Welcome to Couples for Christ - Foundation for Family and Life East Contra Costa
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
My dear brethren,
Grace and peace from our Lord Jesus Christ!
The turn of events
Events have moved quickly since an article entitled “Vatican admonishes CFC over GK” appeared on ABS-CBN online news last April 16 (note: we had nothing to do with that article, and the writer is unknown to me/us). Then the letter of Cardinal Rylko of the Pontifical Council for the Laity (Vatican) to Joe Tale dated March 11 surfaced on the Net (note: this did not come from us as we had no copy, but came from them as they tried to downplay the ABS-CBN news item). The letter told Joe about going back to the essentials, and the priority of building up the family, in fidelity to the Church. It talked about counterbalancing the overemphasis on the social work. It talked about the public scandal due to the mistakes committed, and the need to correct them. It urged Joe to issue a public declaration in the Philippine newspapers recognizing the errors and publicly apologizing. It directed CFC to stop receiving funding (from those producing or marketing contraceptives) .
The reaction of some on the CFC-GK side was fast and furious. Boy Montelibano, the right-hand man of Tony Meloto in GK, issued a series of writings, basically maligning me, Bishop Gabriel Reyes, Cardinal Rylko of the Vatican, and the Church hierarchy in general. He used strong words such as Pharisees and hypocrisy. Other newspaper columnists such as Esposo and de Quiros, connected with Boy, joined in on the personal attacks on me and on the hierarchical church.
We are in a time of intense spiritual warfare!
God’s action in our lives
Last year, the Lord brought us to Lamentations, to teach us a stern lesson, that we would lose it all if we are unfaithful to our covenant, just as what happened to His people Israel. I took command responsibility for our collective guilt, and made a spiritual offering of resignation from the Int’l Council. That should have brought us back to God’s grace, if we all repented and turned back from unfaithfulness to our covenant and veering away from our calling. But that did not happen, as there was disrespect and disobedience to our bishops, and there was maligning and attacks against those who wanted to restore CFC to its authentic charism.
We all allowed the enemy (the devil, our common enemy) to enter our gates, with the result that CFC plunged into deep crisis and then split.
But given that bringing us to Lamentations did not have the desired result, since there were those with hardened hearts who would not repent and turn away from errors, God then allowed the split to happen. If we had not split, CFC would soon have disintegrated, as the enemy wanted to destroy us all. With the split, the tensions between the social and the spiritual dimensions of our work were eliminated. We in CFC-FFL, the restored CFC true to its authentic charism, moved on, with great joy and starting to experience the return of God’s anointing.
The enemy, thinking he had succeeded in seriously weakening CFC with the split, now saw God bringing victory out of seeming defeat. He now saw the emergence of a restored CFC, once again totally focused on the charism given it. Once again God’s work of family renewal and evangelization could proceed in the power of His Spirit. And once again the enemy raged.
Since many bishops have recognized CFC-FFL, and since the Holy See, through the Pontifical Council for the Laity, has recognized the errors committed by CFC, so now it is the hierarchical Church herself that is under attack.
This is where we see that indeed we are into more intense spiritual warfare. The devil rages against the Church and her authentic work. The conflict is not just about us in CFC, but about the whole Church.
Call to prayer
What should we do?
First, be not afraid. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.
Second, rejoice in persecution for the sake of righteousness, for you are blessed (Mt 5:10-12). Such is God’s way of purifying us and moving us on to holiness.
Third, do not retaliate in kind. Continue to love your “enemy” (the only real enemy is the devil).
Fourth, pray hard. Prayer is our lifeline to God, who is merciful, kind, just and loving. We are His children. He is committed to care for us. He knows our pains. He allows crosses into our lives. But He has a great plan for us, not for woe but for a future full of hope.
Let us pray for God’s protective mantle on us all. Let us pray for our brethren who are in CFC-GK. They are our brethren and not our enemies. And let us pray for Mother Church, especially our bishops who guide and pastor us.
I ask every member of CFC-FFL, in addition to your regular daily prayer and Bible reading, to look to frequent participation in the Eucharist (daily if you can), to regular family prayer of the rosary (daily if you can), and to Eucharistic adoration (if you are able). The different CFC-FFL groupings (households, chapters, districts, etc.) should look to communal prayer and intercession. The intercessory groups should intensify their prayers. Let us also pray the chaplet of the Divine Mercy.
I also call on fasting twice a week. We, and the whole Church, are into intense spiritual warfare. Certain demons “can only come out through prayer (and through fasting)” (Mk 9:29). We are on spiritual war footing. Be fit for the fight.
Finally, keep your hearts pure and humble. “‘God opposes the proud but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.” (1 Pt 5:5-7).
Rejoice in the Lord
It is appropriate that we in CFC-FFL have taken on the theme of joy for this year. God loves us, God has a great plan for us, God will never abandon us, God turns our pains and crosses into sanctification and holiness. And God is already victorious over the enemy. What more could we ask for?
