Christ the King Parish Church, Greenmeadows, Quezon City

WHEN        :   MARCH 11,  2011
TIME           :   7:30 PM ARRIVAL; 8:00PM Start
SPEAKER :   To be announced

TOPIC        :   To be announced

MARCH 27, 2011

Come on time for the Rosary prayers


MEETING OF 2 CFCs WITH CARDINAL ROSALES LAST JAN 14, 2010//PASIG BLISS LIVELIHOOD KICKOFF PROGRAM///"Restoring Life in San Pedro" By Herbert Osio, Writer, May They Be One///CATECHESIS ON NUCLEAR POWER PLANT by Bishop Soc Villegas, Archdiocese of Balanga

New..Reiterating CBCP position on Family//THE FEMININE SOUL//CBCP Pastoral letter on HB5043 Nov. 14, 2008//CFC-USA Statement of Opposition to HB5043//CFC-FFL's Statement on the SWS Survey Showing Public Acceptance of HB 5043 & CFC-FFL perspective on the recent media blitz regarding the 14 Ateneo professors who proclaimed that the 'RH bill adheres to Catholic social teaching' click here


Evangelization update...Christian Life Seminars on -going

The Overstretch in the Habitat-Pfizer-CFCFI Alleged Connection: A Case of Ill-logic

CFC Global files case against CFC Foundation, Inc./CFCFFL

A Joyful celebration planned and prepared by God by Jett Reyes, District of Paranaque

SEC Order of June 12, 2008 re: Setting aside of order of revocaton for Couples For Christ Foundation, Inc.


The printed version of Father's Love Letter can be copied and used for free distribution providing the following copyright information is displayed... 'Father's Love Letter used by permission Father Heart Communications Copyright 1999-2008'

Father's Love Letter audio (click)

Father's Love Letter


The words you are about to experience are true.

They will change your life if you let them.

For they come from the heart of God.

He loves you.

And He is the Father you have been looking for all your life.

This is His love letter to you.

My Child,

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28

For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4

And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is…Will you be my child? John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad

Almighty God


Home | World Meeting of Families | ProLife | Latest News | About CFC-FFL | About Diocese of Pasig | CFC FFL Links | From the Servant General


NO to Reproductive Health. YES to Reproductive Wealth


Peace be with you all!  The Church and the State must be allies, not adversaries.  The real enemies are the capital sins of GREED, manifested in a contraceptive mentality (“More people leads to more poverty.”) and LUST, manifested in a culture of “sex without consequence”.  To borrow from a homily of Rev. Fr. Fernando Suarez, the world-renowned healing priest, “We don’t have too many people.  We have too many sins.”  The Church does not only have a one-dimensional image of man like the RH Bill, but a total vision of man.  God did not only give the 6th and the 9th commandments which deal with sins against the virtues of purity and chastity, but God also provided the 7th and the 10th commandments that denounce greed and selfishness.  Above all, God’s 5th commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” does not only refer to taking the life of a living human being, but it also covers the willful prevention of the conception of life, and even in causing or tolerating subhuman conditions for the poor and the hungry in our society.


The end does not justify the means

We honor the noble intentions of proponents of the RH Bill to help our women and our poor because the objectives of the RH Bill are laudable in themselves.  But as we know from morality, the end does not justify the means, nor do two wrongs make a right, specially because the methods proposed are unconstitutional, immoral and ineffective.


They are unconstitutional and immoral on the grounds that we have enshrined God in the 1987 Philippine Constitution whose eloquent Preamble begins, “We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of the Almighty God ...” And it has been clear that our Almighty God and Heavenly Father, through the Magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church), the Popes and Cardinals, Bishops and Priests, Nuns and Religious, and the lay faithful throughout the years, has preached NO to the use of artificial contraception.


Flouting the teaching of the Church is flouting God.  Let us not misinterpret Section 6 on the separation of the Church and State because what that means is we will not impose an official State religion like other nations do, and will allow freedom of religious worship.


The Philippines is not a secular state but neither are we a theocracy.  We are a Religious Democracy. A democracy is not violated if it embraces a faith.  A democracy is violated if a religion is imposed on it, or if its people are penalized for their religious belief. 


With the RH Bill, we are not “imploring the aid of God” as our Constitution mandates, but we are incurring His wrath.  Let us heed the tragic fate of Onan, in the Book of Genesis.  He was the son of Judah whom God killed because he “wasted his seed on the ground and displeased God” instead of reproducing descendants with his wife Er. 


We don’t need an RH Bill

The Philippine economy is booming – GDP growth rate is accelerating while inflation remains benign.  The stock market is on a bull run and the real estate sector is soaring.  OFW remittances, BPO and export revenues are reaching record heights. Unemployment is falling as the job market grows and employee compensation rises.   Interest rates remain low, encouraging investments in high-potential industries like real estate and tourism, manufacturing and BPO, agriculture and mining.  The consensus of local businessmen and economists, foreign investors and MNCs is the future is very bright.  Based on the latest independent surveys, even the percentage of people claiming hunger and poverty is retreating – all these positive news despite the absence of an RH Bill.


Should we not all pause and reflect if the RH Bill will help rather than hurt the country?


Let us learn from the errors of the western countries saddled by ageing and shrinking populations, and closer home, even from Asian economic tigers that have regretted their aggressive population control policy, who are now scrambling to correct their impending crisis of depopulation – Japan and Korea, China and Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore.


No less than US past president Bill Clinton found himself an unlikely spokesman for the anti-RH Bill advocates when he categorically admonished political and business leaders at a recent visit to Manila, “You have a large and young population that is a boon.” 


A country’s people can be harnessed to become its strongest asset and greatest wealth – both as a market base and a labor force.  This is evident in the 4 BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China), touted as emerging dynamos not only because of their high growth rates but their absolute size and strength, in which population is a vital ingredient.  These 4 countries alone combine for 2.9 Billion people, 45% of the world’s population.  Even the 10-member ASEAN’s attractiveness lies not just in being a low-cost production hub, but also in becoming a potentially lucrative market of over 600 Million consumers.


Let us not allow the RH Bill to distract and divide us.  Rather, let us unite and focus on realizing the long-delayed Philippine economic miracle.  Let us undertake a structural transformation in our economy, starting with revitalizing agriculture and fisheries to attain self-sufficiency in food production and drive high-value agricultural exports; investing massively in infrastructure; promoting the country as an investment haven and a tourism destination; and reviving industry to provide gainful employment and export world-class quality products instead of world-class Filipino talent (whom we should keep as our competitive advantage in the global economy).  All these will help transform the economy from an over-reliance on OFW remittances and consumption spending so our people may grow in productivity as workers and grow in affluence as consumers.


Let us learn from host countries and foreign employers of 11M OFWs and emigrants, who have discovered that Filipino workers are of world-class caliber, but paid in third world wages in their home country – and rewarded them financially more than we have.  A recent study by the International Labor Organization confirmed that workers in the Philippines are among the lowest paid in the world, and there is low correlation between educational attainment and financial success.  That is not only lamentable but obscene.


Let us disabuse ourselves from the popular notion that the OFW diaspora is a boon.  It is a bane, because the true economic value of OFWs lies not in their remittances of US$20B (US$150/mo).  Their true economic value is reflected in the national income accounts of their host countries, through revenues, profits and cashflows of their foreign employers.


I dread to imagine how our Almighty God and Heavenly Father will punish our leaders and our people not just for our collective greed and lust, but our ingratitude for the blessings of a nascent Philippine economic miracle if we insist on legalizing a contraceptive mentality (“more people = more poverty”), and sex without consequence. 


Instead of sex education, let us promote “love education”; a culture of life vs. a culture of death.  Instead of reproductive health, let us promote what I would call “Reproductive Wealth”, as practiced by the early Christian communities when the faithful worked according to their ability, and consumed only according to their need. “Reproductive Wealth” that begets more wealth calls for the rich helping the poor and the poor helping themselves.  Once the millions of poor Filipinos can reach middle-income status through better compensation such as profit-sharing, then rich Filipinos can become even richer.


A Rich Country with High Inequality

The Philippines is not a poor country.  It is a rich country with many poor people.  Using Purchasing Power Parity, the country ranked 13th among Asia’s 53 countries with US$320 Billion in GDP as early as 2008.  However, its GINI Coefficient, the measure of income inequality for economists, is among the highest in Asia at 0.44, indicating a wide chasm between the rich and the poor.  This is the real problem we must face and solve. 


Referendum: Greed and Lust vs. Charity and Purity

Some proponents of the RH Bill are calling for a referendum and the Church welcomes the move.  May I suggest if we do call for one, let us first educate the people on the Pros and Cons of RH Bill, the articles of the 1987 Constitution and the teachings of the Church.  Then, at the Referendum, let us propose not only one (1) option, but two (2):          “To eradicate poverty, do you want an RH Bill that legalizes artificial contraception and abortaficient forms of birth control, or Reproductive Wealth that promotes profit-sharing?”  We do not need to distribute condoms.  We need to redistribute our wealth.      Let us follow the example of Warren Buffet, the world’s richest yet most charitable man.

Profit-sharing of all forms is not just a better option to the RH Bill.  It is the only real solution to accelerating economic growth and eliminating poverty in a sustainable way.


When companies practice profit-sharing, the nation’s 38 Million employees will feel more empowered by a real sense of ownership.  Workers who are part-owners are more productive.  They will drive revenues, cut costs and conserve cash without being told.  Such companies will expand further, create more jobs, and collectively, help the country achieve economic growth that will be faster, more inclusive and therefore sustainable.


Herein lies the secret to eliminating poverty and corruption.  P-Noy says, “Pag walang corrupt, walang mahirap”.  The RH Bill implies, “Pag walang tao, walang mahirap”.  But the truth is the poor do not need more sex and artificial contraception.  Rather they need better-paying work.  The rich need to give the poor not more condoms, but more rewards for work to motivate their performance. As Hon. Tony Meloto said, “We need to put a condom on greed.”  Given a chance to reach middle-income status, the poor will not find time to get drunk or gamble, nor enough energy for irresponsible sex. No to Reproductive Health. Yes to Reproductive Wealth,  where wealth begets more wealth because the rich help the poor while the poor help themselves.  “Pag walang suwapang, walang mahirap.”


“Please do not drag others down.”

Let us not distort or twist the recent words of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on condom use, which is a sin against the 8th commandment and a grave scandal for the Catholic faithful.  It is best paraphrased in the vernacular, “Pag hindi na mapigilan ang isang tao na gumawa ng masama (in the case of an HIV-infected male prostitute), huwag na sana siyang mang-damay ng iba na inosente.” This exhortation is most relevant to the RH Bill issue in two (2) ways: (1) The Church’s ban on artificial contraception stays; and (2) For authors and proponents of the RH Bill, if you cannot be stopped from doing wrong, do not drag others with you by legitimizing immorality in the RH Bill. No law prevents the use of artificial contraception, nor is there lack of access to it.  Why do we need to enact a law to enforce it and spend billions of taxpayer’s money to implement it? 


Man has the freedom to choose between right or wrong, good or evil.  God gave us free will. But man does NOT have the freedom to decide WHAT is good and WHAT is evil.


Ineffective and Counterproductive

In the world’s richest and most powerful country, the USA, where there is a pervasive culture of liberalism, widespread use of artificial contraception and millions of abortions, there are still 50 Million below the poverty line and 18 Million unemployed.  There are 3 Million infected with STDs, of which 1 Million have HIV due to sexual promiscuity.   Even the world’s largest MNCs recognize  the value of our population as an asset.  The Philippines ranks among the largest subsidiaries of the world’s leading companies (Coca-Cola, Nestle, P&G, Unilever), delivering billions of dollars in revenue and profits annually.  This explains their recent multi-billion peso investments in the country.



From the Poorest to the Richest

We marvel at the story of a Filipino who was born among the poorest of the poor.  Thirty-two years ago, a woman in General Santos City conceived a son who was born into abject poverty.  Yet, he not only survived but thrived to reach unprecedented heights of success around the world. He did this through his own blood, sweat and tears, with the unconditional love of his mother who chose life not death, despite poverty and being left by her husband.  Imagine where the country and the world will be today without the conscience of Mommy Dionisia and Sarangani Congressman Manny Pacquiao, the world’s best fighter, who has not only defeated his opponents in the ring, but has conquered poverty in his life.  Imagine how many more Filipinos with the courage and the strength, the fortitude and the faith, this country can produce for the welfare of society and the good of humanity.   Indeed, the epic saga of Pacman in his victorious fight against poverty can be the story of all Filipinos and the miracle of the Philippines.


The World’s Only English-Speaking Catholic Country

It is no accident that the Philippines was the only Asian colony of Spain, which brought Christianity to our shores, nor was it an accident that the Philippines later became the only colony of the United States, which taught English to our forefathers.  Today, the Philippines stands as the ONLY English-speaking Catholic country in the world.   The largest Catholic country is Brazil but they speak Portuguese, while the largest English-speaking country is America but they are predominantly Protestant.  Catholicism, the Universal Church, is the largest religion with 1.2 Billion members worldwide while English is the undisputed lingua franca of the global village.  Is it not clear that God has charged us with a global mission to fulfill – to proclaim the Good News to all the earth? 


Moving forward, I call on authors, proponents and supporters of the RH Bill to set the bill aside and let us unite and focus our energies in adopting the following 5-point agenda.


1.      Unify the country with a vision. One that can become a mantra, motto and battlecry of 95 Million Filipinos, eg,  “A Nation Run Like Heaven”.  In the vernacular, “Langit sa Lupa”. Let us bury once and for all the 65-year curse of Quezon who infamously intoned “I prefer a nation run like hell by Filipinos to one run like heaven by Americans”.  Let us reject the culture of secularism that seeks to remove God from the world, and instead fulfill our God-given mission to renew the face of the earth.  I don’t mean for priests to become politicians, but for politicians to become priestly.


2.      Encourage profit-sharing.  Reward companies with fiscal incentives, such as lower income tax rates if they distribute 33% of profits to employees.  We can see our economy fly, not like an Asian tiger, but like the majestic Philippine eagle, using our own noble economic model of caring and sharing.  The “silver bullet” to end poverty and corruption is the “golden rule”. Do unto others what you want done unto yourself. Or the second commandment – “Love your neighbor as yourself”.  It is not only the key to entering the kingdom of heaven, but the secret to living a long and healthy, happy and productive life on earth that can lead to universal peace and prosperity.  Let us renounce the post-modern era’s sins of Pride and Envy, Greed and Gluttony.   


At the recently-concluded Commemorative Conference for the 20th Anniversary of the Plenary Council of the Philippines II (local version of the 2nd Vatican Council), nearly 500 delegates chorused the same message, “Help Our Poor. Save Our Rich.”


3.      Re-educate the people on the Constitution.  There is nothing inherently wrong with it.  But there is something wrong about our interpretation and implementation of its articles and provisions, let alone living the spirit of the fundamental law of the land.


4.      Re-intensify the teachings of the Catholic Church. In all schools and at all levels, at home and at work, on TV and the internet to help form and reform, guide and direct the conscience of our people.  There is no value in an education without an education in values.  We need an education in values, not sex.  The lack of conscience in our leadership lamented by His Eminence Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales is an indictment of our own collective failure to educate our people and form their conscience due to omission or failure to practice what we preach.  As Bishop Ted Bacani said, “Information leads to Formation and finally, Reformation.”  This should also include admonishing the irresponsible use of the conjugal act by already destitute fathers who cannot afford to provide their children their basic needs.  The situation calls for nothing less than the pressing and urgent call of the late soon-to-be Blessed Pope John Paul II for a New Evangelization of Baptized Non-Believers.  Paradoxically, we need to renew the Catholic Church by “going back to the basics” – the Bible and the Catechism, the Sacraments and the devotions like the Holy Rosary.


5.      Promote the universal human virtues of purity and chastity.  Stop all forms of immodesty and indecency that cause people to sin against the 6th and the 9th commandments -- in dress codes, in commercial advertising (billboards and print ads, TVCs and calendars) and the mass media (TV and radio programs, movies and internet sites, glossy men’s magazines and racy tabloids, fashion shows and concerts).  It is not that some people in business and mass media put too much value on sex, but on the contrary, they degrade and devalue sex, a commandment from God when He said, “Go forth, bear fruit and multiply!” NOT “Have a safe and satisfying sex life!”


Lastly, let us draw inspiration from St. Joseph, the Father’s image on earth and most chaste spouse of the Virgin Mary, and ask his help for the gift of chastity. “Ite ad Ioseph”.


Once we reject the RH Bill, I am sure the Church will reward us with a long-awaited visit by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to thank Filipinos for fidelity to the teachings of the Church, the words of Jesus that will never pass away, and obedience to the will of God.


Around 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ also lost in a survey.  Let us not repeat that mistake.  So, whom will we choose? Barrabas, symbolized by the RH Bill that promotes GREED through a contraceptive mentality and LUST through sex-without-consequence, or Jesus who preaches CHARITY and PURITY.  Thank you very much and God bless us all.



Willy E. Arcilla

President, Business Mentors, Inc.

P3-B fund for contraceptives, an overkill — Nograles

By Charlie V. Manalo


House Assistant Majority Leader and Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles yesterday maintained that the government does not need to waste taxpayers’ money to encourage the use of artificial birth control as envisioned by the Reproductive Health (RH) bill because even without it, manufacturers of contraceptives particularly condoms are already spending millions in advertising fund to promote their products.

“There is already an intense advertising war among condom manufacturers even with the absence of the so-called Reproductive Health law. This is unmistakable proof that the Reproductive Health bill is immaterial, irrelevant and a complete waste of time and taxpayer’s money,” Nograles pointed out in expressing his disappointment on last week’s approval of the initial P3 billion funding for the consolidated RH bill.

“Spending P3 billion for so-called population management will only make condom manufacturers even richer and our people even poorer because their taxes are wasted on condoms and pills instead of using the money for their livelihood,” Nograles added.

Nograles insisted that artificial contraceptives, particularly condoms are already being sold openly and are even advertised on television using personalities like Robin Padilla and therefore, there is no longer a need for the government to be spending billions of pesos in taxpayers’ money for the enrichment of private companies to serve a private purpose.

Nograles added that the government has already allocated October last year P400 million for the purchase of condoms and other contraceptives to support its population management program and allocating an additional P3 billion for this is already an overkill.

“Are we a nation of sex maniacs that we need P3 billion to buy condoms and pills? I no longer see this as a promotion ofresponsible parenthood but an open endorsement for condom makers,” Nograles said.

Nograles also maintained that the country does not need a law on Reproductive Health because family planning should continue to be a free and a democratic choice for Filipino couples.

“While I have no question as to the nobility on the intentions of those pushing for the RH measure, I still believe that there’s no need for us to be enacting a law that is basically unnecessary since population management has long been a government policy,” Nograles said.

Nograles said that there is nothing in the country’s existing laws and statutes that is preventing private individuals, local government units and the national government from buying condoms and other contraceptives purportedly for population management so therefore, it is completely unnecessary for Congress to be crafting a law that basically compels the same thing but with penal sanctions.

“Putting a penal provision only complicates things as this goes against the very essence of free choice.”

Official Appointment of Spiritual Director by Cardinal Rosales to replace Rev. Fr. Gaston who was re-assigned to an important office in the Vatican.  For some CFC leaders who up to now continue to misinform the public and even their own members that Couples For Christ Foundation for Family and Life or CFC-FFL is not CFC or should not be called Couples For Christ please read this appointment letter of the good Cardinal.  


