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What “Standing Firm” Means for CFC

HOMILY delivered by His Excellency Archbishop John Du, D.D., Archdiocese of Palo, Leyte, during the Mass celebrated on the 36th anniversary of Couples for Christ, Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, Manila.


I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Couples for Christ on your 36th anniversary celebration. You began in 1981 in Manila, and now you have grown and flourished in over 100 countries.


Your vision is “Moved by the Holy Spirit, one with the Catholic Church, blessed to witness to Christ’s love and service, Couples for Christ is a united global community of family evangelizers that sets the world on fire with the fullness of God’s transforming love.” This gathering today is truly an affirmation of the fruitfulness of your vision and mission!


I come here, representing the survivors of the strong typhoon Haiyan. (Ed’s note: Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, a category 5 super typhoon packing winds as strong as 196 miles per hour struck Leyte in November of 2013. Aside from the vast damage to property, 6,340 people lost their lives.)


You have chosen “Stand Firm in the Faith” as your theme for this 36th anniversary event. It comes from the final exhortation of St. Paul addressed to the Christian community of Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).


“Stand Firm in the Faith” invites us to reflect on the meaning of these three words—STAND, FIRM and FAITH.


These could serve as your guide in renewing your commitment as Couples for Christ. This theme is also related to the Word of God we just heard today.


The first word is “STAND” which as a verb can mean the following: “to be upright, to rise, to take a position, to support or uphold, to defend a cause, to endure,”, etc. The word ‘stand’ is rich with meaning when you recall the major events of Couples for Christ over these 36 years.


Certainly, you will recall your stand on various issues which affected your community since 1981. This anniversary will also challenge your stand on current issues affecting family life as spelled out by Pope Francis in his recent exhortation Amoris Laetitia on Family life.


For St. Paul, to stand is to stand always for Christ which is clear in all his letters to Christian communities in the New Testament. In this sense, to be Couples for Christ is to always STAND and to take a position for Christ. You are always FOR CHRIST!


This is what we mean when we pray in the Eucharistic Prayer II: “Remembering therefore your death and your resurrection, we offer you the bread and the wine, we thank you for having judged us worthy to STAND before you and serve you.” Thus, the word ‘stand’ is associated with the mystery of our Christian faith—the paschal mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ.


The second word is “FIRM” which as an adjective can mean the following: “solid, unyielding, established, definite, confirmed, steadfast, unwavering and persistent”. The word ‘firm’ can also have a negative connotation like “rigid, dead set and inflexible”.


Applied to the marital and family context, the word firm is related to fidelity to our promises or the resolve to be faithful to one another until death.


In the context of your 36th anniversary, we thank the Lord for the grace of your being firm to your vision and mission as Couples for Christ amidst the various challenges and crises we face today! In the post-modern world when many things are regarded as relative, we need to be firm in our Christian faith and values. Indeed, family life is being attacked by various forces questioning its stability and commitment to life, and we need to be firm in our stand for Christ who is our way, truth and life! Thus, to be Couples for Christ is to be firm in our marital and familial relationships; it is to be firm in our commitment for life, and ultimately it is to be firm in our relationship with Christ in the Church! Without this firm relationship with Christ in the Church, we become nothing.


The third and final word in our theme is FAITH which is both a gift and a task! As gift, faith is a grace from God. We can only grow in our faith if we are assisted by the Holy Spirit. As evangelizers, we need this gift of faith to be able to know more deeply the revelation from God as elaborated in the teaching magisterium of the Church.


Faith allows us to see beyond… we endure in hardships because we believe that there is God to save us, to restore us.


As task, faith requires our total response to God’s call. This is the meaning of what St. Paul said regarding our “obedience of faith” in his letters to the Romans (16:26) and to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 10:5-6). In this context, to stand firm in the faith is to offer our whole self freely to God—offering ‘the full submission of our intellect and will to God who reveals, willing and assenting to the truth revealed by Him’. A practical implication of this faith as task is to be familiar with the Word of God and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Five years ago, Pope Benedict XVI (now emeritus), proclaimed the Year of Faith for the Universal Church, the goals of which I find very relevant to your theme, namely:

  1. “To profess the faith in fullness and with renewed conviction, with confidence and hope. To do this, we need to rediscover the precious gift of the content of our faith.
  2. To celebrate the faith with more intensity in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist.
  3. To witness the faith in our lives with growing credibility - Confessing with the lips indicates in turn that faith implies public testimony and commitment.
  4. To share the faith not only ad gentes but in view of the New Evangelization… Missio ad gentes is the announcement of the Gospel to those who do not know Christ and New Evangelization is the task facing the Church today, especially in countries with a Christian tradition.”


Faith allows us to last and love forever. Couples for Christ, believe that God transforms us, strengthens us in our weakness. Couples for Christ, believe in the goodness of your spouse. 


Yes, because we are human, we fail, but believe that God renews us. I am pleased to affirm that Couples for Christ has been doing all these four tasks as the foundation of your basic formation. To stand firm in the faith is to deepen what you have started in the light of the new challenges we face in the Church and the world today.


Congratulations to the Couples for Christ and may our Lord make you more fruitful in the years to come. Amen.

Added on Monday, July 3, 2017



 

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