Key points:
  • Piety is doing all we can to listen to God, and to draw close to him.
  • Piety is not just “prayer,” and certainly not just “intercession.”
  • Piety is the first of our three key elements: piety, study and action. (to follow!)
  1. The word “piety” (or “pious”) can provoke very negative ideas. It’s not about showing off our “religiousness,” or turning our noses up at other people. At its simplest, it’s about how we find it best to spend time in communion with God. That can be in silence or meditation, free prayer or structured liturgy. We’re all different, but God is the same.
  2. Don’t forget we are in the “looking inward” phase. Your talk is an invitation to participants to examine their own relationship with God, not necessarily to recommend new ideas or strategies to them – this comes later in other talks.
  3. Because we are all different, this talk will be the first one to be potentially deeply personal. It will very likely involve sharing things that “make us tick,” but we need to keep in mind that what works for us may not be helpful for others.
  4. At the heart of piety is an understanding that we are not talking about prayer as a separate activity; piety is the way we allow God to be a part of every part of our daily lives.

On some Cursillos in the past this talk has been given in a different way and a different place from all the others – for example in the retreat house chapel. While at first this may seem like a good idea, it actually undermines the whole premise of the talk! Piety is one leg of our three-legged stool of piety-study-action and is integral to every aspect of our life, not separated from it as somehow made “holy,” and therefore disconnected. Anything that reinforces the prejudice that piety is something we only do in church is not just undermining this talk – it undermines the whole message of the Cursillo.
Piety, then, is all about how we approach our relationship with God. We heard in the second meditation about how God wants to have a loving relationship with all of his children – even the prodigal son – and building on this parent-child model of relationship can be useful. Not all family relationships are comfortable areas to explore for some participants, so care is needed, but we can stress that we speak of a perfect parent who transcends in every way our own human parents. Alternatively we can look at human friendships: can we imagine a friendship being in any way deep and meaningful is we never talk to each other or spend any time in each others’ company?
Although the talk on obstacles to grace is yet to come, it may be helpful to point out at this early stage that like all relationships, our piety won’t always be comfortable or rewarding. There are times when we may not feel God’s presence, or anything at all. There will be busy times when we need to force ourselves to make time for God. It is comforting to know at such times that even the great saints of history had their dark night of the soul.