The Gift of Grace

Written by SFL AMP on . Posted in Article, Sharing

A Sharing by Monique Burgos, SFL Cavite

On Two Roads

I grew up in a family with two religions. My father is a Protestant, while my mother is a Roman Catholic. It may seem unusual that these two people, with their own respective families, could really get along despite the distinctions of their spiritual beliefs, but they somehow pulled it off. They were allowed to marry each other in a Catholic Church, because among the different kinds of Protestants, my father’s is the closest to the Catholic’s. On the other hand, my sister and I were baptized in a Protestant Church, making us both Protestants. Believing in the fact that we all have one God to love and to serve gave us the comfort of having two religions to consider one at a time. When we were younger, we attended Protestant services, as well as other activities during their anniversaries and presentations. Alternatively, we also attended the Holy Mass and were exposed to the Catholic faith while attending school. Both sides were given due consideration, and wasn’t a big issue at all.

One Baptism

As I grew up, I got myself more involved with the practice of the Catholic faith. Though Protestant by baptism, I’ve always loved serving during the Holy Mass. I started singing in a choir when I was young, then eventually became a lector and commentator. I embraced the sacraments of the Catholic Church. By this time, I already knew that I can relate myself to God in this religion – I knew, in my heart that I am in love. My service flourished even more when I joined a Campus Ministry Club in High School for 3 years, which the Lord allowed me to serve and lead. My club adviser and some members used to ask me how I can serve so actively in the Catholic church when I am a Protestant. My answer is always smile. I really don’t know why. Maybe it was my schooling, or a passion, a story that I cannot put into words. By then, my mother and I have been inquiring how to be fully “converted” to Catholicism, and in God’s grace, were told that the baptism ‘rights’ used before were almost the same as the Catholic Church, and since there can only be one baptism, there’s no need for us to get baptized again.

Surrendering to God

This moment changed our lives. As grace-filled as it is to be able to fully serve as a Catholic, this change did not come without consequences. My Father grew concerned. We barely attend their services and activities we hardly, almost never, had the chance to attend the mass together as a family. This has been our current situation up until now. A hard fight indeed, but through the grace of God, little by little, this struggle is now turning to be an inspiration – an inspiration to lay and surrender everything to God, the author of life, the ultimate defender of families and our Promise Keeper.

We are still very thankful, that though we are physically being separated by our differences, we know that spiritually, we are all united in the Lord. Our circumstances may hurt, but these pains mold in us bigger and stronger hearts that allow us to forgive, understand and love each other even more. We may be pushed down by life’s situations, but the Lord will always stay victorious in our lives.

Finding Light

We are all given our own struggles, and as Catholic Christians, we are to see the gift that comes with it. Our faith and families will always be the best gifts God has given us. We are to cherish it. As emissaries of His great love and mercy, of His immense desire to protect life and the lives of families, let us continue to support and pray for each other that we, with the community, will inspire and bring forth integrity into this mission that is for God’s greater glory.

For more inspiring sharings, Like and Follow www.facebook.com/CFCSinglesforFamilyAndLife. #WitnessWednesdays

 

Blessed Is The One Who Loves Fully

Written by SFL AMP on . Posted in Sharing

In today’s Sunday gospel, we see two people who both had their own “Jesus Encounter”, Simon the Pharisee, and the sinful woman, let’s see who was more blessed & loved by Jesus.

Both had their own encounter with the Lord but having different states of heart, one was full of love and compassion, the other judgement and contempt. How can this happen when both were blessed by the presence of the Lord?

The Pharisee, instead of being thankful of Jesus’ acceptance to dine in his home, judged Jesus for allowing the sinful woman to touch him. Instead of seeing Jesus’ loving compassion to the sinner, his heart was full of contempt for the sinful woman, thus he was not able to feel God’s love through Jesus Christ for his heart was hardened by his judgement.

The sinful woman, acknowledging her sins and seeing the great mercy the Lord has bestowed upon her, poured out all her heart and soul in serving the Lord in her very humble gesture. Her heart was open to receive God’s love and mercy that it overflowed through her actions.

In these two people, we see two hearts, one that is hardened and closed, the other open and waiting to be filled.

