Cursillo a movement, an organization, or a cult?

Friday I got back from attending part of a Cursillo weekend. Though I had to leave following the first talk on the morning after the day I arrived, because of my sleepless slumber due in large part to the “roar of sleeping men”:yawn:.

But even when I got there, I did not like the feeling I had of the setup. Though I was not at the camp the whole time to get a full assessment, it was as though we were gradually being intiated into a cult almost in a sense of it being freemasonic. But the one thing that realy set a red light off in my mind is the fact that the “movement” is inter-denominational. The atmosphere seemed very secretive, were we all not intiated into the Church at our confirmation?:hmmm:

If anyone has experienced a Cursillo weekend, or has insights into the movement, please share your thoughts about it.

The Cursillo weekend, was NOT set up to be interdenominational. Actually the main thread through the weekend is the Eucharist, so if you are unable to receive, you really shouldn’t attend either. In some way in certain areas it has become a movement of healing a sick person, which it was not intended for. It was to strengthen those who are in a desert with their faith, or those who might want to become leaders in their communities. It was a Catholic movement begun by two men (I believe priests but not sure on that) to bring men and women closer to Jesus. Giving you tools to use for the rest of your life. I have made a Cursillo weekend, and elements NOT THE WHOLE WEEKEND, should remain secretive only to the point that some aspects of the weekend are better experienced without preknowledge of what is going to happen. Some of your feelings are not uncommon on the first night. You really experience very little the first night, and the weekend builds on itself, needing the prior days to really understand what takes place on Sunday. Nothing secret here, there are talks that you listen to, and as small groups discuss, but the talks that start on Friday, lead up to the talks on Sunday, with other activities, that help with the understanding of the talks. The activities are what should not be talked about so that you get the full effect. Cursillo is not a cult, it has been a movement in the Church for over 25 years, with a few who have led parts of it astray. Overall it is a worthwhile weekend, but I would make sure of two things. One that you attend a weekend that is only Catholic, and two bring earplugs. I have heard a lot of comments of the men’s sleeping area being rather noisy when everyone falls or attempts to fall asleep.

Good Morning Church

My husband and I have not made a Cursillo weekend yet, but I hope to be able to in the near future.

Over the past 20 years, I have known many who have gone on Cursillo weekends. It has only enhanced their Catholic walk. Many men have decided to answer God’s call to the Diaconate following their Cursillo experience. Every person I have talked to has spoken of a deeper devotion to the Holy Eucharist and Holy Mother Church.

I tend to judge these movements by their fruits. The fruits I have witnessed from Cursillo have been good.

My husband and I attended Marriage Encounter weekend about 20 years ago. A few folks left after the first day, feeling sort like you did at Cursillo. In quite the same way as PKK described, this weekend continued to build and form most of us, became a life changing Spiritual experience that enhanced our marriages and brought us into deeper Sacramental life in the Church.

You might want to buy earplugs and try the weekend again sometime. I think God leads us to these renewal experiences. They do often seem secretive but it is only to keep you from anticipating each step and that does seem to be a great advatage if you can hang in till the conclusion.

It has been encouraged by the Church, very well investigated and I think that should put your fears of cult to rest.

Aside from debating if it is a cult or not, let us establish one thing. Just as with the Charismatic Movement, there will be websites and individuals who will insist it is purely Catholic. Then there is the real information, that will tell you exactly how it started and by whom. This is yet another interfaith effort that is slowly morphing into a so called “Catholic” movement. Not every site is scrupulous with what they post either. I have seen some foreign language Catholic Cursillo websites with links to the Toronto Blessing. So go figure! (The Toronto Blessing is a non-catholic diabolical charismatic sect)

According to one website:

The Roman Catholic English Cursillos started the Cursillo with their brothers and sisters in Christ–Episcopal, Lutheran, and with the United MethodistChurch

According to another website:

Cursillo, which started in Majorca, Spain in the 1940’s, is a movement within the Catholic Church.

So take your pick who do you believe how it started and by whom.

You might want to buy earplugs and try the weekend again sometime. I think God leads us to these renewal experiences.

Thank you for your encouragement to try again, but after what I experienced, I know it is not my cup of tea.

They do often seem secretive but it is only to keep you from anticipating each step and that does seem to be a great advatage if you can hang in till the conclusion.

The secrecy is a BIG part I don’t like about Cursillo(along with its connection to other denominations). It may be an advantage to some or even most people, but for a doubting thomas like me it is a serious liability.

It has been encouraged by the Church, very well investigated and I think that should put your fears of cult to rest.

Well I hope so, but I still have many questions.:hmmm:

If you have to bring earplugs, does that mean nobody gets a private room, even if it’s held in a retreat center??

I am on my 4th" day for the rest of my life. Cursillo opened my heart more fully to the love of Christ. I came home “floating” above the ground, chomping at the bit to share with everyone Christs Love.

We heard many talks about evangilizing and learned ways inwhich to share our faith. We all shared our faith journey and learned from each other the many different ways to serve our Lord.

