Lent In Review

What is Lent?

Lent is the period of time between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, where one is expected to pray, fast, and give alms. In Greek, Lent is known as “tessarakosté”, meaning fortieth. This term was first used in 325 AD, in the Council of Nicea. However, scholars debate whether the use of that term is meant to reference Lent or not. Nonetheless, it is certain, due to his “Festal Letters”, that St. Athanasius mandated his congregation to fast throughout a forty day period. As the fourth century came to a close, both the East and West observed Lent.

How and why do we fast?

Traditionally, throughout Lent we abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday as well as every Friday of Lent if we are fourteen or older. As well, on both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, we are obliged to fast, or have one meal and two smaller meals that don’t add up to one meal’s worth of food, with no snacks in between. The fasting obligation is only for those who are between eighteen and fifty-nine and are in a state able to do so i.e. not sick, etc. There are many reasons why we, as Catholics, undertake this effort. As said in the Gospel, Jesus fasted for forty days before beginning His public ministry. Likewise, we too emulate Him by fasting and abstaining over a forty day period. As well, Jesus expected His apostles to fast, saying “The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” (Matthew 9:15). In self-denial and obedience, then we too must fast. The hunger we experience, and the desire for what we have given up is also a reminder for us. If we feel so strongly about material things, how much stronger must we feel for our God, who we literally cannot live without?

Why is Lent important?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote: “Never forget that there are only two philosophies to rule your life: the one of the cross, which starts with the fast and ends with the feast. The other of Satan, which starts with the feast and ends with the headache.” The main purpose of Lent is to prepare ourselves for the greatest victory known to man – Easter. It is not enough that we simply commemorate the sufferings of Christ, but for us to, in a sense, relive it in our own way. As we continually die to ourselves by praying, fasting, and giving alms, we grow in holiness and wean ourselves off from sin. It is only when we are fully turned towards God that we can celebrate to the fullest.

“The glory of God is the human person fully alive.” – St. Irenaeus

May God bless you this Lenten season!

 


Lorenz Somollo – East Cluster Advocacies Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

Love is Not

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” -1 John 4:7

 

Love.

 

Everyone has a different idea of what this means, but who is actually right? Well, I guess one could say that there is no correct answer, but there are characteristics in which love is not.

Love is not being with your significant other 24/7.

 

This applies to being with your significant other physically, virtually, or even emotionally. Sure, their company is great. But like all things, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. You do not have to physically be in the presence of the person to be with them. The obvious example of that is through texting, Skyping, and other mediums of social media. But the other method that is often overlooked is emotionally or psychologically. If you are constantly thinking about the person, wondering where they are at this particular moment, what they are doing, who they are with, then in a sense, you are still with them.

 

A definition of being in someone’s company is “to accompany or spend time with someone in order to prevent them from feeling bored or lonely”. If you are with them in your mind, then that prevents you from being present to where you physically are. Love is based on trust, not knowledge. Trust that they have your best interests in mind, for if you cannot believe this, then how can you call it love?

Love is not what you say.

 

Love is what you do. Everyone is capable of saying things, making promises, but it takes courage to follow through with what you say. Because of this, the value of actions is far higher than the value of words. Say what you mean, and mean what you say, and when words cannot express how you feel, show it. And I do not mean go out and buy your significant other a dozen roses, no. The littlest things with the purest intentions can have a great magnitude.

 

Love is not perfect.

 

It’s not like the movies. It’s not easy. It’s not as simple as fitting the glass slipper perfectly and then suddenly you have your happily ever after. Love requires compromise, sacrifice, and and suffering together. Love is about taking the flaws and working them into perfect imperfections. Love is about looking at the issues and instead of thinking “this is so hard, I can’t do this”, but rather thinking “yes, this is difficult but you are worth it”.

Love is not just between two people.

 

You are probably thinking, “You’re wrong, obviously it’s between two people. A man and a woman. One plus one equals two.” Yes, you are right. A relationship is between a man and a woman but love is between three people: a man, a woman, and God. A relationship without Christ cannot be pure love for “God is love” (John 3:16). It must be built on a strong foundation, and what stronger foundation than the Rock Himself?

 

You know how a lot of relationships start because of mutual friends? Let God be that mutual friend. Before pursuing any relationship, pursue a relationship with the Lord first. And like every relationship, it requires communication. Communicate with the Lord frequently. Share with Him your trials, your struggles, your worries, your joys and victories. Once that friendship has been set into place, then start scrolling through God’s Facebook profile for mutual friends.