Sometimes when we judge other people, when we think selfishly, when arrogance overcomes us, when we let our pride dictate the state of hearts, our hearts closes in on itself and becomes hard. When our hearts are hardened we fail to see God’s overflowing love and blessings to us and instead we become self-righteous and we tend to judge other people in the process. This self-righteousness hinders us from doing good and sharing God’s great love and mercy to other people.

When our hearts are open, it is then filled by God with his great love and mercy for us. When our hearts are open, it is in this state that God blesses us more and uses us to be a source of blessing to others. And the more our hearts are open, the more it is filled with love until it overflows to our actions and shows through our interactions with the people around us.

Yesterday during our CLS Weekend, I was blessed by God with all the divine appointments I have encountered during the whole day. It reminded me of God’s great calling of being a missionary. He used the different stories of struggles and victories of the people in that CLS Weekend to inspire and energize me once again to fulfill His call for evangelization.

The sharings that I heard will just remain stories instead of blessings if I didn’t open my heart and listened wholeheartedly to them. Sometimes when the people around us tells us their stories, most of time the first thing that comes to mind is “what is it to me? What can I get from hearing this story?” and when our selfish thoughts prevail, we are robbed of that opportunity of being blessed by that person’s sharing. Most of the time the Lord speaks to us through other people more than during our prayer time, let our hearts remain open and willing to be filled by God through our everyday encounter with people.

Brothers and sisters let us empty our hearts of our selfishness and self-righteousness and instead let us open our hearts to the great love of our Lord. Let the state of our hearts be always full of love, for great love leads to great actions.

by Hope Reyes, SFL Missionary

Pag-ibig Na Natanggap, Pag-ibig na Ibibigay

Written by SFL AMP on . Posted in Sharing

A Sharing by Jed Robert Parolena, SFL Polomolok

Isa akong Katoliko at mga magulang ko’y Katoliko rin nabinyagan. Nagsisimba kami at nagdadasal din nung mga bata pa kami. Di ko pa po masyadong alam kung ano at paano maging isang Kristiyano. Ang pamilya namin ay di naman maramot kasi tinuturuan kami ng aming ina na mapagbigay din sa iba. Halos pinalaki kami ng aming mga magulang na mapagbigay at may takot sa Diyos.

Bago pa po ako sa SFL community dito sa Polomolok, hindi talaga ako taga-dito at hindi rin ako pinanganak dito. Nagtratrabaho ako dito kasi naimbitahan na magtrabaho sa aking uncle na active din na Couples dito sa Polomolok.

Malungkot ang mga unang araw ko dito kasi malayo ako sa aking pamilya sa Gensan. Pero kalaunan nasanay na ako na mag-isa at tinuturing naman ako na anak ng aking Uncle at  Tita. Hanggang isang araw naimbitahan ako nilang sumali sa community. At napakasaya ko kasi may saysay pala ang pagpunta ko dito. Parang may gusto lang si God na misyon na gagawin ko. Hanggang naging active na ako sa SFL at kalaunay naging Servant Head dito sa Polomolok. Di ko alam ang dapat gampanan ko dito bilang Servant Head, pero ang alam ko gagawin ko to dahil may ipinapagawa si God sa akin.

Kaya naman po hanggang nag isang taon na ako dito sa community, dumating itong kalamidad ng tagtuyot na di lang dito nararanasan. Di inaasahan ng lahat na malaki pala ang pinsala na idudulot ng El Nino. Halos makikita mo dito sa bundok na berde noon ngayon ay kulay brown na at nakakalbo pa.

Dahil sa sobrang init, sumiklab sa mga bundok ang mga grassfire na halos masunog na lahat ng kabundukan. Kaya naman nung nabalitaan namin ng aming mga kasama sa community habang naghahousehold kami na grabe ang apektado sa may paanan ng bundok at maraming mga pamilya ang nakatira don, napagpasyahan namin na magbibigay kami ng mga tulong sa kanila kahit sa maliit na paraan.

