Welcome to Couples for Christ - Foundation for Family and Life East Contra Costa

The CFC Foundation for Family & Life is a gathering of concerned CFC brethren looking to the restoration, preservation and strengthening of the authentic Couples for Christ charism, focused on evangelization and family life renewal.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Muslim ‘Warriors’ Threaten Filipino Bishop If He Does Not Convert

Manila, Jul 24, 2008 (CNA).- A Catholic bishop in the southern Philippines’ Basilan province has received a letter from self-described “Muslim warriors” possibly linked to Abu Sayyaf who are threatening him with harm if he does not convert to Islam or pay “Islamic taxes.” Further, authorities are seeking the return of three adults and two children, all Catholics, who were kidnapped in the same area this week.

On July 19 Bishop Martin Jumoad of Isabela sent a copy of the threatening letter to Church-run Radio Veritas in Quezon City, UCA News reports. Bishop Jumoad told UCA News that a student at Claret College in Isabela was told to give the letter to the school secretary who could pass it along to the bishop.

The writers of the letter claimed to be “Muslim warriors” who “don't follow any laws other than the Qur'an.” They say the bishop should convert to Islam or pay the Islamic tax, called a “jizya,” to their group in exchange for protecting him “in the place of Muslims.”

If the bishop refuses, the letter threatened, “force, weapons or war may be used” against him. Citing bombings in other Philippines cities, the letter said he should not feel safe even if protected by soldiers.

Bishop Jumoad was given two mobile cell phone numbers and told he had fifteen days to respond. The letter bore the two names “Puruji Indama” and “Nur Hassan J. Kallitut,” both of whom were titled “Mujahiddin.”

The letter was accompanied by a letterhead in the local dialect that said “Al-Harakatul Islamiyya.” The bishop said he has seen the phrase “Al-Harakatul” in kidnapping incidents in Basilan involving the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf.

He also reported that other Catholics have said they are receiving threatening letters. “Bishop, we are disoriented and we cannot sleep. What is our reaction to this?" they have reportedly said.

On July 21 the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines’’ CBCP News reported that three adults and two children who are members of a parish in Basilan had been kidnapped from a public jeep. Provincial administrator Talib A. Barahim on Tuesday told UCA News that no one has reported receiving a ransom demand.

Muslims who commit violence were rebuked at a joint conference between Catholic bishops and Muslim scholars on Monday in Manila, where Hamid Barra, the Muslim convener of the conference, underlined Islamic belief in the sacredness of life.

“It is God who gave life; he is the only one authorized to take life,” he said.

Barra, an Islamic law expert, explained that non-Muslims protected by an Islamic state are required to pay the jizya tax, which is used to support the needy, but no such payment is required in a non-Islamic state.

Worthy Brief - 7/24/2008

CFC, so many commitments!

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

One of my favorite ministers of the Gospel is D.L. Moody. He tells a story about having heard Pastor Henry Varley once say that, "The world has yet to see what God will do with and for and through the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him."

As Moody pondered the pastor's words, He realized something. Pastor Varley did not say that God would use an intelligent person. He didn't say an educated person, nor did he say a person who was ultimately gifted. What the wise pastor said was that the person with whom God will work with and for and through will be the person "who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him".

This radically changed Moody's ministry... and ours too, for that matter. We realized that God isn't looking for people with amazing minds or hands or voices or computer skills. He's not looking for those who are wearing the nicest suits or dresses at church. And He's not looking for the people with the highest grade point averages at the local Christian College. What God is really looking for, are people who are simply sold out for Him!

CFC, one of the great secrets to a successful walk with the Lord, is understanding total commitment to Jesus. But being totally committed requires us to daily take up our cross -- leave the past behind us -- and despite all the obstacles the enemy tries to throw in our path, press forward for the Lord and His work! Let's consecrate ourselves to the Lord again today. There's so much work to be done!

Your family in the Lord with much agape love,

George, Rivka, Elianna & Obadiah

Friday, July 18, 2008

More than 500 million tune in for WYD Stations of the Cross

Sydney, Jul 18, 2008 / 09:36 am (CNA) .- Spectacular scenes were played out across Sydney city’s landmarks, as part of the re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross for WYD.

An audience of half a billion tuned in to watch the performance that involved around 80 performers and was played out by young people at six major venues. Over 270,000 international and local spectators also made their way to points around the city to watch the Stations of the Cross live and on big screen televisions.