 

Love is not at first sight.

 

Love doesn’t start from the moment you lock eyes from across the room. I mean, how can you claim to be “in love” with someone that you know nothing about, other than how they look? Infatuation can be at first sight, but love requires work. Discernment, to be exact.

 

What is discernment? Simply put, it is the ability to distinguish between right and wrong, what is the Will of the Lord, and what is a worldly plan or want. Why is it important? Without discernment, one may follow what they want, what they may think is right but ultimately, is not what the Lord wants. They could be mislead by misinterpretations of what love is, which can cause them to pursue a relationship based on those misconceptions.

 

A common question that the youth have today is: “how do you know if the person you are with is the person you are meant to be with?” Well, through discernment! For me personally, when I am discerning a decision such as a service role, I will spend time in prayer and adoration and weigh all the possible options. Whichever one I feel most at peace with will be the path that I chose. When it comes to a relationship, what helps me most is using 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 as my criteria. For every time the word “love” comes up, I replace it with the name of the person I am discerning for. For example:

 

“_______ is patient, _______ is kind. _______ does not envy, _______  does not boast, _______  is not proud.
_______  does not dishonor others, _______ is not self-seeking, _______ is not easily angered, _______  keeps no record of wrongs.
_______  does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
_______  always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

 

If I disagree with any of the statement, I conclude that it is not a God-willed relationship. A priest told me a while ago, that instead of trying to find joy, I should become joy. The same goes for love, instead of looking for love, become love. Make every act, every work have the intention of love. Become love, and be with someone who does the same, for where there is love, there first must be God as God Himself is love.

 

Love is not what society tells us.

 

With all this said and done, I understand the struggles that come with being a youth in this day and age. Society tells us what they want us to think love is, and we buy into it. But, in reality, often they are telling us what love is not. The love that society portrays is superficial, shallow, and idealistic.

 

Most people, like me, believe the lies and in the end, they end up disappointed. For me, I fell into a relationship that seemingly was perfect, based on what I had believed what love was. I had wanted to be with my significant other all the time, and when physically that was not possible, I would spend hours waiting for my phone screen to light up stating that I had received a text from him. On the rather rare occasion that that did happen, I decided that the whole world could wait so that this text could be replied to. Looking back at it, I see how dumb it was. The communication was not there, and when there was communication, there were often misunderstandings due to the lack of voiced opinions prior. Love can mean missing your significant other, but it does not mean placing your happiness solely on this one person.

 

Words also had a powerful impact on me. Dreams for the future – our future – left me giddy and excited, blissfully ignorant. Excuses for date cancellations were weak, and I knew when they were a lie, but I always chose to “believe” them in order of maintaining peace. It didn’t matter how many times I was told “I love you” because I couldn’t see the love in his actions. Love is going beyond the words, and taking action.

 

Being a perfectionist, I strived for the picture perfect relationship that I saw in movies. There was the pursuit, the chase between two, one drawing back and “playing hard to get” and then the other racing after them, trying to make themselves into someone who is worth the other’s time. I wanted all the cute, intimate moments like walks through the park, being able to tell one another anything, etc. But the more I tried to get these results, the further and further I got from achieving them. I had an expectation for who my significant other was supposed to be and in the end my expectations were unrealistic. That wasn’t love, that was a dream, a fantasy. Now, I have begun to understand that you have to work with what you have, in cooperation with the other person. It takes two hands to clap, and just the same, it takes two people to find perfection among the imperfections.

 

And then there was the discernment, or rather, the lack thereof. Before, I didn’t know what discerning really was. I knew that it was a term that people in the CFC-Youth community often used, and was usually followed by the word “courtship”. I knew that it was praying about the relationship, so my discernment sounded a little like this:

 

“Dear Lord, if this was meant to work out, then let it work out. If not, well then it won’t work out.”

 

My flaw was obvious, I wasn’t asking the Lord for His opinion, I was basically saying, “Hey God, I’m going for this. If you don’t like it, make me pay for it later”. And that is the wrong attitude. You shouldn’t make up your mind before discerning, decision making should follow discernment. That way, upon entering into prayer, you can have the purest intentions of asking the Lord if this relationship is from Him. No external factors hindering the process, no influences, just a conversation between you and Him. And through this process, you can include the Lord in your potential relationship with your significant other. Many great things come in threes, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the three groups of sacraments: the “sacraments of Christian initiation”, “sacraments of healing” and “sacraments at the service of communion and the mission of the faithful”, and then you, your significant other, and the Lord. It’s like the rule of thirds, but even better!