(Part 8)
August 10, 2010
Today is a blessed event, as we celebrate the third anniversary of our community’s consecration to our Blessed Mother Mary, Mediatrix of All Grace. Since three years ago, Mary has become an indispensable companion on our journey. In fact, we have come to appreciate much more her role in salvation history. She is Jesus’ co-Redemptrix.
Our work of evangelization, which takes territory from Satan, and our work of renewing the family and defending life, with family and life the main targets of Satan during this third millennium, bring us into direct collision with Satan and his demons. Our work causes our engagement in intense spiritual warfare. We are at war, and we are at the forefront. As such, we need our Mother Mary.
Why is that? How do we now understand Mary’s role?
“She was there when the very first war broke out in heaven, where Michael defeated Lucifer, who became Satan (Rev 12:1-9).[1] Then she was there when the war was brought to humankind, in the garden of Eden, where Satan deceived and caused the fall of our first parents.[2] God then decreed eternal enmity between her and the serpent, and between their offspring (Gen 3:15). She was there at the foot of the cross, when Jesus by his death, and subsequent resurrection, defeated Satan. The Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus have always been a team when confronting the enemy! Then, before his death, Jesus entrusted Mary to his beloved disciple, to continue the mission (Jn 19:25-27). Satan, angry with her, continues to wage war against her offspring (Rev 12:17). Those are us. Our mother Mary is still very much involved in this spiritual war, and she will always be there to help her children the soldiers on the ground with her powerful intercession. AsQueen of heaven and earth, she is indeed powerful.” (from the book Following Christ, page 38).
I repeat: The Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son Jesus have always been a team when confronting the enemy!
By God’s mysterious design, the coming of the Savior into the world depended on the yes of Mary. And by that same mysterious design, God involved Mary in the very first war that broke out in heaven, and in the spiritual warfare in Eden where paradise was lost but a Savior was promised. Now God intends the work of the Savior to continue to be done with his mother, his co-Redemptrix.
This is why we are a community for Christ (who is the Savior), doing the work of renewing the family and defending life (which work is crucial to God’s plan for the life of the world), and consecrated to our Blessed Mother Mary.
Like Mary, we continue to rejoice in God our Savior. And may our work be such that all ages will call Mary blessed.
*     *     *

[1] The human Mary was not physically there, but her spirit embodied in her role in salvation was there.
[2] Again Mary was not there physically, but she was the embodiment of the prophecy regarding a Savior.

Fresh release...The Way Forward In Christ up to part 29 as of January 20, 2010 by SG

Fresh release...Ecclesiastical Recognition of CFC-FFL from the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan

CBCP News - "His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, has re-appointed our Servant General Frank Padilla and his wife Gerry as members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, effective September 10, 2009, for another term of five years."(click here)

Official Appointment of Spiritual Director by Cardinal Rosales

In line with the Holy See's desire to bring together as one the two CFCs -- CFC Global and CFC-FFL, Cardinal Rosales has appointed Spiritual Directors for each of the two CFCs. (See appointment letter below)

We welcome Fr. Greg Gaston as our Spiritual Director. Please feel free to be in touch with him in furtherance of the good of our life and mission.
Qualifications of Fr. Gregory Gaston, STD (A Moral Theologian)
  • Served for 5 years in the Pontifical Council for the Family
  • Dean of Seminaries, Holy Apostles Senior Seminary
  • Member, CBCP Episcopal Commission on Doctrine of the Faith
  • Assistant Minister, Ministry for Family and Life Archdiocese of Manila
  • A Bio-ethicist
  • Known to be a Pro Life formator: Some of his writings: "Misconceptions and Clarifications on Issues Related to Humanae Vitae and the Reproductive “Health” Bill in Philippine Congress"; "Population Bomb Theory Defused"
Our current Spiritual Directors continue with their relationship with us.

Bishop Gabriel Reyes -- CFC-FFL Spiritual Director
Archbishop Socrates Villegas -- CFC-FFL Young Ministries Spiritual Director
Fr Francis Gustilo, SDB -- Assistant Spiritual Director
Fr Arlo Yap, SVD -- CFC-SFL Spiritual Director


"The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), through its Episcopal Commission on the Laity (ECLA), has given formal and official recognition to Couples for Christ Foundation for Family and Life (CFC-FFL) as a national private association of the lay faithful, effective October 15, 2009."


New...Love One Another (Part 1 to 3 as of Nov. 5) by SG

LESSONS OF JOB SERIES (up to part 45 as of January 17, 2010) BY SG

List of Pro and Anti RH bill in the 14th Congress (click here to download xls file)


On Worship Series

On Servant Leadership Series (up to part 15 as of Nov. 15, 2009)

Lent and Lamentation Series

Other writings of SG...Disobeying Jesus//The Way Forward (3)//The coming of the Saviour// On blind obedience//Ushering in the year 2009//The way forward in Christ by Bro. Frank (click here)

An Attempt to Understand and Accept Trusting in the Lord by Bro. Nonong Contreras(click here)

The Meaning of Evangelization and Our Mission for Family and Life (click here)

On Running the Race...a family day message by Bro. Frank (click here)


Theme for 2010:
“The Almighty!
Just and Righteous is He.”

“The Almighty! we cannot discover him,
pre-eminant in power and judgement;
his great justice owes no one an accounting

Job 37:23



Almighty Father, you are mighty and eternal God, and we praise and worship you,

as we give you thanks for the blessings of our life and work.  Awesome indeed is your presence among us, and our hearts constantly rejoice in your salvation.

As we remain in awe of your great power and majesty, we bow down in reverence, and humbly ask for your continued outpouring of grace and blessing upon our lives and on our mission as your people.

Work in us, Jesus, so that we will be enabled to live righteous lives, and to do justice to all.  Continue to purify us, Lord, even as you lead us to embrace your cross, enduring the suffering and pain that comes with restoration and redemption.

Holy Spirit, guide us in our service for the Kingdom. Fill our hearts with zeal for your house, Lord, and enkindle in us an even greater passion for evangelization and mission. Empower us, so that we might be your effective instruments in renewing the family and in defending life.

Almighty God, just and righteous are you. May your divine justice and righteousness lead us to forgive those who sin against us, to grow in holiness, to live our covenant faithfully, and to serve without counting the cost.

Mama Mary, daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, spouse of the Spirit, keep us in your loving embrace always.


(Part 14)
God is Trinity. We have seen Jesus, and know him intimately as Savior and Lord. We have experienced the Holy Spirit, working under His anointing and empowerment. We know the Father from the revelation of Jesus. But the Father, the Creator-God, remains a great mystery.

We have so much more to learn about God. But perhaps it is not so much about God Himself, but about our proper posture before Him and in relation to Him. God remained a mystery to Job. “I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know.” (Job 42:3). “Seeing” God as he did now, Job was led to awe and humility. “Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:6).[1]

Our proper posture is awe and humility. The two go together. God is the awesome Almighty, on whom we are totally dependent. Apart from Jesus we are nothing. Apart from the power of the Holy Spirit, we in our human flesh could never accomplish the divine work entrusted to us. We simply recognize our nothingness, and God’s awesome greatness. And of course, our awe is also because our great and wonderful God deigned to love us and die for us.
God’s revelation of Himself is that He is just and righteous. This is so very important for us.

Because God is just and righteous, we trust in Him. Our hope is ever in Him.

Because God is just and righteous, we rejoice in whatever happens in our lives, including affliction and suffering. God has a wonderful purpose.

In seeing the good suffer and the bad thrive in the world, we struggle to understand the justice and righteousness of God. But then we are confronted by the reality of what God has done for us, that is, God sent His own Son into the world to suffer and die for us. When we suffer affliction, for whatever reason, we see that God treated His Son in the same way! When we realize we too are children of God, then we are able to accept how, in His inscrutable wisdom, He deals with His sons.

In the end, we look forward to God’s victory in our lives. That is the ultimate expression of God’s justice and righteousness, as He gives us what is our due as His children -- the blessing of eternal life in His heavenly kingdom.
As CFC-FFL, we experienced 20 years of great blessings in our life and work. Then we had 5 years of ups and downs. Now, on our 29th year, we are still “down” and experiencing the purification of God.[2]

Perhaps, just like Jesus who started his public ministry when he was 30 years old,[3] we are still in that period where we are truly and intensely being prepared for even greater work that God will give us. Suffering is part of that purification. Suffering then for us will be redemptive. The cross and victory go together. There is no victory without the cross.

Then, when we are blessed by great achievements in our work, we will not succumb to pride. And when we are chastised by setbacks, we will not lose heart but rejoice.

God is about making His remnant a holy one. He is working to make us pure instruments. We need to become true servants, who will give God our all without counting the cost, or better yet, counting the cost as perfect joy.
Let us continue then with our journey with Job this year 2010. Not with trepidation but with great anticipation and excitement. God has been preparing us through the years. And so we walk on .... with great hope, joy and trust. And with the Triune God.
(January 20, 2010)

[1] We might think we know God. That is the ultimate pride. How can we truly know the great mystery that is God? The good news is that we do not have to understand with our human mind. We do not have to rationalize God’s ways. Rather, we can simply live the mystery.
[2] See “Our theme for 2010 (Part 4) - Within the context our our life and mission.”
[3] Jesus’ great suffering was during his public ministry, not before. But his first 30 years in the family and home were his preparation for public ministry.


 (Part 13)
Job in many ways is very much like Jesus.

Both were pious and exemplary in their relationship to God. Job “was a blameless and upright man” (Job 1:1a). Jesus of course is the holy Son of God.

Both suffered terrible affliction. From head to foot. Satan “smote Job with severe boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” (Job 2:7). Jesus was crowned with thorns, his whole body tortured, and his feet nailed to the cross.

Both were rejected and abandoned by those closest to them. Job said his brethren, friends, kinsfolk, companions, servants, young children, even his wife, all now reject him (Job 19:13-19). Jesus was thought crazy by his relatives, was betrayed by Judas, was abandoned by his disciples. 

Both were exalted then vilified. Job was held in the highest esteem by everyone (Job 29:7-11,21-25); but that was totally reversed. As Job said, “But now they hold me in derision” (Job 30:1a). As to Jesus, those who sang his praises during his triumphant entry into Jerusalem were soon shouting “crucify him.”

Both were in anguish over their suffering. Job said, “Therefore am I dismayed before him” (Job 23:15a). He “cursed his day” (Job 3:1) and wished that he had never been born (Job 3:11). In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus “began to feel sorrow and distress” (Mt 26:37b), and “he was in such agony .... that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.” (Lk 22:44).

Both felt desolation and being forsaken. Job bitterly complained, “Your hands have formed me and fashioned me; will you then turn and destroy me?” (Job 10:8). He lamented, “You renew your attack upon me and multiply your harassment of me; in waves your troops come against me. Why then did you bring me forth from the womb? I should have died and no eye have seen me.” (Job 10:17-18). On the cross, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27:46).[1]

Both, however severe their suffering, did not sin against God. Job lost everything with the first trial, but “in all this Job did not sin, nor did he say anything disrespectful of God.“ (Job 1:22). He suffered the second trial, but still, “through all this, Job said nothing sinful.” (Job 2:10c). As to Jesus, we have “one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.” (Heb 4:15b).

Finally, both experienced victory in the end. Job was restored and was blessed even double. Jesus rose from the dead and ascended in glory into heaven.
In as much as Job and Jesus were similar in many ways, there are marked differences. I am not just talking about how Jesus is God and Job was just a man.

They differed in how they handled their suffering. Job was bitter. “I loathe my life. I will give myself up to complaint; I will speak from the bitterness of my soul.” (Job 10:1). He even blamed God, referring to God as “the Almighty, who has made bitter my soul” (Job 27:2b). Jesus on the other hand fully accepted what the Father had destined for him, saying atGethsemane even as he was in agony, “not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt 26:39c).

Job insisted on his being just and righteous, even challenging God: “Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!” (Job 31:6). He wanted to be justified and treated fairly. On the other hand, Jesus accepted the very unfairness of an innocent victim suffering for the sins of others. He, who was truly just and righteous, who had no sin, took on our sins.

Job said a lot of things in his defense, both to refute his three friends and also as he addressed God. Jesus, facing false testimony that could put him to death, with his fate hanging in the balance, simply “was silent” (Mt 26:63a).

Job of course did not die as a consequence of or a culmination to his affliction. He lost everything except his life. But Jesus died. He gave everything, including his very life.
Job is a model for us. Of a man blameless and upright. Of one who proves faithful through severe trial. Of one who perseveres in affliction. But our perfect model is Jesus.

As we look at what happened to both Job and Jesus, we see the ultimate overturning of one’s affliction, as rejection is turned to redemption, as tragedy ends in triumph, as the victim finally enjoys the victory.

If ever we experience pain and suffering in life, we look to the story of Job, and of course the story of Jesus, and we are filled with hope. Suffering, endured in the grace and mercy of God, is redemptive. As such we can persevere. And as such we will be blessed. “Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because ‘the Lord is compassionate and merciful.’” (Jas 5:11).
As we begin to understand more the ways of God, as we see God as Job did, as we are formed and purified through affliction, as we are given the privilege to suffer as Jesus did, as we walk the way of discipleship and carry our cross, as we experience the mercy and compassion of God, then we are truly blessed.

The Almighty! Just and righteous is He.
(January 13, 2010)

[1] This is the opening line of Psalm 22. Jesus is praying the psalm, voicing out his lamentation but at the same time looking to deliverance and victory.

(Part 12)

The title of this paper is quite challenging, isn’t it? But so is the book of Job. And as God brought us to the book of Job for our theme for this year, we must really try to see what God wants to teach us. What God wants us to learn could be an overturning of quite a bit of what we believe and how we perceive our faith to be.

Now let me at the outset state that affliction per se is not the blessing. The blessing is what affliction accomplishes for us as far as our relationship with God is concerned, and as far as His accomplishing His will for our lives. This leads to two truths. One, that we do not need to desire affliction, but when it comes, that we positively look to the blessing it will bring. Two, that we do not need to rejoice in affliction, but that, while still looking to the blessing, we can grieve.[1]

Look at the example of Jesus himself. At the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked the Father if the cup could pass from him. He felt “sorrow and distress” (Mt 26:37b). But he immediately followed this request with an affirmation of obedience and submission to the Father’s will.
Have you ever wondered why authentic faith in the First World is disappearing, while faith in the Third World, especially in countries where Christians are persecuted, is flourishing? This is despite the reality that in the First World, the Christian faith is older, Church institutions more established, theology more developed, resources for building churches or doing mission more available.

One reason, if not the reason, is because Christians in the First World have become the majority and have become comfortable. They no longer need to fight and die for their faith. They travel to prayer meetings in their cars, worship in air-conditioned churches, and can hear the gospel preached on TV in the comfort of their homes.
This is why since the time of Job, Satan has refined his methods. He wanted Job to turn away from God by afflicting him. Today he gets people to turn away from authentic faith by making them comfortable and not afflicting them. They still look to God, they still go to church,[2] but they no longer live the authentic gospel.

Is it any wonder that many Christian leaders today had to develop their own theology to conform to and to affirm the lifestyle that Christians seemed to be looking for? It is called the gospel of prosperity. Accept Jesus and be blessed with success and prosperity. Now indeed Jesus came so that we might have a full or abundant life. Indeed we will experience thebountiful blessings bestowed by a loving Father on His children. But if only that, then that is not the authentic gospel! Jesus said that those who follow him will receive bountiful material blessings, but also persecutions (Mk 10:29-30).

Why does the gospel of prosperity lead us to a wrong relationship with God? It makes us look at God as just the source of good things. It makes us do and be good in order to be rewarded. God, of course, is indeed the source of all good things, but He is not just someone we call on in order to receive those goodies. Many Christians today pray intently only when they have some problem or difficulty and so have some request from God. When the difficulty passes, so does their prayer time! After 9/11, after Ondoy, after natural calamities, the churches were packed. Tragically, after so many months, church attendance again dwindled.

Affliction brings us back to reality. First, God is not there just as a dispenser of goodies. Second, pain and suffering are realities of life, even with a loving God,[3] and we just need to deal with it. Third, it is suffering that puts us in a right relationship with God -- with total dependence, with humble submission, with walking the very way of Christ.

In this we see how affliction is not negative but positive.
Can we now appreciate why God allowed Job to be afflicted? Job was already blameless and upright. What more did God want? Well, God allowed the test to make sure that Job was not good only because of His blessings, which was what Satan contended. But more so, God so loved Job, was so proud of him, that He wanted him to enter even more deeply into a relationship with Him, so Job could “see” Him even with the limitation of human sight and insight.

That required God to remove Job’s consolation and bring him to desolation, to the dark night of the soul. When Job lost everything,[4] that is when he had only God. When all his material and family blessings were removed, that is when Job could praise God not for His blessings, but simply for who He is, the Almighty.
Now despite His blessings, Job was a blameless and upright man. How about many Christians today? They are easily led astray by wealth, by power and position, by the adulation of others. They even begin to want more and more, not realizing they are having less and less of authentic faith. Comfort, power, wealth -- all are threats to one’s spiritual well-being. This is why Paul so very strongly warned against wanting to be rich and the love of money (1 Tim 6:7-10). But is this not the direction where many Christians today are going?

And so we are called today to be the Church of the Poor. It is not just a Church for the Poor, where the rich share their material blessings with their less fortunate brethren. It is not just a Church with the Poor, where all are in solidarity, where justice is the norm. But it is a Church of the Poor, where every member lives out evangelical poverty and rejects the allures of materialism, consumerism and secularism.[5] The Church of the Poor is the Church suffering with Christ, embracing the cross, and journeying with the Savior all the way to heaven.
But what is the lot of the poor? They are oppressed, marginalized, deprived and afflicted. Why does God allow this? Is God unjust? Some even ask: where is God? Job complained: “From out of the city the dying groan, and the soul of the wounded cries for help; yet God pays no attention to their prayer.” (Job 24:12,RSV).

But God has revealed Himself in the Bible as a defender of the poor. The very Son of God was born poor, in a squalid and smelly stable. Jesus himself came to bring glad tidings to the poor. His body on earth, the Church, has looked to a preferential option for the poor. God loves the poor!

Why then are there so many poor people in the world, with seemingly no hope for a better life? Just as God used affliction to bring Job to a deeper relationship with Him, God allows poverty to show us, both rich and poor alike, the way to authentic faith. And just as affliction is not the blessing, so too poverty itself is not the blessing.[6] But just as affliction brought Job to a deeper relationship with God, so too does poverty[7] bring us all to a deeper faith in Him.

Is it good to be poor then? Should the rich strive to become poor? Material poverty, not necessarily. Evangelical poverty, yes. How? This is the place of affliction. To be poor is to be deprived, to become powerless, to be oppressed. To be poor is to do without or to be stripped of what the world desires. When affliction lays us low and humbles us, when it makes us become no longer dependent on ourselves or on our human strength and resources, when it removes us from the comfort zones from where our faith begins to weaken, when we can no longer find our joy in material things, that is the start of a renewed and proper relationship with God.

Then we discover the true blessings and bountiful life that God intends. First there is God Himself as the center of our lives. Then we have the blessings of life itself, health, family, children, selfless service to others, the beauty of God’s creation, ourChristian community. Such is true wealth.
In our life and mission as CFC-FFL, we do experience affliction. Those who do are among those truly blessed.
  • The victims of Ondoy who were forcibly detached from earthly possessions.
  • The poor in our Restoration Villages who struggle with their day-to-day material needs.
  • The missionaries who leave the comforts of home and family to serve in a foreign land
  • The missionaries who suffered a serious accident in Ghana that resulted in severe bodily injuries.[8]
  • Those who were betrayed, maligned and rejected by their very own brethren.
  • Those who experience the tragic death of a loved one.
  • The widow who has to fend for herself.
  • The young children who are “orphaned” due to their parents having to go abroad to work.
 When we suffer in this way in Christ, we enter into the mystery of the cross. This is the central aspect of our faith. Thus we do not go around in the circles of peripherals, but plunge right in to our faith’s core. When we suffer in this way, we are emptied and so God’s grace can flow in and fill us. We are able to let go of self-importance and self-sufficiency. When we suffer this way, we reap its good fruit, that of compassion and empathy for the poor, hope in the Lord, trust in Jesus, and joy in Christ. When we suffer in this way, we are on our way to following in the very footsteps of our Lord and Savior.

