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Couples for Christ Joins the World Meeting of Families
Thursday, September 27, 2018

AS THE world finds itself slowly plunging into the depths of hopelessness due to the numerous problems and challenges besetting the whole of humanity, the Catholic Church convened the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland. Chosen by Pope Francis as the host from 21-26 August 2018, and guided by the theme "The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World", the Catholic Church of Ireland welcomed and brought together families from across the globe to celebrate, pray and reflect on the importance of marriage, and the family, as the cornerstone of life, of society and of the Church.


Couples for Christ enthusiastically participated by sending a mission team led by IC member Arnel Santos and wife Bing to this highly important event. CFC Ireland also offered its wholehearted support to the WMoF 2018.


The following key elements propelled the week-long event:

  • The first day of the WMOF, August 21, 2018, was the National Opening Day, which took place simultaneously in all the different dioceses of Ireland.
  • The days from August 22 up to the 24th saw a three-day Theological Pastoral Congress where participants reflected on Pope Francis’ chosen theme “The Gospel of the Family: Joy for the World”. The Congress featured talks and presentations as well as deeply incisive discussions by keynote speakers, which included the Archdiocese of Manila’s very own Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, renowned preachers such as Bishop Robert Barron, Cardinal Christopf Schonborn of Vienna, Austria and the famous chef priest, Fr. Leo Patalinghud, host of the EWTN TV show, Plating Grace. The Congress also included daily celebration of the Eucharist, prayerful activities, exhibitions, cultural events and musical performances.
  • On Saturday afternoon, August 25, people from all walks of life trooped on foot towards Croke Park Stadium as Pope Francis arrived to attend the Festival of Families. The Festival consisted of a reflective concert within a prayerful but joyful atmosphere. The Festival, seen as a celebration of the faithful who patiently searched for God’s message for the duration of the Pastoral Congress, featured personal stories of faith shared by families coming from all continents.
  • Finally, on Sunday August 26, despite being pelted by sleet, rain and cold winds, WMOF 2018 closed at Phoenix Park with a solemn Mass celebrated by Pope Francis before thousands of people from Ireland and all over the world.


Brethen welcoming brethren
CFC Ireland, led by Efren and Marivel Bagares, as well as the Ireland Governance Team, welcomed the CFC mission team from Manila with much enthusiasm. A pilgrimage to the world famous Shrine of Our Lady of Knock became the fitting start for the mission team to enter into a deep reflection about Mary’s role in strengthening families in the world. Vic Cosingan of CFC Ireland facilitated the pilgrimage.


The team, together with brethren from CFC UK, went to a journey back in time reminiscing the story of when the Blessed Mother appeared before a group of ordinary men and women at a time of great poverty and restlessness in Ireland.


The next three days were spent in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) with the mission team participating in the amazing workshops and scholarly presentations from the brightest minds of the Catholic Church. Among the workshops was one about the environment, and another on the role of technology in the family.


Important takeaways from the WMoF
One of the most memorable workshops was the one by Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, who gave a talk on the reflections of Pope Francis on the so-called “throw-away culture” that is prevailing in the world today.


Cardinal Tagle based his talk on a study made by K. A. Hamer titled, “TheHistory of Planned Obsolescence”, which stated that advances in technology have truly been very beneficial to humanity by making life easier for many. Cardinal Tagle pointed out that the tendency to obsolescence has become so prevalent that useful things are rendered useless as soon as the newest trend or product comes out. He reiterated that the throw-away attitude has become acceptable and embedded in modern culture, affecting the way man treats the environment and even relationships. Cardinal Tagle exhorted the participants to reflect and perform an examination of conscience to find out if the effects of planned obsolescence have permeated their lives, their minds and their culture.


Other speakers such as Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles spoke on the reflections of Pope Francis in papal encyclical Amoris Laetitia, specifically on Chapters 7, 8 and 9. Bishop Barron said that Pope Francis was very much into the traditions of the virtues ethics as opposed to rules ethics. The prelate said, “If we present the moral life simply in terms of rules and prohibitions, we are presenting a very impoverished account of the moral life”.


One of the most fun parts of the WMOF was to watch the renowned priest-chef, Fr. Leo Patalinghud, best-selling Fil-Am author and host of the EWTN TV series, “Savoring Our Faith”, give a talk and cooking demonstration at the same time. His segment was aptly titled, “Spicing Up Our Married Life: Satisfying Couples’ Hunger for True Love.”


In his packed-to-the-rafters presentation, Fr. Patalinhug used numerous culinary analogies to help married couples understand what they need to do in order to have a joy-filled marriage. Fr. Leo demonstrated how to make a beautiful dessert, because marriage, he said, is sweet.


“But I am also going to add some cayenne pepper, because marriage is also spicy,” he shared. In his cooking demonstration, he exhorted married couples to persevere in their marriage, enjoying the good moments and enduring those times when it is most difficult.


The cooking priest emphasized that marriage is not a union of two, but a union of three—husband, wife and God. Without this foundation, Fr. Leo explained, a marriage will crumble. Regarding the current sex scandals in the Church, Fr. Leo also offered a short comment: “Let’s not kid ourselves, we are not fully committed to holiness and sacrifice”. He said that he personally renews his priestly vows every morning, and asks God for the grace to remain obedient to Him, listening to His mission.


Last day treats
The World Meeting of Families concluded with a World Festival of Families at the Croke Park Stadium which the Pope himself attended.


More than 80,000 individuals came to the concert-like event which featured a dazzling exhibition of lights, images and sounds, with performers from around the world serenading the audience.


After listening to testimonies from families on their experiences while facing challenges of everyday life, Pope Francis reiterated his exhortation to families: “We need to learn three words. They are “sorry”, “please” and “thank you”. When you quarrel at home, be sure that before going to bed you apologize and say you are sorry. Before the day is done, make peace. Do you want to know why it is necessary to make peace before ending the day? Because if you don’t make peace, the next day you have a “cold war” and that is very dangerous! Watch out for cold wars in the family! Maybe you get mad sometimes and are tempted to sleep in another room, all by yourself. If you feel that way, just knock on the door and say: “Please, can I come in?” All it takes is a look, a kiss, a soft word… and everything is back to the way it was! I say this because when families do this, they survive. There is no such thing as a perfect family; without the practice of forgiveness, families can grow sick and gradually collapse.”


On the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families, prior to the Eucharistic prayers, the Pope, in his Penitential Act, sought forgiveness from the eight Irish persons that he met who are survivors of the abuse of power and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church of Ireland. He said, “We ask forgiveness for the cases of abuse in Ireland, the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse on the part of representatives of the Church. In a special way, we ask forgiveness for all those abuses that took place in different kinds of institutions directed by men and women religious and other members of the Church. We also ask forgiveness for cases in which many minors were exploited for their labour.”


Reflecting on the events of those blessed days in Ireland, one can say that the world is becoming more and more hostile to the idea of a truly Catholic life. But reminiscing on the grace-filled moments in the World Meeting of Families, it is clear that God is sending the world a message and He is speaking in a loud voice; “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). The family, being God’s own design will always remain the recipient of His most tender love. (Raymond Bucu)




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