Regnum Christi

bible studies

“RC Bible”— A Project Created by A Group of Legionaries to Help Young People Learn to Pray With the Bible

What doubts do today’s young people have about praying? Can you really listen to God through the Bible? These were the questions that a group of Legionary brothers in their theology studies in Rome tried to answer. Since launching six weeks ago, RC Bible “has helped me be more attentive when reading or listening to Bible passages, because during this process I was able to realize how the Holy Spirit makes himself present in the different readings to bring me to understand many things in my life,” says Alejandra Vásquez from Valencia, Spain, one of the young people who participated in the course.
 
It all started with the desire of some Legionary brothers who did their apostolic internship in Spain: to teach others to pray using the Bible. One of them, Br. Daniel Fernández, LC, indicated to these young people that he was certain that “the Word of God is a living Word that wants to respond to you here and now; it is not a dead word. It isn’t a book about history or mathematics; it is a book that wants to answer many questions that young people have in their hearts these days.” Brs Miguel Hernández, Daniel Fernández, Javier Villar, Christopher Daniels, and John Kenny as well as Fr. Rafael Vignaroli, LC, and Br. Jaime Plasencia, LC, created the plan for the program. It seeks to give young people a foundation so that they encounter the Lord through his Word, unlike other apostolates that offer daily Gospel reflections, but that are pre-written reflections that, in the end, do not always achieve true contact with the Word of God or, most importantly, respond in prayer to the question: “What does God want to tell me through this Gospel?”
 
An Entire Course on Prayer
The project began Sunday, April 16, 2023, the Sunday of Divine Mercy, with a video call with 80 young men and women who wanted to participate in the project. Every day for six weeks, throughout the Easter season, they sent out a short two-to-three minute audio recording about the context of the Gospel reading of the day, in which they presented guidelines for orientating their prayer after having read the Gospel themselves. They also presented other quotes from Sacred Scripture each day, such as parallel passages to complement their prayer.
 
Also, Thursdays were “feedback Thursdays,” that is, through WhatsApp, an audio recording, or in person, each participant was invited to tell their spiritual director this program of prayer was going for them: lights received, difficulties encountered, etc. Finally, they reconnected every Sunday to receive a 20-minute formation talk about topics that help them learn like “Children of the Father,” “Examen of prayer and examen of the day,” “Types of prayer,” or “Life in the Spirit…”
 
“The project didn’t aim for them to stay dependent on daily reflections; that’s why it had an end date,” explains Br. Daniel. “It was a boost, and the idea is that now, these young people can start to pray by themselves, they can take the Gospel of the day and meditate on what God wants to tell them and do with them through the Word.” Alejandra Vásquez, from Regnum Christi in Valencia, Spain, tells us her experience of all this.

Alejandra Vásquez, Regnum Christi Member in Valencia, Spain

How has RC Bible helped you in your prayer life?It has helped me to be more attentive when reading or listening to Bible passages, because during this process I was able to realize how the Holy Spirit makes himself present in the different readings to bring me to understand something in particular.
What encouraged you to sign up?
Curiosity for learning more, although I should admit that the deadline for asking to be part of the process had passed, and I started a day late. But it was my spiritual director, Fr. Sebastián Rodríguez, LC, the director of the youth section of Valencia, who mentioned this initiative to me and told me it would be really interesting, and it was. Now I don’t have any doubt that the Holy Spirit was at work from the beginning, both so that Fr. Sebastián would speak to me about it and so that Br. Daniel would let me take part even though I was late.
What have you learned about praying with the Bible through this initiative?
I have learned many things, but one of the most important to me is to include the Holy Spirit in every moment of my life and to be attentive to what he wants to tell to me, not only through the different chapters and verses of the Bible, but also through each moment and event of my daily life, because during this initiative, he has communicated with me in many ways.
Now that this process has “concluded,” it is time to continue applying everything I have learned, since the brothers who have participated in our formation have shared with us different useful tools to apply mainly in our moments of prayer, but also others to apply in our everyday life.