I leave you with Peter’s wise words.
“Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good? But even if you should suffer because of righteousness, blessed are you. Do not be afraid or terrified with fear of them, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.” (1 Pt 3:13-17)
Mama Mary, please pray for us and keep us in your loving embrace always.
God bless us all.
Your brother in Christ,
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
«Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68
Wednesday, 30 April 2008
Monday, April 28, 2008
Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68
Tuesday, 29 April 2008
Tuesday of the Sixth week of Easter
Today the Church celebrates : St Catherine of Siena
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] : "It is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you"
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 16,5-11.
But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. Coming of the Advocate
Commentary of the day :
Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein] (1891-1942), Carmelite, martyr, co-patron of Europe
From a Pentecost Novena, 1937 (©ICS publications)
Who are you, sweet light, that fills me
And illumines the darkness of my heart?...
Are you the master who builds the eternal, cathedral,
Which towers from the earth through the heavens?
Animated by you, the pillars are raised high
And stand immovably firm (Rev 3,12).
Marked with the eternal name of God,
They stretch up to the light,
Bearing the dome
That crowns the holy cathedral,
Your work that encircles the world:
Holy Spirit God's molding hand!...
Are you the sweet song of love
And of holy awe
That eternally resounds around the triune throne,
That weds in itself the clear chimes of each and every being?
That joins together the members to the Head,
In which each one
Finds the mysterious meaning of being blessed
And joyously surges forth,
Freely dissolved in your surging:
Holy Spirit eternal jubilation!
Sunday, April 27, 2008
Monday of the Sixth week of Easter
Today the Church celebrates : St. Louis Mary Grignion, St. Peter Chanel
Saint Antony of Padua :
The Spirit of truth... will testify to me"
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15,26-27.16,1-4.
When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you. "I did not tell you this from the beginning, because I was with you.
Commentary of the day :
Saint Antony of Padua (c.1195-1231), Franciscan, Doctor of the Church
The Holy Spirit is a «stream of fire» (Dn 7,10), a divine fire. As fire acts on iron so does this divine fire act on hearts that are soiled, cold and hard. When it comes into contact with this fire, the soul gradually loses its blackness, coldness, hardness. It is transformed entirely into the likeness of the fire with which it is enflamed. Since, if the Spirit is given to a man, if he is inspired by it, then it is so that he might be transformed into its likeness so far as possible. Beneath the action of this divine fire a man is purified, warmed and melted. He attains the love of God, as the apostle Paul says: «The love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us,» (Rom 5,5).
Saturday, April 26, 2008
«Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68
Sunday, 27 April 2008
Sixth Sunday of EasterToday the Church celebrates : St. Zita of Lucca, St Liberale
Saint Hilary : "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always"
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14,15-21.
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."
Commentary of the day :
Saint Hilary (c.315-367), Bishop of Poitiers, Doctor of the Church
The Trinity 2,31-35
«God is spirit,» the Lord said to the Samaritan woman...; since God is invisible, incomprehensible and infinite, it is neither on a mountain nor in any temple that God is to be worshipped (Jn 4,21-24). «God is spirit,» and spirit cannot be circumscribed or contained. He is everywhere by force of his own nature nor is he lacking from any particular place; everywhere himself, he overflows in all things. Hence we must worship in the Holy Spirit the God who is spirit...
The apostle Paul spoke no differently when he wrote: «The Lord is spirit, and where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,» (2Cor 4,17)... So let those who deny the Spirit refrain from their disputes. The Holy Spirit is one, poured out everywhere, illuminating patriarchs, prophets and the whole chorus of those who played a part in setting down the Law. He inspired John the Baptist from his mother's womb and, finally, he was poured out upon the apostles and all those who believe so that they might know the truth conferred on them by grace.
What is the working of the Spirit in us? Hear the words of the Lord himself: «I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now... It is better for you that I go. For if I go, I will send an Advocate to you... the Spirit of Truth who will guide you to all truth,» (cf. Jn 16, 7-13)... Both the will of the giver and the nature and function of the one he gives are revealed to us in these words. For our weakness does not allow us to know either the Father or the Son; the mystery of God's incarnation is hard to understand. The gift of the Holy Spirit, who becomes our friend by his intercession, gives us light...
But this special gift, which is found in Christ, is held out in its fullness to us all. It lacks nothing but is given to each inasmuch as he wishes to receive it. This Holy Spirit abides with us until the consummation of the ages. He is our consolation as we wait, the measure of good things in the hope that is to come, the light of our minds, the splendour of our souls.
Friday, April 25, 2008
«Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68
Saturday, 26 April 2008
Saturday of the Fifth week of Easter
Today the Church celebrates : St Marcellinus
Saint Polycarp : "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you"
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 15,18-21.
If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.
