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‘My Heart in Your Hands’ The CFC HOLD International Conference
Tuesday, May 9, 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

THE verse spells  out St. Paul's words  of  encouragement  to  the believers in Corinth, following the  crisis  the  Church  there  was experiencing.  It  is  also  the anchor verse of Couples for Christ's theme for 2017—'Stand firm in the faith'. 

The  CFC  Handmaids  of  the  Lord expressed this firmness in the faith by offering the one thing that will make sure they respond to the call stated in the  letter  to  the Corinthians—their hearts. Thus, their International Conference (ICon) for 2017 had a theme that was fully expressive of their commitment to Jesus: “My heart in Your hands”.

About  6,700  HOLD  leaders  and members  from  24  countries  and  all over the Philippines converged at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, Rizal over the weekend of April 21 to 23 for the 24thHOLD ICon, eager to learn and ready to entrust their hearts to God.

The ICON opened with the HOLD on-Tour fellowship night on Friday, April  21.  As Edythe  Avendaño, HOLD  International Coordinator put it, the occasion is the one time when the Lord gathers thousands of women from the different corners of the world to have fellowship, as well as to experience love and friendship. 

Playing tour attendant, Heidi Magnaye of MM North B gave the delegates a guided tour of Africa, Europe, Oceania,  the  Americas, and  Asia  via  the songs and dances prepared by HOLD members from  the  various  areas  in the  Philippines,  the  entire evening culminating in the singing of “It’s A Small World”.

The  celebration  of  the  Mass  ushered in the second day, followed immediately  by  the  first  session  titled Journey  of  Faith with Avendaño   as the speaker. She described faith, like life, as a journey, progressing from one stage to another until one reaches the final destination. 

In one’s journey of faith, one must first come to the faith, either by being born into it, by man’s search for God (like the Magi), out of curiosity (like the  shepherds  during  the Nativity), by taking that so-called leap of faith, through God’s extraordinary ways, like what happened to St. Paul, or through the witnessing  of  those  who follow  and serve God.

But no matter how one discovers the faith, it is only the first step. A person must move further  and  understand  the faith, its truths and traditions in  order  to  progress  in one’s relationship with God and live an authentic Christian life.

Quoting  Pope  Francis  in the  encyclical Lumen  Fidei, Avendaño shared  that  “if  we want to understand what faith is, we need to follow the route it has taken, the path trodden by believers, as witnessed first in the Old Testament.” (LF1:8) This statement brings to mind Abraham  as  the  model,  who personified the four pathways of  faith: trusting,  believing, following and hoping.

Avendaño  also  mentioned the truths of faith, as embodied in the Apostles’ Creed, the very foundation of the Catholic faith.As a final reminder, Avendaño echoed  Pope Francis’  suggestion of not taking the journey of faith alone, but with others—with one’s family, priests,  catechists,  teachers, communities—all those who touch one’s Christian life.

“And  let  us  not  forget  that leading  us  in  this  journey  is Jesus Himself,  our Shepherdguide,” she emphasized.

In  the  next  session,  Norma Borja, the Continent Coordinator for HOLD Europe, discussed Crisis  in  Faith,  taking  into account  the impediments  to faith found in the letter to the Galatians (5:19-21). However, these struggles and challenges described as happening in biblical times also occur in the present  time,  making  one’s  faith journey seem difficult.

Among  the  crises  happening in the world today are the challenges to  the  truths and practices  of  the  faith  (attacks on the family, aversion to suffering  and  sacrifice, Catholics in authority failing to practice the faith in the face of popular opinion, technology,  war, indifference,  secularism,  moral relativism, the culture of death, to name a few).

At  the  end  of  the  session, Borja  posed  this  challenge: “Shall  we allow  our  faith to continue being in crisis, leading to its eventual death? Or should we rise to the challenge, stand firm  in  the  faith and  protect, defend,  and practice  our faith no matter what the cost?”

In  the  third  session,  Imelda Pagdilao,  Regional  Coordinator  for HOLD  Central Europe, spoke of Staying the Courseand reminded the participants that after knowing the challenges to one’s faith journey, they should learn  how  to  stand  firm  amid the hindrances by looking back and reviewing the 4Ds of spiritual warfare: deception, division, diversion, discouragement.

Why?  Because  knowing  how the enemy works will help remind everyone what he or she needs to guard against. Prayers, the sacraments, knowing and understanding the traditions of the Church and  traditions  of  the  family  are the  non-negotiables  the faithful must hold on to in understanding the faith and preparing them to defend what they believe in.

Like  Joshua,  whose  courage came from his full trust in God’s promises when he led the Israelites to battle, or Peter, who after receiving  Jesus’  unconditional love and forgiveness, was emboldened to proclaim the Good News, one  engaged  in  spiritual battle must  “be  courageous,  be  strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13b). Such was the premise in the fourth session titled Warriors on Our Knees, delivered by Bernie Cuevas, Country Coordinator for HOLD China.

Cuevas  described  the  four  enemies  of  courage:  excessive  fear, sloth  or  laziness, fatigue,  and loneliness.  These  can  hinder  an individual from moving forward, preventing him or her from pursuing the good.

Developing Christian courage is akin to a body-builder who strives to  develop  his muscles,  in  order to develop his physical strength. However,  Christian  courage  is more than brawn. It is developing the  strength  of  mind  and  heart to make a sacrifice, willingly undergo suffering or risk danger for the sake of doing the will of God and overcoming evil with good.

Cuevas  concludes,  “Courage not only helps our faith to grow strong, it also stops us from giving up and running away when we need to stay the course.”

The  final  session,  titled My Heart in Your Hands, was given by Didi Galsim, Continent Coordinator for HOLD Americas. She emphasized the  five  important commands given by St. Paul in 1  Corinthians 16:13-14:  Be  on guard;  Stand  firm  in  the  faith; Be  courageous; Be  strong;  Your every act should be done in love.

Galsim stressed that in a spiritual battle, love is the weapon of choice. Love for God and others—these are needed to battle for God’s  kingdom.  This  kind of love builds up unity among the people of God, expands the kingdom, liberates people from sin and evil,  and  transforms and saves souls. In a word, it can be described as agape. 

It is likewise a call to serve. And despite the frustrations, fatigue and discouragement agape may seem to bring, Jesus is ever ready to say, “My child, give Me your heart.”

Galsim  asked,  “What  does giving your heart to God mean? What would  it  entail?” With Joshua as example, Galsim enumerated  the following  qualities of the young warrior: Joshua had a hunger for God’s presence and glory;  he  enjoyed  an  intimate relationship with  Him;  because of  this  intimate  relationship, whenever  God spoke to  Joshua, he heard clearly and obeyed.

Like Joshua, every Handmaid can  enjoy the same  intimacy with the Lord by giving Him her heart.  Offering  one’s  heart  into the wounded hands of Jesus calls for having a deep prayer life, total obedience  in  God,  union  with Him in the Eucharist, and a life of service to others. (Alma Arvarez)



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