By the grace and mercy of God, perhaps we in CFC-FFL are well underway to becoming the Church of the Poor.[9] In our evangelization, we will be privileged to spread the good news of Jesus Christ, a gospel of the cross, a gospel to the poor.

This is why God has brought us to the story of Job. It is to be our own story.
(January 3, 2010)

[1] We do not need to desire or rejoice in affliction, but we can, since we look to the blessing it brings. There are great saints, like St Francis of Assisi, who actually looked for, embraced and rejoiced in affliction for the sake of Christ. St Paul often affirmed his joy at suffering affliction for Christ.
[2] The next step of course is being swallowed by a secular and materialist world. Then one would no longer even go to church.
[3] For those who understand, there are pain and suffering precisely because God is loving.
[4] Except his life, which was no life at all at that moment.
[5] Can you see the irony of wanting the poor to become rich and for a poor nation to become First World?
[6] In fact poverty is in contradiction to the abundance of the world God created and the fullness of life Jesus came to bring.
[7] Material or evangelical.
[8] The driver was actually killed.
[9] That is what God intends. Whether it happens is entirely up to our response.

(Part 11)

God loves us, and He wants the best for us. God created the universe that is good. God intended for all of us to dwell with Him eternally in paradise. God is all powerful and He can do what He wants to do.

Why then do bad things happen to people? Why do people suffer, like Job?

Well, for one thing, we have free will. God is all good, but we are not, and many times we choose to do what is wrong. This gets us into all sorts of trouble. Second, there is evil in the world, which affects us whether we like it or not. But why does God not protect those He loves? Well, God is all powerful and in control, but chooses not to control our lives. Out of love He does not violate our free will. He does try to guide us, and at times He intervenes, but basically we choose our own path.
Why do bad things happen to good people? There are many reasons.
  • Spiritual warfare. Satan opposes whatever is of God and whoever is for God. This is what happened to Job.
  • Discipline. We are children of God and so He disciplines us as a father does to a son. This is for our own good, to bring us back to the right path.
  • Testing. God allows affliction and suffering to see if we are with Him only because of the rewards and blessings. This is what Satan claimed about Job. When our consolation is removed, are we still there for God? It is a test of faithfulness.
  • Purification. We are called to holiness, and suffering is a fire that purifies, that burns out the imperfections in us.
  • Redemption. The way of salvation is the way of the cross. This is Jesus’ own way. Through suffering we help redeem ourselves and others.[1]
  • Faith. Affliction and suffering deepen our faith like no other. When we are at our lowest point, when God seems to be nowhere, when we are helpless and have no more hope, and as we grapple with our condition that seemingly is unjust, there we enter into the gateway of a much deeper relationship with God. This is what happened to Job.
Fine. God loves us, and suffering makes us better persons. Further, after the discipline, testing and purification, we look to blessings. Indeed Job was restored and his blessings returned twofold.

So bad things happen to good people. But why do bad things not happen to bad people?[2] Why in fact do the unrighteous thrive? Job was dismayed. “Why do the wicked survive, grow old, become mighty in power?” (Job 21:7). The good suffer, while the bad flourish. Is this not injustice?

This is the mystery of evil in the world. In the face of a just and righteous God who is all-powerful, why does God allow this seemingly unjust situation? This was part of Job’s struggle. 

Like Job and his friends, we have human thinking. God did not even try to answer Job’s questions, but simply pointed to who He was. God was not being autocratic, not just demanding unquestioning obeisance, not being stubbornly unreasonable. Rather, God wanted to bring Job to a much higher plane.[3] It was not enough that Job’s human questions would be answered. God wanted to reveal Himself, and His frame of reference would be not man but God.
If God were to bring us to a higher plane in our relationship with Him, just as He did to Job, then we can begin to appreciate why the good suffer. As was said, affliction and suffering deepen our faith.[4]

Are we good simply because of the blessings? What if the blessings are withdrawn, as in the case of Job? Do we pray because we get what we ask for? When God says no or does not respond at all, will we still persevere in prayer? Do we serve and give of ourselves sacrificially because we have the consolation of God and the approval of man? What if those we serve fail to appreciate us, or worse, even turn against us and malign us? Do we give of our time, talent and treasure because we look to God’s reward? What if we see those who do not give as much still being blessed by God, even more than our blessings?[5]

God wants us to love and serve Him for His sake alone. Not for rewards. Not for material blessings. Not for recognition. Not because we fear punishment. Not in order to make it to heaven. In this, the ultimate test might precisely be that the unrighteous thrive! Will we still continue to do good, even when it is seemingly unjust?[6] So God allows the unrighteous to thrive, for our sake! So that we, like Job, might enter more deeply in our relationship with Him, and know Him for who He truly is.

Oh, the inscrutable depth of the love of God for us!
The book of Job could have ended without the Epilogue (Job 42:7-17). In a way, the restoration of Job could detract from the very lesson God wants to teach, because it still makes us look to eventual reward and blessings. Perhaps the human writer, painfully aware of the human condition, felt he needed to give this final consolation and basis for hope.

Indeed, in this world the good might suffer and the bad thrive. We might experience this injustice for the duration of our life on earth. But ultimately, in what really counts, the good can look to redemption and eternal life in heaven.[7] This is the ultimate justice for the righteous.

The Almighty! Just and righteous is He. 
(January 2, 2010)

[1] Jesus of course is the one Redeemer, but we participate in his work of redemption -- by working to transform our lives and grow in holiness, by evangelizing others, by intercession, by our work for social justice, and so on.
[2] A lot of bad things of course happen to bad people. But there are also so many others who seem to live a nice fulfilled life. 
[3] We will look deeper into this in another paper.
[4] There are unfortunately also those who, when afflicted and as they consider the injustice in their situation, turn away from God, rather than being drawn more deeply to Him.
[5] Or worse, they are blessed while we suffer.
[6] In this many have fallen and simply joined the company of the wicked, or at least, no longer persevered in growing in holiness.
[7] See, I myself have fallen into this hope-of-eternal-life mode. I suppose that in the weakness of our human condition, we need this hope to cling to. But how I hope I could simply cling to God alone.

(Part 10)
Why is there suffering in the world?

There is suffering because there is evil. When people sin, there will be consequences, not just on themselves, but on others whose lives they affect. When a child becomes a drug addict, the parents suffer anguish. When a thief steals, the victim suffers deprivation. When terrorists strike, innocents suffer loss of life or limb.

In these cases, we see that the innocent, just like Job, may suffer.

The real question then might be: why does the all-loving God allow the innocent, or even the just and righteous, to suffer? Here we come to the reality of redemptive suffering. God does allow suffering, because suffering is redemptive. As such, allowing His loved ones to experience suffering is a great manifestation of God’s love.
How is suffering redemptive?

First, for those who are guilty of sin, suffering through affliction is a way of God’s discipline. God does not want us to persist in our sin, but we do. Unless something drastic happens, we will go on our merry way to perdition and ruin. When something drastic does happen (such as a life-threatening accident or illness, or bankruptcy, or the death of a loved one), when we are brought to the depths of pain or helplessness and hopelessness, that is the time we rethink our lives. And when everything seems to be collapsing around us, when we are in despair, when we have nowhere else to turn, we turn to God.

So God afflicts us, as befits the loving Father that He is. “God treats you as sons. For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are without discipline, in which all have shared, you are not sons but bastards.” (Heb 12:7b-8).

What then should our proper posture be with regard to such suffering? “Endure your trials as ‘discipline’” (Heb 12:7a). But we should not only endure, we should be grateful for such discipline, because God “does so for our benefit, in order that we may share in his holiness” (Heb 12:10b). If such is the case, then we not only are grateful, but we must rejoice in such affliction. “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.” (Heb 12:11).

Thus is suffering that reflects God’s discipline redemptive for us.
But how about those who are not great sinners? Why do they suffer?

A second reason has to do with God’s purposes, that is, He desires our holiness. Thus Peter instructs us: “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Pet 1:15-16). Further, Jesus himself tells us to “be perfect, just as (our) heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48).

Now if we are to attain to the holiness and perfection of the Father,[1] then we need to be purified. As gold is purified through fire, we are purified through the fire of affliction. It is only when we are cut down that we truly learn humility. It is only when we suffer great material loss that we learn true detachment. It is only when we are stripped of power and position that we become true servants.

Affliction is the great fire that burns out the impurities in us. Just as we saw with discipline, God afflicts us with suffering in order that we may reap “the peaceful fruit of righteousness” and that “we may share in his holiness.”
But how about those who are basically good and upright people, like Job? Job was “blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil (Job 1:8). God even boasted about him before the accuser Satan (Job 1:8, 2:3). But God allowed terrible suffering to be inflicted on him, where he lost everything except his wretched life.[2]

Job was not sinful, he did not need to be purified further, he was a person whom we would consider holy, but his affliction was even greater than that of most great sinners! Why? Here we encounter the profound mystery of suffering.

Job could not figure it out. He even went to the point of challenging God! “Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!” (Job 31:6). But Job was missing the point (as we with our human understanding often do). This is perhaps the reason why God did not answer him directly, why God did not justify why He was allowing him to suffer.

What did God say? God simply pointed to His awesome majesty. In the end, Job surrendered, and he finally “understood.” Job then made his wonderful profession of faith: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6).
What are the lessons of Job’s suffering?

It is that we come to God not on our own terms but His. We do not define holiness but only God does. In our relationship with Him, we do not set our priorities, define our parameters, pride ourselves in our human wisdom; rather we humble ourselves, knowing that compared to Him we are nothing, that even our good deeds are like dirty rags before Him. We do not expect to be blessed because we have done good, as if we have earned it and are being repaid for our acts.

Further, it is that we are called to total surrender to Him and to His will for our lives. Many times we will not understand, many times we may have human cause to complain, many times we may even be tempted to just abandon our Christian lives, but God calls us to endure and persevere, with full hope and trust in Him.

When we become such, then we will be pure instruments in the hands of God, that He can use any which way. Remember that God is about a mighty work in the world today, and He uses human instruments to achieve His divine purposes. How can a holy God do what He wills for the world, given that He has already decided to use human instruments? In this we see God’s desire to purify, to make holy, to have instruments that are totally surrendered to His will. Instruments that have experienced severe suffering are those who are humbled, and such humbling is necessary preparation for glory, without falling into pride.
Thus is suffering such as Job’s redemptive. Suffering that forms God’s holy and “perfect” instruments is indeed redemptive -- for self, for others, for the whole world.

Do we wonder then that this is the way God chose for the redemption of the world, in sending His very own Son Jesus to the cross? Jesus was perfect, but God anyway allowed him to be afflicted terribly. God was showing us the way. The way of redemption is the way of the cross. It is the way of affliction and suffering.

But if we have difficulty appreciating the design of God regarding our salvation through Jesus, how about the design of God in something that the world experiences from day-to-day? I am talking about the mystery of human birth, as we look at how “a woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains” (Is 26:17a). What was her sin?[3] Is she in fact not about to bring life into the world according to God’s design?

Such then is the way of God. Such is the experience of God’s people Israel. “O Lord, oppressed by your punishment, we cried out in anguish under your chastising. As a women about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pains, so were we in your presence, O Lord.” (Is 26:16-17). This was not a cry of despair; rather, it was a cry of hope. It was looking forward to the redemption that suffering would bring.
What then is our proper response to affliction and suffering? In this, we also consider what the wrong responses would be.

It would be wrong to dislike such suffering. If affliction is discipline, if suffering purifies and makes holy, then we must desire it and even rejoice in it. Such is so different from the normal human responses. We avoid pain, we dislike suffering, we pray that we might not be afflicted.[4] In fact, the world has gone further, looking to comfort, convenience, pleasures. Is it any wonder that the world is in such a sorry mess?!

Further, it would be wrong to lose heart when we suffer. It would be easy enough, especially in times of great affliction. Job cursed his day and wished that he had just died at childbirth (Job 3:11). But we must not lose heart because God is just allowing us to undergo a process. We must understand, as we have already seen, that pain is just a necessary element of the process of purification. God is testing our faithfulness. Are we there for Him only because we receive good things? How about when we are afflicted; can we still trust? We must believe that our suffering is redemptive, and simply continue to run the race.

As such, the proper response is to embrace the cross and rejoice in our suffering for the sake of righteousness.
Suffering, just like the God we serve, is a great mystery. This is why we need to know that God is just and righteous. This helps us to accept God for who He is and for whatever He does. We need no longer ask Him to explain or to justify His actions. We simply remain in awe of His omnipotence and great power. He indeed is the Almighty!

Further, seeing His great majesty and our nothingness, tempered by suffering, humbles us. With affliction we are laid low. When we know our rightful place before God, then that is when He lifts us up, and raises us even to the heights.

Still further, we trust that in the end, just like Job, we will be blessed tremendously. Not necessarily in this life, but certainly in the afterlife. This hope enables us to enter into unquestioning acceptance of God as God, which is precisely the right posture of awe. Such trust in God is deepened and strengthened by our suffering. 
Elihu had it right when he talked about redemptive suffering and getting to know who God is and how He works. He affirmed that God “saves the unfortunate through their affliction, and instructs them through distress.” (Job 36:15).

In the end, Job was properly instructed by God. In the end, after his terrible suffering, Job was restored by God and blessed twofold. Job now fully appreciated the mystery of redemptive suffering.
*     *     *

[1] We of course could never be perfectly holy as the Father, for we are not God.
[2] His suffering was such that Job wanted God to take his life.
[3] One might say it is original sin, the sin of Adam and Eve that we inherit. This is what God said to the woman: “I will intensify the pangs of your childbearing; in pain shall you bring forth children.” (Gen 3:16a).
[4] It is of course OK to pray for God’s protection, and even, as in the case of Jesus, that the cup would pass us by. What is not OK is a posture that looks to suffering and pain as undesirable or unhelpful or to be avoided at all costs.

(Part 9)
One of the main aspects of the book of Job is the reality of spiritual warfareSatan opposes what is of God, and desires to oppress those who are faithful to God.

It is a reality that “the whole world is under the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19b). Just look at how widespread and deeply-rooted the darkness and evil in the world are. And so it is that Satan came to God “from roaming the earth and patrolling it” (Job 1:7b,2:2b). He saw Job, who was “blameless and upright, fearing God and avoiding evil” (Job 1:8b). Such a one was a constant threat to Satan’s dominion of sin and evil. Job then became a target of his attack.
This spiritual warfare is basically between God and Satan. But we are enmeshed in the conflict, whether as forces on either side, or as innocent non-combatants. This war is raging in the heavens and on earth. It is a war for the hearts and souls of men.

Just as Satan’s intent is to oppose anything that is of God, God’s intent is to bring man back to Himself, and ultimately to bring Him to eternal life in heaven. In this, God will accomplish His purpose, using human instruments to do His will. As we respond to His call to be those instruments, then we automatically become enmeshed in spiritual warfare.

Now here is an important reality: God has already won the victory. Jesus broke the hold of Satan by the shedding of his blood on the cross. Jesus, the offspring of Mary, already struck a mortal blow to the head of the serpent (Gen 3:15). But in his death throes, Satan is even more dangerous, as he desperately rages to bring as many as he can to perdition. “But woe to you, earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you in great fury, for he knows he has but a short time.” (Rev 12:12b).
God is victorious, but at times we seem to be defeated by the enemy. We can already live a victorious Christian life, but there will be times when we will seemingly  wallow in defeat, oppression, affliction, hopelessness, helplessness, pain and suffering. This is part of the inscrutable ways of an Almighty God.

Why do such negative aspects of life happen?

First, just like in the case of Job, God does allow Satan to afflict us. But in doing so, God is still in control (Job 1:12,2:6). This is the same case with Jesus. God allowed His own Son to suffer and die. For what purpose? For the mystery of redemption.

Second, God does defend us, but allows us to be defeated, at least temporarily. This is His way of testing our perseverance and persistence, our endurance and doggedness. As we pass each test, God is able to field us into more intense areas of combat.
What is God’s goal in forming us? In spiritual warfare, God seeks unquestioning loyalty and obedience from His soldiers. God desires that we become pure instruments, to be used by Him as He wills, in any way and in every circumstance. God desires to purify us so that the very power of the Holy Spirit can be infused in us and used effectively to overcome the enemy.

As such, we have various virtues to learn and live out.

One, total surrender to God. Our lives belong to God. We must allow God to direct us in the way we are to go.

Two, faithfulness and obedience to our covenant. God has already shown us the way. We must live out our covenant to the fullest. What the Commander-in-Chief says, the army must follow.

Three, unquestioning loyalty  that accepts the sufferance of injustice in the world. We do not serve God because of what we can get out of it. We do not stop serving God when it seems we are being unjustly treated and there is no respite. We serve God simply because it is the right thing to do. When Job lost everything, he said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21). When next Satan smote him with severe boils all over his body, Job said, “We accept good things from God; and should we not accept evil?” (Job 2:10b).

Four, love for others, including human enemies. Our only enemy is Satan. Those humans who are enemies of God in the world are lost souls, whom we must desire to bring out of the dominion of Satan. 
 Because CFC-FFL is an evangelistic and missionary community, we are automatically engaged in spiritual warfare. The forces of the enemy are formidable, but we know we are on the winning side. “They will fight with the Lamb, but the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and king of kings, and those with him are called, chosen, and faithful.” (Rev 17:14).

We in CFC-FFL have been called and chosen. If we are also faithful, then we will fully share in the victory of our Lord. But victory is not the only thing we will share in. There too is seeming defeat, as when Jesus hung crucified on the cross, as when Job sat among the ashes with his great suffering.

Know this: when we are afflicted for serving God in this war, then we are on the right track. We are merely facing a formidable enemy, and reaping his deadly blows. 
Onward to victory, Christian soldiers!
(December 14, 2009)

(Part 8)

The authentic gospel is the gospel of the cross.

It is the gospel that says suffering is a prelude and even pre-condition to redemption. It points to the necessity of aGood Friday before an Easter Sunday. The good news of salvation in Jesus was achieved through his suffering and death on the cross. Jesus “emptied himself, .... he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7-8). And what is the result of Jesus’ sacrifice and suffering? “Because of this, God greatly exalted him ....” (Phil 2:9-11).

Now the Father sent His Son to the cross. In turn, the Son calls on us, all children of the Father, to also live the way of the cross. This is at the core of the call to discipleship. “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23). There are three essential aspects to discipleship: (1) self-denial; (2) embracing the cross; and (3) following in the footsteps of Jesus.
Denying self
Today, people, even many Christians, do not like to deny themselves. They look to comfort, convenience and pleasure. Life in the world is dominated by materialism, secularism and selfishness, and even hedonism.

Even Christian preachers, in their desire to keep and enlarge their flocks, have resorted to the so-called gospel of prosperity. Accept the Lord Jesus and you will see your dreams fulfilled, whether this is about wealth, miraculous healing, power and position, thriving in a foreign land, or whatever. Of course it is true that if we accept Jesus and live according to God’s ways we will be blessed. But the blessings are not how we define them. In fact, suffering will be part of God’s blessings. The gospel of prosperity is a false gospel.
Taking up the cross
Now we are called not only to deny ourselves, but to embrace the cross.

Many do not like the cross, much less embrace it. The whole goal for secular society is to evade the cross. People look to avoiding pain. The cross is “foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Cor 1:23b).

How different it is for the apostles and the saints of old, and to the very few saints in our day and age. The apostles took up the cross as their Master did. The apostles were those who were directly taught by Jesus, commissioned by him, and knew him intimately. Though it was hard for them to accept that the cross would be the instrument of salvation, and they actually abandoned Jesus when he was arrested, and later Peter and others went back to fishing, they ultimately lived the true gospel. And they died embracing the cross.