The first station held on the steps of St Mary’s Cathedral was attended by Pope Benedict XVI who led the prayer.

“Make us generous and insightful as we try to walk in your footsteps,” the Holy Father prayed.

The Pope then watched the procession on television from St. Mary’s Cathedral Crypt.

The procession moved through the Domain, a large open space in Sydney; the Art Gallery of NSW; and the Sydney Opera House, where the actor playing Jesus, Alfio Stuto 27, received the crown of thorns. At Darling Harbour, the stations were played out on a wharf built across the small bay specifically for the purpose before travelling by ferry to Barangaroo.

A somber and reverent mood permeated the crowds, previously filled with cheering and chanting.

“It is truly a different mood here. Sydney has taken on a somber, more reflective mood,” said Fr Mark Podesta WYD08 spokesman, “The pilgrims are recognizing the gravity of the passion of the Christ.”

Camillus Okane, a 21-year-old university student, was chosen to do play the role of Thomas.

“It was a touching experience, in a special way to see the reactions of the people, some of them were crying, others were praying. It made an impact,” he said.

The director of the Stations of the Cross, Fr Franco Cavarra, has been preparing this presentation since December when a group of young people were chosen to play the roles.

Over 90 wardrobes were created for twenty people, three months prior to the presentation. The dramatic highlight was the crucifixion of Jesus in a 3.5 meter (11.48 ft.) cross, upon the elevated stage at Barangaroo.

The performance concluded when Jesus’ body was carried from the cross and through the crowd watching at Barangaroo.

“It was a fairly realistic representation of what actually happened,” said Rachel, a local pilgrim from Sydney.

“It felt very solemn,” she continued. “The music was very suitable. Overall, everyone paid a lot of attention to it.”

After the Stations of the Cross performance, Pope Benedict met with a group of disadvantaged youth at the University of Notre Dame in Sydney

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Filipino Srchbishop Bars Pro-abort Pols from Communion

Manila, Jul. 14, 2008 (CWNews.com) - In a debate reminiscent of recent disputes among American bishops, Church leaders in the Philippines have taken up the question of whether pro-abortion politicians should be barred from the Eucharist-- with one archbishop answering with an emphatic Yes.

Archbishop Jesus Armamento Dosado of Ozamis has announced that politicians who support legal abortion will not be allowed to receive Communion.

"The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion merely as a consequence of being present at Mass is an abuse that must be corrected," wrote Archbishop Dosado in a pastoral letter released on July 13. He said that Catholic politicians who vote or campaign for legal abortion should be denied Holy Communion "until they bring to an end the objective situation of sin."

"This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty," the archbishop said. "Nor is the minister of the Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin."

Another ranking Filipino prelate, Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Linguyen-Dagupan, said that the ban on Communion for pro-abortion politicians-- which now covers only the Ozamis archdiocese-- could be extended throughout the country. The issue could be brought before the bishops' conference for consideration of a nationwide policy if conditions warrant, Archbishop Cruz told a broadcast audience on Radio Veritas. "It has not yet reached that level," he said.

The speaker of the Filipino parliament, Prospero Nograles, disagreed with Archbishop Dosado's pastoral letter. While saying that he personally opposes abortion, Nograles said that Church leaders should "respect separation of church and state."

But Archbishop Cruz supported his fellow prelate, saying that denial of the Eucharist is an appropriate ecclesiastical sanction. He told Radio Veritas, the bishops' broadcast outlet: "If a priest or bishop does not punish a public sinner, it is the priest or bishop who is wrong."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Susan B. Anthony List Attacks Obama’s "Extreme Record on Abortion"

Washington DC, Jul 10, 2008 (CNA).- The Susan B. Anthony List has criticized presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s recent remarks about his stand on partial birth abortion. The pro-life group argues that he knows his actual record on abortion doesn’t “resonate with everyday American voters.”

According to the Susan B. Anthony List, Obama is a co-sponsor of the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which would allow taxpayer funding of abortions and reportedly nullify almost all state and federal limits on abortion. He has publicly pledged to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as his first presidential action.

As a state legislator, Obama also opposed the Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which is intended to protect babies who survive abortions. He voted against the legislation twice and “present” once – effectively a “no” vote.