 

All in all, I’ve had my fair share of seeing what love is not. Not saying that my past relationship was not at all loving, it was, but most of the time, it was superficial love, and no side is at more fault. It is through misinformation and miseducation as to what love is that caused much of the hurt, but like all things there is always good that comes from the bad. Looking back, I can take the imperfections that I experienced, and view them as perfect flaws in the future.

 

Love is a lot of things, but ultimately, God is love. It is in Him where any questions or doubts we have will be answered. It is through trusting Him where we will understand love. And it is with Him where we will experience the greatest love. Love comes from God, so who better to show us what true love is than the Lord?

 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” -1 John 4:18-19

 


Eleanor Wong – YCOM Press Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

On Keeping Your Heart

What if I walked up to you right now and told you to guard your heart?

Would you stare at me blankly? Would you laugh? Would you brush it off nervously? Change the subject? Ask what I know about you? Roll your eyes? Respond with conviction? Would you even understand what I mean?

To “guard your heart” is a phrase well known to our community. And in my experience, we can tend to throw it around a lot. With that being said, have we grown numb to the reality of this phrase?

This isn’t a concept. This isn’t something that should be taken into consideration. To “guard the heart” is a message given to us in the Word of the Lord. In Proverbs 4:23 NIV, we are told, “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” . Now if we take that same verse from a different Catholic Bible translation (DRA), we’ll find that we are told, “with all watchfulness keep thy heart, because life issueth out from it”. I prefer this translation because emphasis is drawn to the importance of actively and constantly taking care of the heart, which I’m sure we could all do more.

So let’s stop throwing around this phrase around and let’s start actively living it instead. Here is what experience has taught me:

6 Practical Ways to Actually Guard Your Heart and Lead Your Heart:

  1. Pray. This is a given. But don’t pray passively; pray actively. This means praying for your emotional purity, even if you don’t have feelings for another person or know someone has feelings for you. We can’t expect to be ready for a relationship if we’re preparing for it the same way we cram for a test the night before.
  2. Decide who you want to be, and write it down. It’s not about what the other person can give you, but rather, who you can be and what you can do for them. Love is life-giving. Love doesn’t drag you to hell. And neither should you do so to your future spouse. Figure out with the Lord what kind of person you want to be for him/her. Write it down so you can reference it once you meet him/her, so you won’t compromise what’s written on your heart. Better yet, write down a vision statement of the person you want to be when you do get married. Begin working towards becoming that person.
  3. Make a “non-negotiables” list. Turning someone down is already difficult to do, but having a “non negotiables” list will make the process easier for you. This will help you know where to draw the line before you even need to. What kind of values should s/he have? How should s/he treat the people you love? What is the most important trait s/he should have? And how should s/he treat you? Run this list by someone you trust. Which leads us to our next point:
  4. Talk to someone who can guide you properly. Everyone has someone you can turn to about topics like this. Whether it is a friend, your parents, or a religious (deacon, pastor, nun, etc.), there is always someone who exemplifies the man or woman you want to become in the future and can point you in the right direction. Talk to someone you can be completely vulnerable and transparent with — someone who can hold you accountable.
  5. Trust the process and be real about it. There’s nothing wrong with getting to know someone. However, there is a huge difference between hiding it and keeping it low-key. If you’re sneaking around, brushing off people’s assumptions and avoiding being confronted, then it’s likely you’re already headed in the wrong direction with this person. But if you’re keeping it on the DL because you’re in the initial getting-to-know-you stages with someone and are being mindful of his/her dignity, then that’s respectable. Sometimes we get so caught up in thinking that we’ll get in trouble for wanting to get to know someone that we hide it from the people around us. Let’s remember that vocations are serious things, and if you’re getting to know someone in a Christ-centered way, then there’s no need to hide such an important part of your life. So brothers, don’t be afraid to pursue a sister with proper guidance. And sisters, don’t be afraid to let a brother get to know you.
  6. Pray some more. I’m adding this as the last step because it’s something I tend to overlook myself. It’s one thing to pray before sitting down with a girl to tell her your intentions or hangout out with a guy you like, but it’s another thing to reflect in His presence after everything’s been said and done. Here is where you will find peace. And more importantly, the answers in your heart.