A cult? NO WAY!! For me, it was a Spiritual journey of the heart leading me even closer to Christ Jesus.

I can speak from firsthand experience, having been in it myself. The Cursillo movement is NOT a cult, but just one of the many spiritual renewal movements within the Catholic Church. It is basically a three day course intended to rekindle the fire of Christ within you, which is a very positive thing. There are **NO **teachings, doctrines or practices contrary to Catholicism being taught there, but only pure, basic Christian teachings dealing with faith, love and repentance, and give each person a sense of having a mission in life, which is what every Catholic Christian must espouse and practice in his or her life.

Gerry :slight_smile:

I made my Cursillo weekend about 10 years ago. It changed my life forever, and I will never be the same again! I can’t believe that it could be misconstrued by anyone as a cult. And I wouldn’t say there was any real “secrecy” involved. At the very end, we were told that the weekend is best experienced when you don’t know ahead of time about certain aspects of it – and now having experienced it myself, I understand that. No one is sworn to secrecy and certainly you could talk about it with someone before they go for their weekend, but you will be spoiling it for them. Nothing contained in the talks, prayers, etc. is secret (how could anything about God be secret?) – it’s only the wonderful surprises that will unfold that would be better kept secret. No, this is NOT like the Masons in any way!!!

I experienced the love of God like I never had before that weekend, and I would highly recommend it to anyone. And that’s no secret!!! Nothing about God’s love could be.

A P.S. to my previous post: And it was not interdenominational – It was a Catholic retreat. I am aware that there is something similar called “Emmaus Walk” which protestants attend. But I attended a strictly Catholic weekend for sure.

As usual, the responses in favor are subjective and personal experiences, and no one has offered an objective critique. I am rather skeptical when people come with their testimonies; some of these are highly suspect, because these tend to be overpowered by personal bias, based on experience, one that may be illusionary, and simply the result of carefully arranged manipulation and have not much substance to offer.

Some of these folks would indeed crumble under real pressure and in face of danger, when ordinary persons with no emotional experiences would hold up under the same quite well. I look on this type of “anointing” as shortcuts in one’s faith life; sometimes they are quite inopportune and damaging to one’s spiritual journey and growth. The lives of the Catholic saints and mystics would attest to this as well.

The familiarity and the love the saints experienced with the Divine was hard fought and took many violence to their natural ego and hence when they arrived at the door of Divine intimacy, they were not only ready, but they were less likely to fall for the snares of the Devil when he attempted to masquerade to them as the angel of light.

Those who practice charismatic devotions, and Crusillo is basically just another form of charismatic devotion, tend to fall into many errors. Shortcuts do not work. We do not give steak to an infant; furthermore he cannot differentiate between good food and bad food: When he is hungry, he will ingest whatever comes its way and swallows it thinking it was good for him. Something like this what happens to people when they take a Life in the Spirit Seminar or take a Crusillo weekend. They are under the notion that they got closer to God, when in fact it is all an illusion. If they are unfortunate, and persist with this type of spiritual food for a long time; keep going back to more of it to spiritually sustain themselves, they will fail to mature in the faith and remain what they were at the beginning, mere infants in the faith. Now do not come to me with quotes about becoming children if we want to inherit the kingdom. I am well aware of those passages and they have nothing at all to do with the analogy that I used here. That would be a rather unfortunate argument and all that would provide is proof of one’s underdeveloped understanding. That is something like “talking apples and oranges.”

Greetings Church

Greetings Tru Devtion

I am sincerely sorry that your experience with Charismatic Renwal in the Church was so unpleasant for you.

However, it has been a place for great Spiritual growth for many of us.

Often the things we post, appear to reflect the feelings and teachings of Holy Mother Church, the Holy Father, and the Bishops. When this happens, we could be hampering some of our Catholic brothers and sisters from following urgings from the Holy Spirit and perhaps in this way, preventing them from experiencing a closer walk with the Lord at a time when they have needed it most.

I lost part of my lung to lung cancer this past March, followed by 7 weeks of Radiation therapy. I am very grateful for the support and prayers for healing from the Charismatic Community. In my particular situation, my fellow parishioners didn’t call, visit or show any personal concern. My Pastor and our Deacons knew of my illness. When I finally was able to see these folks and asked for prayer, I was assured that I would be prayed for. The Charismatic folks who heard about my situation, called and visited me. They didn’t say they would pray for me, but immediately did just that. They also offered Masses for my recovery. Pretty special in my eyes.

This is only one of the things I am talking about when I say there are folks who might need a deeper Spiritual walk at this time. I have seen marriages healed, parents helped when their Children were in crisis and so many other things.

I do not say it is wrong for you to express your opinions. However, since the Charismatic Renewal, Cursillo, World Wide Marriage Encounter and other movements in the Church have been approved and encouraged by the Church, I urge you not to make strong, sweeping statements that might stifle the move of the Holy Spirit.

I know you are sincere, and I implore you with respect and Christian love.

Good point.