He has also criticized the Gonzales v. Carhart Supreme Court decision upholding the partial-birth abortion ban. “I am extremely concerned that this ruling will embolden state legislatures to enact further measures to restrict a woman's right to choose, and that the conservative Supreme Court justices will look for other opportunities to erode Roe v. Wade, which is established federal law and a matter of equal rights for women,” he has said.

"Barack Obama knows his extreme record on abortion doesn't resonate with everyday American voters, so now he's trying to soften his image," said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a press release. She thinks such a strategy will not work.

Obama reportedly has a zero percent approval rating with the National Right to Life Committee and a 100 percent approval rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America, while the Planned Parenthood Action Fund has also recently endorsed his presidential candidacy.

Responding to CNA in an e-mail, Susan B. Anthony List spokeswoman Joy Yearout said many voters know Obama supports abortion, but do not know the extent of his support.

She noted that Obama has said that passing the Freedom of Choice Act would be his “number one legislative priority.”

“In essence,” Yearout explained, “it would allow abortion at any time, for any reason, and paid for by American tax dollars. ‘Freedom of Choice’ sounds nice -- unfortunately it would mean death for thousands of unborn babies and pain for their mothers. And Obama would sign it first thing.”

Yearout thought that Obama is successfully balancing his extreme pro-abortion position with his need to appear moderate.

“He talks the abortion talk to Planned Parenthood rallies and usually avoids talking about it anywhere else,” she told CNA. “Many predicted he would use the abortion issue to reach out to supporters of Hillary Clinton -- but he isn't. He knows his extreme abortion position only appeals to a small slice of the electorate. Your everyday American woman doesn't believe abortion should be taxpayer-funded and available for any reason at any time.” Legislative action at the state level, Yearout said, has even tended to add more restrictions on abortion, not fewer.

“Barack Obama would roll back every pro-life success of the last thirty years,” she argued. “Obama's advocacy for an extreme abortion agenda would be tragic for women and their unborn children.”

Monday, July 7, 2008

Churchgoing Married Couples Happier, Study Says

Charlottesville, VA, Jul 5, 2008 (CNA).- A new analysis of three major national surveys claims that married couples who attend church together tend to be happier than couples who rarely or never attend services and are also less likely to divorce.

University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox, using data from the General Social Survey (GSS), the National Survey of Families and Households (NSFH), and the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG), found that married churchgoing Americans, regardless of race or religious denomination, were more likely to describe themselves as “very happy” – more so than non-churchgoing married couples, Cybercast News Service reports.

Professor Wilcox also found that couples who regularly attend church together are less likely to divorce.

"Attending church only seems to help couples when they attend together," Wilcox told Cybercast News Service. "But when they do, they are significantly happier in their marriages, and they are much less likely to divorce, compared to couples who do not attend church. I would say that church attendance is a beneficial component of marriage when it is done together."

Wilcox said that churches supply moral norms like sexual fidelity and forgiveness while also offering family-friendly social networks to support couples through high and low points of their marriages.

Churches, he said, provide “a faith that helps couples make sense of the difficulties in their lives--from unemployment to illness--that can harm their marriages.”

"So, in a word, the couple that prays together stays together," said Wilcox.

Critics of Wilcox’s study say other factors may be at work.

"Some studies have reported a correlation between church attendance and successful marriages," Tom Flynn, editor of the secular humanist magazine Free Inquiry said to Cybercast News Service. "That may reflect the fact that males who are settled in their lives and are highly socialized are both more likely to succeed in their marriages and more likely to attend church."

Flynn said other studies suggesting a link between church membership and better health or a longer life could also mask other factors.

“Once again, it may mean that folks who have their lives together tend to avoid substance abuse, practice good health habits, and go to church," he said.

A 2001 Barna Research Poll showed that individuals who describe themselves as “born again” were just as, if not more, likely to divorce than other Christians and non-Christians.

"A few studies have shown that seculars who do marry have a better track record at staying married than members of Southern Baptists and other conservative denominations," Flynn said. "Those seculars who bother to marry may be marrying more successful than very traditional, male-authoritarian Christians."

Wilcox responded by claiming that men and women with an active church life “do look different in the marital realm.”