How did the apostles die?
  • Peter was crucified upside down on an x-shaped cross, as he told his executioners that he was unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus had died.
  • Andrew was crucified on an x-shaped cross in Patras, Greece.[1]
  • James, son of Zebedee, was beheaded at Jerusalem.[2]
  • John faced martyrdom when he was boiled in a huge basin of oil during a wave of persecution in Rome, but was miraculously delivered from death; he was later sentenced to the mines on the prison island of Patmos.[3]
  • Bartholomew (Nathaniel) was flayed to death by a whip due to his preaching in Armenia.
  • Matthew suffered martyrdom in Ethiopia, killed by the sword.
  • Thomas was stabbed with a spear in India during one of his missionary trips to establish the church in the sub-continent.
  • James[4] was thrown over a hundred feet down from the pinnacle of the temple, survived the fall, but was then beaten to death with a club.
  • Jude was killed with arrows when he refused to deny his faith in Christ.
  • Matthias[5] was stoned and then beheaded.
  • Paul[6] was tortured and then beheaded by Emperor Nero at Rome in A.D. 67.
  • Mark[7] was dragged by horses through the streets in Alexandria, Egypt, until he was dead.
  • Luke[8] was hanged in Greece as a result of his tremendous preaching to the lost.
 Throughout the history of the Church, many have been martyred for their faith in Jesus. They took up their crosses, even unto death.

Pope Benedict XVI, citing St Peter Damian, says, “One who does not love the cross of Christ does not love Christ.” Many Christians today will profess their love for Jesus. But the genuineness of their love will really be put to the test by his cross.

The cross is precisely the manifestation of God’s love for us (Jn 3:16). The cross is precisely the way to salvation. “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor 1:18). If we are to truly love Jesus, and if we are to truly experience salvation, then we must embrace the cross.
Following Jesus
As we deny ourselves and take up our cross, we are called to follow Jesus. This means we obey him and we model our lives on him.

We follow Jesus in many different ways.
  • We grow in holiness and righteousness (1 Pet 1:15-16).
  • We love one another (Jn 13:34-35).
  • We serve others and in doing so take the lowest place (Jn 13:14-15).
  • We proclaim the gospel of the kingdom through evangelization and mission (Mk 16:15; Mt 28:19).
  • We rejoice in the privilege of suffering for Christ (Heb 12:2).
  • We humble ourselves before the mighty hand of God (Phil 2:5; Mt 23:12; 1 Pet 5:5b-6).
  • We trust completely in God, who is just and righteous.
 When we follow Jesus, he will lead us all the way to the cross, and beyond.
The fruit of the cross
Job, though he was just and righteous, suffered severely. His path, imposed on him but accepted by him, was one of affliction, pain, suffering, rejection, ridicule, mockery, wretchedness, mourning, grief, abandonment. Hey, that looks very familiar. Yes, it is the very path Jesus took!

So was Job not blessed? Indeed he was! And after his suffering came restoration, or redemption. In fact, he was doubly blessed--materially, emotionally, and certainly spiritually.
What for us will be the blessings that come with embracing and living the cross of Christ
  • Puurification. Nothing purifies as being put in the fiery furnace of affliction.
  • Humility. We realize how we are nothing without God, and how our puny lives are totally dependent upon His mercy and grace.
  • Becoming closer to God. It is only in our hopelessness and helplessness that we truly turn to God, often because we have nowhere else to turn. It is only in our affliction that we truly learn the lessons God desires to teach us. In the cross of Christ is wisdom for our lives.
  • Resignation to God’s will. Our human flesh is prone to living according to our own ways, having our own preferences and priorities. Often these lead to death. The cross removes our pride and self-centeredness, and brings us to surrender to and acceptance of God’s will.
  • Trust in Jesus. The cross makes vivid for us what Jesus has done for us, in winning for us our salvation. If he does that out of love for us, even when we were sinners, then he is one we can fully trust in. We can confidently place our lives in his hands.
  • Preparation for greater things. God wants to use us as His instruments for the life of the world. Once purified and placed in the proper posture before Him, then God can and will use us in the power of His Spirit, to proclaim His glory throughout the earth.
Such is the gospel of the cross. Such is the very way of God in bringing us to salvation. 

God loved Job and so allowed his affliction. May we also be so loved by God.
(November 23, 2009)

[1] After being whipped severely by seven soldiers, they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. His followers reported that, when he was led toward the cross, he saluted it in these words: “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.” He continued to preach to his tormentors for two days until he expired.
[2] The Roman officer who guarded James watched amazed as James defended his faith at his trial. Later, the officer walked beside James to the place of execution. Overcome by conviction, he declared his new faith to the judge and knelt beside James to accept beheading as a Christian.
[3] John was later freed and returned to serve as Bishop of Edessa in modern Turkey. He died as an old man, the only apostle do die peacefully.
[4] The leader of the church in Jerusalem.
[5] Matthias was the apostle chosen to replace the traitor Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:26).
[6] Paul was called directly by the risen Jesus to be an apostle.
[7] Mark was not one of the twelve apostles, but is the John Mark who accompanied Paul and Barnabas on a missionary journey (Acts 12:25, 13:3), and was close to Peter (1 Pet 5:13).
[8] Luke was not one of the twelve apostles, but was the missionary companion of Paul.

(Part 7)
Lest you be misled by the title to this paper, there is no conflict or contradiction between justice and righteousness. On the contrary, the two words as found in the scriptures are often interchangeable.
Consider two different translations of the Bible:[1]
Job (from our theme verse)
New American Bible (NAB): “his great justice owes no one an accounting.” (37:23c)
Revised Standard Version (RSV): “and abundant righteousness he will not violate.”

Other places in Job
NAB: “How can a man be just in God’s sight” (25:4a)
RSV: “How then can man be righteous before God?”
NAB: “Is it of advantage to the Almighty if you are just?” (22:3a)
RSV: “Is it any pleasure to the Almighty if your are righteous”
NAB: “and your justice only a fellow human being.” (35:8)
RSV: “and your righteousness a son of man.”

NAB: “It is God who governs the world with justice” (Ps 9:9a)
RSV: “and he judges the world with righteousness” (Ps 9:8a).[2]
NAB: “You upheld my right and my cause, seated on your throne, judging justly.” (Ps 9:5).
RSV: “For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.” (Ps 9:4).
NAB: “Then my tongue shall recount your justice” (Ps 35:28a)
RSV: “Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness”
NAB: “Your justice is like the highest mountains” (Ps 36:7a)
RSV: “Your righteousness is like the mountains of God” (Ps 36:6a)
NAB: “You love justice and hate wrongdoing” (Ps 45:8a)
RSV: “you love righteousness and hate wickedness.” (Ps 45:7a)
NAB: “The heavens proclaim divine justice” (Ps 50:6a)
RSV: “The heavens declare his righteousness”
NAB: “In your justice rescue and deliver me” (Ps 71:2a)
RSV: “In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me”[3]
The prophets
NAB: “They will be called oaks of justice” (Is 61:3)
RSV: “that they may be called oaks of righteousness”
NAB: “This is the name they give him: ‘The Lord our justice.’” (Jer 23:6b)
RSV: “And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’”
NAB: “Justice is with the Lord, our God” (Bar 1:15a)
RSV: “Righteousness belongs to the Lord our God”
NAB: “Justice, O Lord, is on your side” (Dn 9:7a)
RSV: “To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness”
NAB: “Sow for yourselves justice” (Hos 10:12a)
RSV: “Sow for yourselves righteousness”
NAB: “and the fruit of justice into wormwood” (Am 6:12)
RSV: “and the fruit of righteousness into wormwood”
NAB: “Seek justice, seek humility” (Zep 2:3b)
RSV: “seek righteousness, seek humility”
NAB: “and I will be their God, with faithfulness and justice.” (Zec 8:8)
RSV: “and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.”
NAB: “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice” (Mal 3:20a)
RSV: “But for you who fear my name the sun of righteousness shall rise” (Mal 4:2a)[4]
New Testament[5]
NAB: “But if our wickedness provides proof of God’s righteousness, what can we say?” (Rom 3:5a).
RSV: “But if our wickedness serves to show the justice of God, what shall we say?”

NAB: “You have loved justice and hated wickedness” (Heb 1:9a)
RSV: “You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness”
 If one is just, then one acts righteously. If one is righteous, then one will act justly. The two words are thus at times used interchangeably.

However, there are differences in meaning. Righteousness is acting according to the ways of God. Justice is giving to the other person what is his due. That seems clear enough. But if one lives according to God’s ways, then one will give what is due to others. And if one gives what is due to others, then one is living according to God’s ways. Thus again, justice and righteousness intersect and become interchangeable.
Another way of looking at both words is connecting justice with law.[6] To be just then is to live in conformity with the law.[7] But God’s righteousness is connected with the law, that is, His law.[8] To be righteous, then, is to live in obedience to God’s law, that is, moral or divine law. It is to be free from sin and the guilt of sin.

Still another way of differentiating the two words is this: to be righteous is something that we are; to be just is something that we do. But still, if we are righteous, then we are expected to do just acts. And if we do just acts, then we are fulfilling the righteousness of God and thus are right with Him.
The Almighty! Just and righteous is He.
(November 21, 2009)

[1] The New American Bible and the Revised Standard Version (Second Catholic Edition) are two of the most preferred Catholic Bible translations.
[2] The RSV translation of the psalms is a verse number behind the NAB because it does not count the superscription as a verse. The superscription is from pre-Christian Jewish tradition. It may contain a quick description of the setting of the psalm (e.g., see Ps 3:1) or technical liturgical terms (e.g., Ps 9:1; this probably refers to the melodic accompaniment for the psalm).
[3] There are more examples in the psalms, but let these suffice.
[4] RSV has a chapter 4, which is part of chapter 3 for NAB.
[5] The New American Bible itself used “justice” in many parts of its original New Testament translation (1970), and then used “righteousness” in its revised translation (1986). We see this in very many instances. Just to name some: Rom 1:17, 3:21,25,26, 4:3,5,6,9,11,13,22, 6:13,16,18,19,20, 8:10, 9:30,31, 10:3,5,6, 14:17; 1 Cor 1:30; 2 Cor 9:9, 11:15; Gal 3:6,21; Eph 4:24, 5:9, 6:14; Phil 1:11, 3:6,9; Heb 7:2, 11:7, 12:11; Jas 1:20, 2:23, 3:18; 1 Pet 3:14; 2 Pet 3:13.
[6] This is the more common way the world understands justice.
[7] Human laws are however not always just. Thus we refer to them as “unjust laws.” Examples would be the legalization of abortion, or the law on hate crimes which penalizes those who speak against homosexuality.
[8] The Ten Commandments. Also, Jesus’ law of love.

(Part 6)
Our theme for 2010 is about the justice and righteousness of God. “The Almighty we cannot find him; he is great in power and justice, and abundant righteousness he will not violate.” (Job 37:23, RSV). “God’s power is so great that we cannot come near him; he is righteous and just in his dealings with us.” (Job 37:23, GNB).

Job, though just and righteous, suffered much. As such, the justice and righteousness of God came into question. Not that it is a question whether God is just and righteous,[1] because He is, but it is a question about where, in the situation of Job, do we see the justice and righteousness of God.
The discussions of Job’s three friends and Elihu with him kept going to the aspects of justice and righteousness. They saw Job’s severe suffering as a consequence of his being unjust and unrighteous, while Job maintained that he was just and righteous, and so could not understand why God would allow him to be severely afflicted.
  • “Reflect now, what innocent[2] person perishes? Since when are the upright[3] destroyed?” (Job 4:7)
  • “Can a man be righteous as against God? Can a mortal be blameless against his Maker?” (Job 4:17)
  • “What is a man that he should be blameless, one born of a woman that he should be righteous?” (Job 15:14)
  • “Is it of advantage to the Almighty if you are just? Or is it a gain to him if you make your ways perfect?” (Job 22:3)
  • “God delivers him who is innocent; you shall be delivered through cleanness of hands.” (Job 22:30)
  • “Should you be blameless[4] and upright, surely now he will awake for you and restore your rightful domain” (Job 8:5)
  • “How can a man be just in God’s sight, or how can any woman’s child be innocent[5]? (Job 25:4)
  • “If you remove all iniquity from your conduct, and let not injustice dwell in your tent, surely then you may lift up your face in innocence” (Job 11:14-15a)
  • “To show him what is right for him and bring the man back to justice” (Job 33:23b)
  • “Surely, God cannot act wickedly, the Almighty cannot violate justice.” (Job 34:12)
  • “Your wickedness can affect only a man like yourself; and your justice only a fellow human being.” (Job 35:8)
  • Upright men are astonished at this, and the innocent aroused against the wicked.” (Job 17:8)
  • “till I die I will not renounce my innocence. My justice I maintain and I will not relinquish it” (Job 27:5b-6a)
  • “Let my enemy be as the wicked and my adversary as the unjust!” (Job 27:7).
  • “I wore my honesty like a garment; justice was my robe and my turban.” (Job 29:14)
  • “Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!”
In the face of our many questions, in the face of continuing affliction and suffering of the just and righteous, in the face of prosperity of and lack of punishment for the unjust and unrighteous, in our brokenness in spirit, we can only exclaim: “The Almighty! Just and righteous is He.”
Before God finally spoke, Elihu spoke. God used Elihu as a sort of introducer of the main speaker. God used Elihu to express the reality of who He is and what our proper posture, in the face of our questions, is to be. “The Almighty! we cannot discover him, pre-eminent in power and judgment; his great justice owes no one an accounting.” (Job 37:23, NAB). Our posture is simply reverential fear and humility.

In turn, before Job had his final say, Bildad gave his third speech, the last discourse of all three friends of Job. Unlike all the other speeches before, it is very short. But it reflects Elihu’s “introduction” to the main and final speaker, God. It is reflective of the aspects of our theme for 2010.
First, God is great and we are simply to be in awe of Him. “Dominion and awesomeness are his who brings about harmony in his heavens. Is there any numbering of his troops? Yet to which of them does not his light extend? Behold, even the moon is not bright and the stars are not clear in his sight.” (Job 25:2-3,5). God is awesome in His majesty.

Second, we are thus to be humble and unquestioning in the face of God’s greatness. “How much less man, who is but a maggot, the son of man, who is only a worm?” (Job 25:6). If the perfect creation of God, the moon and the stars that shine forth in the heavens, are not bright in relation to God’s awesome brightness, then how much less are we, imperfect creatures that we are, in relation to God. We are nothing before a great and awesome God.

Third, we look to justice and righteousness. In regard to being just and righteous, we are not, but God is. “How can a man be just in God’s sight, or how can any woman’s child be innocent?” (Job 25:4).
Job was blameless and upright, who feared God and avoided evil (Job 1:1). But still, he was sinful, born in original sin. Even if he indeed was righteous, it was still nothing compared to the righteousness of God. God is perfect, we are not. John says: “If we say, ‘We are without sin,’ we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (1 Jn 1:8). 

Further, even if Job was just, it was nothing compared to the justice of God. Isaiah says: “all of us have become like unclean men, all our good deeds are like polluted rags” (Is 64:5a).
Let us recognize who we truly are, sinners in need of redemption. Despite this we are called to the perfection of God. Such redemption and holiness come through the fire of God’s purification, by means of affliction and suffering. Such is the way of the cross.

As we suffer and endure, let us look to God. And let us always exclaim: “the Almighty! Just and righteous is He.”
*     *     *

(November 19, 2009)

[1] Though indeed there in the world are those who, in the face of injustice and suffering, question the justice and righteousness of God.
[2] Innocence here refers to being just. “Let God weigh me in the scales of justice; thus will he know my innocence!” (Job 31:6).
[3] Upright = righteous.
[4] Blameless = just.
[5] Innocent in this instance refers to righteousness. A child is not yet in a position to be just or unjust. On the other hand, a child is conceived in original sin.

(Part 5)

Our theme for 2010 and its various elements are very much reflected in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and in the life of Mary. 
The Almighty!

Mary bursts out in a psalm of praise. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Lk 1:46,49a).
Job initially looked for answers from God. God answered, but only spoke of His omniscience and almighty power. Job accepts and is humbly content.

Mary also questioned the angel Gabriel. Gabriel spoke of the power of the Most High, for whom nothing is impossible. Mary accepted, acknowledging her being the Lord’s servant (handmaid).

We too are called to recognize and acknowledge the golden splendor and awesome power and majesty of God. This is our starting point in our knowing our rightful place in our relationship with Him. 
Call to reverential fear

“His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.” (Lk 1:50).
Elihu spoke last, before God finally speaks. Elihu means “My God is he.” He defends God’s justice and explains suffering. Job does not answer him, perhaps seeing the right in what he said. Elihu spoke of reverential fear: “At this my heart trembles and leaps out of its place, to hear his angry voice as it rumbles forth from his mouth!” (Job 37:1-2). “From the North the splendor comes, surrounding God’s awesome majesty!” (Job 37:22). 

Mary too was awed by the greatness of the Lord, by the Mighty One who does great things, by the One who shows might with His arm.

We too, in recognizing the Almighty God for who He is, should stand in awe and reverential fear before Him. Our very life and well-being are in His hands. We are totally dependent on Him. 
Righteous is He

“and holy is his name” (Lk 1:49b).
Elihu said: “far be it from God to do wickedness; far from the Almighty to do wrong! .... Surely, God cannot act wickedly” (Job 34:10b,12a).

Mary was told of the holiness of the Triune God. “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:35). Mary could only exult: “holy is his name.”

Job was blameless and upright. Mary was conceived without sin and was the holy mother of God. We too are called to be holy. Peter tells us: “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.” (1 Pet 1:15-16).
Just is He

“He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.” (Lk 1:52-53).
Elihu said: “the Almighty cannot violate justice. .... He withholds not the just man’s rights, but grants vindication to the oppressed.” (Job 34:12b,36:6).

Mary speaks of the reversal of human fortunes, of the lowly being singled out for God’s favor. This is God’s justice, when people receive what is their due. The hungry will be satisfied and those who weep will laugh (Lk 6:21), while those (the unjust rich and powerful) who are filled now will be hungry and those who laugh now will grieve and weep (Lk 6:25).

Job asked God to weigh him in the scales of justice, confident that he would be innocent, and proceeded to cite his just acts (Job 31:6-34). We too are called to act justly, giving to everyone what is their due. In being just, we will experience the justice of God. “Do me justice, O Lord, because I am just.” (Ps 7:9).
Call to humility

“For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness” (Lk 1:48a). “He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.” (Lk 1:51).
Job is humbled by his suffering and by the unjust rebukes of his friends. He is further humbled by God’s response to his seeking answers from Him. He realizes his place in the face of the Almighty God.

Mary humbly says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). She realizes her place as a humble instrument of the Most High God.

We too are called to humble ourselves. Our personal attitude must be that of Jesus (Phil 2:5), who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, ... he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7-8). Peter instructs us: “clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘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.” (1 Pet 5:5b-6).
Redemptive suffering

“and you yourself a sword will pierce” (Lk 2:35a). “my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (Lk 1:47).
Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and avoided evil (Job 1:1). He was innocent. But he nonetheless suffered terribly. Then God redeemed him from his affliction and restored him.

Mary, just like any mother (or father), suffered terribly when her Son suffered. Jesus was thought to be crazy by his relatives, was betrayed by Judas, was abandoned by his apostles, was demeaned by the people, was tortured, and finally suffered an excruciating death on the cross. Mary was there, right up to the foot of the cross, until Jesus died. But Jesus’ death, and subsequent resurrection, resulted in our salvation. Mary herself, for her unique role, is our co-redemptrix.

We too are called to redemptive suffering, which is the way of the cross, which is the way of a disciple of Christ. In the world there will be affliction, such that we experience pain and suffering. But such are intended by God to purify us and to draw us closer to Himself. Suffering spurs us on to greater holiness.
Blessings in the end

“behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” (Lk 1:48b).
In the end, Job is restored to health and wealth, and is blessed double what he had before.

In the end, Mary is enthroned as Queen of heaven and earth.

In the end, we too will be blessed and rewarded. We will be with God forever in heaven, with Jesus our Master and Mary our mother. Job will be there too.
*     *     *

(Part 4)

We might look upon our life and mission in CFC-FFL as divided into several periods, as follows: the first 20 years, then the next 5 years, and finally the next five years, which period we presently are in.

