 18 inch circle, the size of one individual. I've been on weekends where we get off the bus, and we've got about 36 nervous candidates, and somebody says, "now we're going to make a game of this. Now each one of you take a name tag and then you have to find your own name tag." It kind of fell flat. Our dynamics on Thursday nights are aimed at one circle that big around.

On Friday, the circle gets as big as the table. We develop a table. We want to build that table and the friendship on that table. On Saturday, we want to build a circle as big as the rollo room. On Sunday we want that circle to be as big as the world.

So what happens at Clausura. Well, now the whole table goes up because that way you'll have the support of the whole table and maybe we'll get more people to share. But on Sunday, we want to project that candidate back into the circle of the world and we want to think that way and our dynamics are directed toward that.

Our weekend was designed and developed by people that understood dynamics - dynamics that help us grow spiritually. Our Cursillo or Via de Cristo method may not be perfect, but before we add "neat ideas" or if we have a better idea, we want to thoroughly understand what we have now. I've seen a lot of wonderful results and a lot of changes in lives and a lot of miracles on the weekends. Let's continue to use the gift - just as it's been given to us and praise God for the results that He gives through our humble efforts.

 

BILL CAREY: A lot of what Luther said struck a note with me because we in Rainbow have gotten to the stage, I guess, about 12 years out, where we have many of the problems that you discussed. The flood of gifts, the loack of knowledge of what palanca is - the 21 bookmarks, the serenade out of hand - the skits on Saturday night out of control. I was wondering if you had any experience on some techniques to undo what has become part of a tradition of 2 or 3 or 4 years in a movement.

 

LUTHER: The only thing I can suggest is training. There are some real good training materials being developed. I know Good News! is at the present time developing a rector training manual. I know that a lot of your movements have training for the rectors after a rector is selected to actually brief and to train them before they start their team training. I think the key to it, again, is a full knowledge of this and the secretariat is responsible for training the rector before the rector goes out on his own.

 

THINGS WE GROW IN SPIRITUALLY

1. Hearing our name...Part of our family...Part of a church family...Understanding we're part of God's family.

2. See others love us...Loving ourselves...Truly loving God...Sharing God's love with others.

3. Rote singing...Relate songs to special experiences...Think and meditate on the words...Worship and praise God in songs.

4. Reticent to talk...Discuss in small groups...Stand in front of a small non-threatening group... Witness to groups and to others.

5. Hand shake...Touch...Enthusiastically reaching out...Abrazzo.

6. Pray privately...Pray together with a group...Pray by oneself in a small group...Lead in prayer.

7. Attend worship service...Worship attentively...Participate in worship...Worship in spirit and in truth.

8. Burdened with sin...Understand God's grace and mercy...Truly desire forgiveness...Completely forgiven and free.

9. Friendly...See joy in others...Understand source of joy...Have and share the joy of the Lord.

10. Hear about God's Grace...Better understand Grace...Desire to live in Grace...LIVE in God's Grace.

11. Define ideals...Understand ideals...Desire the best ideal...Make living in God's grace the ideal of life.

12. Priorities mixed up...Understand what is important...Apply the great commandment...Priorities in correct order.

13. Define church...Understand We are the church...Understand the church's mission...Help the church change the world for Christ.

14. Understand piety...Utilize practices of piety...Grow in relationship to God...Turn our whole life over to God.

15. Understand need for study...Learn how and what to study...READ the Bible...Develop a study program.

16. Understand need for apostolic action...Learn procedures...Desire to share Christ...Practice apostolic action in daily life.

17. Understand Christian leadership...Learn qualities of a leader...Desire to grow as a Christian leader...Develop and implement a program to GROW.

18. Understand environment...Desire to be God's person in your environment...Learn what to do...CHANGE your environment.

19. Understand Christian community...Desire to become a part...Learn what to do...Be ACTIVE in Christian community.

20. Persevere...Persevere!...PERSEVERE...PERSEVERE!!!!!


NEGATIVE
INTIMIDATION- Anything that puts people on the defensive.

CONFUSION- Unorganized, wasting time, arguments.

SECRECY- Whispering, evasive answers, not being honest.

BRAGGING- In rollos, conversations, discussions.

IRRITATIONS- Childish actions, physical discomfort.

CHARISMATICS- Speaking in tongues.

FATIGUE- Missing the afternoon nap.

THEOLOGICAL Mis-quoting the Bible, "When I became a Christian

ERROR- on my Via de Cristo weekend".

UNINTERESTING Long lectures, sermons, off the subject, complicated

ROLLOS- sharing, trying to be clever.

OVERLY Overly controlled, insufficient freedom, giving the

REGIMENTED- impression of 'brain washing'.

FEAR OF CHANGE- (7 most used words in the Lutheran language.)

FEAR OF BEING Worrying I'll say something dumb.

'PUT DOWN'-

(OTHERS)

THE ROLLOS

In the Ideal rollo, we say, "Man has INTELLECT, WILL and freedom." The rollos build on that. Rollos start each day 'low key', dealing with intellect or training, and build to more emotion, more sharing, more 'a matter of the heart'.

The first rollo of each day deals with intellect.

#1- IDEAL #2- STUDY #3-Study of the Environment

The second rollo of each day deals with LIVING the Life in Grace.

#1- Habitual Grace #2- Sacraments #3- Life in Grace

The third rollo of each day deals with the will.

#1-Laymen in the #2- Action #3- C.C. in action church

The fourth rollo of each day deals with obstacles to living in Grace.

#1- Actual Grace #2- Obstacles #3- Fourth day (out of sequence)

The fifth rollo of each day deals with matters of the heart.

(Dedication to Christ and His work.)

#1- Piety #2- Leaders #3-Total Security (out of sequence)

******************************************************************

CIRCLES IN THE VIA DE CRISTO WEEKEND

On our weekends, we work in "circles". Each day that circle grows. The dynamics of the weekend correspond to the size of the circle.

On Thursday, our circle is about 18" in diameter, the size of one individual.

On Friday, our circle is about 10' in diameter, the size of one table and about 8 chairs.

On Saturday, our circle is as big as the Rollo Room.

On Sunday, our circle is as big as the world.

© 2010 National Lutheran Secretariat
Web Servant: Larry Conway