Commentary of the day :
Saint Polycarp (69-155), Bishop and martyr
Letter to the Philippians, SC 10, p.215-217 (©Penguin Classics)
Let us never relax our grasp on the Hope and Pledge of our righteousness; I mean Jesus Christ... Let us imitate that patient endurance of His; and if we do have to suffer for His Name's sake, why then, let us give glory to Him. For that is the example He set us in His own person, and in which we have learnt to put our faith.
I appeal now to everyone of you to hear and obey the call of holiness, and to exercise the same perfect fortitude that you have seen with your own eyes in the blessed Ignatius, and Rufus, and Zosimus; and not in them alone, but in a number of your own townsmen as well - to say nothing of Paul himself and the other Apostles. Be very sure that the course of these men was not run in vain, but faithfully and honorably; and that they have now reached a well-earned place at the side of the Lord whose pains they shared. Their hearts were not set on «this world of ours» (2Tim 4,10), but on Him who died for our sakes and was raised up again for us by God...
May the God and Father of our Lord Jesus' Christ, and the eternal High Priest Jesus Christ Himself, the Son of God, help you to grow in faith and truth, in unfailing gentleness and the avoidance of all anger, in patience and forbearance, and in calmness and purity. To you, and to ourselves as well, and to all those under heaven who shall one day come to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ and in His Father who raised Him from the dead, may He grant part and portion among His saints. Pray for all God's people. Pray too for our sovereign lords, and for all governors and rulers; for any who ill-use you or dislike you; and for the enemies of the Cross. Thus the fruits of your faith will be plain for all to see, and you will be perfected in Him.
However, the picture remains on display.
The image is now flanked by images based on the frieze of the United States Supreme Court, which includes other historic figures such as Hammurabi, Moses, Confucius, Mohammed, Charlemagne, and Napoleon Bonaparte. The modified display is expected to pass constitutional requirements.
Some experts said the case is unique because the picture of Jesus is still on display.
“This is the first case I know of that upholds a display of a picture of Jesus," Douglas Laycock, professor of constitutional law at the University of Michigan Law School, said to Cybercast News Service. "It is significant."
The ACLU had argued that the plaintiffs, “John Doe” and others, "have suffered, or shall suffer, damages, including mental anguish and emotional distress" from viewing the image.”
Judge Lemelle awarded only $1 in damages, which Laycock said was significant. "The judge wasn't persuaded by that 'trauma' if he only awarded a dollar," he said. The city will also have to pay the ACLU’s legal expenses.
Michael Johnson, senior legal counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian legal group that defended the city, said the ADF is “disappointed” with the ruling, but called it a “shallow victory” for the ACLU.
“The ACLU is proclaiming a win, but they really didn't accomplish anything. Their objective was to get the Jesus picture taken down, and it's still prominently displayed," Johnson said.
Marjorie Esman, executive director of ACLU Louisiana, said her organization was “absolutely victorious.” She told Cybercast News Service "The court ruled very clearly that the initial display was a violation of the Constitution. The city of Slidell changed [the display] at the last minute."
Esman said the case never should have gone to litigation, saying the city refused to take the picture down after being asked. “They invited us to file a lawsuit, and now the taxpayers of Slidell are going to get stuck with the bill,” she said.
Roger Pilon, vice-president of the libertarian Cato Institute, said the Jesus picture was a “perfectly clear” violation of the First Amendment. He said he did not see a significant difference in the picture’s inclusion in a more secular display.
Slidell, Louisiana is still recovering from the destruction created by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Most of the city’s government buildings were destroyed, and many departments are still housed in FEMA trailers.
"You can see why the community was not thrilled with all this going on and the ACLU came around being bullies," city spokeswoman Ann Barks said to Cybercast News Service. She said the picture of Jesus was installed more than 10 years ago by a judge who reportedly purchased it at a yard sale. According to Sparks, the picture was not displayed for religious reasons.
"It was put up there to encourage people in the community to follow the law,” she said.
Slidell Mayor Ben Morris said the painting, which measures 24 by 24 inches and was hung high on a wall, was usually not noticed.
"I've been in and out of the courthouse many times and never even knew it was there," Morris said. He said he “respectfully” disagreed with the judge, and called the ACLU the “American Taliban” and “the most vile group that exists in America
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Saint Mark, evangelist - Feast
Today the Church celebrates : St Mark, evangelist
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons : "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature"
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Mark 16,15-20.
He said to them, "Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.)
Commentary of the day :
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-208), Bishop, theologian, martyr
Against the Heresies, III 1,1; 10,6
After our Lord had been raised from the dead and the apostles had been clothed with power from on high by the coming of the Holy Spirit (Lk 24,49), they were filled with assurance concerning everything and understood perfectly. Then they, who together and individually had possession of the Gospel of God, went out to all the ends of the world (Ps 19,5), proclaiming the Good News that has come to us from God and announcing peace on earth to men.
