CLP Talk 10 — a mountain to conquer, a training ground, a baptism of fire for a CLP team head?
When I was the Team head of the Christian Life Program (a pre-requisite program for all Couples for Christ member), the “Growing in the Spirit” was automatically given to me. And it was so, for all succeeding CLP’s.
Was it due to the seeming simplicity of the topic that it became the first talk that a CFC member gives?
During my early years in the CFC community and from various teachings and conferences, I had reflected the importance of this topic: “Growing in the Spirit”. In 2015 International Leader’s conference, this topic was again reiterated, nay, emphasized. We were told to do the things outlined in this topic but with MORE vigor — more prayer, more scriptures/studies, more service, more fellowship, and a daily dose of the sacrament of the Eucharist.
In this year’s 36th anniversary celebration, CFC chairman Joe Tale in his anniversary message led us in the renewal of our CFC covenant and again he dwelt on the importance of growing in the Spirit as he emphasized,
“As we anchor our leadership on the shepherding of Christ, let us draw our loved ones to a deeper spirituality and commitment to the Lord and the CFC community.”
If this is a very important aspect of our lives in the community, how come it is given as a “practice ground” for CLP team leaders? I had observed that when a team leader gave this talk (especially if it’s his first time to give a talk), the fear of making a blunder is so great that he usually ends up just reading the expanded outline. The tools for our growth in the Spirit were never given their due importance. Probably this is the main reason why those we had nurtured during the CLP tend to lose the fire even during the first year of their renewed life in the community.
It was this realization, and perhaps with the prompting of the Holy Spirit that I chose our elders or those who have been in the community for quite a time to give this very important topic. I’m not in any way belittling my brethren as they are quite capable of giving the talk. But I had been a participant myself and knowing that the speakers came from other, at times even far places just to give the talk, it gives you that feeling of importance.
So for our new brethren who may had been so overwhelmed during the CLP, that they had forgotten; or even those who had been in the CFC community for quite a time and had also forgotten, here’s my reflection on the “Growing in the Spirit”.
We were familiar with the four-spoke wheel as a visual for this talk. In most cases, this is the only thing we remember.
- the Center HUB
- the Spokes: (listed according to importance)
- the Rim
- the Tire
THE CENTER HUB
The Center HUB is our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Master. We are all encouraged to anchor our lives in Jesus — to stay in the center as possible. For most of our lives, while we don’t outright reject Jesus as our Lord, we tend to stay as far away as possible without “totally” detaching from Him. We hold on to the rim. In last Sunday’s Mission Core teaching (IIRR Silang 23 July 17), brother Mon De Leon (SOLD/OSM) said that if we stay on the rim we will be dragged, bruised, bumped or even crushed by life’s various oppression. If we hold on to the rim, we will experience the full impact of the road, the pain of every pothole and humps. He encouraged us to stay near the center, to focus on the center of our faithfulness — Jesus Christ.
The first is PRAYER. In our growth in the Spirit, prayer is a very important tool. Our prayer must be faithful, led by the Holy Spirit and centered on our relationship with Jesus. We are encouraged to have our daily prayer — personal, couple, family, and community prayer.
— At the top of the community prayer is the Holy Mass. We are encouraged to attend (participate) Mass if possible daily or at every opportunity. We were reminded not to be contented with just going to Mass on Sundays. (Love More ILC, Jan 2015, MOA Arena).
— We also have our bigger prayer assemblies (International, Provincial, Sectoral, Chapter), then our weekly household meetings. Our covenant tells us to be faithful to these meetings, where we join our brethren in prayer, thanksgiving and fellowship. In cases of schedule conflicts of such gatherings, we have to bear in mind that the bigger gathering shall prevail.
The second is SCRIPTURES/STUDIES/TEACHINGS. To grow in the Spirit means growing in our knowledge of the Word of God. We are encouraged to read the Scriptures for our daily reflection and guidance.
In the course of our living the CFC way, there are various teachings, retreats, conferences we are encouraged to attend. These teachings will help us grow not only in the Spirit but even in our personal lives.
Learning from the lives of the saints and a deep devotion to Mama Mary will also help us understand how the Holy Spirit moves in our lives.
The third is SERVICE. According to St. James, faith without works is dead (Jas 2:14-26 NABRE). Service is the consequence of our life in the Spirit. It comes as a natural effect of our love and of our faith.
Service is as simple as arranging the chairs or preparing the juice concoctions or as challenging as going to missions or by literally going that extra mile as we join ANCOP Global Walk to support the dreams of our scholars.
By joining AGW, not only do we give fulfillment to their dreams, but also their family’s lives. For Couples for Christ members, this should be a natural response. We no longer need any invitation to serve others through AGW. But if you do, here is Cardinal Chito Tagle’s invitation for the AGW and another by VP Leni Robredo can be viewed here.
There are many opportunities for us to serve if we care to. In our simple ways we are encouraged to share our “T’s” — our time, talent, and treasures. Another service we can give is our support to CORNERSTONE or make use of our teaching prowess by helping out in our parish YouCat Ministry.
Whatever you do, however you do it, don’t do it for self-gratification as it will burn you out. But in everything we do, we do it out of love — the true mark of a disciple of Christ.
34 I give you a new commandment:[a] love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. 35 This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn 13:34-35 NABRE)
The fourth is FELLOWSHIP. In building the community of God through the Couples for Christ, we are encouraged to have a regular “chill time” with our families, fellowship with our brethren and their families. We may schedule outings, or just simple “coffee time” with them. We can also combine fellowship and prayer by going to out-of-town pilgrimages, or even out-of-the-country, if it is for the greater glory of our Lord.
Do take note however that fellowship is only the fourth in the order of importance. Unit assemblies are not prayer assemblies but more of a fellowship. They should not replace our regular household meetings. The fifth week of the month is scheduled for such fellowships. Of course, there are exemptions like in summer outings or Christmas parties. But they are exemptions and should not be the regular schedule.
The Rim symbolizes our whole being connected to Jesus Christ in the center by the four spokes of Prayer, Scriptures/Studies/Teachings, Service, and Fellowship.
THE EXTERIOR WHEEL or THE TIRE
Even without the tire, our lives will continue to be lived; we can continue with our prayers, with reading our Scriptures, with our service and our fellowship. But any driver will tell you how hard it is to be running flat; or running the car with just the rim. It will be a slow, noisy and tiresome trip. It will be a heavy load, a magnet to accidents.
The tire makes our trip smooth, our lives comfortable in the sense that amid life’s problems we will have peace of mind and heart.
Our tire is the SACRAMENTS. As a Catholic Christian community, we are encouraged to receive the sacraments regularly, especially the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Of course, we have to come to His banquet properly clothed not only physically but spiritually. We are encouraged no less by Cardinal Soc Villegas to have our regular confession, to come before God in the sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month. (Love More ILC, MOA Arena, Jan 2015).
These may look easy but in fact they are hard to live by. On our own, this will be a mountain to climb. But with the grace of God, they are achievable; they can be lived. With the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit whom we received in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, by following and practicing them in our daily lives, we can truly grow in the Spirit of God.
May you be blessed!