What did you think about the content they sent you, the feedback, and the Sunday talks?
It seemed very well structured to me because I personally felt very involved and part of something. The daily message reminded me of my “task;” perhaps if they had sent me all the readings at the very beginning, or every week, I wouldn’t have finished them. On the other hand, the feedback time with my spiritual director every Thursday reminded me that, as a human, I have doubts and difficulties, but that’s not bad; on the contrary, I can count on someone who helps guide me through these questions and doubts. Finally, I loved the formation talks; I learned a lot because they served as a complement to the readings and, again, applied to my daily life.
I can’t stop sharing about how this has changed my life for the good and that I am very thankful for each one of the people who made this initiative possible. As my favorite phrase goes: “Every story has an end, but in life, every end is a new beginning.” Now I begin one more chapter with the help of the Holy Spirit and everything I have learned.
 
Originally published in Spanish here.

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Women of the Bible: An invitation to discover the women of the Old Testament whose lives were transformed by God

Last year, Monica Treviño, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi originally from Monterrey, Mexico, presented a two-part Spanish language Bible study called Women of the Bible; now an English language version will be offered over the next two years.

The Bible study series, which examines the lives of eight women from the Bible (Part 1 looks at Women of the Old Testament, and Part 2, which will be offered in 2022, explores Women of the Gospels whose lives were transformed by a personal encounter with Christ) was inspired both by Monica’s own love of Scripture and from her experience observing, guiding, and working with women and families over almost 30 years of consecrated life. Throughout her pastoral work, Monica continually encountered women of all ages who had yet to discover their true identity and value rooted in Christ. “I worked with a lot of women who sometimes didn’t know God in a personal way, they didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and their identity was based on what people thought of them, how they are seen, how they perform, or what they achieve.” says Monica. “I love the feminine genius, I love the dignity of women, and as a consecrated woman, I love helping women discover their true femininity and their true identity as beloved daughters of God.” The Women of the Bible sessions touch on themes that are as relevant to women today as they were to the women of the Old Testament, like receptivity, maternity, sensitivity, and generosity.

But for Monica, the Women of the Bible series is more than just a Bible study – the participants are prayerfully guided towards applying the lessons from the lives of the women in Scripture to bring about real change in their own lives. “This is not a theoretical course where the participants come out with more knowledge of the Bible, it’s not just about “learning” – that’s not the objective,” says Monica. “The objective is that the participants let God touch their lives and transform them, that they discover – or rediscover – the Father’s love for them, and that they begin to base their identity in the love of God and in being his beloved daughters. That they have a real transformation.”

Each session of the Women of the Bible series begins with an opening prayer before delving into the life, challenges, and virtues of one of eight women of the Old Testament whose life was profoundly transformed by God. While the course provides scriptural and historical context of the life of each of the women – from the beginning of the Old Testament with Eve, all the way to the end with the Mother of the Maccabees – Monica has witnessed the real fruit come when participants are invited to apply the theme of each session to their own lives, through small group discussions and, most importantly, through their “homework,” a set of Scripture readings and questions designed to help them prayerfully consider how God is using each woman of the Bible to bring transformation into each participant’s own life. “As we get to know these women’s stories, we will discover the feminine genius present in them through both their greatness and their imperfections, in their love for God and for others, and how all this relates and applies to our own lives,” says Monica. “This course will teach participants to learn from the past and to live their present more fully, to grow in their spiritual life and in their journey with God.”

The response to the course has been very positive; one of this year’s in-person sessions is already sold out, and the other is filling up this week as the start date approaches. As well, Monica has already been approached by one parish to have her offer the program to its parishioners, which she hopes to be able to do next year. This illustrates to Monica the real need today’s women have for a deeper and more authentic understanding of their inherent dignity as daughters of God and their desire to know more about women in Scripture and their unique relationships with God. She has heard from women of all ages and all vocations how exploring the themes of womanhood through the Women of the Bible series has transformed their lives, from their relationship with prayer and with God to their own understanding and acceptance of themselves. To meet this deep and personal need women have for a true identity founded in Christ, Monica hopes to develop the Bible study series into a book to make it available to a wider audience, and would love one day to be able to offer spiritual exercises, retreats, and conventions specifically designed for women on this theme.

