CALLED TO HOLINESS DURING PANDEMIC
Dear CFC Family,
No event in recent history has affected our community as profoundly and extensively as it has today. The Coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown orders challenged our community life as Couples for Christ. While no one has foreseen COVID-19 and its impact upon us all, CFC has indeed been prepared for it, not just by this year’s theme but by its 39 years of rich and guided history. God has always been teaching and forming us to withstand, endure and even prosper and grow under any circumstance.
While we are in an unfamiliar path to a future which is different from our usual way of life, we have to remember that this year we are “Called to Holiness” and this holds true to what we are all going through. “We are called to manifest holiness in everything that we do. We are called to be proclaimers of God’s goodness not through what we say but what we do. We have tried, and will continue to try, to heed this call.” (CFC Directions 2020)
The Lord, through our Calling, our Culture, our Values and our Character—“be peaceful at all times”—has prepared our Community to be mission-ready for this crisis. In the recent years, the Holy Spirit gave us specific instructions, through our annual theme. God has been training us on how to deal with what confronts us today.
• Put On the Full Armor of God
• Proclaim the Greatness of the Lord
• Obey and Witness
• Behold and Ponder
• Love More
• Rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks
• Stand Firm in the Faith
In the past few weeks, we have proven our resilience as a community, in trying to live out GOD’s directions in various ways. Stay-at-home and lockdown orders have not deterred us from finding new ways to connect with one another. We have witnessed how community made use of the internet to connect us to each other in love. We recently conducted our first virtual MCG/ MCT. Assemblies, teachings and household meetings are now being held online. We have made use of the cyberspace as our “highway to holiness.”
Your International Council is determined to sustain our life and mission as a community during this pandemic and beyond. Our priorities remain the same, summarized as follows:
• First, we will put our personal lives in order.
• Second, we will put our families in order.
• Third, we will put our community life in order.
Though our priorities remain the same, we can learn from this crisis to discern and enhance ways and means to fulfill our Mission.
After much prayer and reflection, we feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit leading us to the following guidelines during this time of crisis:
1. For the Family
We are to keep ourselves and our families safe. Follow advisories and protocols of the government. It is also important to protect our family through prayers and an enhanced spiritual life.
Family has taken on a refreshing meaning—prayer time, mealtimes, recreation, masses, spiritual activities together—putting it back up in everyone’s hierarchy of priorities. Let us attend online Masses as a family and be faithful to our individual and family prayer time (see March 21 Pastoral Letter on Community Prayer against Covid-19).
During these uncertain times, what is most essential is our relationship with God and our family. Nonetheless, Pope Francis cautions us to… “Be careful not to virtualize the Church, to virtualize the Sacraments, to virtualize the People of God. The
Church, the Sacraments, the People of God are concrete. It’s true that at this moment we must have this familiarity with the Lord in this way, but we must come out of the tunnel, not stay there.”
2. Fulfillment of our mission during the pandemic
We shall continue to find ways to fulfill our mission from home. First and foremost is the continuing implementation of HHEAT (Home/Household, Evangelization, ANCOP, and Teaching) through the following;
a) The Household
The household, our basic unit in the pastoral structure of CFC, is critical to the life and mission of CFC. It builds the environment for the support of the Christian life of couples and provides the means for encouraging and hastening the growth in Christian life. Our Household meetings must continue.
For areas that are in lockdown and where physical gatherings pose a risk of further spreading the COVID-19 virus, household meetings may be done through the use of the video- or audio-conferencing platforms (e.g., Viber, FB Messenger, Google Hangouts, Zoom). For those without wifi access, household heads must communicate regularly with their members (call or text) and pray with them.
Please follow local government protocols related to gatherings and social distancing.
b) Being a Community
Let us reach out and help members who have been adversely affected by the lockdown, such as those who lost a loved one or are in the hospital, and have suffered from loss of job or income. We should also extend support to parish communities where possible. For community-wide awareness and a more synchronized set of actions, every leader must immediately cascade all CFC Global Communication letters, memos and emails to the leaders and members under them.
Formation schedules should likewise continue even through virtual means. The Holy Spirit has inspired many of our members to use social media to support, enrich and nourish each one. We encourage this wellspring of creative spiritual endeavors, prompted by the Holy Spirit, to continue. We will also be publishing pastoral formation materials for our community in the coming days.
What we have seen is a spiritual stirring across nations. We should take advantage of this and evangelize by continuing to conduct CLPs even if it has to be done virtually. We will come up with further guidelines on the conduct of virtual CLPs in the coming days.
Our community continues to support our mission work globally beginning with the regular salaries of our full-time pastoral workers and office workers numbering around 250 plus. Just like the widow in the bible who gave from her need, no one is too poor to help others, especially those who are in the frontlines of spreading the good news to the world. Trust that God sees our hearts, our circumstances and gives back a hundredfold.
What confronts us today is a shift in our everyday pattern. We face a future which may not mesh with what we have been doing in the past. Until such time that a cure or a vaccine is discovered, social distancing shall continue to be a norm. How are we to pursue our life and mission as a community post COVID-19? We are to learn from our experience to establish the way of the future.
But the greatest of the temptations is to abandon our sense of community. We shall scatter if this happens. We shall scatter if we abandon our life and mission. Hence, our CFC Covenant remains relevant and in force. Let us review and run through it again, individually and as households, with the present situation in mind.
To prepare us for the way forward, the International Council assigned Jimmy Ilagan to oversee the formation of a task force in coordination with the Office on the New Evangelization (ONE). A memo with more details will be released soonest.
Easter means the new creation has begun and is coming! Let us heed the CALLING of the Lord for us to embark on a NEW JOURNEY, where God is LEADING us to a NEW PATH, for which God has been PREPARING us to ENTER into a NEW WAY where “we have never been before!” (Pastoral Letter dated July 27, 2019). God has been blessing CFC in a special way today to prepare it to face and embrace the future. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may continue to guide and direct us to this new creation.
As the Lord has risen, so too shall we.
God bless your families. God bless Couples for Christ.
For the Internation Council.