Thus Matthew made known a written form of the Gospel to the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul preached the Gospel in Rome and founded the Church there. After their death Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter (1Pt 5,13), himself handed on in writing Peter's preaching. While Luke, in his turn, the companion of Paul, set down in a book the Gospel preached by the latter. Finally, John, the disciple of the Lord, the same who rested on his breast, also published the Gospel during his stay at Ephesus...
Mark, who was Peter's interpreter and companion, presented the beginning of his version of the Gospel in this way: «The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the prophets: 'Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way'»... As can be seen, Mark makes the words of the holy prophets the beginning of his Gospel, and the one whom the prophets proclaimed as God and Lord, Mark places at the head as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ... At the end of his Gospel, Mark says: «And the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God». This confirms the prophet's words: «The Lord said to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand till I make your enemies your footstool'» (Ps 110,1).
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
«Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68
By Carrie Gress
NEW YORK, APRIL 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI hasn't left the United States yet, but the positive effects from his five-day visit to the United States are already being seen, according to the pastor at Our Savior Parish in New York.
Father George Rutler told ZENIT that the numbers of people who came to confession were unusually long Saturday, with a number of people confessing who hadn't been to confession in 16 or 17 years, along with a lot of young people.
New Yorkers will be saying goodbye this evening to Benedict XVI from the International John F. Kennedy Airport. Some 3,200 people are expected to be present at the departure ceremony, including 100 men in camouflage fatigues from the U.S. military.
His departure is scheduled for 8:30 local time.
The Pope will be welcomed by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, and will also be addressed by Vice President Richard Cheney and his wife Lynne Cheney.
Senator Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and representatives from the Knights of Columbus will also be present.
An ethnic theme has been set for departure. More than 1,500 individuals representing more than 20 ethnic apostolates of the Diocese of Brooklyn have been invited, including Filipinos, Poles, Brazilians, Nigerians, Croatians, Ghanaians and Vietnamese.
The program will include recitation of the rosary, said in 23 languages including Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese, Gaelic, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Romanian and Urdu.
Benedict XVI seems to have won over a lot of hearts since he arrived in the United States Tuesday night, according to those waiting to say goodbye to him.
Rosemary Yu, a lawyer in New York, who was at first reluctant to get involved in the crowds, told ZENIT, "I just couldn't resist after watching the reception in DC." The excitement, she added, has just been infectious.
Yu waited outside the cardinal's residence in hopes that the Pope might come out and greet the crowds. She was not disappointed. Yu was able to shake the Pope's hand and tell him that "millions of Chinese Catholics love him and are loyal to him." She said he responded with, "I always do."
Jeff Sullivan, also a New York lawyer, said, "What has been impressive to me is the reception he has gotten. I really can't distinguish the sort of enthusiasm that people have had for him from the enthusiasm they have had for the previous Pope. That's been very impressive and gratifying to me."
"I also think," Sullivan continued, "is that it is actually helpful and inspirational to hear a message that you have to listen to. Nobody is going to be won over by superficial, charismatic, easy accessibility with Pope Benedict because he's an intellectual.
"And yet when you hear his message, what you see is that the message, as is often the case with the truth, while it may not be presented in the most shiny way, is even more convincing when you listen to it, although you have to process it through the filter of listening to a German intellectual."
Briana Kahn, 8, and a member of the children's choir of the Diocese of Brooklyn, said: "I'm glad I'm here. I've never done anything like this in my whole life." When asked about the Holy Father, she said: "I have been watching him a lot on TV and learning a lot about him and religion. He is very holy and he has a connection to God. I think he is a very great man."
John Paul Shimek, who was named after John Paul II, is a seminarian for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Wisconsin.
Of his experience, Shimek said: "It was a wonderful experience. I was at Catholic University of America on Thursday. When the Holy Father entered the room, as luck would have it, he made a beeline for me. It was the most awesome experience I've ever had in my life. I shook his hand and embraced him and we had a short exchange. He said the seminarians are very close to his heart, which as a seminarian, meant a lot to me."
"My impressions, just looking at the whole trip, I've been very impressed by the depth of his messages. [...]
"I was very touched by his speech Thursday to the Catholic educators. This seemed to be a place where he really shined, because this is a man that was the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for so long and a theology professor.
"And then yesterday, the depth and length of his message struck me. I was with all the seminarians up in front. I think he was speaking to the youth of the Church and I think that is where the whole message 'Christ Our Hope' really came alive. Looking around at all the seminarians and young people that were there, you could really see hope, you could feel hope there.
"And then the message, and how he plugged into so many of the contemporary problems that we are facing, it was just something that really inspired me because his message was so relevant, it was contemporary, it was what we needed to hear. And the context, where we heard it surrounded by young seminarians and religious, was just a powerful experience."
As for how the Pope's visit has affected his view of his own vocation, Shimek said: "It has been like gasing up, like filing up at the faith-station. I feel like I can go back now and really look forward to the next couple of years of formation."