When asked which woman of the Bible personally inspires her the most, Monica replies, “All of them, I love them all! Praying and studying with these women makes me realize that they were women, just like us, very real and very normal. They were not born saints, but they allowed the Lord to touch and transform them. Even if they lived more than 2000 years ago, I feel like they are just like contemporary women in the world today, and their love and passion for God inspires me.”

If you’re interested in virtually joining this year’s The Women of the Bible series, it’s not too late! The series is being held both in-person and online at two different venues in Texas. Monica’s first session, held exclusively in-person at St. Anthony of Padua Church in the Woodlands quickly sold out; the second session, which begins on Tuesday, September 28th is being held in-person and online at Corner Bakery Café in downtown Houston and is still open to virtual participants. This eight-session virtual series will run from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm on the last Tuesday of every month. For more information, visit the Regnum Christi Houston website or register here.

Monica is currently serving in the Diocese of Galveston-Houston accompanying women by providing spiritual direction, preaching spiritual exercises, and offering formation courses like the Women of the Bible series. In June of 2020, Monica offered a meditation novena on the Sacred Heart of Jesus called Behold This Heart which is now available on YouTube and rcspirituality.org and which has reached more than 1500 people.

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Discover Your Personal Mission: Giving Women the Tools to Live with Purpose

Near the end of 2020, Karla Amezcua and Mary Smith, two Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi serving in Washington, DC, noticed a dramatic need developing in the women in their area. After months of COVID lockdowns and ever-shifting protocols, and without consistent access to the sacraments or in-person retreats and spiritual events, the women they were serving were struggling to find purpose and meaning in their lives that had been so drastically changed by pandemic restrictions. “We realized that the frustration of not being able to do missions, or even serve in many ways, was creating many existential questions in some of the women,” says Karla. “What is my mission? How can I be who God is asking me to be while I am in this lockdown?” 

In response to these questions, Karla and Mary came up with the idea to design an online course that would specifically respond to this thirst for purpose in the hearts of the women they served. In January of this year, they offered a seven-week virtual course called Discover Your Personal Mission that they hoped would provide both spiritual content and the human and psychological tools the participants needed in order to reflect on, discern, and begin living their unique mission in the world.

Hoping to have 100 women register for their online course, Karla and Mary quickly ran into their first obstacle – over 200 participants had immediately registered, and the number of interested women soon exceeded the capacity of their Zoom account. Registrations came in from well beyond the DC area, with women registering from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Germany. In the end, Karla and Mary had to run two sessions per day in order to accommodate the demand.

Each one-hour session began with 40 minutes of content, developed with Karla’s training and experience as a certified life coach and Mary’s current studies in her master’s degree in psychology, as well as the religious formation that they both have received during their life as consecrated women. This was then followed by 20 minutes of small group discussion which, because of the large number of participants, Karla and Mary asked women that they knew to help facilitate. In addition, they trained about 30 participants to be spiritual mentors, matching them with women who had expressed a desire to be mentored. Involving these participants in facilitation and mentoring proved to be an important and edifying part of the program. “This was a beautiful way of including women, and an opportunity for these women to start already living out their mission,” says Karla. “For most of them, it was a life-giving experience that required a lot of humility, openness and receptivity.” 

Response to this initial program was overwhelmingly positive – participants shared with Karla and Mary that not only were they inspired by the content, but also their families experienced transformation throughout the seven weeks. “It’s been beautiful to see how it has this ripple effect, because as the women change, their families change, and the dynamic of the family is totally transformed,” says Karla.

However, it was feedback from one particular participant that gave Karla consolation when she needed it most:

“I was having a terrible day – I had a meeting that was very discouraging because all my initiatives were being crushed and it felt like everything was falling apart. Then Mary and I received this beautiful letter from a woman who attended the course. She told us that she never imagined that she could experience so much joy in her life, that she was actually surprised that this joy that she had heard of actually exists! She ended the letter by saying, ‘Just know in your darkest times, you have indeed saved a soul.’ When I read that, I burst into tears, because it was like God’s presence and consolation telling me to keep moving forward for all these women, and that he was with me and sustaining me.”

The participant who wrote the letter has begun the process of spiritual direction and continues to learn more about the Catholic Church and develop a personal relationship with Christ and Our Lady.