CFC started in 1981, and in the next 20 years (1981 to 2001) grew rapidly and massively. By 2001 we were present in over 90 countries throughout the world, and our membership grew to 1.2 million persons. This was the peak of our membership.

Then came the next 5 years (2001 to 2006), which period was a mixture of continuing blessings but already the start of decline. Through the years, from the very start, we had been experiencing the attacks of the enemy, as is expected whenever we do God’s work. But in this period, the enemy began to succeed in infiltrating CFC and causing it to decline. The veering away was significant in this period, as the leaders of the work with the poor we had embraced began to marginalize Christ, whom we intended to be at the center of our social work. From our peak of 1.2 million members in 2001, the membership started to decline, consistently for each and every succeeding year. By the end of 2006, our membership had declined to 900,000 listed members (those actually active would be less).

But it was not all negative. During this period, in 2005, we also received our permanent recognition from the Holy See. Further, as we joyfully celebrated our 25th anniversary in June 2006, the prophetic word, given over a decade ago, that we would be in 153 countries by our 25th year was fulfilled, exactly on the last day.
Finally we have the next 5 years, from 2006 to 2011. This is a time of intense spiritual warfare, as the enemy who had succeeded in infiltrating CFC continues to try to destroy it completely, while God who had His original plan for CFC acts to preserve and restore His work.[1]

From 2001, the crisis in CFC had been building up. In the latter part of 2006, right after the celebration of our 25th year, the crisis was reaching boiling point and set to explode. This happened the next year, in 2007. The crisis deepened and finally resulted in a split within CFC.

Our people had not responded to the final warning of God, as He brought us to  the book of Lamentations in 2007. Lamentations was the story of God’s people Israel, whom he raised from captives in Egypt and made a great nation, but who were eventually destroyed by their enemies. In giving us our theme from the book of Lamentations, God was warning us, that the same thing as what happened to Israel could happen to us, if we persisted in our infidelities. If we had learned the lessons of lamentations and turned away from our infidelities, the Lord would have blessed us, reversing the continuing slide and moving us on to greater heights in His work.

But it was not to be. The seeds of destruction, already having taken root, sprouted.  The crisis resulted in a split. But God would not be thwarted, so long as there were those who remained faithful to Him and to His call. So out of the split God raised a remnant, who would restore the authentic charism of CFC and would be faithful to its original call. That true CFC is CFC-FFL.
We are now still in this period (2006 to 2011) of intense spiritual warfare. The enemy has not given up on trying to completely destroy CFC, continuing to use its very leaders  (under the IC) who unceasingly attack and try to destroy the holy remnant. As of this writing, another major split has happened within the other CFC, and members in large numbers continue to be lost.

Now God has given us (CFC-FFL) our theme for 2010 from the book of Job. This points us to continuing suffering, even in, or perhaps precisely because of, our righteousness and conformity to God’s will and call. We have much we need to learn. Even as we continue to learn the lessons of Lamentations, we now need to take up the lessons of Job. Eternal lessons are learned and truly internalized only through the furnace of affliction. 2010 will be a time of great blessing, even as we are, or precisely because we will be, afflicted. God has much to teach us, as He again prepares us to be used as His instruments for the life of the world. God would not want another crisis to happen, as His own people failed Him and became the enemy within.

So 2010 will be a time of intense purification and formation. With accompanying pains and crosses, it will be a blessed time.
God teaches us the privilege of suffering for the sake of righteousness, including suffering injustice. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.” (Lk 6:22-23).

In 2007, God raised what He intended to be a holy remnant. “But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord” (Zep 3:12). The remnant is to be holy. “They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue; they shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.” (Zep 3:13). Since the leaders of CFC (that is, the IC) had precisely resorted to telling lies about us, and since they had failed in their responsibility to care for the flock, causing their dispersal, God wants the remnant to never again fall into these same sins.

Further, God wants a remnant that is humble and lowly. Given that He will raise us to great heights again, as He already did before, then we need to be able to handle that without degenerating into sinful pride. Thus God brings us to the book of Job. Even as we will be righteous and blameless, we need to have an even deeper spirituality. God will allow us to be afflicted further. But out of that we should emerge as a people truly humbled and revering Him as God the Almighty. We would be a people who would be steadfast in every situation, whether up or down, looking only to the God who is just and righteous.

Our greatest sins as CFC are unfaithfulness and pride. Unfaithfulness is veering away from our call and not living out our covenant. Pride happens when we look to the great things God will do through us and begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Through affliction, God tests our fidelity. Through affliction, God humbles us. Though afflicted, may we still, like Job, bless God (Job 1:21,2:8-10). Though afflicted, may we remain in awe and fear of God, without whom we are nothing and can do nothing.
God has great plans for CFC, as He has had from all eternity. In our first 20 years we have already seen how God can act and bring His people to great heights. But as has been the case throughout history for many religious groups and movements, we too have failed God.

But God persists. Because God has already chosen to do His work through sinful people such as us. For the work of this third millennium God has raised new ecclesial movements, one of which is CFC. Though we have proven unfaithful, God persists.  God still intends to use CFC, if only we will be faithful and true. Thus God has brought good out of evil, and restoration out of the crisis and split. God has raised the remnant that is CFC-FFL, the authentic CFC.

Let us continue to learn the lessons of Lamentations. Let us begin to learn the lessons of Job. Then we will be in the right place that God intends for us to be. Then we will be truly blessed, as God uses us to be a blessing to many others.
*     *     * 

[1] God is still in control, but allows the good and the bad. “For he scourges and then has mercy; he casts down to the depths of the netherworld, and he brings up from the great abyss.” (Tb 13:2)

(Part 3)
CFC celebrated its silver anniversary in the year 2006. In that year, the crisis that had been brewing for the past few years would emerge strongly and result in the split of 2007. In all these years, God was speaking to us through the themes He gave us. God wanted to guide us and ensure that we would go on the right track. When we were unable to properly discern His direction, we suffered the consequences.

As we face the year 2010, with God having given us a challenging theme from a challenging book of the Bible, it is again imperative that we properly discern what He is saying to us. In order to be able to do that, we review the themes since 2006, and see how interconnected they are, giving us a stream that then leads us into our life and mission for 2010.
In 2006, God gave us the theme “Showing His Power and Majesty,” from Tobit 13:6. As we were celebrating 25 years, a milestone, we naturally gratefully focused on what God had done in and through CFC. God had blessed our work of evangelization and mission, bringing us to 153 countries, exactly on the day of our 25th anniversary, in accordance with His prophetic word given over a decade previously that CFC would be in 153 countries by the end of its 25th year. So we rightfully celebrated 25 years of glory.

But there was more that God was telling us. We did not adequately consider the full line of the verse given, which read: “In the land of my exile I praise him, and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation.” (Tb 13:6c). God indeed showed His power and majesty through CFC, but just like Israel, where the very instrument of His work had become a sinful nation, CFC had started to veer away. CFC had started to sin.

Aside from leading us to rejoice in our 25 years of work, God was warning us as well. The verse continues: “Turn back, you sinners! do the right before him; perhaps he may look with favor upon you and show you mercy.” (Tb 13:6d). God was calling us to turn back from our sinful ways.

With that was God’s assurance, still a part of the same verse: “When you turn back to him with all your heart, to do what is right before him, then he will turn back to you, and no longer hide his face from you.” (Tb 13:6a).

The anniversary year 2006 was a call not just to celebration, but also to repentance. The year should have been characterized by both joy for blessings and sorrow for sin. Given the proper posture of turning back to God, then indeed we would have had great cause for celebration, not just for 25 years, but for what more was to come. “So now consider what he has done for you, and praise him with full voice. Bless the Lord of righteousness, and exalt the King of the ages.” (Tb 13:6b).

We did celebrate, but we did not repent and turn back from our veering away.
For 2007, God gave us the theme “Hope in the Lord” from Lamentations 3:24. It was curious for us that God took the theme from the book of Lamentations, when hope is to be found in many parts of the Bible. We wondered a bit, but we did not know at the start the startling depth of God’s message. 

Since we did not heed what God was telling us in 2006, He now gave a stronger message. God was warning us of impending doom if we did not turn back from our sinful ways.

The story of Lamentations is the story of God’s people Israel. God had taken a slave people from Egypt, entered into covenant with them in the desert, allowed them to take possession of the promised land, and built them up into a mighty kingdom. However, Israel would, even right after the exodus from Egypt, turn away many times from God, be unfaithful to their covenant, rebel or turn to idolatry. God was very patient with Israel. But finally, because He is a God not only of mercy but also of justice, God left Israel to suffer the consequences of her veering away. Israel was defeated by the Assyrians, then the Babylonians. In this second invasion by Babylon, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. The Israelites lost everything their lives, their sovereignty, their freedom, their future, even the temple where God resided. The writer of the book of Lamentations expressed the collective despair and hopelessness of Israel. They had lost everything.

The story of Israel is the story of CFC. God brought us out of our slavery to sin and the enemy, entered into covenant with us, used us as His instruments to proclaim the very salvation in Jesus, and build us up into a big community that had renown throughout the whole world. But God was giving us a clear warning. Unless we repent and turn away from our sinful ways, then we would suffer the same fate as Israel. We would lose it all. God in His love and mercy did not want that to happen. And so God brought us to the book of Lamentations.
In the midst of what had happened to Israel, still there was hope. The writer recalled to mind his reason for hope: “The favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning, so great is his faithfulness.” (Lam 3:22-23). This then led to our theme verse: “My portion is the Lord, says my soul, therefore will I hope in him.” (Lam 3:24).

We were supposed to learn the lessons of Lamentations, of what happened to God’s people Israel. If we did, and we turned back to God, then God would have blessed us, even more tremendously.

Unfortunately we did not learn the lessons of Lamentations. There were elders who did not understand what God was telling us, and those who simply did not accept, and still others who persisted in doing the very things that God was warning us about. The veering away continued and even intensified.

The result was disastrous: the crisis deepened, and CFC split.
For those of us who could see what was truly happening, we clung on to the theme message of hope. Though the split was painful and devastating, all was not lost.

God had wanted the whole CFC to step back from the brink, be restored, and continue to be blessed. But it was not to be. However, God’s love for CFC, and His purpose in raising CFC in the first place, continue. God will not be thwarted by the enemy in accomplishing His plan. And so God raised a remnant, which is CFC-FFL.

Even before the split, we had been working to restore CFC to what God intended for it to be. We started the restoration movement within CFC, to renew CFC from the inside and bring it back to its authentic charism. However, it was not to be. But with the split, now we could work for restoration, without being held back.

And so our constant prayer became this: “Lead us back to you, O Lord, that we may be restored: give us anew such days as we had of old.” (Lam 5:21). We simply hoped in the Lord.
But in the meantime, we were experiencing the chastisement of God. “For now you have indeed rejected us, and in full measure turned your wrath against us.” (Lam 5:22).
Our lamentations continued. “The joy of our hearts has ceased, our dance has turned into mourning” (Lam 5:15).

But since God had raised a remnant, and we were striving to restore the authentic charism of CFC, then God was already at work. And so God brought us to our theme “Joy in Christ” for 2008. Because we were starting to get back on track, because God allowed the emergence of a remnant, because He could once again have a people who would be faithful to Him, then God was starting to look once again with favor on us. For that we could truly rejoice.

Interestingly, while our theme was our “Joy in Christ,” that is not actually what the theme verse says. What the verse says is this: “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you” (Zep 3:17). It is God rejoicing in us! And it is only because of that that we ourselves rejoice.

Why will God rejoice? This has to do with His purpose in raising CFC. God had sent His own Son Jesus into the world to win salvation for mankind. Jesus did so on the cross. But God now depends on Jesus’ disciples to bring that salvation to the ends of the earth. So God raises individuals and groups to do this, sending them off with the Great Commission. One such group was CFC.

When we in CFC responded to the call, God greatly blessed us. He indeed will bless those whom He calls who respond, for this is His very own purpose and plan for the world. But when we veered away, when we had our infidelities, then God was grieved. God grieved not just for us, but for the work that He intended which we would no longer be doing.

Now with the raising of a remnant, the plan of God was back on track. And for that, God rejoiced.
In this year, through the book of the prophet Zephaniah, God promised restoration. “I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace. At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; …. when I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the Lord.” (Zep 3:18b,20). With restoration would  return our anointing and empowerment, according  to God’s own purpose. Our work of worldwide evangelization and mission would proceed, as God had already decided from all eternity. “For I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth.” (Zep 3:20b).

This indeed was cause for great joy.
God has raised a remnant in CFC-FFL. “But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord” (Zep 3:12). It is important that we be humble and lowly, knowing our sinfulness and our nothingness apart from God, fully committed to His forming and using us, and always dependent on His great mercy.
The 2008 theme referred to “a mighty savior.” This now connects with our theme for 2009 from the book of theprophet Isaiah. “God indeed is my savior; I am confident and unafraid. My strength and my courage is the Lord, and he has been my savior.” (Is 12:2). Our theme for 2009 is “Trust in Jesus.”

The context of Isaiah 12 also intersects with what we have been given over these past years since 2006. First, God’s anger against us has abated. “Though you have been angry with me, your anger has abated, and you have consoled me.” (Is 12:1b). Because of this and because of our restoration, as we resume our work of proclaiming the salvation of God to the world, we rejoice. “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.” (Is 12:3a). We look to resuming our worldwide work. “Give thanks to the Lord, acclaim his name; among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. Sing praise to the Lord for his glorious achievement; let this be known throughout all the earth.” (Is 12:4-5).

We move forward with confidence, not being afraid, despite the trials and tribulations that await us. We proclaim Christ, who is our strength and our courage. We proclaim the salvation Jesus won on the cross, which is that great sign of His divine mercy.
Now we go to our theme for 2010. It is taken from the book of Job. Already having experienced how the 2007 theme from the book of Lamentations was so intimately connected with the story of Israel in her lamentations, the story of Job can be quite intimidating and can become a cause for great concern. This is why this year we have been prepared to simply trust in Jesus.

What lies in store for CFC-FFL in 2010?

For one thing, Lamentations ought to be a continuing posture. We continue to sin, and we continue to stray from God’snarrow path for us. Ongoing repentance is crucial. Full restoration to our authentic charism is to be sought after. 
For another, we must continue learning the lessons given in these past few years. The themes given from 2007 to 2009 will always be relevant.

In fact, we have gone full circle from 2006 to 2010, in looking to the majesty of God. In 2006 we spoke about God’s power and majesty. In 2010 we look to “God’s awesome majesty” (Job 37:22b). The Almighty!

In 2006 we looked at Tobit; in 2010 we look at Job. Both men were devout and wealthy Israelites. Both suffer severe reverses and misfortunes. Both were mocked by the people. Both were needled by their wives. Both were grief-stricken in spirit. Both desire to die due to their affliction. Both stories involve the intervention of the enemy the demon Asmodeus and Satan himself.

In the end, God triumphs! Both experience restoration, and both live to a ripe old age, happy and fulfilled.
What our themes between 2006 and 2010 taught us are enduring virtues that we will always need to have, as we live our lives in the Lord and do His mission. We must always have hope, joy and trust. These are the essential foundations for facing the difficulties and trials of life and mission.

Because God desires to use us in the power of His Spirit, God will continue to mold us. Such can only happen as we are purified through suffering, which is redemptive. Tobit suffered. Job suffered. We too will suffer, as we live our lives in righteousness and obedience to God.

In the end, all will work for our good. 

In seeming hopelessness we must always have hope in the Lord. In inevitable times of grief we must rejoice always in Christ. And in difficulties and challenges we must always trust in Jesus.

And whatever happens, we must always know that God is just and righteous.
The Almighty!
Just and righteous is He.

(October 22, 2009)

(Part 2)

In 2007, a very crucial year for CFC, a turning point in fact, our theme verse was taken from the book of Lamentations. Our theme was “Hope in the Lord.” Hope was what would get us through the crisis that was to come. But the Lord’s bringing us to the book of Lamentations was deliberate. God wanted to point us to what happened to His people Israel. We were being warned.

We were given the chance to turn back from our infidelities and veering away, thus possibly avoiding the painful split. But many, including the very top leaders, were not mindful, perhaps even dismissive, of the lessons to be learned. We reaped the painful consequences.

Now our theme for 2010 comes from the book of Job. Once again, the story of Job is very relevant to what God wants to tell us and teach us. Just like in the book of Lamentations, we look to the larger context of the book of Job.

The story of Job
Job was a just and righteous man, who was tremendously blessed by God. Then Satan challenged God, saying that Job was God-fearing only because he was so blessed. Satan asked to afflict Job, which God granted. First, Satan caused Job to lose all his material possessions and all his children. Job did not say anything disrespectful of God. Then Satan afflicted Job with severe boils all over his body. Job still said nothing sinful, though sorrow afflicted his soul.

Job was visited by 3 wise friends, who deeply commiserated with him. Then there was a series of exchanges (cycle of speeches) between Job and Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar. Job protests his innocence. His friends insist he is being punished for sin and should repent. Then young Elihu also speaks to Job.

Job asks to hear from God Himself. God answers, but not to explain His actions but referring to His omniscience and almighty power. Job accepts what God says, disowns what he himself has said, and repents.
Job is then blessed by God, and receives twice as much as he had before.

The turning points
Aside from the sufferings of our Lord Jesus, we would be hard put to find another person who suffered as much as Job. He lost everything, except his life. But that life was hardly worth living, as he had lost everything he held dear, and he was severely afflicted physically, spending his days just sitting among the ashes. His friends “saw how great was his suffering.” (Job 2:13b). Job longed for death.

But we know the ending. God restores Job and blesses him two-fold.

What were the transition points?

God only speaks after Elihu’s speeches (after our theme verse of Job 37:23). Our theme verse, speaking about who God truly is, is the first pivot point.
  • Between finite human wisdom and God’s infinite wisdom.
  • Between the great suffering of Job, and his impending restoration and two-fold blessings.
  • Between the just and righteous Job (Job 1:1), and the just and righteous God (Job 37:23).
  • Between fear of God that calls for a response, and fear of God that is unquestioning.
  • Between questioning suffering, and total embrace of suffering.
  • Between trusting in God in prosperity, and trusting in God in adversity.
 What evolves from that point on was no longer just a test of Job’s faithfulness, or the consequence of spiritual battle between Satan and God. It was no longer between Job and Satan. It was now all about God, and consequent to that, all about God and Job.

God revealed who He truly was. Job finally surrendered. Job’s reply to God is the next turning point, the pivot point that restores his blessings.
“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be hindered. I have dealt with great things that I do not understand; things too wonderful for me, which I cannot know. I had heard of you by word of mouth, but now my eye has seen you. Therefore I disown what I have said, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6, NAB).
The lessons of the book of Job

A prime lesson is simply the awesome majesty of God. This is something that Christians have lost.
  • God is no longer fully appreciated as the wondrous Creator and the great King of all kings. Christians are much more casual in His presence. Awe and reverential fear are no longer present.
  • Catholics walk casually into a Eucharistic celebration or a community worship assembly without appropriate respect and self-preparation.
  • People take their lives into their own hands, having lost the realization that it is God who has full control of our lives, and that apart from Him we are nothing.
The book of Job helps bring us back to our senses. We identify with Job as God speaks of His wisdom and power. God jabs us time and again.
  • “Where were you when I founded the earth?” (Job 38:4a).
  • “Have you ever in your lifetime commanded the morning and shown the dawn its place” (Job 38:12).
  • “Have you …. walked about in the depths of the abyss?” (Job 38:16).
  • “Do you know the ordinances of the heavens; can you put into effect their plan on the earth?” (Job 38:33).
  • “Have you an arm like that of God, or can you thunder with a voice like his?” (Job 40:9).
A second lesson is about redemptive suffering.

This is the suffering of Jesus. Jesus went through extreme suffering in order to redeem us. As those who follow him and as those who work to bring his salvation to the world, we too, like our Master, will suffer.

