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Stand Firm in the Faith! CFC IC Gives Out Marching Orders at the Int’l. Leaders Conference
Monday, February 13, 2017

“Be on your guard, stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong. Your every act should be done with love.” ~1 Corinthians 16: 13-14


COUPLES for  Christ  leaders from Metro Manila, the Philippine Missions and the International  Missions  congregated  at the  SM Mall  of  Asia  Arena  in Pasay City for the annual CFC International Leaders Conference last  January  14,  2017. Men  and women—16,000  strong—came  to listen  to  CFC  President  George Campos, Chairman Joe Tale and Director for Pastoral Formation Rouquel Ponte as the trio gave out the marching orders for 2017.


His  Excellency  The  Most  Reverend  Ramon  Arguelles,  now  a retired Archbishop,  was  main  celebrant  in the Mass that kicked off the afternoon event. Msgr. Allen Aganon, CFC International Council  Spiritual  Adviser, together  with  Fr.  Ronald  Magbanua, CICM (Mongolia), Fr. Marco Coloma (Ecuador),  Fr.  Joel  Jason,  Fr. Thomas Villanueva,  Fr.  Carlos  Santos  OFM (Spiritual  Director of CFC Israel), Fr. Anthony  Layog  (Dagupan)  and  Fr. Bruno Genilla (Tagum) concelebrated the Mass.


In his homily, Archbishop Arguelles reminded, “All of us are one body with God.  Our  humanity  is  joined  with Christ’s  divinity.  Christ  is  accompanied, and we accompany Him.” 


He added, “We are a community of communities. The blood that flows in the community is the blood of Christ.”


A New Spirit

In  the  first  session,  Campos  described the church in Corinth at the time of  St. Paul—divided,  disorderly, beset with difficulties. In one way or another, he added, the situation then is still true now. 


“There are challenges and uncertainties that will shake us, slow us down, or make us afraid,” Campos shared. He added, “It is for this reason that we need revival! How? By having a new spirit in Christ.”


Renewed  individuals,  a  renewed community,  made  possible through St.  Paul’s  instructions  in  this  year’s theme—this is how Campos envisions CFC for 2017.


At the end of his talk, Campos reminded  those  gathered  to continue seeking the Lord in order to have this new Spirit. 


“Let us consecrate our hearts to the Lord. It is his presence that will make CFC unstoppable,” Campos enthused, before leading the body in a Prayer to the Holy Spirit.


Stand Firm in the Faith

For the second session, Tale enumerated four points on how CFC can stand firm in the faith: know and deepen the faith, apply faith in every day life, proclaim the faith, and be a witness of the faith. 


Tale  asked,  “What  are the  practical  ways  to  respond?”  and  gave  these tangible ways that CFC can do that:

1. Live  out  one's  CFC Covenant

•  Consistent personal prayer  and  scripture time. 

•  Regular  dialogue date  with  spouse and children. 

•  Faithfully  attend household and other  assemblies  and gathering. 

•  Serve with all your heart. 

•  Study  and  grow  as a Christian person. 


2. Grow in Virtues 

•  Prudence: is right in action; it guides the other virtues by setting  rule  and  measure;  the  prudent man  determines and directs his conduct  in  accordance with this judgment. (CCC 1806) 

•  Justice:  the  moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm  will  to  give others  their  due. The  just  man  is distinguished  by habitual  right  and thinking  and  the uprightness  of  his conduct  toward his  neighbor.  (CCC 1807) 

•  Fortitude:  the moral  value  that ensures  firmness in  difficulties  and constancy  in  the pursuit  of  good.  It enables one to conquer  fear,  even  the fear  of  death,  and to  face  trials  and perceptions.  (CCC 1808) 

•  Temperance:  the moral  virtue  that moderates  the  attraction of pleasure and  provides  balance  in  the  use  of created goods. It ensures the will’s mastery  over  instincts and  keeps  desires within the limits of what  is  honorable. (CCC 1809) 