Due to the enormous response to the seven-week series, Karla and Mary decided to run a shorter series this spring, called Discover Your Personal Mission 2.0: Unveiling the Transformative Power of the Gaze. This five-week series in part uses content inspired by a book Karla wrote in Spanish called El poder de la mirada al servicio del encuentro (The Power of the Gaze at the Service of the Encounter), and encourages the women to receive the gaze of God while sharpening their own capacity to dive into and transform the hearts of others through eye contact and personal encounter. Since they were running this shorter series during a busier time of the year and while COVID restrictions were being lifted in many areas, Karla and Mary expected registrations to be relatively low, but over 140 women signed up for the second course, which began on April 22nd.  

Besides the positive response from the participants, and the development of a second virtual course, Karla and Mary have witnessed an abundance of fruits that have already come from the initial series. Many of the local women who attended the first Discover Your Personal Mission series have become involved with the monthly missions hosted by Mission Youth in the DC area and are putting their gifts and the tools they gained during the seven-week course to good use in service of the Church. And for Karla, one of the greatest blessings that has come from the initiative is the opportunity to collaborate in mission with her consecrated sisters. “I cannot do this by myself, so it just makes me happy to be a consecrated woman and to be a part of this community,” says Karla. “The way Mary and I complement each other so much, because of our different personalities and backgrounds, because of what she is studying and what I am studying, because of her experiences and mine, we have been able to put all those talents together at the service of the mission and the women. It’s just been a very beautiful consolation to my heart to see all these beautiful fruits.”

Another opportunity that has come out of this initiative is a personal one for Karla: one of the participants of the course has offered to help her translate her book into English!

But for Karla, the most important fruits to come from the Discover Your Personal Mission series are the ones that will come from the women themselves. “The main essence of this content that we are offering is to help women realize that they don’t have a mission – they are a mission. And it’s a unique message that only they can transmit – they have to discover that beautiful light and let it shine forth, because the world needs it.”

While Karla and Mary continue the Discover Your Personal Mission 2.0 series, which runs until May 20th, they are already planning a Discover Your Personal Mission series for men.

Karla is currently serving in Washington, DC, in women’s and young adult ministry. She is also a spiritual coach for Lumen Institute, a program for Catholic business leaders, and is particularly passionate about her work with Mission Youth in DC. She is also helping Mary to set up a chapter of The Lydia Institute (a ministry for professional women designed by Mary Maher, another Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi) in the DC area with many of the women who have attended the Discover Your Personal Mission series. You can find a copy of Karla’s book in Spanish, El poder de la mirada al servicio del encuentro on Amazon, or watch for the English version coming soon.

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Eustace Mita and Reflections on the Gospel 

Did you ever meet someone who wanted to be Job?

You remember Job. He was that prosperous man in the Old Testament known for his unshakable faith in God. Satan bet God that given enough hardship, the faithful Job would lose his faith.

So God let Satan visit upon Job all manner of suffering, from poverty to illness to loss of family. Job ended up with just his faith. And because he kept his faith, everything he lost was restored and more. God won the bet. (You knew he would.)

Eustace Mita has lived a modern version of Job’s experience.  Though he wasn’t the subject of a wager between Heaven and Hell, God did hear his prayer. And Eustace may be a prime example of the power of prayer – and why you should never ask for something in prayer you aren’t prepared to accept.

Like Job, Eustace experienced success and prosperity, accompanied by a strong faith. He grew up in a Philadelphia suburb and attended St. Mathias Grade School, Archbishop John Carroll High School, and Drexel University.

After college, he ran a small business in Dallas for a couple years, then returned to Philadelphia to work for Chilton, the big automotive publisher.

But, he always wanted to be an auto dealer, so his next career stop was working for the dealer he admired most: Roger Penske. After three years learning the ropes, he struck out on his own and started Mita Leasing. He joined forces with his uncle (who had pioneered personal auto leasing) and built a highly successful business, Half a Car.

In 2000 he and his uncle sold the automotive training and management company, Half a Car, to Reynolds & Reynolds, a Fortune 500 company. Then his interests shifted more to real estate and hotels.  Life was good.

Eustace was the middle child in a family of five children.  He and his wife had five children who over time have produced 14 grandchildren.