 

Guarding our hearts is pointless if we don’t know how to lead them too. At the end of the day, when the lovebug bites you, it sticks. And after all the butterflies, phone calls, and mushy exchanges have come and gone, it’s up to you to lead them back to Him. So before your eyes get blinded by giant hearts, decide how you’re going to be Christ to the person you will one day strive for holiness with. Because if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. And if you’re going to fall for someone, you might as well do it right.

 

 


Angelica Cacatian – High School Based Program Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

My Family and I

I don’t know about you, but I love my family! I always get excited whenever I get the chance to share about them because they are God’s greatest gift to me.

 My family consists of 4 people who love to spend time with each other.  There is my dad, who is the most selfless man you will ever meet, my mom, whose heart is able to expand with so much love, my younger sister who is my best friend and then there is me.

Growing up, my parents always stressed how important it is to have a relationship with God.  They have had a significant impact on my Catholic faith because they were able to lead by example.  They taught my sister and I how to pray and they encouraged us to go to mass every Sunday.  I was able to see how much they loved the Lord and that love radiated in how they cared for our family and for everyone around them. My parents are the most loving and supportive parents I could ever ask for and there isn’t a day that I fail to feel loved by them.  Every morning when I leave for school my dad takes time out of his day to drive me to the skytrain even if we live around 5 minutes away from the station.  My mom packs me lunch everyday and sometimes she even puts a little note on it saying “have a blessed day!” or “Good luck on your test!”.  It is through them and through the little things that they do that I am able to experience Christ’s unconditional love.

What I love about us is that no matter how busy we are, we always make time for each other.  Every night, after going about our separate lives, we have dinner as a family and catch up on each others days.  I am blessed to say that my family has grown very close. We do almost everything together.  We eat dinner together, we watch T.V. together, we go on late night bubble tea runs together, but most importantly we serve God together.

I am so thankful because God has given me a family that is continuing to help me grow in all aspects of my life.  They are the ones who instill in me and constantly remind me that I am capable of doing whatever I set my mind to.  They are the ones who are guiding me on my journey and I know that no matter what happens they will always be there praying for me.  I cannot thank the Lord enough for the gift of my family and nothing makes me happier than being able to serve with them in this community.   

 

 


Alyana Angeles – West 2 Chapter Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

God’s First Gift to Me

Have you ever wanted a different family? I did. To be exact it was in 2012.

It was in the summer of grade nine when coming home meant coming home to a brother that would always argue and annoy me, and to parents that would not stop fighting. My family had many things to endure, and stress overcame my parents. Home was a stressful environment, and I wanted out. In fact, I wanted a whole different family. At that time, I wasn’t strong in the faith, but I kept asking God, “if you really love me and my family, then why are you putting us through all this suffering?”. The answer came a few years later.

Have you ever regretted saying something? I have. To be exact it was in 2012. I regret saying that I wanted a different family.

Throughout the years as time passed, my family understood how low we dipped. As cliché as it sounds, life really is a roller coaster ride. Now, from that low point we have been growing, and a beautiful reminder of this growth was quite recently. It was a Saturday, and my mom was off work for the first time in a while. It became a habit of mine to go to Mass everyday, and for the first time I invited my family. This was the first time we went out to a Mass as a family that wasn’t on a Sunday, and to put the cherry on top, all the members of my family went to confession after a long time of ignorance toward the beautiful sacrament of Reconciliation. Seeing my family partake in the celebration of the Eucharist outside of the regular hour on Sunday made me realize how blessed I am to have a family that loves me so much that they will constantly go out of their comfort zone in order to support me, and grow in their faith. With constant prayer, I came to realize the Lord’s plan for me [was to be] with my family. I am called to be a source of unity for my family, especially in times of trouble. To relate back to my question to God; I found the answer. My family endured the suffering so that through it we could become stronger, and we did.

I learned that despite being annoyed by my brother I am called to love him because he is a gift to me. I learned that despite having a mother that is constantly working, I am called to understand her hard work because she is a gift to me. I learned that despite having a father that is easy to anger I am called to be patient with him because he is a gift to me. In all, I learned that I must be a source of unity for my family. I challenge myself to turn my family into saints, and I challenge you to do so as well.

The lesson here is this: despite sufferings, hardships and tribulations in your family, [they will always support you and your journey to bringing all those you love closer to the Lord and into the Kingdom of Heaven].

“He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly.” Acts 10:2

Lord, we offer up our families for they are the first gifts we received from You. May we continue to be sources of unity for our families, and strive to bring them closer to heaven. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.

 


Gerwin Legaspi – South 3 Chapter head | CFC-Y Pacific Region

I Am Home

“So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.’”

