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

Essential vs. Adiaphorous

by Carroll Lang, Editor

Webster's New World Dictionary defines essential as: 1. of or constituting the intrinsic fundamental nature of something; basic, inherent... 2. absolute; complete; perfect; pure... 3. necessary to make a thing what it is; indispensable; requisite... And, Webster's defines adiaphorous as: 1. morally neutral or indifferent; neither wrong nor right. 2. in medicine, neither harmful nor helpful.

Since the National Lutheran Secretariat began in 1981, leaders in the movement have been calling us to get "back to the basics" in conducting our weekends and in continuing our ultreyas and reunion groups. Folks who follow the "menu" (reunion card) in their reunions are already maintaining the essential character of a group reunion. Ultreyas vary widely, but what is essential to them is the witnessing, mixing up the reunion groups, and the support and encouragement given to all Christians, whether cursillistas or not. Most movements, if they have an active, vital program of Fourth Day activities, maintain the essential qualities in this area, or the activities die out.

It is on the weekend that we have some confusion about what is essential for a weekend and what is "adiaphorous." I have tried to imagine what the first weekend was like. There were talks, discussions, meals, morning chapel with the sacrament of Holy Communion, evening prayers -- and that was probably about it. The meals were probably retreat-style, which means they were only what was essential to keep the participants from starving. Missing were all those things we have added over the years - background servants, serenaders, trinkets, posters, decuria, even (ouch) palanca.

The list could go on and on as each movement has added layer after layer of "neat" things to do during the weekend. Once a new layer is added, the new candidates, who are the leaders of the next few weekends, think the new layer "has always been done that way" and continue to keep that layer in the schedule while dreaming up a new layer of their own. And so it goes.

How do we get "back to the basics" without pain? Perhaps if we decided to use the "neat stuff" only once, deleting those things after each weekend to make room for the next team's "neat stuff" we could alleviate the congestion. Another practice that might help is to be aware of what is essential and what is adiaphorous whenever we sit down to plan a weekend.

Since we have been meeting together nationally I have noted that there are some things that are always the same, and I will call these practices "essential," while the other traditions that vary between movements and even between weekends, I will classify as adiaphorous. Following is my list, which I expect to be challenged (no hurt feelings) and improved upon:

Essential Adiaphorous


Weekend Basics Weekend

-72 hours -Special Banquet

-15 talks -Saturday night serenade

-5 meditations -Sunday wake-up serenade

-Celebration of Repentance -Bible Enthronement

-Retreat -Bible Recessional

-Holy Communion each day -Flower for each rollista (women)

-Decuria sharing -Theme for the weekend

-Closing,crosses -Skits

-Palanca -DeColores "productions"

-Singing for their meals

Staff -Singing sessions in the evening

-Popcorn fellowship

-Rector -Aisle of lights

-Spiritual Director -Send-Off

-Assistant Rectors or Chas -Personal palanca letters

-Ten Rollistas -Table palanca, trinkets, etc.

-Auxiliary, silent professors -The big chicken or rooster

-Stations of the Cross

Support Team -Baptism/Communion Films used

in sacraments talk

-Chapel Team -Any activity not listed under the

-Cooking Team basics on the left

-Clean-up Team

-Musicians(s) Staff

Fourth Day -Auxiliary, silent professors, etc.

-Thanking the staff

-Group Reunion

-Ultreya Support Team

-One support team member table group

-Extra musicians

-Thanking the support team


Again, these optional activities are neither wrong nor right, but they are not essential to the purpose of the weekend. Adding too many of them to the schedule crowds out important time for reflection and community-building. If each movement would set a policy that no more than "X" number, say three or four, of these activities were to be used on any one weekend, we will have made significant steps toward "getting back to the basics."

(from "Connexiones," December, 1992

© 2010 National Lutheran Secretariat
Web Servant: Larry Conway