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   Palanca is a Spanish word which means "lever." Just as a lever enables a person to move something which is beyond their normal strength, Palanca empowers the accomplishment of things which would not be possible without the grace of God. "For man it is impossible, but for God all things are possible." (Matt 19:26) "When anyone takes up the work of the conversion and Christian renewal of persons and the evangelization of human groups, it is absolutely indispensable that the entire work be built upon the grace of God." (Cursillo Leaders' Manual, 1981; pg 135)

     What is Palanca? Palanca consists of any one or any combination of three things which are offered for the spiritual success of a particular phase or of all phases of the Cursillo Movement. The three things are:

  1. Prayers
  2. Sacrifices
  3. Works of Mercy.

     It is important to understand that Palanca is not gifts or love letters. A letter may be sent explaining what type of Palanca is being offered, but that letter is not the Palanca. The actual Palanca is the action (Prayer, Sacrifice or Works of Mercy) and can be done without writing a letter about it. A Personal Palanca letter is one that is sent to an individual telling him/her what is being offered for spiritual success. A General Palanca letter is one that is sent to the whole group (for example, team and/or candidates) informing them of the Palanca being done.

     Prayers in the Cursillo context, which are offered as Palanca, are intercessory prayers. Likewise, Sacrifices which are done as Palanca are also intercessory. They are any form of prayers and/or sacrifices which are offered on behalf of another person(s), for a particular phase of the Movement, or for the Cursillo Movement in general.

     Both the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy can also be offered as Palanca as we work toward bringing Christ to the world in which we live. The following are just a few examples of the Works of Mercy that can be offered as Palanca as we do them for the honor and glory of God:

    Feed the hungry (grocery shopping, preparing a meal, working at a soup kitchen, or donating time or food to a food pantry; serving as a Eucharistic minister);
    Give drink to the thirsty (giving a drink to a child, a thirsty repairman, or an elderly/sick person);
    Clothe the naked (changing a baby's diapers; dressing a child or bedridden person; donating clothing to clothing banks, St. Vincent DePaul stores, or the pro-life movement);
    Visit the imprisoned (visiting residents of nursing homes or mental health institutions; sending letters or cards to those in prisons; donating books and magazines to prison ministries);
    Shelter the homeless (providing a good home for our families; donating time, talent or money to homeless shelters or Habitat for Humanity);
    Visit the sick (visiting or calling someone who is sick; sending cards or flowers);
    Bury the dead (comforting the surviving family and friends; providing food or transportation for survivors; lending a listening ear to someone who is grieving); Admonish the sinner (Helping others avoid sin through our example, words, and prayers; interjecting a Christian point of view in discussions on subjects such as abortion and euthanasia);
    Instruct the ignorant (teaching Christian values and morals to our families and friends either through words or by our example);
    Counsel the doubtful (Listening to those who are having doubts about their faith and either counseling them or directing them to seek help from others);
    Comfort the sorrowful (Listening to those suffering pain; bringing in a hot-meal, offering to baby-sit, providing transportation or financial help);
    Bear wrongs patiently (When we feel we have been mistreated or ignored by friends, family members or business associates, meditate on the Passion of our Lord and offer the personal hurts to Him);
    Forgive all injuries ("Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us;" learn to forgive by imitating Jesus);
    Pray for the living and the dead (Praying for our families, friends, business associates, for those who ask for our prayers, and for the souls of our loved ones; pray also for those most in need of God's mercy whether living or dead).

     Palanca is an integral part of all phases of the Cursillo Movement. For a few examples: For PreCursillo --- Palanca should be offered so that Cursillistas prayerfully select potential candidates and also for the targeting of evangelizing particular environments. For the 3-day weekend --- Palanca should be offered for the team so that the team members are formed into a real Christian community; Palanca should be offered for the candidates so that they will be open to the grace of God on the weekend. For PostCursillo --- Palanca should be offered for new Cursillistas as they return to their families, friends, and workplaces. This is a time that they need further strong spiritual support.

     For PostCursillo, Palanca should also be offered on a regular, ongoing basis for Group Reunions, Ultreyas, School of Leaders and Workshops. It should be offered for all Secretariat members (Diocesan, Regional, National, and World Movements) so that these members may be guided and directed by the Holy Spirit.

     Palanca is especially powerful because of the blending of prayers, sacrifices, and works of mercy from the entire Cursillo community. An orchestra is not in sync when the players are tuning their instruments, but when the conductor raises his baton and begins the tempo, there is a harmonious blending of notes. So it is with Palanca when we are all in accord with the will and the work of God. Our individual palanca is very powerful, but when our Palanca is in concert with others --- united with the Palanca of other Cursillistas --- it becomes a mighty lever. Palanca is indeed the greatest contribution that the 4th day community can make to the Cursillo Movement.

Contributed by Mary J Knapp October 12, 1999

 

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