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A New Call To Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks
Tuesday, September 22, 2015

CFC’s theme for 2016 is crystal clear: Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks.

The theme is anchored on Philippians 4:4-7—“Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near. Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

The CFC IC arrived at the theme after a particularly intense spiritual reflection and prayer during what the International Council called the Discernment Weekend of August 28 and 29. In the words of some of the IC who have gone through similar discernment weekends before, arriving at this new theme, which will drive the directions for the community in 2016, was relatively smooth and the presence of the Holy Spirit was keenly felt during the entire exercise.

The retreat, held at the Abagatan ti Manila in Alfonso, Cavite, began at 2 PM on Friday, August 28, with a recollection given by CFC Spiritual Adviser Msgr. Allen Aganon. The recollection was anchored on Luke 10:38-42 (Martha and Mary), particularly the verse: “There is need only of one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Msgr. Allen spoke of the three stages of prayer (the dark night of the senses, the proficiency period, and the darkness of the spirit) and connected it to the three stages of discipleship: 

  • Essential discipleship – the period from youth to the early stages of marriage and vocation searching; the period of longing for friends, love, own home 
  • Mature discipleship – having found Jesus, the struggle to maintain the relationship 
  • Radical discipleship – the struggle to keep death away; the dark night of the spirit when nothing is meaningful except faith, hope, charity; the struggle to give our life to others He also spoke of the faults of a mature adult, actually the seven capital (or deadly) sins—pride, jealousy or envy, wrath, sloth, greed, lust and gluttony.

He ended by saying that the challenge of mature discipleship is to be the source of grace even at times when we feel we are not useful.

The discernment process was originally supposed to start immediately after the recollection but after the Holy Mass, Msgr. Aganon exposed the Blessed Sacrament and urged the IC to go into an all-night prayer vigil. The IC welcomed the suggestion and scheduled couple prayers for an hour each until the 7 AM Mass the following morning which was celebrated by Fr. Ramon Mascolino of the Galilee Center in Tagaytay.

What followed after the Mass was more prayers, proclamation of visions, healing messages and quiet meditation. It was an intense time of bonding in the Spirit and of openness to what God had to say.

In the end, at exactly 4:47 PM of Saturday, August 29, the IC brothers and their wives, united in love and in the Spirit, agreed that the message from the Lord was clear—it was a clarion call for the community to “Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks.”

One innovation this year was the announcement via social media of the new theme. Unlike in previous years when the Chairman would make the announcement via a memo, the process this year took on a technological twist. By 5:15 PM or just a few minutes after the theme was arrived at, Chairman Joe Tale spoke to the community via Facebook to announce it.

It is a clear indication of the times that within minutes, the FB page already had thousands of Likes, Shares and Comments.

The new theme does not seem to require any explanation, it is so clear-cut. The Lord is asking Couples for Christ to be joyful always because He has already bought salvation with His blood. He is asking everyone to continually count their blessings, to always look only at the positive, think good of others and contribute to making the world a better place. He is also asking the global CFC family to pray more intensely than before because of the many challenges and attacks that each member, as individuals, as couples, as families, face at this time. And He is asking all to always give thanks for everything – for triumphs, joys, blessings, and even for trials, difficulties and defeats.

This is not a new admonition, because this is exactly how each member of CFC, as Christians, should live their lives. But it is a very timely reminder that CFC can face all the difficulties of their lives and their times if each one commits to indeed Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks. (CFC Global Comm)



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