Saturday, July 20, 2019

EDUARDO BONNIN AND THE CHARISM OF CURSILLO by AL MARTELLA


In January, 2015, Dick Hemler did a wonderful talk on the “Foundational Charism of the Cursillo Movement.”

The Foundational Charism of the Movement are the special graces given to the founders of the Movement.

In the talk, Dick spoke about the first Cursillo weekend that took place on August 19 to 23, 1944 in Cala Figuera, Spain. Eduardo Bonnin was the rector. It contained all the structures of future Cursillos.

I would humbly suggest that if you haven’t read it, you take the time to do so. You can read it here. 

Today, I’d like to look more at that first rector, Eduardo Bonnin, and focus on how his life experience, influenced by the Holy Spirit, helped to shape Cursillo and its charism. In this talk, I will use Eduardo’s own words, and those words came from an undated interview with Eduardo conducted by Cardinal Josef Cordes, who was President of Pontifical Council for Human Development from 1995 to 2010.

Eduardo was asked what type of formation he received as a young person. He responded:

“Very sincerely I believe that the Lord, using many circumstances has manifested his will, little by little, throughout my life.”


Eduardo states that his “confidence in Providence is radical” but sometimes went in his own direction.  He then shared:

“Leading me by other paths, the Lord has proven in many circumstances, I should say in all circumstances, that he has better taste than I do.”

Eduardo spoke of his family of ten - three boys and seven girls. One of his brothers was a priest – one of his sisters was a Carmelite nun. Because of the Spanish Civil War and World War Two, he served in the military for nine years.

Throughout his life, Eduardo was dedicated to study.

“Without a doubt, the most primary determining factor in my life is my passion for reading and this is still a factor. Already when I was very young I had the habit of saying that I would rather go a whole day without eating than a whole day without reading. I have always spent all the money that was at my disposal on books.”


You can understand Cursillo’s focus on “Christ is Counting on You” when you hear Eduardo share:

“Faith - It was very important. In my humble opinion, faith when it is Christian, is evangelical because it is centered on Christ. Such Christ centered faith sheds light, clarifies and gives direction to all the circumstances of ordinary life, even the unpleasant and complicated ones we encounter on our way to God and to His Church.”

He added:

“I have experienced that when a person has faith, when he believes; he trusts and has confidence in the most amazing reality and in the most difficult thing to understand. God in Christ, loves us, loves me. Everything else flows abundantly and as an unexpected gift from that.”

“In my life I have seen people who are very happy although they have nothing and others who are not happy, dying of boredom even though they own much.
All of this helps me to better understand why God says that His kingdom is not of this world and why He puts His Kingdom where He is present where He wants to be present and also where it pleases Him to stay. It is in the interior of each person, in his intelligence and in his heart.

In the union of God with man by grace, his ego can be conquered, together with his pride and ambition and that each day his conviction, his determination and his perseverance can be more conformed to the Christian message.

Even with all that, I am convinced that even though God’s kingdom is not of this world he can give sense and “fullness” to the kingdoms of this world.”

When Eduardo left for military service in 1938, he began to see the need for a “short course in Christianity” which comes to being in later years. In his own words:

“I realized that the world was very different to the image that I had of it. In that environment the values that were being lived were completely opposed to those that I had lived in my family. This is what started me to question myself. 

Are these people the way they are because they find the law tiresome or are they just ignorant of the doctrine?” In observing the details of the lives of these men, gradually I was convinced that it was not the law that was tiresome but that ignorance of the doctrine weighed heavily on their lives.”

I mentioned that Eduardo was a voracious reader – reading St Augustine, St Theresa, and St John of the Cross as well as secular writers like Dante, Cervantes, Balthazar Gracian*. But there was another thing he read to learn – people. In his words:

“My contacts with people made me realize, that when the message of the Gospel is accepted with personalized faith and it reaches the specific singularity, the originality and creativity of each person, it reinforces the human qualities of the person.

These qualities, as soon as the life of Grace starts to grow and becomes conscious, brings each human being – in the Christo-logical process, through the logic that Christ habitually uses- to grow in his or her desire to live in thanksgiving for the gift of life, and to experience the joy that results from transmitting it to the widest number possible.”

Cursillo was born for ordinary people, like you and me. As Eduardo believed:

“The Movement of Cursillo, by the Grace of God and the prayers of a lot of people, was born of an intense preoccupation with real people in the ordinariness of daily life, ordinary people whose main preoccupation is with simply living, rarely have time to ask themselves why, and even less to find time to be preoccupied with the meaning of their own existence.

What we wanted at the beginning and have always desired, is that the liberty of man encounters the Spirit of God.”

The Cursillo was born of helping each of us to find God in our busy lives..And Cursillo was born in a way available to each of us, according to Eduardo:

“Reflecting, praying, studying, and praying again, was the way in which the Cursillos in Christianity were conceived, born and developed.”

Finally, let’s hear Eduardo’s thoughts on the Charism of Cursillo:

“According to my understanding, the charism has been confirmed with time, because of the manner in which people, possessing the right disposition necessary for the three days of the Cursillo, and who grasped the simplicity of the message, have welcomed it into their lives, by trying to live it daily, fixing and affirming what they have learned in the Cursillo, namely the Group Reunion, for the personal dimension, and the Ultreya for the social dimension.”

52 years after the original weekends in Majorca, Spain, Ronnie and I made our Cursillo weekends. Every day I look back at what a critical event in my faith formation that Cursillo was. I would not be the person I am today without my Cursillo experience. I was one of the people who Eduardo spoke of “ordinary people whose main preoccupation is with simply living.”

Cursillo, Father Jay and Johnny Di, and many of you, have taught me that by having a personal relationship with God, I could be a better disciple to Christ and that would help me be a better husband, father and friend. DeColores!