A Movement for all seasons

Jose C. Sison - The Philippine Star

We are indeed living in very challenging times. Several practices and methods seriously devaluing human life, desecrating the sanctity of marriage and eroding family solidarity are gradually and deceptively creeping into our society. The present generation is constantly under pressure to change their values and traditions of love of God and neighbor with love of self and material things. Our course of action and way of life are therefore very vital to the kind of society awaiting our future generation – whether we will become a purely materialistic society like most of the developed countries in the western hemisphere where morals have almost completely collapsed; or a society that clings on to the long-held beliefs and time-honored customs and traditions shielding us from the onslaughts of pure materialism.

So far, recent events have shown that most Filipinos and their families have not totally succumbed to these pressures as they continue to display that spirit of selflessness and solidarity within the family and with their fellowmen in need of help. Filipinos have somehow transcended the worldly and temporal life and focus on the higher and everlasting life, putting their complete faith and trust in God Almighty, our Creator, instead of fully depending on mere creatures and their purely secular ideas that breed selfishness, greed, lust for power and wealth of this world.

One of the organizations playing a great role in preserving these values and traditions and in strengthening marriage as the foundation of the family and solidifying the family as the foundation of the nation, is the Christian Family Movement (CFM). It is one of the Catholic lay movements that enable Filipino families to resist the pressures of this modern materialistic world. The CFM is the pioneer family organization in the Philippines. It is the only organization composed of families – married couples or single/solo parents and their sons and daughters.

My wife Josie and I were able to preserve and even strengthen our marital union after 51 years of living “dangerously” in this modern world as husband and wife, mainly because we were given the opportunity to join the CFM that focuses on marriage and family life with Christ at the center and the Scripture as the guide. It is a person -oriented, family-centered and parish-based “cell type” organization divided into “units” composed of married couples, and/or “solo parents” or the widows, widowers or those permanently or temporarily separated. The CFM also enabled us to perform the role of evangelizing other Filipino families by simply showing the strong bond of solidarity we have attained through the years.

The CFM Units meet twice a month at the residences of the members on a rotation basis. The format of the meeting is basic and simple but very practical and effective. It is divided into three parts requiring members to: (1) observe, by listening to and discerning the meaning of selected spiritual readings; (2) judge, by applying the readings to the day to day problems we encounter in the family and the community; and (3) act, by adopting and undertaking some measures or courses of action to solve the problems identified.

It is in the CFM where we first learned about the true concept of responsible parenthood that enabled us to raise our family in accordance with God’s plan. We learned that “responsible parenthood is exercised either by the mature and generous decision to raise a large family, or by the decision, made for grave motives, and with full respect for the moral law, to avoid new birth for the time being or even for an indeterminate period (Paul VI, Humanae Vitae 10).

It is in our bi-monthly CFM meetings where we learned that determining the grave reasons for avoiding birth for the time being is left to us married couples bearing in mind the purpose of marriage which is to participate in the creation of life or procreation. The couples decide on this issue after forming their conscience in accordance with the teachings of the Church.

We CFMers also learned that regulating births is not per se immoral or illicit; but the methods used in doing so, particularly the artificial methods are illicit. In this connection, we had occasion to discuss pertinent Papal Encyclicals like Humanae Vitae and Familiaris Consortio which taught us that birth spacing for grave reasons requires couples to abstain from marital acts except during periods of the women’s infertility when conception cannot take place. This is the natural family planning method which has been proven to be 99.9% effective and does not entail any expense on the part of couples.

For the past 59 years since its introduction in the Philippines, the CFM has indeed promoted and strengthened the growth of other Filipino Christian families, evangelized them and their communities through its family life programs and in the process also evangelized its own members. It has developed programs to protect and strengthen marriage and the family as a basic and autonomous social institution. As early as 1959, CFM members were already conducting Pre-Cana Conferences or pre marriage counseling to prepare engaged couples intending to take the plunge. In 1969, the CFM introduced the Marriage Encounter (ME) weekend among married couples to reinforce and strengthen husband-wife relationship. As a spin-off from the ME, other programs came about particularly, the Marriage Enrichment or “Tipanan,” the Family Encounter, Solo Parents Encounter, Sons and Daughters Encounter and even the “Priests Encounter.”

Actually however, CFM has also been and continues to be active in social action programs. Some units have put up credit unions in their Parishes providing needed financial assistance to poor parishioners. CFM members also joined the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) during election time.

Marriage and family life in the Philippines will therefore remain strong and solid mainly because the family members themselves have been properly equipped and trained to face the pressures of the secular world and the onslaught of modern technologies. And the lay organization mainly instrumental in assisting the Church in this regard is the Christian Family Movement (CFM) which was established in the Philippines at the height of the emerging modern world 59 years ago. CFM indeed is a Movement for all seasons.

Today, Oct.16, up to Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015, the CFM of the Philippines is holding its 33rd National Biennial Convention in Chateau Royale, Nasugbu, Batangas with the convention theme of “Family: Focal Point of the New Evangelization.” Most Reverend Roland J. Tria Tirona will be the keynote speaker who will talk on the “Prevailing Reality and Concrete Challenges to the Family.” The incumbent President couple is Pip and Wilma Cua while the incoming President couple is Jorge and Josie Santamaria.

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E-mail: [email protected]


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