– Luke 15:20

As you may already know, this year Pope Francis declared it to be the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy. It is an invitation for us to not only receive the mercy of God but to share it, to experience it, and most importantly, to live it. Being subject to the Lord’s mercy is more than just forgiveness and sympathy. It goes far beyond that. The mercy of God allows us to experience true peace and pure joy. Mercy is love given freely to us from the Lord. We did not earn it or did anything to deserve it. God chooses to give us mercy because He cares for our wellbeing. All He wants is to bring us joy. This is exactly what we are created for. So that my joy may be in them, and that their joy will be complete. But it is not enough for us to experience this joy through mercy. Mercy is not meant to be contained within us, but to be shared amongst the people that we encounter. This year, the Lord calls all of us to become missionaries of mercy.

 

First, we must learn to openly receive God’s mercy before anything else. Simply put, we cannot give what we don’t have. We must recognize our dire need for God’s mercy. There are many times I fall short in expressing my love for my family. There are many times it’s difficult to forgive those who hurt me. There are many times serving gets tiresome. A specific moment where the Lord allowed me to be a reciprocant of His mercy is through my household. I like to think being accountable for others comes natural for me, however allowing others to be accountable for me is quite foreign to me. For the longest time I carried a closed heart in allowing others to journey with me. Slowly but surely, these walls of insecurities, pride and selfishness begin to break as I allowed my household to pray for me and love me. I began to understand that my sufferings are meant to be shared for the opportunity of allowing others to see Christ. Every missionary is not only called to spread God’s love but to also experience and be that reciprocant of that same love. It’s through these moments He continues to remind me that even the most tangled knots are loosened by God’s grace. It’s through these moments where I see the Lord with eyes fixated towards me with arms spread wide, patiently waiting for me. He meets me where I am. In His mercy, God never tires of stretching out His hands to reach for us. He encourages us to continue our journey with Him, to come back and tell Him our weaknesses, to be reminded that we can only find strength through Him. We are blessed with the opportunity to do exactly that in the sacraments, specifically in the sacrament of Reconciliation. This is the real journey; to walk with God in our sufferings, in our weaknesses, only to be clothed in His sacrificial love and endless mercy. Let’s all be like St. Rose of Lima when she says, “Lord, increase my sufferings, and with them increase Your love in my heart.” Or like St Therese of Lisieux when she says, “How happy I am to see myself imperfect and be in need of God’s mercy.”

 

Once we are able to fully receive His mercy, we are able to bless those around us by being messengers of mercy. This year, I was able to fully comprehend how much I’m in dire need for God’s mercy in my life and how much I am called to acknowledge this same mercy in my family. Our family relationships help us deepen our knowledge and understanding in the virtue of mercy as we cultivate the habits of loving, forgiving and serving one another. Not only the family can be a school of mercy, it also becomes a school of sanctity! A specific moment where my family and I experience God’s mercy is when we went to Montreal last summer. What was supposed to be a family vacation turned into a mini pilgrimage. God presented himself to us so intimately through Mass and Adoration in the cathedrals we visited. It was the first time in awhile I was able to just kneel in wonder and awe of Christ with my family kneeling right next to me in Adoration. I remember my heart filled with so much peace and joy. This is exactly what the Lord wants for us, to experience His joy through His mercy! God calls me to be His ears for my family. He calls me to simply listen to the needs of my family, not merely to commiserate but to present these intentions to the Lord through prayer. How often do we really take the time to listen to one another with intent and purpose? Or to not just wait until the other person is finished talking to give our response but to actually internalize what the other person is saying? It would be very difficult to take someone seriously and journey with them if we are too centered on our own struggles and sufferings. When we pray for our families, it also gives us the opportunity to cleanse our hearts. A clean heart can see God, and if we see God in each other, naturally we will love one another as God loves each of us.

The Lord continues to reveal how he calls me in this Year of Mercy through my family. I was reminded that I didn’t have to look far to give and receive mercy. As much as the Lord calls me to serve my brothers and sisters within and outside the community, I know He calls me to start at home. My first mission area and where I should begin to be an instrument of mercy, is my family. So my brothers and sisters, I challenge you to be a missionary of mercy. While the world is in desperate need for God’s mercy, we don’t have to look far to begin. Let us all be missionaries of mercy right where we live! Where is God calling you to grow in mercy within your family?

I am, and we are missionaries of God’s unfathomable mercy.