Tale proceeded to highlight  the  blessings  showered  on  the community for  2016,  among  them the direction to Strengthen  the Core,  Expand  the Reach; the various means of  gateway evangelization;  the Amoris LaetitiaWorkshop  for  leaders  in the Metro  Manila  and Philippine Missions; Mission with the Poor Retreat, as piloted by Metro Manila Central A sector; Theology of the Body  Workshop; Missions  101  Certificate Course;  ANCOP  Global Walk,  which  still  pushed through despite the walkers being pummeled by a strong  typhoon;  the  first season of PlumaTV Series; and CFC Project ReForm. For  2017,  CFC  has  the following to look forward to  in  order  to  concretize the direction set last year:


•  Family Evangelization 

•  KFC Families on Mission 

•  Family  Enrichment Retreat 

•  Family  members  together in the community 

•  Gateway  Evangelization 

•  Pluma 2: more stories from  the  provinces, foreign countries 

•  Radio Veritas Pamilya Mo, Pamilya Ko

•  Greater  Parish  Involvement 

•  Basic  Ecclesial  Communities

•  Stand  Firm  in  the Faith 

•  Catechism 

•  Youth catechism 

•  Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, the goal of which is for every CFC leader to have that desire to make  the  pilgrimage and relate it to the CFC life and mission. 

•  Leaders Development, to be established as another  course  program of the CFC Institute. 

 

“Brothers and sisters, it is time again that we reaffirm  our  commitment  to be part of God’s army and to follow our Commander in-Chief,” said Tale in his conclusion.  “He  gives  us a  choice.  Let  us  take  His words to heart. It is time to make our recommitment.” 

 

He added, “As we do so, may  we  follow  Joshua’s commitment and make it our own:

 

“If it is displeasing to you to serve the Lord, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)


Faithful Love to the End 

In the last session, Ponte emphasized the last verse in  the  theme’s anchor: Your every act should be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:14 – NABRE)


Ponte underscored how each CFC member’s story in the community began in love—God’s love and each person’s love for God and neighbor. The  bottom  line  for  everything that CFC does—evangelization, the family  ministries,  the  mission  to the  poor,  CFC’s  relations  with  the clergy and the social dimension of the community - are all founded on love, and it is important that each one remembers that love.


He  pointed  out,  “As  leaders,  we have the obligation to remind our people of the faithful love of God. And in remembering, we will always be grateful to the end!”

 

He  mentioned  the  book  Moved by the Holy Spirit, the first installment on the history of Couples for Christ which records how the Lord has been faithful to the community, and  how  God  has manifested  His love to CFC.


Moving  forward  to  CFC’s  35th year  and  beyond,  Ponte quoted Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium (cf.27), “I dream of a ‘missionary option’, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedule, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s modern world.”


Ponte shared, “Every action word in  our  theme  for  this  year ought to lead to our own transformation and  help  transform  world we  live in”  and  went  on  to  list  how  CFC must act:

1.  Be on your guard: let us not be  complacent  nor  satisfied with the status quo;

2.  Stand firm in the faith: let us know  what  we  believe  in  as a Catholic  Christian  and  as Couples for Christ;

3.  Be courageous: be not afraid to make known what we believe and to fight for what is right in the Lord;

4.  Be  strong:  be  in  constant state of readiness by diligent preparation,  training  and fitness  (both  spiritual and physical).


Ponte concluded the session with another  quotation  from Evangelii Gaudium: “… all of us (are) called to mature in our work as evangelizers. We want to have better training, a deepening love and a clearer witness to the Gospel.” He highlighted the initiatives  of the  Pastoral  Formation Office in terms of the existing and new teaching tracks, and new offerings  of  the  CFC  Institute  to look forward to. Finally, Ponte reiterated the value of love, not only to family and those in one’s immediate circle, but more so to those in the peripheries.


“Today, there are still empty spaces in our own life and our life as community,” Ponte shared, adding, “Let us  ask  the  Holy  Spirit  to fill  it  up not  just  the  human  emptiness  but most especially, the spiritual emptiness—for  us  to  aim  for  the  higher goal—which is heaven!” (CFC Global Communications)




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