Paul rejoiced in such suffering. “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church” (Col 1:24). This is a great mystery, that we can participate in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of God’s people. 

Such suffering is redemptive. First, for ourselves, as we are purified and grow in the ways of God. Second, for others, as we expend ourselves and endure pain and hardships in order to proclaim the gospel. 

The way of Jesus is the way of the cross. The way of the cross is the way to glory and victory.
The third lesson proceeds from the first two. It is looking to the justice and righteousness of God.

If God is not who He is, then it is difficult for a pious and upright person to accept extreme suffering. But since God is indeed who He is, then redemptive suffering is to be endured, even embraced, because it is allowed and willed by an omnipotent and omniscient God who loves us and has a great plan for our lives. Our God is one who is righteous and just, and we can fully trust in Him.

God is righteous and wants our holiness, as we are made in His image and likeness. Such holiness is purified by suffering. The greater the suffering for the sake of righteousness, the greater the potential of moving on to the veryholiness of God.

God is just and is committed to give us what is our due, according to His eternal plan. God loves us as His beloved children, desires that we enjoy the bounty of His awesome creation, and wants to bring us home to heaven, the new paradise, with Him forever. But this happens on His terms, not ours. This is the problem with God’s people in the world. They are living their lives and even serving God on their own terms. So many times they are the very obstacles to their own spiritual well-being.

The book of Job teaches us to let God be God, and to trust fully in His justice and righteousness. God will never fail us.
“The Almighty!
Just and righteous is He.”
(Sept 25, 2009)

(Part 1)
Our theme verse for 2010 is from Job 37:23. Due to the complexity of this verse, I herewith cite 3 versions.
“The Almighty we cannot find him; he is great in power and justice, and abundant righteousness he will not violate.” (Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition)
“God’s power is so great that we cannot come near him; he is righteous and just in his dealings with us.” (Good News Bible)
“The Almighty! We cannot discover him, pre-eminent in power and judgment; his great justice owes no one an accounting.” (New American Bible)
Our theme for 2010 is:
“The Almighty!
Just and righteous is He.”
Looking to the Triune God and the divine family

From the very start, CFC has been a Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-empowered renewal movement.

We are “for Christ.” Our life has been centered on Jesus, our formation programs have focused on Jesus, and we have walked in the way of Jesus. Jesus the Savior is the foundation and basic message of our work, and we go forth into the world as called and commissioned by him. 

We also have a charismatic spirituality. Charism is about the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live the life of Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit who enables us to become true witnesses to the ends of the earth. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the spiritual gifts that we need in order to build community and to do mission. Thus we are families in the Holy Spirit that will be God’s instruments to renew the face of the earth.

Further, in 2007 we consecrated ourselves to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the mother of Jesus (God) and the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

For 2010 we look to God the Father. With God the Father we now are able to look to the fullness of the Triune God (Father, Son and Spirit) and the divine family (Trinity and Mary).
The Almighty and Omnipotent God
How do we describe God? How do we speak of Him?

“Out of the north comes golden splendor; God is clothed with awesome majesty.” (Job 37:22, RSV). The north is a symbol for God’s mysterious abode. God dwells in the heavens above and on high.

How do we describe our God? Golden splendor! Awesome majesty! Omnipotent and Almighty! We can say all the superlatives and we would fall short in doing justice to describing who God is. In the end, we can only exclaim: “The Almighty!”

We cannot find Him. We cannot discover Him. We cannot come near Him. No matter how wise we are. His ways and thoughts are vastly different from ours (Is 55:8-9). He is the holy God. He is great in power and justice and righteousness (Job 37:23).

We do see the Father in Jesus, and we do experience God by and through the Holy Spirit. But the Father Himself and His ways remain mysterious and inscrutable.

  • He created the whole universe out of love for us and to share His greatness with us.
  • He chose and loved a people, even through their unfaithfulness and even rebellion.
  • He sent His own Son to suffer and die for us.
  • He allows great suffering in the lives of those He loves, but is in control and will grant victory in the end.
Our response
How then do we relate to such a God? When then is our appropriate response?
“Therefore men fear him; he does not regard any who are wise in their own conceit.” (Job 37:24, RSV). Our proper posture is awe of God and humility before Him. Awe and humility are proper postures for feeble creatures before their majestic Creator.

As we have said, we do not really know God, and He is beyond our grasp. But “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Prov 1:7a). Such “fear of the Lord” is reverential fear and respect for God on account of His sovereignty and majesty. We are nothing before Him. Every good thing we have is from Him.

Though we are nothing, to God we are everything. He loves us, blesses us, raises us up. The Father sacrificed His own Son for us. We must be in awe of such a God. And we must be humbled by such a privilege.

Life in the world
Now the Father created the whole universe, a reflection of His beauty and perfection. He created us in His own image and likeness. But due to sin, imperfection came into the  world. Thus we live in a world of darkness and sin. Thus we reap the consequences of sin, in a life filled with hardship and suffering.
Why does God allow such suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people? How do we reconcile a God of love, who has absolute power over the universe, with such pain and suffering?

Suffering of course is the very way God chose for His Son Jesus. That is the mystery of the cross. God loves His Son, and God loves us His children. Just as He allowed Jesus to suffer, so He allows us. Such suffering is redemptive. Gold is purified through fire. In His love for us and in His inscrutable wisdom, God is always working in us to accomplish His very plan and purpose. Thus such suffering is cause not for lamentations but for joy.

Just and righteous is He
Awe and humility allow us to fully accept God’s will in our lives even as we cannot understand fully His ways. He is Father and He knows best. Our human wisdom is what gets us into trouble. We desire to have our own way, oftentimes contrary to the ways of God. Thus we ourselves stand in the way of God accomplishing His will for our lives.

What we are called to is unquestioning obedience to God. We are called to die to self, manifested in total detachment, total selflessness, and self-sacrificial love. Now that is very difficult. In fact, on our own, it is impossible. But Jesus has shown us the way. And the Holy Spirit empowers us.

We just need to rest assured that God is a God of justice and righteousness. God gives to everyone what is his due, and as a beloved child of God, we can have it all, even as the path is tortuous and painful. God upholds righteousness, being a holy God, and desires that His children be holy as well. In justice we receive what is our due; in righteousness we become what God intended from the very beginning.

We are truly blessed. We can only exclaim: “The Almighty! Just and righteous is He.”
*     *     *
Note: please begin to read and prayerfully reflect on the book of Job. You should finish reading, and re-reading, the whole book by the end of this year, so that you may be better prepared to understand, and live out, God’s message for next year.
(Sept 23, 2009) 

(Part 7)
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
….. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy,
the Son of God.”
(Luke 1:31a,35b)
January 1, 2010
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
Mary is the mother of God.

Now some Christians have a problem with that. They say Mary is the mother of Jesus but not the mother of God. Well to me it is simple logic. Mary is the mother of Jesus, Jesus is God, and so Mary is the mother of God. A = B, B = C, ergo A = C.

Some say that Jesus had two natures, the human and the divine. That’s right. But they say Mary is the mother of Jesus in his human nature but not in his divine nature. That’s wrong. One is a mother of a person, not of a person’s nature. Jesus is one person, albeit with two natures. Jesus was fully human and fully divine. He is true God and true man. So Mary is the mother of Jesus, one who is fully divine. And so she is the mother of God.
Paul affirms the divine sonship according to the divine plan. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). God sent His Son! And God caused His Son to be born of Mary. A child is born of a mother. It just so happens that this child is the very Son of God. This is a great mystery, something humanly impossible. But nothing is impossible with God.

Isaiah prophesied this birth, when God gave a sign to Ahaz: “the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.” (Is 7:14). To this Matthew added the meaning of Emmanuel, and that is “God is with us.” (Mt 1:23). Thevirgin Mary did bear a Son, and that Son is God who is with us.

John affirmed the birth of the Son. “And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn 1:14).

Elizabeth also acknowledged her cousin Mary as the mother of God. When Mary visited her, Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:41), cried out in a loud voice, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43). The Spirit enabled her to know the truth being revealed to her. Lord is Adonai, which translates to “Lord God.”
And so Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is “Son of the Most High” (Lk 1:32) and the “Son of God” (Lk 1:35b). “Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.” (Mt 1:16b). Jesus is God, and so Mary, who is the mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God.
(Note: This article is taken from the book “40 More Days with Mary,” Day 3, pages 19-20. You are encouraged to read or re-read this book.)

(Part 6)
“Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
(Luke 1:28)
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
December 8, 2009
The angel Gabriel greeted Mary, “Hail, favored one!” (Lk 1:28a). Other translations render this as “Hail, full of grace!”[1]The angel did not greet her as “Mary” but as “full of grace.” In effect, this was her name. In Semitic usage, the name given to a person signified that person’s calling in life. For example, her Son would be named “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt 1:21b). And he would be named “Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” (Mt 1:23b).

What then did this naming mean? It meant that Mary was not only unstained by original sin, but that she was the embodiment of perfect holiness. Grace is the free gift of God Himself. Grace is the means by which one participates in the very life of God. Being filled with grace meant that Mary was favored by God, that she was immersed in His love, that God was profoundly present in her life, that she could live her life in outstanding holiness, and that God intended to use her mightily for His purposes.
God had acted in mighty ways before, as He used individuals for His purposes. God called Gideon to save His people from the Midianites. The angel appeared to Gideon saying, “The Lord is with you, O champion!” (Jgs 6:12). Gideon went on, with just 300 soldiers, to defeat the Midianites, Amalekites and Kedemites who were as numerous as locusts (Jgs 7:12).

God used a pious widow, Judith, to cause the defeat of the mighty Assyrian army and thus save God’s people Israel. Uzziahsaid to Judith, “Blessed are you, daughter, by the Most High God, above all the women on earth; and blessed be the Lord God” (Jdt 13:18).

But none of these can compare with how God acted in the life of Mary. Now God was about an even mightier work, that of bringing salvation to all the earth. For this purpose He would send His very own Son. And for that, He would choose a lowly woman in Israel as His instrument.

And so the angel Gabriel made the proclamation. The Lord was with Mary. The Lord would use her mightily. She was the highly favored one. She was filled with grace.
The fullness of grace was displayed in Mary’s virtues, which allowed her to respond with her yes to God, and to truly be prepared to be used mightily by Him.

First, she had the grace of humility. She had submitted her life to God, and accepted that her life was no longer her own, but God’s to do with as He pleased. Even as the angel Gabriel’s words greatly troubled her, she took to heart what he said with openness and surrender.

Second, she had the grace of faith. She knew God could accomplish anything, even the humanly impossible. She knew that God had only her good at heart, and she fully trusted that God’s plan for her life was the best there could ever be.

Third, she had the grace of obedience. She was the Lord’s handmaid, and she was open to anything God wanted to do in her life. All God had to do was to say the word and she would obey. Even today Mary stands out as the prime example of true discipleship.
Grace is necessary for one to be pure and holy. Mary was fully graced. Thus she is holy Mary.

Mary was pure and holy because she was destined to be the mother of God. Jesus, the Word made flesh, was “full of grace” (Jn 1:14). By God’s design, as the bearer of the holy One, Mary too was made full of grace.
*     *     *
(This article is taken from the book Forty More Days with Mary)

[1] Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.

(Part 5)

September 8, 2009
Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Our life and mission is all about evangelization and family renewal. In this, our Mother Mary plays a very important part.

Our salvation was won for us by Jesus. But people experience this salvation through the work of men (Rom 10:13-15). This is the work of evangelization. In this work of salvation, the family is crucial. As Pope John Paul II has said, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.”

Thus, according to the plan of God, salvation is linked with the family. And, as we shall see, both salvation and family are linked with Mary.
Salvation, family and Mary
First, salvation is the work of a Savior. The Savior is Jesus. But how did Jesus come into the world, to be able to do his work? He was born of Mary! The Savior of the world spent nine months in the womb of Mary! If it were up to us, once God had decided on saving the world, it should have been done with great urgency, as people were dying in their sins. But God chose to have His Son in the womb of Mary. That says something very important about motherhood and family, and the place of Mary in salvation history.
Second, salvation is the work of the Trinity. The Father is the Creator, and according to His eternal plan, He wanted His creatures to be with Him eternally in paradise. But paradise was lost. However, God’s plan does not change. He created out of love, He desires us to still experience that love, and so He sends His own Son out of love.

His Son Jesus then is the Redeemer. He is the one who wins for us our salvation on the cross.

Now the Holy Spirit is the Sanctifier. He enables us to be God’s instruments of bringing salvation to the whole world. He is the one who grants us grace to be holy, so that we can be effective witnesses. He is the one who builds us up as Church, the very body of Christ on earth. He is the one who sends, guides, anoints and empowers us for mission.

Now the Trinity is a family. There is the Father and there is the Son. In turn, the Holy Spirit is the love that binds Father and Son together. Without love, we would just be blood relatives living in a common structure, but we would not have a family and a home. Thus the Trinity is a family, with the essential binding characteristic of love. The Trinity in fact is our model for Christian family living.

But for us humans, when we consider the family, we need another person, and that is the mother. That role belongs to Mary. She is the mother of Jesus. She is also the daughter of the Father and the spouse of the Spirit. Mary in relation to the Trinity is unique in that she is spouse, mother and child all at the same time. In effect, she reflects and manifests what is family. Then the Trinity plus Mary make up the divine family.
Third, life in the family, according to God’s plan, is the necessary preparation for evangelization. 

We do not read much about Jesus in the Bible before his public appearance. We have a record of his birth and then when he was twelve years old and lost in the temple. From then, Jesus spent his years in quiet obscurity together with his family, before starting out on his public ministry.

As he grew older, he lived an ordinary family life (if anything can be considered as ordinary for the Lord). He did his chores. He learned the trade of a carpenter. He learned the scriptures from his parents. He grew in godly virtues. He had human relationships. He learned about proper priorities. Jesus was formed by God through Joseph and Mary, and later, when Joseph had passed away, the task remained with Mary.

Again, since God had already decided and had actually already sent His Son to save us, we would have expected that Jesus would be about his task right away, or at least when he attained manhood. People continued to die in their sins, awaiting their salvation. But no, Jesus did not start his public ministry until he was 30 years old. Why? Again, God was stressing the importance of the family, and the essential role of the family in preparation for public ministry. 

The family is where we are formed. The family is where parents pass on the faith to their children. The family is the first place where we meet Jesus. It is the school where we learn Christian virtues, and grow in them. It is the place where we become secure in God’s love, manifested in the love of our parents, and become ready to bring that love to the world. It is where we grapple with the challenges of our changing circumstances in life, and learn how to cope in the Lord within an environment of love. It is the place where we learn unilateral, unconditional, self-sacrificial love.

Public ministry will greatly challenge us. It is our life in the family and our Christian home that will prepare us.
Fourth, the work of salvation necessarily involves us in spiritual warfare. The whole world is under the dominion of the evil one, and Jesus has defeated this enemy through the cross. When we evangelize, people can experience this salvation. Thus we are assaulting the dominion of the enemy. Thus those who evangelize are in the thick of the spiritual warfare that rages in the heavens and on earth.

Now this spiritual warfare is a family affair. It involves God. It involves Mary.

The Bible speaks about this spiritual warfare from the beginning and at the end. In the beginning, the devil assaulted God’s work by tempting Adam and Eve, causing the loss of paradise. In the end, we look at the final battle between good and evil, and await the final triumphant return of our Lord Jesus. Indeed, the whole Bible is about salvation history. In both beginning and end, Mary is there.

In the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, we read about how the original sin came about. Our first parents sinned. When our first parents fell, God put enmity between the serpent and the woman (Gen 3:15). In that scene the only woman was Eve. But we know that God was prophetically speaking about Mary, the new Eve. There would be enmity between her offspring and the devil’s. Jesus would strike a mortal blow to the head of the serpent.

Then in the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, we again see mother and Son and the devil. The woman clothed with the sun is Mary, and she gives birth to Jesus. The devil (now a dragon instead of a serpent) tries to devour the child but fails. War breaks out in heaven. The dragon pursues mother and child, and failing to destroy them, wages “war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” (Rev 12:17). Those are us Christians. Those are the evangelizers.

So spiritual warfare is a basic consequence of the work of evangelization, which is the work of salvation. In this, our mother Mary, her Son Jesus, and all of us who are children of Mary, are involved.
Fifth, we are children of God, but we know that our relationship with God as Father was cut due to original sin. Our relationship needed to be restored, which Jesus did. Before Jesus won salvation on the cross, he considered those who followed him as his disciples, and even as his friends. Jesus did talk about the Father, even teaching them to address God as Father, but they were not quite there yet in their restored relationship.

But on the cross, Jesus won for us our salvation, restoring us in our relationship with the Father. And having accomplished his work, having won for us our salvation, one of the final things Jesus did before he died was to entrust Mary and John to one another (Jn 19:26-27). He told Mary that John was her son, and he told John that Mary was his mother. And John took Mary into his home. John represents us. On the cross, Jesus restored our relationship to God as Father, and in doing so, he gave us our mother, Mary.

We have become God’s children, through the cross, through Mary. 
Our response
We are saved. In turn, we become God’s instruments for the salvation of others. How do we respond to God’s grace and God’s call?
First, we must become evangelizers. CFC-FFL is an evangelistic and missionary community. That is who we are. That is our basic calling. That is our reason for being. We evangelize in the normal day-to-day circumstances of our lives. Thus every member can and ought to be an evangelizer.

We must evangelize with a passion. This is our priority. This is all about souls. This is all about the very work of God, for which His very own Son gave his very own life. This is about not letting Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross be in vain for people who remain in darkness. This is about recognizing the great privilege given us by God to be instruments of His very work.

Our attitude and conviction must be that of Paul’s. “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16).
Second, we must look to the family. CFC-FFL does a work of family renewal. Our basic mission is to renew the family and to defend life. Our evangelization is grounded on the family.

So we strengthen our own families, then we evangelize other families. We form a network of families that support each other. CFC-FFL is a family of families.

Then we are set to evangelize the world, as Jesus has commissioned his disciples.
Third, we must be devoted to Mary. She is our model, our intercessor, our mediatrix. She is our mother. She bore the Savior and took care of him. She taught and modeled a life of grace to Jesus. She now sits as Queen of heaven and earth.

Like Mary, we must trust and not be afraid. Jesus is our savior and he is our strength and our courage (Is 12:2). Mary was pregnant out of wedlock, and such would have merited stoning to death. She was called to become the mother of God. She was greatly troubled. But she had faith and she believed and trusted.

We will always have problems and challenges in life. Especially as we respond to the call to proclaim Christ. We will be afflicted by a world that is in darkness that resists the gospel message. We will be attacked by the devil who seeks to preserve his dominion. In all these, like Mary, we must not be afraid, and simply trust in Jesus.

Like Mary, we must be obedient to God. Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). And later in Cana, she gave her only instruction, “Do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5). Jesus then performed his first miracle, even though his time had not yet come. Mary obeyed, and Mary tells us to obey. If we obey God, then God will do great things in and through us, for that is in accordance with His plan and will.

Like Mary, we must be ready to suffer. Simeon had prophesied, “and a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Lk 2:35a). And indeed how Mary suffered! She saw Jesus rejected by the people he came to save, even his own relatives who thought he was crazy. And Mary endured her beloved Son’s passion and tortuous death on a cross.

In our work of evangelization, we will encounter many trials and crosses. That is par for the course. The enemy is powerful. The darkness of the world is intense. Even God allows affliction to try us, to purify us, to draw us ever closer to Himself. Whenever trials and crosses come, as they inevitably will come, never back off, never give up. Rather, grow in endurance and perseverance. Rejoice in affliction. Press on to the prize.

Like Mary, we must always rejoice. We rejoice at the coming of our Savior. Just like Mary’s cousin Elizabeth and John the Baptist who was still in her womb. John even leaped in her womb! Our greatest joy is to have Jesus as our Savior. We rejoice also for the privilege of suffering for and with Christ. This is the way of discipleship, to take up our cross. We rejoice in the work given to us, and in the privilege of being God’s instruments of salvation.
Evangelization, family and Mary in the life of CFC-FFL
Evangelization, family and Mary are all intertwined.

