Cursillo/ViaDeCristo/3day weekends

Have any of you been to a Via de Cristo/de Colores/Cursillo/3 day Christian retreat weekends? I have. NOTE: I do not want to discuss too much about the details of the three-day weekend, as I do not want to spoil anything for those who have yet to attend that may want to.

In 2015 I went to a Lutheran, “Via de Cristo” weekend. I believe the Catholic version of this is Cursillo. It was a great time. For three days I was kid-less, jobless, iPhone-less, internet-less, and had 72 whole hours to devote to deepening my faith in Christ, as well as enjoy the camaraderie of other Christian women.

Looking back, immediately after attending the weekend I felt like a new woman. I was on fire, and wanted to spread the word. A year later, there is still a flame but it isn’t much like it was last year. During the weekend, one learns the depth of the love that Christ and God has for humanity. We learn the significance of evangelism, and enjoy prayers, worship, and talking with our peers. There is no outside influence, as we do not bring cellphones or electronics. It was a really love-filled peaceful time. I can’t help but wonder, though, why this is so secretive and not as publicly made-known. Apparently I am not the only one. While researching this movement, I found a site called questioningcursillo.com. A quote from the site:

These weekend “high” experiences are largely dependent on universally applicable, manipulative, somewhat deceptive and not uniquely Christian psychological and physiological techniques designed to wear down resistance and produce an emotional high/ cathartic experience, which is then interpreted as religious experience.  While the short-term effects may be pleasant and desirable, the long-term consequences are mostly negative.  And since these weekends have no biblical warrant, they should be avoided.

I pondered about this statement for a while. Was I deceived in some way? Then I thought, if they were using techniques to produce this Christian-on-fire type feeling, was this so bad? I decided that (worst case scenario) I was “deceived” into thinking Jesus loves me and needs me to spread the Good News. I also got a weekend off of cooking and cleaning, so in the end I feel I truly benefited from the experience. 🙂

However, per the blogger on questioningcursillo.com, is there deception involved? Why is this a by invitation-only club? Is this truly what Jesus would want? I appreciate your two cents on the matter. I don’t really have strong feelings at the moment on this matter, just curious.

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7 thoughts on “Cursillo/ViaDeCristo/3day weekends

  1. Michele Edgel says:

    Sarah,
    As I was there on the same 3 day Via De Cristo weekend you attended, I feel uniquely qualifies to respond to this blog. The Cruscillo/De Colores/Via De Cristo/Walk to Emmaus weekends were started in 1940 by the Catholic church. The first USA weekend was in Texas in 1957. These weekends were intended for an intense study of Christianity for church leaders to attend.
    The reason you are isolated from the modern world is because the Bible specifically tells us to be in the world but not of the world. We have to remove ourselves from the modern temptations in order to devote ourselves to hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ, and actually pay close attention to the words we are hearing, which is hard to do when distracted by the real world. I am sure that the reason it is by invite only is because when the weekends are put together a lot of prayer goes into the arrangements (For instance who was at Lydia) and the food purchased and the ratio of team members to “pilgrims”. There is no attempt at brain washing or exclusion, it would be hard to plan a weekend, even food wise, without knowing who was coming and any food allergies they may have, or how much food to purchase.
    As far as the high from that weekend, I have had mine since then, maybe not as brilliantly glowing, but high none the less. I continue to feel the love of the Lord in my life daily, and am thankful for his redemption on the cross. I continue to spread the Good News through my participation in the blog, facebook, reunion group meetings, ultreya, evangelism to others and serving on the team on the weekends.
    Whenever you loose that feeling remember your experience and the love that you felt and hopefully still feel from your Sisters in Christ that shared your weekend, even though you have moved away, you are in my thoughts daily. I know that some people may feel that the weekends are exclusionary; but again, I say, HOW can you plan a weekend without knowing the number of attendees and if you invited yourself and paid for it out of your pocket wouldn’t there be some sort of expectation that doesn’t exist when you are the guest of another? The fact that someone thought highly enough of you to pay for you to go (cost is irrelevant) is a gift in itself.
    Well these are just my thoughts, minor as they are.
    Always remember
    God Loves You And So Do I
    Michele Edgel

    Liked by 1 person

    • The "Smart" Blonde says:

      Michele, I wrote this thinking of you, and hoping you would read it and respond. I feel I have been as I wrote in my last entry, spiritually dry lately. I miss you all. I’ll get through this. I found the article I read interesting and odd, and wanted to see what other people thought about it. I am so glad to hear your words. It was really a beautiful weekend, very emotional, and forever changing. That can never be taken away from me. What I let affect me however, is when my faith wavers, and I tend to get cynical about these sort of things. Do you know what I mean?