Merciful Father, thank You for reminding me that my personal moments of mourning will soon turn to a joyful dance, through the waves of Your endless mercy. An opportunity to receive Your mercy is an opportunity to receive You. May my awaken spirit be a light to others, so that they will no longer see I, but You. Jesus, I trust in You. Amen.

 

 

 

 


Diane Dimacali – Area Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

In the School of Mercy

The beginning of our new liturgical year marks the end of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by the Holy Father last December. Pope Francis believed the world to be in urgent need of the message of mercy, especially “at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction”. Why have we as a society, even those devoutly practicing their faith, forgotten the message of mercy? Perhaps a reason for this is because we’ve submitted to a mentality of me, and only me. In response to a world that is increasingly hesitant to acknowledge our own lowliness, the universal Church declared the Year of Mercy – a year to reflect and celebrate the realness of Christ’s mercy. In many ways, this year was to be a lesson for me in the school of mercy.

In the midst of being entrenched in the me mentality, we often forget how much we truly need God. When we fail to acknowledge our own need, it is much easier to ignore the need of others. My reflection and experiences in the Year of Mercy have allowed me to view mercy as a twofold grace. The first is the recognition of our own need for mercy. In realization of our own need for mercy, we understand that it is not something earned, but rather something freely given by the Father. Instead of thinking of the things I do to receive mercy, we come to an understanding that we in our nature do not deserve it. To receive what we deserve is justice, and if we receive only what we deserve it would be a messy ordeal. Instead, the Lord also grants us mercy, but we need to be open to receive it just as a child unknowingly receives love from their mother and father. Leading up to this year, I understood mercy very differently compared to what I know now. In my mind, mercy was exclusively related to penance. I believed it to be only something gained from going to confession. Though it is true that through the absolution given that I am forgiven, it is not because of something I attained on my own. The grace is given from the unending fountain that is God’s mercy, by His will alone. I am in need.

“Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.” – Misericordiae Vultus

1,000+ young Catholic adults from all over the world celebrate Community Day, a pre-World Youth Day event including Mass and Adoration in Sandomierz, Poland.

The second aspect of mercy is the urgent call for us to be merciful to others. When we understand our own need for mercy, we come to realize the need of others. Suddenly the social, cultural, and economic walls we place between ourselves come crumbling down. Suddenly, we understand the homeless man we see regularly outside of work to be no different than us. We see those who persecute us for our faith (even in our own families) not as our enemies but as another person in need. We are all simply in need of mercy. Therefore, the second aspect of mercy requires us to look at our own hands. It calls us to be messengers of mercy, by our actions and by our spirit. We cannot withhold mercy from others when we ourselves have been blessed by it. It was through my pilgrimage to this year’s World Youth Day in Krakow, that I learned more about our need for mercy. In reflecting on the words “Lord I need You”, I came to understand my own desperate need for God, and my own calling to be a messenger of mercy when I returned home. We should look no further than the example of Christ as a model of indiscriminate mercy. The Son of God who came to eat with sinners also came to die for them, and it is this spirit that the Gospel calls us to live.

“The Church feels the urgent need to proclaim God’s mercy. Her life is authentic and credible only when she becomes a convincing herald of mercy. She knows that her primary task, especially at a moment full of great hopes and signs of contradiction, is to introduce everyone to the great mystery of God’s mercy by contemplating the face of Christ.” – Misericordiae Vultus

Since I returned home from my pilgrimage, I have been called constantly to be a messenger of mercy to those around me. The Lord wanted me to realize that the Father comes and welcomes us even when we are still far off – that mercy is a celebration which we are called to embody in our joy and service. Finally, He wanted to teach me that mercy is for everyone. It is for the faithful, the sinful, the enlightened, the ignorant, the rich, and the poor. God pours out His mercy on all of us. There is no one exempt. My prayer is that we can all live as messengers of mercy. May our hands be instruments of mercy and may our eyes see others as Christ sees them. Together let’s learn to first accept mercy freely from a God who gives abundantly and in turn be a source of mercy to those who need it most. If it ever becomes difficult for us to do either of these, let us remember wholeheartedly the words of the Divine Mercy: Jesus I Trust In You.

 

 

 


Sean Santos – Area Head | CFC-Youth Pacific Region

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Worship At the (Queens) Park

Three weeks after the 22nd CFC-Youth International Conference in Surigao, Philippines, a few brothers of the West Sector of the Greater Toronto Area, met up in downtown Toronto for an evening of worship and fellowship…

Niccolo Arboleda (centre) getting ready to bring everybody into worship.