I went to a Cursillo weekend. I really don’t mean to be unkind, but I was not impressed. I found some of the people to be inspiring, but not the program itself. This was a Catholic retreat, and only Catholics attended, but the program was the most unbiblical Catholic undertaking I’ve ever experienced. Hardly anyone brought a Bible, and of the Bibles I saw, most were of the King James variety. I felt that much of the weekend dealt with “spirituality” divorced (to some extent) from Catholicism. That was my experience; your mileage may vary.

In my opinion - and that’s all it is, just my opinion - if you are strong in your faith there is no need to attend. If you are weak in your faith, your time might be better spent in prayer, adoration, Mass, and reading a solid Catholic inspirational book.

As noted, your experience may be entirely different, and I certainly respect that.

I am glad you were visited and were prayed for in your time of need Roberta. If you were a member of my parish you would have been regularly visited by an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist and by the Legion of Mary. Besides personal attention, these people would have prayed for you many rosaries and they would have asked masses to be said for you. All the grab-gab money they collect during their meeting goes for masses and for miraculous medals.

I would hope that it would not be wrong for me to express a different point of view, and although these movements have been “sanctioned” as you said by the Church makes no difference at all. A lot of different things were “sanctioned” during the past two thousand years by the Church, but later on were found to be not worthy and were expelled by the Magisterium. Also, no Catholic is required to partake or to support any of these movements. There is no need to implore me to observe Christian love; because it is the only reason I posted on this topic. These movements do not hold up to Catholic Tradition and Catholic teaching, if they would, their advotaces would not have to continually resort to personal experiences. Anybody, who wishes to REALLY grow in the Spirit I would advise to go to the Catholic formula; pick up the cross and strive for holiness, just as the saints have done it over the ages. Read St Theresa of Avila, St Louis de Monfort, St John of the Cross, St Ignatius and Thomas Kempis. These are the the ones who took the sure path to holiness and not the movements you describing. The charismatic movement has been with us for almost three dacades, but it has not produced a single saint that we know of. It produced a lot of hugging and kissing, a lot of alleluias, a lot of superficial and slanted knowledge of Scriptures, but no saints. God bless.


Tru Dvotion,
I have no desire to debate this issue with you and I do honor your right to have and to express your opinions.

You sound as if you have a wonderful parish. Ours is too, and since my illness, I see that our Pastor is taking big steps at fixing situations like mine was. In fact, yesterday, he had the Sacrament for the Sick along with Sunday Mass and will do this every other month, I understand.

I would like to bring your attention to Fr. Vincent Serpa’s post in Ask an Apologist.

I haven’t read the book he recommends, myself but just ordered my copy from Amazon.

Hello Roberta,

I red the good father’s response and it made me smile. He lumped together the tongues at Pentecost, the tongues of the Charismatic Movement and the tongues of the Desert Fathers! Oh my!

The tongues of Pentecost were understood by those who heard it, what it was; a miracle to convert and to illuminate. They were real languages and were beyond the mastery of the speakers but were understood by those who heard them.

The Charismatic tongues serve no such purpose; all they do is recreate the Babel like atmosphere. All such tongues are repetitions of a few syllables and lack real language structure.

The Desert Fathers lived the monastic lifestyle, far removed from the world. In prayer life they were real contemplatives. What holy mysteries such lifestyle produces in a soul cannot be transferred to ordinary living. St Teresa of Avila was a contemplative. People may dabble in contemplation, but unless they live a contemplative lifestyle, they will not experience the ecstasies similar to the Desert Fathers or to St Teresa of Avila. What these uttered in their ecstasies cannot be compared to the tongues at Pentecost, and definitely cannot be compared to the tongues people turn on and off at whim at prayer meetings.

All the good father did was regurgitate an official answer, without giving thought to what he wrote. And I wonder why charismatic tongues no longer appeal to him? Could it be he realized how utterly pointless these really are? The good father made the same mistake almost everybody falls into when they defend or feel they ought to defend the charismatic movement. They go to the wrong sources to explain why something should work. It’s just apples and oranges again.


This is very interesting. I am sincere in this.

I am a contemplative. I have been since 1982.

Would you please describe a “contemplative lifestyle”? My Spiritual Directors have never discussed this with me. I was never told this was a requirement. I have read books about Contemplative Prayer life and of course St. Theresa of Avilla, St John of the Cross and the lives of Mystics in the Church. I think the Church has had Mystics in all sorts of walks of life over the centuries. Of course, it is usually Religious ones that books are written about.

Hello Roberta,

Contemplative lifestyle is monastic. It has one and only one purpose. It is completely removed from the world; it does not communicate nor has intercourse with the world. Sainthood is not restricted to monasticism but contemplative sainthood is. As you said yourself, the religious books are written about those. Now why would it be so? For the simple reason that an “outside contemplative” merely dabbles in contemplation. One who just dabbles runs a far greater risk of being deceived by the Devil than those who live a cloistered and fully contemplative lifestyle.

To keep from going off topic, I have started a thread for this discussion. I will answer you over there, if you would be so kind.