Pumunta at umakyat kami sa bundok sakay lamang ng isang de motor kasi un lng mas madaling sakyan paakyat doon. Halos di ko maipaliwanag ang saya at takot paakyat sa bundok ksi di ako sanay na pumunta ng malalayo. Sira ang mga daan, alikabok at halos bangin na ang daanan paakyat. Malayo palang halos tanaw na naming na sunog na sunog na mga gubat sa taas. Nagkukulay itong brown na halos di mo maisip na bakit ganun ka sunog. Ngunit dahil gusto talaga naming makaayat  doon at makita talaga ang sitwasyon sa taas,nakaakyat kami ng ligtas. Akala ko ang saya saya ko dun pero nung makita na namin ung bawat pamilya doon, halos dinudurog ang mga puso naming nakikinig sa sinapit nila. Walang tubig, walang pagkain, mga bata nagkakasakit, walang ulan at wala na silang makukunan ng hanapbuhay na tanim na kape kasi halos sunog na lahat. Halos di ko maisip sa sarili ko na swerte pa pala ako kasi nakakakain pa ako at sila wala.

Kaya naman pagkababa namin doon nagpatawag agad kami ng service meeting para pagpasyahan ang pagbibigay ng tulong sa itaas. At binalikan pa namin ng dalawang beses doon, kasama ang District Servant namin at ang isang Mission Volunteer namin. Nakipagcoordinate kami sa lokal nilang barangay para sa pagpalam sa gagawin naming programa sa sa apektado ng sunog sa taas.

Hanggang sa humingi kami ng tulong sa mga kapatid namin sa community sa Gensan, Polomolok at Marbel. Humingi rin kami ng tulong sa mga CFC FFL at agad naman silang tumulong at nagbigay ng mga bigas, cash at in kind donation. Nag-require din kami sa SFL na magbigay ang bawat isa ng halagang 100.00 at agad namang tumugon sila. May nagbigay pa ng mga damit, libro, laruan at kusang loob na in cash na ayaw nilang ipabanggit kng magkano at sino sila. Nakasolicit din kami sa U.A.E sa tulong ng aming District Servant, at halos ang laking tulong in cash ung binigay nila.

Di ko lubos maisip paano at saan galing ang mga tulong ng mga taong sumusuporta sa aming gagawin na pagtulong. Dahil ang daming mga biyaya na dumating nakapagpack kami ng mga goods na may bigas, de lata, noodles at gatas ng umabot halos 68 na packs.

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May 21,2016 dumating ang araw ng pagdadala ng mga tulong sa bundok. Marami ang sumama sakay sa sasakyan na nairequest namin ng libre sa Barangay. Puno ang sasakyan ng mga packed goods, tubig, pagkain at mga taong sumama paakyat. Halos di na magkasya ang mga kapatid namin na sumama kc maliit lng ang sasakyan at halos maipit na sila. Ngunit dahil sa kagustuhang tumulong, pinagkasya lahat sa sasakyan at nagdasal na makakaakyat ng safe ang lahat. Nang papunta na kami ang daming mga karanasan sa daan palang. Sira sira ang daan, maalikabok, bato-bato, mainit ang sikat ng araw at halos maipit na ang mga sumama sa likod ng mga dala namin dahil paakyat na ang daan. Halos madaganan na sila ng mga dala namin at halos di na kayanin ng aming sasakyan ang daan paakyat dahil umulan pagkagabihan nun.