Niccolo Arboleda (centre) getting ready to bring everybody into worship.

A simple gathering of brothers from all over the GTA, Mississauga, and Brampton at Queen’s Park in downtown Toronto. Metro West Sector Head, Niccolo Arboleda, led a WAP (Worship At the Park) inspired by an experience from Surigao. WAP is a practice held by the local YFCs every Wednesday where they sing songs of praise and worship at a park.

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With inspired readings on brotherhood, camaraderie, and resilience in mission, the evening ended off with a dinner fellowship at a nearby Korean restaurant.

West Sector Head, Tito Chito Pasicolan accompanies a few of the brothers home.

As the group breaks off for the commute home, the experience of being in the company of one another, regardless of time or distance, is a reminder of what the community of CFC is built upon; the human connection within the divine. Whether it be worshipping at a public space or cracking jokes while eating Korean chicken wings, faith and community is built through relationships. The West Sector brothers WAP is definitely the first of more to come.

A few of the brothers that joined the first Metro West Sector WAP Fellowship.

A few of the brothers that joined the first Metro West Sector WAP Fellowship.

 

Martin Angeles, CFC-Youth Metro Region

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CFC-Youth and CFC Singles for Christ return to Vancouver, celebrate 20 years in Canada

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After nearly a year of anticipation, 1300 members of both CFC-Youth and CFC Singles for Christ (SFC) came together at the annual True North Conference to commemorate twenty years as established parts of the Couples for Christ Family Ministries in Canada. Hearkening to both ministries’ beginnings, the three-day conference, running from July 18-20, 2014 was hosted at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, where both ministries humbly took root in 1994 with the help of missionaries from the Philippines.

“IGNITE: See Thee Rise”, the conference’s theme, calls us to active Catholic mission and evangelisation and asks us to reflect on Christ’s presence in our lives. Calling to mind the commissioning of Catholics as in the Sacrament of Confirmation and the fire of the Holy Spirit, we are ignited and lit by the Spirit to act for Christ on earth. Furthermore, referencing a line from Canada’s national anthem, it points us to Christ’s rising in our lives, however that may be, and the resulting expressions of joy and hope having seen Him.

 “With glowing hearts we see Thee rise,

The True North strong and free!”

– from “O Canada”, Canada’s national anthem

While the conference pointed thematically to action and recollection, it pastorally highlighted five major points in its competitions, talks, workshops, and Masses: celebrating God’s faithfulness in the Family Ministries, emphasising continuity rather than nostalgia, highlighting the bonds and transition between CFC-Youth and SFC, echoing messages of International Conferences (ICONs) held in the Philippines, and putting mission and missionary work at the forefront.

Beginning on Friday afternoon and ending late on Sunday morning, the gathered CFC-Youth and SFC members took part in a program that utilised the creativity of youthful, dynamic Catholicism; the familiarity of well-known and respected speakers in the Canadian Family Ministries; and the strength of its host archdiocese and region, inviting guest speakers and local priests for its workshops and Masses.

Through four sessions, CFC-Youth and SFC members grew deeper in appreciation of the past, recognition of the presence of Mary’s intercession and Christ’s rising, and looked joyfully to the future for another 20 years (and beyond) of both ministries. Friday’s session entitled “See Thee Rise”, led by National SFC Coordinator John Acosta, recalled the roots of the community in Canada and honoured those who had come before, pointing ultimately to God’s faithfulness and love the entire time.

Saturday night saw both CFC-Youth and SFC separate into different programs. While CFC-Youth remained in the War Memorial Gym, SFC gathered in the ballroom of the Student Union Building where many of them had before as CFC-Youth in 2010 for the “ALIVE! All for Christ” conference. In their sessions, CFC-Youths were empowered to recognise challenges in their spiritual lives and service in the community and then overcome them with Christ through “Jesus Live”, a talk-show session hosted by CFC-Youth Big Sky Full-Time Pastoral Worker (FTPW) Kyle Beley and Ysabel Germaine. Through “The Beloved”, International CFC-Youth Coordinator Kuya Lawrence Quintero, reminded those gathered of God’s call for them as beloved and to live out their lives with a truly CFC-Youth lifestyle.

In the Student Union Building, the SFC teachings revolved around John the Apostle through SFC Vancouver FTPW Candy Subang’s “The One Who Remained” while CFC-Youth Pacific FTPW Miguel Javier’s “To Jesus Through Mary” inspired a desire to deepen a maternal relationship with Mary. While CFC-Youth’s night ended in reflective adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, SFC celebrated their 20 years in worship followed by fellowship called Club Praise.