“At least in the marriage arena, faith alone doesn't work,” Wilcox said. “You've got to combine faith and works to enjoy a happy and stable marriage. You need the consistent message, the accountability, and the support a church community can provide to really benefit from religious faith.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Christians Must Unite to Render Valid Witness of Christ

VATICAN CITY, 29 JUN 2008 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, Benedict XVI celebrated the Eucharist in the Vatican Basilica. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were 40 new metropolitan archbishops, upon whom he imposed the pallium. The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I was also present at the ceremony.

The Pope and Bartholomew I entered St. Peter's Square together, preceded by an Orthodox and a Latin deacon bearing the Gospel.

Following the reading of the Gospel in Latin and Greek the Holy Father presented the Ecumenical Patriarch to the assembly, after which each of them pronounced a homily.

In his homily Benedict XVI spoke of the two Apostles, patrons saints of Rome. "Through their martyrdom", he said, "through their faith and their love, the two Apostles show where true hope lies. They founded a new kind of city, one that must be formed ever and anew in the midst of the old human city which is threatened by the opposing forces of sin and human selfishness".

"We could say that their martyrdom was, in the deepest sense, like giving a fraternal embrace. They died for the one Christ and, in the witness for which they gave their lives, they became one single entity. In the New Testament we can, so to say, follow the development of that embrace, the creation of unity in witness and in the mission".

The Pope highlighted the fact that although Paul "usually went only to places in which the Gospel had not already been announced, Rome was an exception. There he found a Church the faith of which was the talk of the world. Going to Rome was part of the universality of his mission as an envoy to all peoples, ... it was an expression of the catholicity of his mission. Rome must make the faith visible to the whole world, it must be a place of encounter in the one faith".

Turning to consider Peter, the Holy Father recalled how "he left the presidency of the Christian-Judaic Church to James the Less in order to dedicate himself to his true mission, the ministry for the unity of the one Church of God made up of Jews and pagans".

"The perpetual mission of Peter", he went on, is "to ensure the Church never becomes identified with a single nation, with a single culture or a single State. That she always remains the Church of everyone. That she unites humankind beyond all frontiers and, amidst the division of this world, brings God's peace, the reconciliatory power of His love".

Addressing the archbishops who were about to receive the pallium, the Holy Father told them that the gesture of imposing it upon their shoulders "reminds us of the shepherd who takes the lost sheep across his back, the sheep that cannot find its way home, and brings it back to the fold. In this sheep the Fathers of the Church saw the image of the entire human race, of all human nature, which is lost and no longer knows the way home"; and the Pastor that brings it home "is the eternal Word of God Himself". Yet nonetheless, God "also wants men 'to carry' alongside Him. Being a pastor of the Church of Christ means sharing in this task".

In this way, he said, "the pallium becomes a symbol of our love for Christ the Shepherd, and of our loving together with Him. ... It becomes a symbol of the call 'to love them all' with the power of Christ ... that they might find Him and, in Him, themselves".

Benedict XVI concluded his homily by expressing the view that the pallium "speaks to us of the catholicity of the Church, of the universal communion of Pastor and flock, just as it is a reference to apostolicity, to communion with the faith of the Apostles upon which the Church is founded".

At the end of the Mass and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father pointed out that since this year the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul falls on a Sunday, "the entire Church, and not just the Church of Rome, celebrates it solemnly".

"Of course", said the Pope referring to the Pauline Year which he officially inaugurated yesterday, "its focal point will be Rome, in particular the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls and the place of the saint's martyrdom at the Three Fountains. But it will involve the entire Church, beginning with Tarsus where Paul was born, and the other Pauline sites ... in what is now Turkey, as well as the Holy Land and the island of Malta where the Apostle arrived after having been shipwrecked and sowed the fertile seed of the Gospel.

"The truth is", he added, "that the horizon of the Pauline year cannot but be universal, because St. Paul was, par excellence, the Apostle to those who were 'far off' from the Jews and who 'by the blood of Christ' were 'brought near'. Hence, even today, in a world that has become 'smaller' but where many have still not met the Lord Jesus, the Jubilee of St. Paul invites all Christians to become missionaries of the Gospel".

"As the liturgy says, the charisms of the two great Apostles are complementary in the edification of the one People of God, and Christians cannot render valid witness of Christ if they are not united among themselves".

Benedict XVI concluded by inviting everyone to pray "for these great intentions: the Pauline Year, evangelisation, communion in the Church and full unity among all Christians, entrusting them to the celestial intercession of Most Holy Mary Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles".