Regnum Christi

Love

Be Loved Embraces a Time to Heal

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The past decade has embraced most of the times mentioned in the famous section of Ecclesiastes. We call the time “Renewal.” But at any given moment, it has been a time to break down, build up, weep, laugh, mourn, cast away, speak, love, and – perhaps most of all – heal.

That’s where an apostolate called “Be Loved” comes into play. And we should make it clear right now. It is two words, as in “If you score a touchdown in the big game you will ‘be loved’ by the fans.” (As opposed to players who score touchdowns are “beloved”.)

Melissa Foley, women’s section director in Atlanta, and Regnum Member since 2002 founded Be Loved and is the director. But it isn’t something she consciously planned – at least at the beginning.

In a sense, Be Loved began when Melissa was just five years old. She lived in a family in survival mode, a mode thrust upon her, the only way of living she knew.

Her dad was an alcoholic. Her mom suffered from mental illness. They divorced.

“It was a very broken family,” Melissa recalls. “In my mind, my dad loved a bottle of beer more than me. As a result, I was always trying to prove my worth, trying to be perfect.

“Becoming Catholic helped, but I didn’t have space in my soul to receive all the graces that come with being Catholic. And Our Lord pursued me for a long time.”

Melissa says she suffered in wake of the scandal involving the Legion’s founder because the “perfectionism” of Regnum Christi tended to deny vulnerability. There was, to her, such a disconnect between the ideal presented by the Movement and the failings that had surfaced.

The inner doubts that sprang from the flaws of her family of origin, that drove her efforts to be accepted and praised, brought to the surface the feelings she had buried for so long.

One day in a fit of anger she made a list of all the things she didn’t have growing up from her parents.  But when she prayed, God showed her that he had provided all those things from other people.

She really had never shared the trauma she experienced growing up.  But she slowly started to share with people very close to her.

“So, my best friend and I decided to go on a quest for healing,” Melissa recalls. “We went to Texas, Florida, and all over the country for healing retreats and classes. We were putting ourselves in a place for God to find us. And we realized how important it was for is to have our own identity clear before we could be truly effective Regnum Christi apostles.

“Be Loved is addressed by the first core conviction of Regnum Christi – that God Loves us. But many members aren’t so sure of that; they don’t have their identity clear.”

Be Loved, in simple terms, is a weekend healing retreat. It isn’t a “treatment” program. Neither is it a 12-step recovery program. But it addresses – from the perspective of Regnum Christi spirituality – the healing that so many people seek.

To give this some perspective, the National Institute for Mental Health, reports that more than 16 million Americans suffer a major incident of depression each year. And that number doesn’t include the millions who suffer lesser anxiety or the effects of an imperfect past.

The range of 12-step programs designed to help people overcome the hurts of the past range from Alcoholics Anonymousto Workaholics Anonymous, with most letters of the alphabet in between represented.

“Every person needs healing,” Melissa says. “But they have to get to the point where they will do ANYTHING to get rid of the pain they are in.

“Once grounded in their identity, the mission is clearer. That’s because a person’s mission springs from their being.”

That, says Melissa, is why healing is so important. She contends that a person cannot truly live the fullness of their mission in Regnum Christi until their hurts are addressed. It is a bit like the warning given before an airplane flight, where the attendants advise parents that if the oxygen masks fall they should put on their own masks before helping their children.

Jesus came to set us free- all of us. Including those needed to be restored: Lay  members, consecrated members, and Legionaries. For all members of Regnum Christi, Be Loved is a way to address the need to address human woundedness.

A taste of a testimony from one Be Loved participant (anonymous) gives a flavor of the wounds to be healed:

On the Fourth of July, my mom dressed me up in Red, White & Blue along with my favorite Madame Alexander Doll and my Dolly Coach. I marched in the Parade and won the contest for best dressed, and my picture was in the paper!

It was a great beginning, and then one day, my world changed! I was in the farmhouse kitchen and witnessed my parents fighting. I saw my dad lift my mom off the floor by her upper arms and slam her up against the kitchen wall. That’s all I remember …However, fighting at the home front was intensifying and I remember several key fights.

One was the time that my Mother threw every ceramic dish, plate, and bowel from the kitchen at my father, who was drunk and standing in the hallway. My brother and I were just above them in the upstairs landing watching the event thru the banister railing. It was quite pitiful watching my mom throw the items at my dad while he just stood there as they shattered on him. I don’t remember what words were spoken during this fight, or even after it. My brother and I just went to bed.

Drinking and fighting were always the threat of the day. My brother and I never knew when they were going to occur; we just knew that they would.

Melissa says such experience dwell in the memories of many women and men which cause a host of problems until they are dealt with. But she contends that just as Jesus healed people and drove out demons in the Gospel stories, He continues to heal people today and will continue to do so.

She loves the image Pope Francis draws of the Church as a field hospital for sinners rather than a museum for saints. For many women in Regnum Christi, Be Loved may be the ideal emergency clinic to heal the wounds of the past.

Go here to register for the next session of Be Loved.

Be Loved Embraces a Time to Heal Read More »

52 Dresses: The Heart of a Woman as Seen by God Ch 4 – A Dress of Mercy

CHAPTER 4: A Dress of Mercy

I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; hence, she has shown great love. But the one to whom little is forgiven loves little. -Luke 7:47

REFLECTION

Lord, your mercy is my only merit.

Throughout every woman’s life, new challenges arise. One in particular, despite being routine, never stops being new. Every morning you have to choose how to dress and what to wear.

Your decision is based partly on the season, the weather, and the day of the week. You find what fits, pick a dress and put together an outfit that suits the occasion. But you also try to dress to present yourself well, to please others and to feel secure in what you are wearing.

What if you didn’t have to worry about choosing a dress to wear, if you could just be yourself and not have to dress for others or even to satisfy yourself? What if you could be comfortable and confident and simply live in what you were wearing when you woke up—yes, your favorite pajamas? What would happen if you didn’t have to fix yourself up, get dressed and worry about your appearance or your self-image? Imagine if you could just let yourself be loved and pampered in a dress that gives you security, confidence, and peace?

In your relationship with God, don’t you find that you often strive to dress a certain way to try to give him reasons to love you, to forgive you, or to feel close to you? When you feel you lack any reasons or causes to be loved, it is like you have stayed in your pajamas without being able to put anything else on, without being able to put on your makeup or make yourself “presentable.”

If you don’t see any merit in your life, that’s when you should thank God most for the dress of mercy that he offers you. This is how he created you to be, in your purest state and essence. He sees past all the layers you try to put on to cover yourself, and he knows the depths of your heart.

I would dare to say that God’s mercy is a call for you to feel comfortable wearing the pajamas of your misery and limitations, without seeking to be dressed in reasons that you are worthy of his love. You do not have to make yourself presentable before him. Instead, God with his mercy makes you presentable, beautiful, and precious in his eyes.

Let yourself be embraced as when you were little and your parents took you up in their arms as you woke up. You opened your sleepy eyes in the comfort and warmth of your pajamas. You felt cherished and loved. Curl up confidently in the arms of your Father, who does not need reasons to love you.

Since God’s love and mercy are infinite, when you wear the dress of mercy your merits are many. Your dress of misery changes. It begins to shine to the extent that you let God embellish it with his embrace of unconditional love. He wants to do it, you just have to let him.

Learn to wake up every morning, opening your eyes with trust in the one who is by your side, knowing you do not have to dress yourself in human merits for him. Be yourself, and he will make you worthy and lovable with his mercy.

TEXT FOR MEDITATION

What can I count on? My own merits? No, “My only merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits” -St. Bernard of Clairvaux

JOURNEY / CHALLENGE

This week repeat to yourself, “my only merit is his mercy” throughout the day, dressing yourself in God’s mercy and being filled with confidence in his love each day.

PRAYER

TO ABANDON MYSELF TO YOU

I want to be free, as my humanity weighs heavily on me;
To climb mountains and see everything in the distance;
To cross the fields quickly;
To walk on water, my eyes fixed on you.

(…)

To cast off the ropes and chains,
Everything that limits and hurts me;
To ride the sea, dressed in the wind;
To watch sunsets in breathtaking silence.

All new and secure,
Abandoned in your strong Heart,
Without any plans or desires, only being,
Because in simply being with you, I am more yours.
And being next to you, what else could I ask for?
I have already left everything, what more could I gain?
If you are with me,
Nothing can trouble me.

Extract taken from the book Jesús a mi alma  © P. Guillermo Serra, LC

Past chapters of 52 Dresses: The Heart of a Woman as Seen by God are available in Spanish on my YouTube channel , and in English on the RC Live! blog.  I welcome your comments  below.

52 Dresses: The Heart of a Woman as Seen by God Ch 4 – A Dress of Mercy Read More »

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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!