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
«Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68
Monday, April 21, 2008
«Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.» John 6,68
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Today the Church celebrates : St. Anselm
Saint Nicholas Cabasilas :
"Whoever loves me... my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him"
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14,21-26.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him." Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, "Master, (then) what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?" Jesus answered and said to him, "Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name--he will teach you everything and remind you of all that (I) told you.
Commentary of the day :
Saint Nicholas Cabasilas (c.1320-1363), Greek lay theologian
Life in Christ, IV, 6-8 (SC 355, p.267)
Whoever loves me... my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him"
The promise attached to the eucharistic table makes us live in Christ and Christ in us, for it is written: «He remains in me and I in him» (Jn 6,56). If Christ remains in us, of what else could we have need? What could we lack? If Christ remains in us what more can we want? He is both our host and our dwelling. How happy we are to be the place where he lives! What joy that we ourselves are the abode of such a host! What could lack those whom he thus treats? What do those who shine with such a light have in common with wickedness? What evil could stand up to such good? There is nothing else capable of remaining in us or coming against us when Christ unites himself to us in this way. He surrounds us and penetrates our deepest selves; he is our protection and refuge; he hems us in on every side. He is both our dwelling and the host who wholly fills his dwelling place.
For we receive, not a part of himself but himself, not just one sunbeam but the sun..., until we become one single spirit with him (1Cor 6,17)... Our soul is united to his soul, our body to his body, our blood to his blood... As Saint Paul says: «What is mortal is swallowed up by life» (2Cor 5,4) and: «I live, yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me» (Gal 2,20).
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Today the Church celebrates : St Laserian
Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint John 14,1-6.
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where (I) am going you know the way." Thomas said to him, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Commentary of the day :
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), Dominican theologian, Doctor of the Church
Commentary on Saint John's Gospel, 14,2
Christ is both Way and End: the Way according to his humanity, the End according to his divinity. Therefore, insofar as he is man he says: «I myself am the Way» and insofar as he is God he adds: «the Truth and the Life». These last two words well express the end of this way, for the end of this way is the ending of human desire... Christ is the way by which we reach knowledge of the truth while he himself is the truth: «Teach me, O Lord, your way that I may walk in your truth» (Ps 86,11). And Christ is the way by which we come to life, while he himself is life: «You will show me the path to life» (Ps 16,11)...
So if you are wondering which way to go, take Christ, since he is himself the way: «This is the way; walk in it» (Is 30,21). And Saint Augustine comments: «Walk by following the man and you will come to God». For it is better to limp along the way than stride forward apart from it. Even if someone who is limping on the way does not make much progress, he draws closer to the end; but the more vigorously a person runs who is travelling apart from the way, the further he goes from the end.
If you are wondering where to go, be united to Christ, for he is in person the Truth we are trying to reach: «This is the truth my mouth recounts» (Pr 8,7). If you are wondering where to rest, be united to Christ, since he is the Life in person: «He who finds me, finds life» (Pr 8,35).
By Phillip Blond International Herald Tribune
Thursday, April 17, 2008
When Pope Benedict XVI addresses the United Nations today, he will be the only truly global figure in the assembly. His church has a presence in every nation, yet it transcends them all and owes loyalty to none. His flock numbers more than a billion and grows by 28,000 every day.
Fifty years ago, nobody would have thought the papacy would wield influence like this today. Several factors have combined to make it so: the rise of radical Islam; the bankruptcy of secular Western values, and the return of religion as a global political force.
In this age of economic globalization and planetary climate change, nation-states are retreating to the 19th century politics of national self interest and competing spheres of influence. With nations unable to make common cause, the global stage is increasingly being left to three transnational actors: capitalism, Islam and Catholicism.
The influence of the Catholic Church as the world's largest Christian denomination is only increased by what its critics most dislike: its unity, universality and sense of mission.
Protestant Christianity is too private, fragmented and diverse to operate on a global stage. Orthodox Christianity has never transcended national interests. Islam has no governing center and so is liable to manipulation by its radical extremes, while both Hinduism and Judaism remain restricted by race and inheritance.
Perhaps only Buddhism has achieved a similar unity and universality, but it is indifferent to politics and social transformation - it becomes active only when its own religious practice is threatened.
With the failure of secular idealisms, a religion that can transform the social, political and spiritual life of the whole world becomes a global player. The organizational ability, worldwide structure and focus of Catholicism allows it to stand proxy for all Christians.
Moreover it is a constituency that, contrary to popular belief, is growing. In 1800, when there were fewer than a billion people on Earth, only 22.7 percent of the world's population was Christian; today, with a world population of over 6.6 billion, 33.3 percent are Christian.
What is more, growth rates for Christianity are static or falling only in Islamic nations and Western Europe. In the Americas, rates of church participation are high and relatively stable; churches lose members to each other, not to atheism.
The real story of the past century is the enormous rise of Christianity in Africa, Oceania and Asia. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, church attendance in Africa rose from under 9 million in 1900 to more than 423 million today. The figures for Asia are equally startling, if there were about 20 million Asian Christians in 1900, today there are 355 million active members of a Christian church.