Kahit panay panaog at akyat ng mga kapatid namin sa sumama pinilit parin naming makaakyat sa taas. Salamat dahil hindi kami pinabayaan. Hindi namin akalain nakayanan ng sasakyan. Di namin lubos maisip paano nakaayat. Pagkarating namin dun sa taas dala namin ang mga tulong na ibinahagi ng iba, agad kami nagdasal at nagpasalamat kay God dahil walang imposible sa Kanya. Agad naming tinawag at binuklod ang mga bata,sa mga asawa na may maliit na anak at matanda. Nagpaluto kami agad ng lugaw para sa mga bata, pansit at tinapay sa mga matatanda. Ang mga batang edad lima pataas sa isang grupo nabuklod at nagpaparlor games para malibang. Ang mga may bata at asawa doon sa medical check up binuklod para matingnan sila. Ang mga bata naman na lima pababa ay napunta sa aming grupo. Di ko po alam kng paano at saan ako magsisimula para malibang sila. Mga batang musmos at walang alam sa sinapit nila. Nagpalaro kami at nagbasa ng mga kwentong pambata na halos di ko pa ginawa s iba. Nagkantahan kami ng kantang mga pambata at napasayaw pa ako s mga batang di ko kilala. Di ko alam kung bakit ko ung ginagawa sa kanila. Basta ang tanging alam ko, mapapawi ko lang man ng sandali ang saklap ng trahedya na dapat di nila nararanasan. Nakipaghalubilo kami sa kanila kahit di kami nagkakaintidihan dahil sa tribu nila. Masaya lang kami, walang pagod na nararanasan. Hanggang sa umulan doon ng malakas at napaisip lng ako at napatingin sa taas. Ito pa lang ang gustong ipagawa ni God sa akin. Ang gustong ipadama ni God sa akin na saya na tumulong sa iba. Halos sumabay ang luha ko sa bawat patak ng ulan nun. Mga ngiti nila na halos di mo babayaran, tuwa ng mga bata na di mo maaninag ang lungkot na dinaranas nila ng mga oras na yun.

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Naisip ko, “Ito pala ung habag at awa na ipinadarama ng Diyos sa akin – habag at awa na kailangang maramdaman din ng ibang taong na ni minsan di na nakaranas ng pagmamahal. Habag na di kailangang ibibigay mo dahil kailangan, bagkus habag na nangagaling sa yong puso. At Awa na kailangang may gagawin ka at gagawin mo para sa iba at hndi dahil para sa sarili mo lamang. At Awa na nanggaling sa Diyos dahil una taong binigyan ng Awa ng Diyos, una tayong pinatawad Niya, una tayong Minahal Nya at una tayong binigyan Niya.”

 

My Road To Healing

Written by SFL AMP on . Posted in Article, Sharing

A Sharing by Kath Ebuenga, SFL Antipolo    

Life verse, discernment, prayer warrior – these are just some of the things that were unfamiliar to me until I became part of the CFC SFL community.

I used to be a teacher in Pekanbaru, Indonesia. My job was great in all aspects, but I felt alone in my happiness. When I was in Pekanbaru, I didn’t attend the Sunday masses at all because the only church there didn’t have an English mass. For the longest time, I’ve used that as an excuse. The truth is that my spiritual life then was dry.

The Beginning

In 2014, I had to go back to the Philippines for my health and my family. When I came back, one of the first people whom I shared my experiences with was Vanie. She, then, invited me to attend SFL Antipolo’s Live Pure Tambayan. That one night of good music and inspiring lessons made me realize how much I had to work on myself. I was thankful that I learned much that night, but I didn’t think that the next things that would happen would turn my life upside down.

I was invited to join Vanie’s household and met sisters-in-Christ. They gave me inspiration. I attended Antipolo’s District Assembly and met more sisters and brothers too. They inspired me. In 2015, I found myself in Quezon for WSC.

The Uphill

To be honest, I went to Quezon with so much burdens: love, career and most of all, family. My family was falling apart. It was too much for me to handle that is why I, myself, was just hoping for my parents to be separated. I only wanted a peaceful life, and if them being apart would give me that peace, then so be it. However, during the prayer tower in WSC 2015, Ate Tinay prayed for what my heart truly desired. I do not know Ate Tinay personally (I just asked her name from another sister that night), but she prayed for me as if she knew me all my life. I realized it wasn’t just her praying for me. The Holy Spirit was there, embracing me. Right then and there I realized that I was praying for the wrong thing. It wasn’t separation that my heart desires. It was reconciliation – healing that comes from God alone.

The Miracle

Believe it or not, after WSC 2015, I witnessed the greatest miracle of my life – peace. Last December 2015, for the first time in a long time, my family spent Christmas and New Year together. That’s the real #BestChristmasEver.

Since I’ve told myself that “there is no turning back”, I’ve been more blessed. More miracles happened in my life. I’ve learned the importance of discernment, I now have a life verse, and St. Teresa of Calcutta is now my inspiration. I am busier, feeling a bit more tired, but I am more loved. I still have fears and inhibitions but they are now easier to overcome because I know I am not alone. My heart, at times, may be weak, but Jesus’ heart will always be there to strengthen it.

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