We see this also in the life of CFC-FFL. It has taken crises and stages for us to see the fullness of God’s call to us.

When God raised CFC in 1981, God intended for us to be an evangelistic community. But this was not fully appreciated by our parent community, the Ang Ligaya ng Panginoon (LNP). Thus there was a crisis, and there was a split between LNP and CFC in 1993. With the split, CFC could now pursue its very calling, the very reason why God raised us up.

In 1993, we established our Family Ministries. Prior to this there was only the evangelization of couples. Now there was something for every member of the family. No one would be excluded. We came to a fuller realization of the importance of family as subject and object of evangelization.

Then, due to veering away, there was another crisis in 2007, and another split. CFC-FFL, pursuing CFC’s authentic charism, emerged. It was then that we consecrated ourselves to Mama Mary.
1981 evangelization, 1993 family, 2007 Mary. At each stage we were brought deeper into our life of faith, and into a greater appreciation of the fullness of our call. Now we see more clearly. Now we pray that all the necessary elements are in place. Now, after more purification, God can finally do what He intended all along.

Our call is to be families in the Holy Spirit that will be His instruments for renewing the face of the earth. This is our work of evangelization, looking to the family, in a journey with Mary.
Happy birthday, dear Mama Mary.
Note: For easier reference, I have put previous papers on Mary into this new category of “On Mary” as follows:
Part 1 – On the First Anniversary of our Consecration to Mary
Part 2 – On Mary, Mission and Martyrdom
Part 3 – Mary Immaculate
Part 4 – On the Second Anniversary of our Consecration to Mary

Click here to go to "On Mary" series web page



August 12, 2009

Hello all.

I honor our missionaries -- Mike, Kweku, David -- who suffered an accident while on mission in Ghana. They gave of themselves, experiencing difficulty and discomfort while on mission,and now being deemed worthy by the Lord to suffer gravely for his sake.

I mourn the death of their driver. May the Lord reward him for being part of this mission and for serving His missionaries. I rejoice that the Lord spared the lives of our 3 brothers. It was a very serious accident, and they suffered serious injuries. But they are alive!

It certainly could have been much worse. Our brothers Ben and Jun died as missionaries in a car accident in Vanuatu, almost 12 years ago. They are our very first martyrs, having given their very lives for the sake of the mission. Some time before that, also in Vanuatu,

I myself almost lost my life, when I was swamped by a Pacific Ocean wave while standing on a reef. I was bloodied all over, and had to be on crutches for the rest of our mission. Again, I praise God that He spared the lives of our brothers.

Our mission is going very well in Ghana. This is due to the perseverance and persistence of our brother Kweku (Deks), who has held his ground for many years. Then our brother Mike went there as missionary and Country Coordinator. In a few days, they had accomplished much, helping consolidate our members. They inaugurated our mission house in Accra, the capital of Ghana. They met with many clerics, and were to meet many more. Do we need to wonder why the enemy raged and attacked? Their accident is a measure of their effectiveness in assaulting the dominion of the enemy.

Now they have shed blood for the cause. Now they have resisted the enemy "to the point of shedding blood" (Heb 12:4). Now they have earned their stripes. Because of their sacrifice, our mission is stronger.

Brothers Mike, Kweku and David, persevere in the mission. Continue to offer your physical pains for the sake of our work. And proudly wear your scars as your badge of honor.

We pray for your full healing. May the Lord bless you and your loved ones in every way.


"For to me life is Christ, and death is gain." (Phil 1:21)

July 30, 2009
It has been two years since the split in CFC last July 30, 2007. From the time God raised the remnant that is CFC-FFL, we have moved rapidly to restore the fullness of our authentic life and mission. With restoration is the return of God’s anointing. Thus we have grown.
Those of us who formed the restoration movement that eventually evolved into CFC-FFL were just a remnant of about 1,000 brethren. Five months later, by the end of 2007, we were 56,000 brethren in 20 Philippine dioceses and in 50 countries. By the end of 2008, we were 100,000 brethren in 37 Philippine dioceses and in 60 countries. These are active members, committed and zealous for our life and mission. The growth and restoration continue.
CFC-FFL, with its focus on the authentic CFC charism, has firmly established the work that God originally intended for it, that of evangelization and family life renewal. CFC-FFL is primarily an evangelistic and missionary community. In its work of evangelization, it is focused on renewing the family and defending life. Family and life are the defining issues of this third millennium, and what God has been preparing CFC for all along.
Continuing attacks and injustices
Unfortunately, as it has from the time the restoration movement was started to try to renew CFC from within, to the time of the split and beyond, the other side has continued its attacks on us. The other side has relentlessly been trying to keep us from doing God’s work. They have done this through disinformation about our status in the Church, through filing court cases against us, and through continuing maligning in media and the Internet.
Further, their injustices continue. Two years after the first resignations of CFC fulltime pastoral workers, followed by many others, the other side has refused to pay their just retirement benefits. This has caused our brethren untold hardships. Further, they have refused to return bridge funds that they solicited, even as they claim to be no longer in debt. In addition, with many GK projects unfinished and no more work forthcoming, they have refused to account for funds and refuse to turn over funds demanded by beneficiaries or other brethren who desire to finish the work.
Despite the scandal of court cases, and despite having been advised by the hierarchy to drop such court cases, they continue to disobey and persist in this scandal.
We have to pray for them, because in their attacks and injustices, they are fighting God Himself.
Coming together again?
Last April 30, the other side announced that they had let go of GK, acknowledging inherent conflicts that could not be resolved. This has led some members on the ground, from both sides, to ask if reunification between the 2 CFCs is now possible, since the major cause of the crisis, GK, is now out of the picture.
Well, the other side, while saying that they have let go of GK, claims that they have not split, and that in fact they are intensifying their collaboration with GK. So it is first up to them to clarify their situation. Have they split or not?
Then, whatever the reality, reunification can only happen if that is what God wills. However much we desire it, it is not something we just presume. Further, the direction now of CFC-FFL is clear, the brethren are upbeat, and the work is unimpeded. Will becoming one again bring back internal difficulties and challenges?
Further, I remind everyone that my proposal for creative unity is still on the table. That is to have one CFC family but with 2 distinct and separate branches. This is something that can happen immediately, without much hassle. It is a good confidence building measure in case both sides decide to pursue actual reunification. Unfortunately, the other side has consistently rejected this proposal.
Finally, there is a simple and easy way to have one CFC once again. Our brethren on the other side simply need to join us, and be integrated in the one and true CFC.
Anyway, the CBCP, through Cardinal Rosales, has already taken jurisdiction over the CFC situation, having been tasked by the Holy See to look into it. Let us just await further developments.
The work continues
Let us not be distracted by the continuing negative posture of the other side. There is just too much work to be done. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and on our mission. Let us rejoice in the privilege of suffering for the sake of righteousness. Let us always be faithful to our call, fully trusting in Jesus.
We continue to implore the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary. May the Lord bless us all.
Your brother and co-worker,
Frank Padilla


June 20 2009
Ynares Center, Antipolo City, Rizal



This prayer of commitment was prayed by our brethren, led by the Servant General, during its Community Conference last January 10, 2009. It is recommended that our CFC-FFL groups throughout the world make this same prayer at its various events throughout this year. God bless.


Heavenly Father, we praise and thank you for the love and mercy you have poured out on us. Thank you, Jesus, for journeying with us in this community, and for being with us in our times of crisis and trials. Thank you, Spirit, for guiding us and empowering us in our mission.

Lord, make us instruments of your love and mercy to the rest of the world. We commit to you to let your light shine through our very lives, in the way we relate in love with one another in community, and through our work of proclaiming your good news of salvation. Strengthen us in our times of trials and tribulations. Help us to carry our cross with joy and surrender totally to your divine will. Show us the way of humility and selflessness.

Lord, you called us to renew the family and to defend life. Help us to pursue our mission with courage and passion. Remind us that we are doing this to serve you and not our own agenda. We ask that you send forth your Spirit upon us to empower us. We rely only on you and on your Divine Mercy, and ask for the intercession of our dear Blessed Mother Mary.

Jesus, we trust in you. Amen.

Our Theme for 2009 click here


Verse of the Day
CFCFFL Consecration to our Lady of Mediatirx, August 10, 2007 at Christ the King Parish


Shout Box:

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----- Forwarded Message ----
From: CFCFFL Home Office <>
Sent: Monday, October 27, 2008 8:55:02 AM
Subject: Co-existence of 2 CFC Communities Worldwide Reinforced by Cardinal Francis George

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On September 26, 2008, the Most Rev. John J. Myers, Archbishop of Newark in the state of New Jersey, released a letter to his fellow clergy quite negative about CFC-FFL/CFCFI. From his own indications, he admits in his letter that after a recent visit of Bro. Frank Padilla, "there is resurgence in desire FOR MANY (underscoring ours) to continue calling themselves CFCFFL." And yet, despite a clear and strong interest by many of our brethren to join CFC-FFL/CFCFI, the good Archbishop  has banned the group from using the CFC name in his archdiocese. He even cited that this was the wish of Stansylaw Cardinal Rylko, President of the Pontifical Coincil of the Laity based in the Vatican.

Regretfully, the good Archbishop of Newark is sadly misinformed. Attached you will find the October 2, 2008 letter of His Eminence Francis Cardinal George of Chicago recognizing the co-existence of the 2 CFCs in his area of jurisdiction. The letter of Cardinal George is significant because he took the extra and prudent step to seek the opinion of Cardinal Rylko himself regarding the recognition issue.  

Cardinal George was advised by Cardinal Rylko to maintain strict neutrality in the current controversy. As a result, the good Cardinal (George)  decided quite wisely and prudently to extend recognition to both communities.  The decision of Cardinal George reinforces the message contained in a letter addressed to both Bros. Frank Padilla of CFC-FFL/CFCFI and Joe Tale of CFC Global that Cardinal Rylko himself acknowledges the existence of both communities, contrary to the claims of CFC Global about its sole and only legitimacy. While the letter of Archbishop Myers was dated Sept. 26, 2008, that of Cardinal George is more recent, dated  October 2, 2008. Added to this recency is the incontrovertible fact that the good Cardinal sought the counsel of Cardinal Rylko himself.   

In the light of these developments, the legal actions filed by CFC Global which have  caused quite a scandal acquires dubious validity since the opinion of the Vatican has been clarified by the query of Cardinal George. While the actuations of CFC Global are purely secular and legal in both nature and form, the more valid  source of the use of the name and the right to co-exist is no less than the Vatican which has spoken twice over. Again, it remains a matter of wonder and puzzlement why CFC Global would again take the risk of disobeying the Church by virtue of its actions. If CFC Global  continues to  say it still belongs to the universal church and still subjects  itself to the  statutes to the Church, the Vatican should be given the final say instead of the courts. 

CFC-FFL /Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc.



Birthrights are normally vested by virtue of relationships that are passed on from generation to generation. In a more contemporary sense, and what political correctness could possibly dictate, rights and entitlements are also given by an authorized source. In the case of the use of the name of "Couples for Christ," a faith community anchored in being Christ centered as well as evangelistic and missionary, we go beyond the legal and the blood  relations and ask the defining query:  Who really has a birthright to the name in the context of  being "for Christ?" Isn't Christianity an all-inclusive religion which welcomes "Gentile and Jew alike?"  Did not Christ Himself talk about its inherent inclusivity when He categorically forbade excessive sectarianism when John complained to Him that the disciples saw someone casting out demons in His name  and the man was told to stop his practices because he was not one of them? But Jesus said to him, "Do not forbid this man for he who is not against us is for us."  Unless CFC/GK may think CFCFI/CFC-FFL works against this exhortation of Jesus Himself, how does one explain the almost excessive obsession of the former to prohibit others from using the name?
Thus, in a spate of releases that sadly advises its membership to go on a war footing with such slogans as "a call to arms," and exhorting the community to end its period of "being still," the CFC/GK may have just succeeded in bringing the might and force of the Praetorian army on CFCFI/CFC-FFL  with hammer and tongs and with all guns blazing simply because the latter was granted approval by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to revive the use of the name Couples for Christ Foundation,Inc. In what promises to be a protracted legal battle, we have been brought to court by CFC/GK to insist on its exclusive use of the name, while it does not set its radar screens on questioning 5 to 6 other entities registered with the SEC (other than CFCFI/CFC-FFL) which also uses the name Couples for Christ.  Again, how does one fathom the inherent wisdom of going through such great lengths insisting on a common birthright vested on all of Christendom anyway?
CFC/GK may have missed the point when it talks about going legal by force of circumstances. It may have forgotten that it began the legalities attached to the use of the name by questioning our application to the use of the name CFC-FFL.

Secondly, the revival of CFCFI is no underhanded plot. CFCFI became inactive for sometime precisely because it allowed CFC Global Mission Foundation, Inc. to carry on its mission. But now that CFC Global has veered away from the life and mission it was supposed to pursue, CFCFI now has every right to restore the eroded anchors of the life and mission and revive the original spirit which guided the community to put up, by virtue of " prior right," CFCFI.

Thirdly, it may be timely to reiterate that the Bishops have approved of CFCFI/CFC-FFL and the Vatican has no objection to the use of the name as long as the local bishops approve.

Fourthly, even the original application for the use of CFC-FFL has not been rejected by the SEC.

Fifth, on June 14, 2008, CFC Founder Frank Padilla has gone on record, to wit: "With regard to our brethren in CFC/GK, we do not intend to do to them what they have been doing to us. For the sake of peace and eventual reconciliation, we do not intend to prevent them from using the name "CFC" for as long as they strive not to let go of what it means to be truly CFC." This simply means heeding the call of the Bishops and the Vatican in their past pronouncements.

Sixth, we have always proposed creative unity and synergy, one big CFC with 2 separate branches, using the model of many religious organizations and congregations, but CFC/GK has steadfastly refused to take a serious look at this proposal.
Based on the above, CFCFI is in no fighting mood. We are for co-existence, not the annihilation of one at the expense of another. We have always striven to build bridges while the other side seems to be for burning them. We therefore reiterate our call to consider each other as brethren, hewn from the same stock, but with different callings. Let us live out the CFC Global theme of loving one another so that at the end, we are rewarded by God with Joy. We extend our hand of Peace because together we should "press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:13,14). "Together, let us beat our swords into plowshares" and never look back.
June 26, 2008 

The following is the text of an article by His Excellency, Most Rev. Gabriel V. Reyes, D.D., Chairman of the Commission for the Laity of the CBCP and Bishop of the Diocese of Antipolo, that appeared on Page A17 of the June 11, 2008 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Explanation and Defense of the Directives of Stanislaw Cardinal Rylko,
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity,
to the Gawad Kalinga of the Couples for Christ

Most Rev. Gabriel V. Reyes, D.D.
Commission for the Laity
Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines

         First of all, it is good to stress that the directives of Cardinal Rylko are not against the work of Gawad Kalinga for the poor.  They exhort Gawad Kalinga to go on with its good work but it should correct some mistakes, namely, the over-emphasis of social work at the expense of evangelization and spiritual formation of the family; and the acceptance of funds from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives.
         The directives of Cardinal Rylko are the same as the guidance that the CBCP Commission for the Laity gave to Gawad Kalinga.  The Commission for the Laity also points out that these mistakes mentioned above make Gawad Kalinga deviate from the nature and purpose of Couples for Christ and from the statutes of CFC which were approved by the Pontifical Council of the Laity.
            The first directive of Cardinal Rylko is that Gawad Kalinga should not over-emphasize social work at the expense of evangelization and on-going spiritual formation of the family.  The family that is meant here is first of all the families of the CFC members themselves who are doing social work in Gawad Kalinga.  Gawad Kalinga is a ministry of CFC and most of the workers in Gawad Kalinga are CFC members.  The Statutes of Couples for Christ, in No. 2 Vision and Mission, says:  2:1 “…CFC is called to bring families back to the plan of God.  It is called to bring the Lord’s strength and light to those who are struggling to be truly Christian families in the modern world.” 2:2 “Couples for Christ works for family renewal at various levels – the individual, the family, the larger community.”
            Some CFC Couples have told me that because of their work in Gawad Kalinga they have no more time for their own prayer meeting where they undergo their own evangelization, on-going formation, and spiritual nourishment.  This neglect of their on-going evangelization and spiritual formation is against the CFC statutes and bad for their own Christian life and growth in it.
            We can compare this guidance to Gawad Kalinga of not over-emphasizing social work to the guidance to our priests during the late sixties, the seventies, and during the years of martial law when social activism was very much emphasized in the Church in the Philippines.  The priests were reminded that they should work for the poor and the oppressed but they should not neglect their life of prayer and on-going spiritual formation.  They were warned that if they neglect their spiritual life because of too much activism, they will unknowingly imbibe values which run counter to their Christian and priestly life.  Many of those who were much involved in social activism did not listen to this advice.  Many of these priests left the priesthood.  Some of them became Marxists, a few became commanders of the NPA.
            What happened to a number of activist priests described above can also happen to the CFC members who are working in Gawad Kalinga, if they over-emphasize social work to the neglect of their own on-going evangelization and spiritual formation.  Without their knowing it, they imbibe values which run counter to Christian values and which go against the CFC nature, purpose and vision/mission.  And this has happened.  For example, there were instances when Gawad Kalinga leaders will hide their identity as Couples for Christ when they are applying for funding from corporations who will not give to religious organizations.  Another example, a Gawad Kalinga leader was against sending the children (Sibol, Sagip) in Gawad Kalinga villages to a Children’s Rosary Rally because he did not want “our partners to see Gawad Kalinga as sectarian and identified with the Church.”  I would like to stress, however, that the majority of CFC members working in Gawad Kalinga are not of this    mind-set.  But, these cases, although few, involve the leaders of Gawad Kalinga and their wrong mind-set can easily influence the members.
         Gawad Kalinga was established by the Couples for Christ because they love Christ and want to love Christ in the poor and because they want to give witness to Christ through social work.  Through Gawad Kalinga, the CFC aims to proclaim to people that Christ must be good because He made the CFC do the good work in Gawad Kalinga.  In this way the CFC will attract people to Him.  How can Gawad Kalinga be a witness to Christ if the leaders hide its identity as a ministry of the Couples for Christ because they want to get donations from companies or organizations that will not give to religious organizations?
         In the news item of the Philippine Daily Inquirer of August 28, 2007, entitled “Bishops to Discuss Couples for Christ Split,” Tony Meloto was asked why Gawad Kalinga “was accepting donations even from corporations manufacturing contraceptives, contradicting the CFC’s pro-life stance.”  He answered: “GK is non-partisan.  We do not take any side in building a nation in the same manner that we do not pass judgment on any corporation we engage.  We do not even ask them what their (corporations) products are as long as they want to help.”  In the news item of the ABS-CBN News Online, April 16, 2008, entitled “Vatican admonishes Couples for Christ over Gawad Kalinga,” Tony Meloto was told that “the Vatican disapproved of CFC’s ‘over-emphasis on social work’ and Gawad Kalinga’s openness to donations from groups that promote artificial family planning.”  His answer was “Gawad Kalinga’s mission is to build a nation… We will just continue to work.”  Tony Meloto’s answers and statements in newspapers implied that he does not agree that GK is over-emphasizing social work at the expense of evangelization and spirituality and that for him it is okay to accept donations from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives.  One of the main reasons he gives is that the mission of Gawad Kalinga is to build a nation. 
         Gawad Kalinga is a ministry of the Couples for Christ.  Like Couples for Christ, its mission is not just to build a nation but to build the Kingdom of God.  Its mission is to evangelize, to bring people to Christ, the Savior.  Gawad Kalinga, as a ministry of CFC, is not a civic or secular agency.  It is a ministry of a religious organization that believes in and promotes the values of Christ.  Gawad Kalinga should not be “non-partisan” with regards to Christ and His values.  It is good to build a nation but Gawad Kalinga, as a Christian organization, should build a nation according to the values of Christ.  According to the magisterium (the teaching authority of the Church), contraception and abortion (some contraceptive pills are abortifacient) are sinful, are against the values of Christ.  Therefore it is wrong to accept donations from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives.
         Mr. Tony Meloto is the real leader in Gawad Kalinga.  It is but proper to tell him that his mind-set regarding the mission of Gawad Kalinga is veering away from the vision and mission that Couples for Christ has given to Gawad Kalinga.  CFC’s Gawad Kalinga is helping the poor because of love for Christ.  It should never happen that GK will abandon the values of Christ because of its wanting to help the poor. 
         Above, I said that, in the directive that Couples for Christ should not over-emphasize social work at the expense of the evangelization and on-going spiritual formation of the family, the family that is meant is first of all the families of the CFC members who are working in Gawad Kalinga.  In this directive, the families of the beneficiaries are also meant.
         Some are against the directive not to over-emphasize social work at the expense of evangelization and spiritual formation of the family because they say that, as you cannot preach to an empty stomach, you should not speak about spiritual matters to people who lack decent housing.
         I beg to disagree.  I think we should help the beneficiaries of Gawad Kalinga in their spiritual and material needs at the same time.  Work for the material needs of the poor and work for their spiritual needs should proceed hand in hand.  Of course, depending on the situation, there are times when one should stress social work more but evangelization should never be neglected.  The poor are already deprived of food and decent shelter, why should we deprive them of the word of God, which is food for their hearts and minds and which will give them hope and strength in their difficult situation.  Sister Marlene, a German Little Sister of Jesus, who has been living with the poor in the Philippines, once said: “There is nothing wrong in talking about God to a man who has an empty stomach, provided your stomach is also empty and you try to help him find food.”
         I have been assigned in some parishes in Metro Manila as a parochial vicar and, later, as parish priest.  Through our parish social action center and through my pastoral ministry (sick calls, neighborhood masses, block rosary, etc), I was also in contact with the poor who do not have decent housing or are living over “stinking esteros.”  I found the great majority of them open to God and spiritual matters, except those who never heard about God or were never catechized or have been indoctrinated by Marxists.  Many people who flock to the “Poon Nazareno” in Quiapo Church or to the Sto. Niņo in Tondo do not have decent housing.
         The Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II) in nos. 154-185 speaks about integral evangelization and the elements composing it, namely, catechesis, worship, and social apostolate.  In No. 182, it says, “…it must be stressed that no true renewal can happen in one area (e.g. catechesis) in isolation from the other areas (worship and social apostolate).  Any genuine renewal must affect all three areas in their inter-relationship.” “Without education towards maturity in the faith, the social apostolate will become activism and will fall prey to the temptations of unchristian ideologies.”
(No. 183)  In No. 185, it continues, “Finally the social apostolate without worship will lose its source of strength…”  Pope Benedict XVI says in “Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love) No. 25, “a] The Church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacrament (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia).  These duties presuppose each other and are inseparable.”
         Regarding the issue of receiving funds from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives, let me first quote from the letter to me of the late Cardinal Trujillo, the former President of the Pontifical Council for Family and Life, dated November 26, 2007:
         “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 done.”
         “First, in this concrete case, the funds offered also come from actions that are morally evil, abortion and contraception.  Accepting such funding creates confusion among the faithful, as they give the impression that abortion and the production, distribution, and use of contraceptives and abortifacients are acceptable practices.  Besides, in their advancements and promotional materials, these companies could say that they help the Catholic Church, and thus give the false idea that their contraceptive and abortion causing products and services are acceptable.”
         “Second, the risk exists for the pro-family groups receiving similar funding to be at least silent about the unacceptability of such products.”
         “Third, it would provide those working against the family grounds for extremely persuasive criticism to attack and discredit Church organizations and the Church herself – especially through charges of incoherence and insincerity.”
         People who find nothing wrong in receiving funds from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives reason in this way:  If a starving man may steal when stealing is the only way for him to get food and escape imminent death, then Gawad Kalinga may also receive funds from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives in order to provide housing to people in need of decent housing.
         The reasoning is wrong because the two situations they cite are not the same.  First, the funds of the pharmaceutical company that produces contraceptives are not the only means to provide housing to the beneficiaries of Gawad Kalinga.  There are many partner corporations and groups giving funds to Gawad Kalinga for its housing project.  I am sure more groups will be willing to help, if asked.  Gawad Kalinga’s work will not be significantly affected if they stop receiving funds from companies that produce contraceptives.  Second, the beneficiaries of GK, who lack decent housing, are not in imminent danger of death.  They have been living in these houses for years.  Their situation is not as desperate as the man who is allowed to steal because he is in imminent danger of death and the only solution to avoid death is to steal.  So, there is no justifying reason for Gawad Kalinga to do something wrong, that is, receive funds from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives, especially when there are so many good means available in order to get funds for the housing project.
         This directive to the Gawad Kalinga to stop receiving “objectionable” funds is similar to the “collective policy of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines regarding gambling”.  In its “CBCP Statement on Gambling,” dated January 23, 2005, it says:
          “3. Therefore, the CBCP has made it a collective policy:  a] ….. b] ….. c] To refrain from soliciting or receiving funds from illegal or legal gambling so as not to promote a culture of gambling; and d]      To encourage Church personnel and Church institutions to refrain from doing the same, even when the objective may be that of helping the poor.”
            Those who say that it is all right for Gawad Kalinga to receive funds from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives in order to provide housing for the poor cite another reason, namely, the Latin proverb: “Prinum est vivere, deinde philosophare” – “to stay alive comes first before philosophizing.”  But, contraceptives are not just a matter of philosophizing.  It is also a matter of “staying alive.”  Some contraceptives are abortifacient; they kill people.
            Before I end, I would like to point out that Mr. Tony Meloto and some columnists, knowingly or unknowingly, distort the directives of Cardinal Rylko.  By the way they comment on the directives, they make people think that the directives are against the work of Gawad Kalinga for the poor.  The directives are not against Gawad Kalinga.  Gawad Kalinga should continue its very good work.  The directives are just making some corrections in Gawad Kalinga, namely, that Gawad Kalinga should not over-emphasize social work at the expense of the evangelization and spiritual formation of the family and that GK should stop receiving funds from pharmaceutical companies that produce contraceptives.

Bishop Gabby Reyes resigned as CFCGMFI Spiritual Director.  Let us continue to pray for Bp Gabby and all the Bishops and clergies and Church in general now under attack.   


Well it finally happened. Bishop Gabriel Reyes, the Spiritual Director of CFC, could no longer take the disrespect of the International Council (IC) under Joe Tale. And so he resigned as CFC-GK's Spiritual Director. Such a move is quite unprecedented. It could only have happened because of the accumulation of wrongs done by CFC-GK under the IC.

From the very start they maligned Bishop Reyes. They spread the lie that Bishop Reyes favored CFC-FFL. This is ironic, since Bishop Reyes bent backwards to show that he was neutral, that he was only after the truth and what was right.

Bishop Reyes silently endured many blows. The IC under Joe Tale disobeyed the strong recommendations of Bishop Reyes, together with Archbishop Lagdameo and Bishop Villegas. They deceived Bishop Reyes regarding the elections and reneged on the win-win agreement. They kept promising to cut their partnerships with pharmaceuticals producing/marketing contraceptives but never did so. They gave deceptive reports to CFC, prompting Bishop Reyes to correct them two or three times. Their allied columnists maligned and attacked Bishop Reyes in newspaper articles.

One columnist even reported that Bishop Reyes, in a meeting with the IC, was livid with rage. Now who could have told this columnist that except the IC? But then, it is very unbelievable, since Bishop Reyes, to anyone who knows him, is quite mild-mannered and soft-spoken. We are sure he had reason to be angry with the IC's disrespect and disinformation, but he would never make an angry outburst.

Why did the IC treat Bishop Reyes this way? Because they malign anyone who says anything they consider negative against them. And Bishop Reyes' findings in the whole situation of crisis in CFC, as reported to the Philippine bishops, was clear: (1) CFC-GK veered away, and (2) the IC was disobedient to the bishops. That sealed Bishop Reyes' fate. He had become the enemy.

In his letter of resignation, Bishop Reyes said that he sided with what he thought was right. Joe Tale claims he sided with Frank Padilla and the CFC-FFL. So there you have it: the Spiritual Director of CFC, as he investigated the crisis with neutrality and fairness, found that CFC-FFL was right.

Joe Tale's acceptance of his resignation is his standard fare of saying what he does not mean or what is not true. He claims to have acted properly in relation to the Spiritual Director, while the Spiritual Director says what was proper was to consult or inform him of certain things, which the IC did not do. Joe says he wants the parting of ways to be loving. Bishop Reyes had better watch it then. What the IC has done to CFC-FFL, in spite of CFC-GK's theme of loving one another, is to continue to malign and attack us. Joe says they respect and honor him as a pastor. Well, they really do not, and such disrespect is already a matter of record. Joe says they remain committed to the Church. Well, maintaining their partnerships with pharmaceuticals that produce or market contraceptives is contrary to what the Church has told them repeatedly regarding cutting off such partnerships.

No wonder Bishop Reyes reached that point where he felt he had no option but to resign.

Let us all pray for our beloved Bishop Reyes, a just, wise, fair, loving and Spirit-filled pastor and shepherd. He has been unjustly treated and maligned. We can only rejoice that he is privileged to take up his cross, courtesy of Joe Tale and the IC.


Bp Gabby's Letter to CFC Global page 1

Bp Gabby's letter to CFC Global page 2

Reply letter of CFC Global to Bp Gabby

May 6, 2008
Our commitment, as expressed in our statutes, is “to rise in defense of the Roman Catholic Church against the forces that seek to destroy or weaken it.”
In the past few weeks, the Church hierarchy has been subjected to unprecedented attacks.
Against bishops and the Church in general
“…. it is very easy for me to discern falsity, or hypocrisy, especially of the self-righteous who preach much more than they practice.” “And we must forgive those who were anointed to guide and protect us from the evil that has enslaved us for they probably know not what they do.” (Boy Montelibano, “A Mortal Blow to a Mortal Crime,” March 7, 2008)
“In the center of controversy ….. hypocrisy which is a constant presence in the halls of hierarchy ….” (Boy Montelibano, “Hate Campaign against Gawad Kalinga will not Succeed,” April 20, 2008)
“….. the Catholic Church seems determined to preach only the new theology that God wants to reward the wicked and punish the good.” “The bishops accept money from a hypocritical to do everything in their power to keep her in power just so they could fatten and gladden themselves.” “I do not claim to know the ways of heaven, but when St. Peter goes out one day to meet Meloto ….., and the bishops who have praised their God loudly by refusing to condemn the most corrupt of their ‘sisthren,’ I have a good idea whom he will send upstairs and downstairs.” (Conrado de Quiros, “There’s the Rub,” April 22, 2008)
“What is generally known but not so talked about is the participation, by commission or omission, of the Catholic Church in causing and perpetuating the situation of poverty and corruption.” “….. fundamentalism and spiritual bigotry. ….. there is hope that erring cardinals and bishops who have veered away will ultimately see the way, the truth and the light.” (Boy Montelibano, “Nobility versus Hypocrisy,” April 23, 2008)
“There are true Christians among Catholics, but there are also Catholics who are not even Christians at all. Sometimes, even the shepherds of Christ’s Church are themselves lost sheep.” “Sad to say, we have the same breed of confused clergy today mouthing condemnation and raising alarums of eternal damnation against members of the Catholic congregation who happen to outdo them in their avowed mission to win hearts and souls for Christ.” “The bishops preach that gambling is evil and yet bishops and cardinals are known to derive a big chunk of funds from gambling operations of PCSO and Pagcor. How can they provide spiritual inspiration to the faithful when they themselves are confused about their own perspectives?” (William Esposo, “How the New Pharisees Undermine the Roman Catholic Church,” April 29, 2008)
“The conflicting messages and actuation of the Church hierarchy among themselves and oftentimes in full view of the public contribute to the lessening of the credibility of this same hierarchy. Worse, the participation or intrusion of the Vatican in a controversy which it should keep away from can lessen its own credibility …..” “….. religious bigotry and fundamentalism.” (Boy Montelibano, “GK Enough or More …. Are we a Church of the Poor?”, April 17, 2008)
Against Bishop Gabriel Reyes
Bishop Gabriel Reyes ….. wants like Pontius Pilate to appear uninvolved.” (Boy Montelibano, “Hate Campaign against Gawad Kalinga will not Succeed,” April 20, 2008)
“The statement is not only shocking, but utterly absurd. It is, in fact, quite perverted because of the fact that it comes from the Catholic Church as orchestrated by a bishop from the Philippines.” (Boy Montelibano, “Nobility versus Hypocrisy,” April 23, 2008)
“The actuation of Bishop Gabriel Reyes is suspect because his name had already been reported in another controversy affecting Couples for Christ last year. Seen clearly by the hundreds of thousands of CFC members as a partisan supporter of a breakaway splinter group, Bishop Reyes has done much to damage the image of the Church …..”
“A wide range of issues were raised by the new Pharisees.” “But this makes us wonder if all this hypocrisy that emulates nothing but the Pharisees is at bottom all about money.” (William Esposo, “How the New Pharisees Undermine the Roman Catholic Church,” April 29, 2008)
Against Bishop Reyes and Cardinal Rylko
“What we speak of here in the current brouhaha with the actions of the concerned Church personalities is a matter of Church protocol or even hypocrisy, not Church dogma. As Cardinal Rylko and bishop Gabriel Reyes smear, deliberately or consequently, the most noble work …..” “Cardinal Rylko and Bishop Reyes call it an ‘overemphasis’ on the social instead of the spiritual. That is not only a spiritual distortion, it is contrary to Church teachings. But in the case of Cardinal Rylko, I will call it only ignorance of the truth, or the human weakness of believing a source without sound basis.” “….. from fundamentalism and hypocrisy, from the clutches of the evil that lurks of those who claim to be spiritual and moral leaders.” (Boy Montelibano, “Hate Campaign against Gawad Kalinga will not Succeed,” April 20, 2008)
“Christ did warn us: ‘Beware the devil quoting scripture.’ The new Pharisees and their Vatican ally, Cardinal Rylko, cannot even be consistent with what Pope Benedict XVI has been pushing­social action.” (William Esposo, “How the New Pharisees Undermine the Roman Catholic Church,” April 29, 2008)
“Anyone who reads the letter of Cardinal Rylko can easily deduce that he had fallen for the position of the Pharisees, a position that was apparently espoused and presented by Bishop Reyes who heads the National Council of the Laity here.” (William Esposo, “Updates on the Pharisees, GK and CFC,” May 6, 2008)
Against Cardinal Rylko
“The Church’s latest disincentive to faith is the letter of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Laity to Couples for Christ seeking to ‘correct’ what is wrong with it.” (Conrado de Quiros, “There’s the Rub,” April 22, 2008)
Who are the attackers?
Boy Montelibano is the right-hand man of Tony Meloto, the head of Gawad Kalinga. William Esposo and Conrado de Quiros are associates of Montelibano in a political group that is looking to having Tony Meloto as a candidate for President in 2010.
We deplore the lies, disinformation, and rabble rousing in the writings of these three persons. We deplore the use of media to malign the Church and the hierarchy. We deplore the disrespect to our spiritual shepherds.
We also regret that the CFC International Council under Joe Tale, the members of which have authority over GK, have chosen not to correct or chastise Montelibano, a CFC member and a GK leader. By their silence they betray their concurrence, at the very least, with what has been written.
We declare that there is absolutely no truth to the allegations.
We ask our brethren to continue to engage in spiritual warfare, as the enemy continues to rage. New Age has infiltrated GK, and it is a characteristic of New Agers that they hate the Church. New Age coupled with a political agenda becomes even more diabolical.
We call on all CFC members, both CFC-GK-IC and CFC-FFL, to defend the integrity of the Church, and to reject those who for selfish reasons seek to destroy or weaken it.



Please see attached letter of Cardinal Rylko to Joe Tale dated April 3, 2008, which is the basis of their May 1 ad.


Here are our comments:


(1) It is interesting that Joe Tale asked Cardinal Rylko to change the name recognized by the Vatican from “Couples for Christ” to “Couples for Christ Global Mission Foundation Inc.” Why? This simply means they are unsure about their hold on the CFC name and wanted to firm it up by changing the recognition to “CFCGMFI.” In proposing it, Joe, as chided by Cardinal Rylko, showed his civil (social, corporate) rather than spiritual thinking.

(2) Cardinal Rylko’s letter says the name “Couples for Christ” cannot be used by another. Of course, rightly so. But “CFC” with something attached to it becomes an entirely new and different name. That is why there are at least 8 corporations registered with the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission that are named “Couples for Christ (plus something attached).”

(3) Looking at the CFC-GK-IC’s other ad of April 7, 2008, in relation to Cardinal Rylko’s directives to them in his letters of March 11 and April 3, 2008 to Joe Tale, it is clear that the IC did not follow Cardinal Rylko’s directive regarding the apology for the public scandal. Cardinal Rylko directed Joe Tale to “clearly state” that “We sincerely apologize for any scandal that CFC may have provoked among the faithful by receiving funds from pharmaceutical firms producing contraceptives. From now on this will never happen again.” What the IC rather wrote in their April 7 ad, buried in the text, was “We sincerely apologize for any scandal that the CFC leadership, past or present, may have caused among the faithful with our previous partnerships.” Nowhere in this ad is there a mention of pharmaceutical firms producing contraceptives. Nowhere in this ad is the commitment that such partnerships will never happen again. This is because such partnerships, up to today, are still existing, and it seems CFC-GK-IC has no intention of terminating these partnerships.

(4) Since the IC refuses to follow the
Vatican, and since CFC-GK still has these partnerships with pharmaceuticals with contraceptives, CFC is still not in “good standing” with the Vatican.

(5) Once again there is deception. They did not print the full letter, because once again, just like the March 11 letter of Cardinal Rylko to Joe Tale, it is not favorable to them. They took one seemingly favorable line and hid the rest of the text which were all unfavorable.

(6) They claim that it was clarified “that CFC remains on solid ground with its work with the poor, Gawad Kalinga.” But that is nowhere to be found in Cardinal Rylko’s letter!

(7) The ad says “contrary to impressions it
may have become anti-life.” But indeed Cardinal Rylko’s April 3 letter says they should apologize clearly for the “scandal” of receiving “funds from pharmaceutical firms producing contraceptives,” and that they should say “this will never happen again,” and that they “will continue ... purposes not related to contraceptives.” The Vatican definitely sees such partnerships as anti-life. It is not an impression, but a reality.

(8) They reiterate CFC’s “being one with the Catholic Church” but in the past two weeks, after the ABS-CBN online news entitled “Vatican admonishes CFC over GK” came out, columnists connected with CFC-GK have viciously and repeatedly attacked the hierarchy -- Bishop Reyes, Cardinal Rylko and the hierarchy in general.


(9) They made “an appeal to the CBCP and the entire Philippine Clergy to recognize only one CFC” but did this through media rather than directly to those they are addressing. Bishop Gabriel Reyes, the Spiritual Adviser of CFC, was not consulted and he did not know about this ad.

(10) They want “to prevent confusion, division and scandal among the faithful.” But this is precisely what they, through this ad, are causing.

(11) CFC-FFL has already been officially recognized by many bishops. Those like Bishop Reyes and Archbishop Lagdameo, President of the CBCP, have in fact clearly stated that the name is not a problem, just as there are many Franciscan, Carmelite and other groups with the same basic name but with something else appended.

(12) In many countries outside the
Philippines, the name “Couples for Christ” is actually legally held by those affiliated with CFC-FFL.

May 2, 2008


April 3, 2008 Letter of Cardinal Rylko to Joe Tale

March 11,2008 letter of Cardinal Rylko to Joe Tale
March 11 letter of Cardinal Rylko to Joe Tale of CFC Global


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Renewing the Family and Defending Life