With the exception of eastern Europe where churches underwent a post-communist renaissance, the current increase in Christianity is almost wholly in the southern hemisphere. In 1900, the north accounted for 82.3 percent of all Christians. By 2025, 68 percent will be in the southern hemisphere.
These figures are not all good news for the Catholic Church. The increase in the southern hemisphere is largely in Pentecostal and charismatic Protestant denominations, and not in traditional churches.
China is a case in point. In 1949, when the Communist Party came to power, there where less than a million Protestants in China; today their number is close to 100 million, and by 2050, that number is expected to reach 218 million. At this level China would be the second most populous Christian nation on earth, but it would be 90 percent Protestant.
It is noteworthy that the conversion of Chinese - and of Africans - to Christianity really took off when colonial powers left and foreign missionaries were expelled. That enabled indigenous structures to develop, and Christianity spread rapidly.
The challenge for the Catholic Church, therefore, is to allow home-grown structures to develop while keeping them under the auspices of the universal church. The task is made all the harder by the dearth of candidates for the priesthood. Rethinking on celibacy is sorely needed.
Thus Pope Benedict's task is a familiar one - to blend the universal aspirations of Catholicism with local conditions and context. This requires courage, vision and transformation.
Benedict has also opened the first serious dialogue in centuries with Islam, the fastest growing world faith. With 1.3 billion adherents, Islam has overtaken Catholicism. The Vatican has contested the exclusion and persecution of Christians in Muslim countries.
The pope's controversial address at Regensburg was an important theological critique of Islamic nominalism, which denies God's immanent presence in the world. It stimulated academic Islam to begin to challenge fundamentalist interpretations.
Benedict is now expected to issue an encyclical on the social teaching of the church. This presents a unique opportunity: If the pope challenges both capitalism and state authoritarianism at the same time, he can open genuine social and political alternatives to the prevailing order.
Christianity last ruled when it was at its most ambitious - when the Church overthrew the Western warlords in the 10th century and qualified the logic of war with a universal European peace.
The opportunity today is different and potentially greater: the pope could be the bearer of a universal idealism that the people of the world no longer hear from their national leaders.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Vatican admonishes Couples for Christ over Gawad Kalinga
By CARMELA FONBUENA
The Vatican has chastised the Couples for Christ (CFC) group supportive of Gawad Kalinga founder Antonio Meloto for the "erroneous steps [it has] taken" when it decided to shift its focus from the spiritual to the social. The group was instructed to make a public apology.
Central to the concern of the Vatican was the direction taken by CFC-founded social action group Gawad Kalinga (GK). The Vatican disapproved of CFC’s "overemphasis on the social work" and GK’s openness to donations from groups that promote artificial family planning. These issues have caused the high-profile split of the CFC in July last year.
In a March 11 letter to CFC president Jose Tale, Stanislaw Rylko of Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity said that CFC should "counterbalance the overemphasis on social work...." As for donations from agencies that promote artificial family control, the letter said; "Your decision to stop receiving this type of funding will help recover the good standing of your association Couples for Christ."
The letter was a result of Tale’s March 3 visit to the Vatican, where he "admitted [that] some mistakes have been made and a certain scandal and confusion [was] caused among the faithful."
»Split in Couples For Christ May Hurt GK Housing Projects:
"Since [the split] has caused public scandal, a certain public
reparation is also needed. We urge that you prepare and spread in the
newspapers in the Philippines and on your Web site a well thought and
clear public declaration recognizing the erroneous steps taken,"
Build a nation
Four letters between two Vatican officials, Tale, and Bishop Gabriel
Reyes on the issue were obtained by abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
Although the letters did not explicitly identify GK, it is clear—GK
being CFC's social arm—that it was what the Vatican officials were
"It is extremely important that your Philippine problem does not
extend to the other regions of the world," Rylko said. He recognized
that CFC is the "biggest ecclesial reality that was born in Asia and
then expanded internationally."
abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak was able to talk to Meloto on the phone.
But he said he has not read Rylko's letter. When told about the
contents, Meloto maintained that GK's mission is to "build a nation."
"We are working with different universities, different religious
groups, the Muslims, and the Opus Dei," he said. "We are here to
build a nation. The problem of poverty is best fought in the slums.
We are here to save our children from malnutrition. We will just
continue to work," he said.
Vatican sides with breakaway group
The controversy over CFC's focus on GK broke out in August last year
after CFC founder and a few hundred supporters left the group and
formed a new group that wrestled against the original group for the
Rylko's letter effectively puts the Vatican on the side of the CFC
breakaway group of Frank Padilla--the founder of CFC--which has long
been protesting against Meloto on how GK was being managed.