The final session on Sunday morning, “Ignite” given by SFC Toronto FTPW Gelo Saludo, presented the common directions of both ministries moving forward, encouraged everyone in Mary’s example to live out their Christian life, and reinforced the identity of being a True North missionary. The entire weekend culminated in Praisefest led by Canada’s newest missionary and CFC-Youth Mountain’s FTPW, Anton Brosas.

A total of seven Saturday afternoon workshops focused on core aspects of faith in the community. While CFC-Youth’s four workshops touched on inspired mission, its resulting work, the rosary, and sacramentals, SFC’s three workshops spoke to its culture, speaking on vocation and Christian dating, as well as the lifestyle and loving responses within the community.

It was the strength of the Mass homilies, that continued to drive home the theme and teachings of the weekend. Beginning by praying the rosary and participating in the Mass each day, the 1300 gathered were able to reflect in imitation of Mary, and then learn from the priests who taught just as Christ did. It was as if another three sessions were added to the conference program in these instances.

Though the Archbishop of Vancouver J. Michael Miller, CSB was not able to celebrate, the priests who celebrated represented him well in his stead. Father James Hughes of Saint Patrick’s Vancouver, celebrating on Friday night, spoke of Catholicism in the lens of modernity and the far-reaching spread of social media but reminded us that nothing replaces the personal encounter with Christ. On Saturday morning, Father Robert Allore, SJ of Saint Mark’s at UBC urged the congregation to bear Christ into the world, especially in our interactions, and share our experiences with Him. Celebrating Sunday morning Mass, Father Glenn Dion, rector of Holy Rosary Cathedral and spiritual director for CFC Vancouver, called us to, “Bloom where you are rooted,” and not put it off.

It is hard to succinctly summarise the blessings of this year’s conference; God’s love and faithfulness are hard to confine and convey in the way we live and encounter others and even harder in words. Greater than the inability to fully express these, however, is the ability to share our encounter with Christ this weekend. If we are lukewarm in our lives, in Christ we are ignited. If we are blind or ignorant or forgetful, we see Thee rise. God has truly blessed the CFC-Youth and SFC communities with 20 fruitful years in Canada, no matter what struggles may have come. If the 2014 True North Conference is any indication, God will bless us in decades with abundantly more.

Written by John Ray Catingub, CFC-Youth Pacific Region, Canada

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#RYCWord: Thy Will Be Done…

John Sangalang, a Vancouver 1 Household Head from Central Cluster, leads worship on the first night of Pacific Region’s Regional Youth Conference at the Guildford Recreation Centre in Surrey, BC on May 16, 2014.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you,” –Matthew 7:7

After a hectic three weeks of non-stop work, school and service, I came into Regional Youth Conference (RYC) exhausted, stressed but with an open heart ready to see what the Lord had in store for me. I had the amazing opportunity to lead over 650 of my brothers and sisters into worship which is an experience like no other. In my exhortation I mentioned my feelings of spiritual dryness and how I could not see God in my times of stress. I came into RYC in search for the answer to the question, “Why do we have to suffer?”

The first session was titled, “Ask” given by our new full time worker Hannah Pambuan. In this session I was reminded of how intimate our Lord God is. So intimate that he calls us by name. He wants to communicate with us so that he can reveal his love to us. I learned not to be afraid to communicate and ask Christ. Through Ariel Bejer and Mickjay Quiamco’s shares I was affirmed that my prayers would be answered. What struck me the most however was a poem by Claudia Minden Welsz:

I asked God to spare me pain, and God said, ‘No’. He said, ‘Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me’.”

God will answer not according to our wants, but His will. My question to suffering was answered.

The night was capped off with worship led by Kevin Locsin. His exhortation began with us turning to our neighbors saying, “You are loved.” This was the moment where I felt Christ the most. His intimate love was manifested in each and every one of my brothers and sisters. In the midst of worship I prayed and began to seek and ask God. I asked him not to take away my sufferings but rather to allow me to see him through it all. At that point it was like a void in my heart was filled. After going so long feeling spiritually dry I felt quenched and more eager than ever to experience Christ.

In the times where I thought I could not feel Christ in the storm, He was there knocking at my heart. All I needed to do was let Him in and trust in His will. For His will is greater than any other plan I can imagine. I found His strength in my times of weakness. Day one of RYC: Word brought forth its blessings, the victory was truly won.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

John Sangalang, CFC-Youth Pacific Region