In 2000 at a family gathering, he met Br. John Connor, LC, who would later be ordained to the priesthood and today is the North American Territorial Director for the Legion of Christ and Regnum Christ. That meeting would pave the way for Eustace to handle his experience wearing Job’s shoes.

“I was a serious practicing Catholic, a daily communicant,” Eustace recalled. “But a couple questions from Fr. John showed me I had many more things to learn.”

Fr. John asked Eustace if he had a spiritual director. Eustace replied that not only didn’t he have one, but he had no idea what one was. Fr. John volunteered for the job and Eustace invited him in.

Fr. John’s next question was about what apostolate Eustace was working on.  Of course, Eustace again admitted he didn’t know what an apostolate is. (As anyone who knows Fr. John – or most any Legionary, for that matter – knows where such an answer can lead your path.)

“I think you should start a gospel reflection group for businessmen like you,” Fr. John advised. And so he did, with suggestions from Fr. John about how to organize it, the format, and how to go about inviting others to participate.

Eustace had been involved in a Bible study group before and had found it a bit frustrating. This was different.  It wasn’t about interpreting the Bible, but reflecting on God’s word and sharing how it related to our individual lives. It started as an occasional meeting, then became weekly, then grew – a lot.

From one small group it has expanded to more than 100 groups with 1,000 men participating across Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland.  The little group in his office now has 50 members who gather weekly in person – and many more who join by phone from as far away as California and Europe.

Eustace was successful in business. But as his role as Job unfolded, it was the experience of the gospel reflection group, the strength in his faith, that sustained him.

His Job moment because, surprisingly, during an hour of adoration in 2007.  Eustace is a firm believer in making annual goals in four areas of his life: financial, relational, health, spiritual. He had decided to focus on humility as his spiritual goal for the next year and in adoration asked God to guide him.

He sensed God’s response clearly and directly: “Are you sure, Eustace? I will do this, but it will be painful.”

Eustace prayed in response that he was sure and only asked God to guide him through whatever happened. And a lot happened.

For many businesses and investors, 2008 was a disaster.  It was, in human terms, a year of disasters for Eustace.  A son was diagnosed with brain cancer. A daughter was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. His business interests tanked and he lost two-thirds of his net worth. He really did feel like Job.

But like Job, he kept his faith. He never asked “why me, God?” He simply prayed to God for His guidance. And business got better and incurable illnesses were survived.

Today, the gospel reflection groups continue to grow.  Eustace has a guidebook and materials – Gospel Reflection in a Box – for men starting a group.  He says he has made all the organizational mistakes so others don’t have to.

“We live in a wounded world,” Eustace says. “Men are coming to the groups because they are hurting.  Then they are filled by the faith, and the healing begins.”

He recalls one man who was devastated after losing his son.  Eustace invited him to the group, but he wasn’t interested. So Eustace gave the man a book he thought would be comforting. Eventually, he read the book, starting coming to a group and now is a group leader. And a living example of faith in our Lord.

“Guys have worked through and been healed from all sorts of addictions,” according to Eustace. “Every week something great happens – the Holy Spirit is really in this room and working.”

Eustace says there are difficult times in life, but the struggle has made him a better husband, father, and grandfather. He maintains his own “spiritual armor” signified by the acronym “ARM” – Adoration, Rosary, Mass.

And while the gospel reflection groups play a key role in the lives of many men, they also formed the basis for a much larger event launched first in 2002 by Eustace and friends: Man Up Philly.

Man Up Philly is a once-per-year conference focused on men to energize and enable men to be better sons, fathers, and husbands, by living their faith and leading their families by example. It is a day filled with inspirational speakers that over the years has included athletes like Mike Piazza, Rich Gannon, Phil Martelli, Fran Dunphy and other notables like Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Camden police chief J. Scott Thomson, who are constantly working to bring their faith into their everyday lives.

Man Up Philly has become a major annual event. And it appears to be contagious (yes, Eustace and friends have created May Up in a Box) and is being planned for New Jersey and New York.

For Eustace Mita, the gospel reflection group, combined with his regular practice of the faith, an annual retreat (led by a Legionary), and the grace of God have brought a good life, gratitude, and (like Job) humility.

Maybe more men should be asking to be like Job.

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!