GK aims to benefit 700,000 Filipino families by building 7,000
communities in seven years, or by 2010. Founded in 2003, GK has
become popular worldwide and likened to the Grameen Bank of
Bangladesh, an initiative that earned Muhammad Yunus his Nobel Peace
Prize in 2006. GK head Antonio Meloto himself earned his Ramon
Magsaysay Award for leadership in 2006.
But Padilla's group frowned on precisely the two things that
displeased the Vatican. Padilla wanted to focus on evangelization.
Some GK leaders prefer to work even with people who don't strictly
adhere to Catholic teachings.
Padilla's group also accused GK of not pushing for naturally planning—
as prescribed by the Catholic Church—supposedly because some of GK's
corporate partners favored population control and the use of
Another Vatican official, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo of the
Pontifical Council for the Family, pointed out in a November 2007
letter to Antipolo Bishop Gabriel Reyes that "accepting donations
from those who promote abortion and contraception will compromise the
Gospel of the Family and of Life, and will greatly harm our efforts
to strengthen and defend the family and life; hence, it should not be
Trujillo made the statement in response to a letter by Reyes, asking
whether groups promoting family life may receive funds from
pharmaceutical companies or abortifacient pills. Reyes is the
chairman of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines
Episcopal Commission on the Laity.
Reyes has sided with the breakaway group of Padilla. It was him,
along with Archbishop Angel Lagdameo and Bishop Socrates Villegas,
who tried to mend the differences between the two factions last year.
But to no avail.
It is not yet clear if the unity of the two CFC groups is possible.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Benedict XVI Begins His Apostolic Trip to the U.S.A.
VATICAN CITY, 15 APR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport. Following a flight of more than 7,000 kilometres, his plane is due to land at 4 p.m. local time (10 p.m. in Rome) at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C. This is the Benedict XVI's eighth apostolic trip outside Italy and his first to the U.S.A. as Pope.
U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Nancy will welcome the Pope as he descends from his aircraft. No speeches are scheduled for this first meeting and the welcome ceremony proper will take place tomorrow at 10.30 a.m. local time (4.30 p.m. in Rome) at the White House, official residence of the U.S. president.
After landing, Benedict XVI will travel by car to the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C where he will spend the rest of the day.
Tomorrow, 16 April, is the Pope's 81st birthday, and Saturday 19 April, will mark the third anniversary of his election to the pontifical throne.
President Bush Pulling Out All Stops To Welcome the Pope
Washington DC, Apr 14, 2008 (CNA).- Pope Benedict’s visit to the White House on Wednesday will be only the second time a Pope has visited the home of the President of the United States, the Associated Press reports.
In an unprecedented move, President Bush will drive out to meet Pope Benedict’s plane after it lands at Andrews Air Force Base. The papal visit will bring an audience of 12,000 to the South Lawn of the White House, where the president will host an East Room dinner honoring the Pontiff.
Until this visit, the Associated Press reports, no president has given a visiting leader the honor of picking him up at the airport.
The White House arrival ceremony for the Pope will feature the anthems of the United States and the Holy See, a 21-gun salute, and the U.S. Army Drum and Fife Corps. Both men will deliver remarks before they meet in the Oval Office.
The expected welcoming ceremony crowd of 12,000 will be the largest ever at the White House, exceeding in number the 7,000 people who came to greet Queen Elizabeth II last spring.
Though the White House dinner will feature Bavarian-style food for the German-born pontiff, the Pope will miss the dinner and instead attend a prayer meeting with the United States Catholic bishops.
President George W. Bush, speaking in an interview with EWTN, explained the reasons for his novel airport tarmac greeting of the Pope.
"One, he speaks for millions,” the president said. “Two, he doesn't come as a politician; he comes as a man of faith; and Three, I so subscribe to his notion that there’s right and wrong in life, that moral relativism undermines the capacity to have hopeful and free societies. I want to honor his convictions, as well.”
The president also described himself as a “believer in the value of human life.”
Since President Dwight Eisenhower’s meeting in Rome with Pope John XXIII, every U.S. president has met with the Pope at least once. Pope Benedict’s visit will mark President Bush’s fifth meeting with a pontiff, a new record.
While Pope Benedict and President Bush share some common ground regarding abortion, homosexual marriage, and embryonic research, they have disagreed on the war in Iraq and the death penalty. Pope Benedict has also spoken against punitive immigration laws and the U.S. embargo against Cuba, while favoring social welfare programs in ways that differ from the positions of the American president.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
That the Church may strengthen her commitment to full visible unity in order to manifest ever more clearly her nature as a community of love in which is reflected the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
That the Church in Africa, preparing to celebrate the second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, may continue to be a sign and channel of reconciliation and justice in a continent still suffering from war, exploitation and poverty.
That the mentally handicapped may not be marginalized but respected and lovingly helped to live in a way worthy of their physical and social condition.
That Institutes of Consecrated Life, so flourishing in mission countries, may rediscover the missionary dimension and, faithful to the radical choice of Gospel counsels, be generous in bearing witness to Christ and proclaiming Him to the ends of the earth.