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  2. jculler1972 says:

    Hi Sarah, I attended a Via de Cristo weekend in 1990, have been active for many years in the movement. I think people are sometimes more secretive than need be, because there are a few nice surprises on the weekend they don’t want to spoil. However, I advise people to tell anyone they are inviting anything they want about what goes on. My husband went on a weekend before I did, and he indeed told me everything. I am the sort of person (maybe you are also) who feels more comfortable knowing what is going to happen. There are 15 talks, small group discussions, you draw posters, and each group at the end of the evening gets up and explains their discussion and poster. There is singing, worship services, food and fellowship. None of this needs to be a secret. When I invite someone on a weekend, I tell them anything they want to know.

    Also I think it is important to realize that the weekend is different for each person. For some, it is a real mountaintop “high” experience. For me, it was more of an affirmation of things I already knew. Someone I sponsored recently said it was “refreshing.” There should be no particular expectations or pressure on an attendee to respond in a certain way. I never tell anyone “this will change you” or “change your life.” That can be scary, and not necessarily true.

    The manipulative part comes, as Michele mentioned, because of the difficulty in getting through quite a lot of material, planned worship services and fellowship events in the allotted tine. When someone comes for a weekend, they are meant to hear and experience all of it. And it is, also a time to put away the things of the world for a few days. I hope you will read some of the posts of lutheranladiesconnectionwordpress.wordpress.com. The one I wrote entitled “Setting Our Mind on Grace” will tell you what I mean by getting away and really focusing.

    As far as the experience fading, it does. But it gives you tools to continue in spiritual disciplines of different kind, meeting with a small group, and going to meeting of the larger community IF YOU SO DESIRE. Doing these things will increase the value of the weekend to your overall spiritual life. However, there are no Via de Cristo police to make you do that, it’s up to you.

    I can look back and see I have really grown, since my weekend, more because of the take-aways than from the weekend itself. It’s been an important experience in my life of faith, but only one of many.

    Hope this helps, to all who are interested, see our blog posts or email us through our church website, Leitersburglutherans.org
    A Lutheran lady,
    Joan

    Liked by 1 person

    • The "Smart" Blonde says:

      Thank you kindly for your words and feedback on your time atop the mountain. I loved my time, and will forever cherish it. What I think is happening personally, is my faith flickers out, I get down, and then I question or become cynical to things. Do you get what I mean? Anyway, I would love to check out your blog and will go do that now. God Bless you Lutheran Lady! 🙂

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      • jculler1972 says:

        Sarah, we all have “dry” times in our faith. I have read that sometimes that means God is moving us to a deeper level if we just persevere. Remember the tools the weekend gave you, pray and ask for support and encouragement from Christian friends. Be open to the doors God is opening. Life with God is always surprising me. I will hold you in prayer as well.
        Your Lutheran Sister,
        Joan

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  3. Beth Ann says:

    After 15 years after my first experience of my Via de Cristo weekend, I can tell you that life is a winding path with many ups and downs! Just as you described it. I did not keep that “high” very long as my life was already pretty tough and it was to get tougher. What I learned has lasted 15 years. I learned that Jesus does love me. He has a special place in his heart, just for me. That weekend was what I needed to bring me back to Him since at the time I was “out in the desert, wandering and looking for Him”. I don’t have room to write the whole experience down here. I can only tell you that my experience was wonderful and it was lasting.

    Michele gave you good reasons why the weekends are kept small. Another is so that each new person to attend has the attention of the whole group. If you tried to do this on a grand scale, say a convention center, the personal aspect would not be there. Jesus is personal. He loves each of us. What better way to convey that message than in a small group. It is not an exclusive group but you do have to be asked to attend. Someone saw that you would benefit from this and they sent you. What a statement of love!

    There is no deception. It’s a three day, intense teaching on Christianity. Yes, there are some activities that should not be shared, only because they are the ones that touch the heart. If someone wanted to really know all that happens, I would tell them, and then I would send them to experience it for themselves. I can be very open about what happens on a weekend if so lead. I have attended 7 weekends since my first. Each time I have attended as a team member, I too, am caught up in the love of the Lord yet again. I know everything that is supposed to happen, but guess what? It’s new and different each time. It it the Love of Christ that makes it so.

    Do not be fooled by questioningcursillo.com. Has he ever experienced a weekend? It’s not for everyone. I’ve asked quite a few people to go on a weekend, only to be turned down. Maybe it’s just not their time. But you have gone, you have experienced, you have learned. Carry that in your heart into the future. It won’t let you down.
    Beth Ann

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