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Prayer, Faith, Joy—A Call For All Families

  

By George B. Campos, CFC Executive Director


 

 

Last October 26 and 27, Cynthia and I, together with 90 other CFC couples from other parts of the world, attended the Pilgrimage of Families at the tomb of Peter in the Year of Faith. Through an invitation from the Vatican via the Pontifical Council for the Family, Couples for Christ was represented to this very joyous gathering about a month before the close of the Year of Faith.


After pondering on the events which took place during those two blessed days, I was led to reflect on the homily given by Pope Francis on the Sunday readings of that weekend. What was God’s message for me and my family? What was God’s message for CFC?


In his homily, Pope Francis zeroed in on three basic, but very important features of what a Christian family should have. First, the family prays. The Gospel reading that Sunday was about the two men praying in the synagogue—the Pharisee and the tax collector. In his exhortation, the Holy Father pointed out the difference between authentic and false prayer. The Pharisee, in his arrogance, embodies an attitude of self-satisfaction and glorification, whereas the prayer of the tax collector is “a poor man’s prayer”—humble, acknowledging his unworthiness and his needs.

 

In the light of the Gospel, the Pope challenged us: Do you pray together as a family? How do you pray? The family needs God—his help, his strength, his blessing, his mercy, his forgiveness. And despite the difficulties that may surround the family which can keep families from praying together, we must simply pray, and we must pray simply. Praying the Lord’s prayer together is easy. Reciting the Rosary as a family gives us strength. And praying for one another—husband and wife, parents and children, grandchildren and grandparents—these are what will make our families strong.

 

The second feature that Pope Francis mentioned in his homily is the family keeps the faith. The context of keeping the faith is not to keep it within the family like keeping it in a box or treating it like a personal bank account, but to proclaim it to the world. Like St. Paul who said in his second letter to Timothy, “I have kept the faith!” by going to the ends of the earth to boldly proclaim the good news, we in CFC must also be witnesses of this good news. How? By conducting our lives in a manner pleasing to God, by our acceptance of others and by our openness.

 

As we sing in our Couples for Christ theme song, our families must become “salt and leaven of His people, lamps that shine in the dark”. As families who keep the faith, we are called to be missionary families, not just to faraway lands, but within our own households, our neighborhood, to people who are in need, the marginalized, in our day-to-day lives.

 

The last thought Pope Francis emphasized is the family experiences joy. The entire psalm that Sunday is a song for God who is the source of peace and joy. The psalm assures each one of us that the Lord is near, He hears the cry of the desolate and defends us from evil. That gives us enough reason to rejoice! Deep joy only comes from the presence of God in the home. When there is the presence of God, there is harmony, togetherness and mutual support and respect. When there is the presence of God, there is love and mercy and patience. “God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centeredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally,” Pope Francis added.

 

As another challenge, Pope Francis presented everyone with a “homework”: to answer these two questions—How are things when it comes to joy at home? Is there joy in your family?

 

Hearing this message from the Holy Father that Sunday, I cannot help but say a prayer of thanksgiving and praise for bringing me and my family to Couples for Christ. Like all the other families in the community, it is in CFC where my own family is growing in prayer, in faith and in joy. It was also a great blessing that Cynthia and I were able to bring two of our children—Patrick, our eldest, and our youngest Christen—to the pilgrimage. (Our two other daughters, Therese and Kat, were unable to join us in that trip.) I believe that through the message for families in his homily, Pope Francis brought this very timely message to every CFC family and to all Catholic families in the world amidst the challenges and attacks against the family and on life. Like our mother Mary, may we ponder all these in our hearts. And as we enter the Christmas season, may we always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth.

   

 

Added on Wednesday, December 11, 2013



 

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