That the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation between individuals and peoples may be understood and that through her testimony the Church may spread Christ’s love, the source of new humanity.
That Christians persecuted because of the Gospel in various parts of the world and in various manners may be sustained by the strength of the Holy Spirit and continue to bear witness courageously and openly to the Word of God.
That even in difficult and complex situations of present-day society, Christians may never tire of proclaiming with their lives Christ’s resurrection, the source of hope and peace.
That future priests in young Churches may be ever more seriously formed culturally and spiritually in order to evangelize their respective countries and the whole world.
That Christians may use literature, art and the media to greater advantage to favour a culture which defends and promotes the values of the human person
That just as she accompanied the Apostles in the early stages of the Church, may the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization and Queen of Apostles, continue to guide missionaries throughout the world with maternal affection.
That Christians may cultivate a deep and personal friendship with Christ so they are able to communicate the strength of His love to those they encounter
That the International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, Canada, may lead to ever deeper understanding of the Eucharist, the heart of the Church and source of evangelization.
That there may be an increase in the number of those who volunteer to serve the Christian community with generous and prompt availability
That World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, may kindle the fire of divine love in numerous young people and render them sowers of hope for a new humanity
That the human family may learn to respect God’s plan for the world and become ever more aware that Creation is God’s great gift.
That the answer of the entire people of God to the common calling to holiness and mission may be promoted and fostered by means of careful discernment of charisms and constant commitment to spiritual and cultural formation
That those who are forced to leave home and country because of war or oppressive regimes may be supported by Christians in the defense and protection of their rights.
That faithful to the sacrament of matrimony every Christian family may cultivate the values of love and communion in order to be a small evangelizing community, sensitive and open to the material and spiritual needs of others
That the Synod of Bishops may help bishops and theologians as well as catechists and pastoral workers engaged in the service of the Word of God transmit with courage the truth of the faith in communion with the entire Church.
That in this month dedicated to the missions, through the promotional activities of the Pontifical Missionary Works and other organisms, the Christian may feel the need to participate in the Church’s universal mission with prayer, sacrifice and concrete help.
That the testimony of love offered by the Saints, may fortify Christians in their service to God and neighbour, imitating Christ who came not to be served but to serve.
That Christian communities in Asia, contemplating the face of Christ, may find the most suitable way to announce Him in full fidelity to the Gospel to the peoples of that vast continent so rich in culture and ancient forms of spirituality.
That in the face of a spreading of a culture of violence and death the Church through her apostolic and missionary activity may promote with courage the culture of life.
That especially in mission countries Christians may show with acts of fraternal love that the Child born in the stable at Bethlehem is the luminous Hope of the world.. ... From the Vatican
Monday, April 7, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
World Youth Day is the largest youth event in the world and will be held in Sydney from 15-20 July 2008.
Organised by the Catholic Church, World Youth Day gathers young people from around the world to build bridges of friendship and hope between continents, peoples and cultures.
In August 2005, Sydney was chosen to host the XXIII World Youth Day. The announcement was made by Pope Benedict XVI in Cologne at the conclusion of the XX World Youth Day in August 2005.
So began our incredible three year journey of planning, preparation and anticipation began for Sydney, Australia... and the youth of the world.
WYD08 will be the occasion of the first visit of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to Australia and we very much look forward to welcoming him to the "Southern Land of the Holy Spirit".
Through the WYD08 experience, young people from throughout the world will make a pilgrimage in faith, meet, and experience the love of God. The young people will have an opportunity to rediscover their baptismal calling and the centrality of the sacraments of the Eucharist and reconciliation, and so discover a new apostolic zeal to witness more fully the Gospel in the modern world. All in the context of the beauty of Australia and the hospitality of the Australian people!
1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?
Perhaps you've seen pictures or have even visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, what many believe to be the last standing Wall of the Second Temple. But people come from all over the world to pray there and put their prayer notes into the cracks between its stones. Believe it or not, I've actually come across a few websites which advertise their desire to receive your faxed prayer requests -- and for a low, low fee of 29.99, will take and put them into the cracks of the wall for you!
This is a very nice gesture and all ---- but who needs it? God is ALIVE! He hears us whenever and wherever we call!
When Solomon set out to build the first temple, the Lord told Him that He cannot be contained in a manmade structure. He is infinite and all-encompassing! He's not in a wall or any other man-made object! And amazingly, infinite as He is, He promises to draw near to us as we draw near to Him!
God wants to have a deep and intimate relationship with us. He wants us to experience the life-changing power of His healing and deliverance in our lives.
CFC, let's not get distracted by the man-made ways people try to connect with God – let's cry out for intimacy with Him right here and right now. And let's also not forget pray for revelation for all who seek Him – that they would see the truth of the Messiah, Jesus.
Your family in the Lord with much agape love,
George, Rivka, Elianna & Obadiah
Currently in Phoenix, AZ