20/20 ADVOCACY (Sessions 1 and 2)

Q4:  A Call to Arms In Defense of Life and Family

TOPIC:  ADVOCACY

SESSION 1  THE URGENCY OF PREACHING LIFE TODAY

 

  1. The Urgency of NOW
  • We are an evangelistic and missionary community committed to become families empowered by the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.  (CFC-FFL vision)
  • The vision remains the same, but the kind of battle has changed.  It has become more violent, more intense, more blatantly evil.
  • As a Church, we “had thought that threats against life would grow weaker but they have actually grown to vast proportions.”  (Evangelium Vitae #17)  It is getting worse.  The Enemy is working double time.
  • “For the time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truths and will be diverted to myths.” (2 Timothy 4, 3-4)

The time when people won’t accept the sound doctrine, the logical truth is NOW.  They will make their own version of the “truth,” accept what they want to accept and reject what they want to reject.  They will believe in the myths, the lies.  They will make their own religions.  They will be the Godless society that we are warned against.

  • There are more attacks on life and family than ever before.  The family is attacked from every side, being broken and pulverized by forces in government, society and culture.  Life is being snuffed out physically, but also emotionally, psychologically and socially.

 

  1. The Call to Life
  • Am I my brother’s keeper?  (as in Gen. 4,9)  The answer is a resounding YES!  I AM responsible for whatever happens to every single human person.
  • WHO is my brother? WHO is my neighbor?  Every single person but especially those in need, and most especially the marginalized.  The problem today is the lack of solidarity with society’s weakest members – the elderly, sick, immigrants, children, etc.  We HAVE to care.  If not, who will?  It is the mandate for all followers of Christ.  It is the call for everyone who is truly human.
  • We need to begin with the renewal of a culture of life with Christian communities themselves.  (EV#95)
    • How clear are we as Christians, as members of the Church about the need to push for a culture of life in the world?
  • To all members of the Church – people of life and for life:  a call to give new signs of hope that the new culture of human life be affirmed, for the building of an authentic civilization of truth and love.  (EV#6)
    • We as a Christian community are called to be people OF life (being life-giving; it’s who we ARE) and people FOR life (fighting for this cause, rallying against occasions when life is being snuffed out in the world).
  • We need to bring the gospel of life to the heart of every person and make it penetrate every part of society.  (EV#80)
    • We need to tell the world about it.  We need to “tell the world of His love.”  Until every last person has become aware and has been comforted by the hope that God has come to save them.
  • Preach the Word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in preaching.  (2 Tim. 4,2)
    • We need to constantly preach the Word.  The world, our neighbor, they all need to hear it.
    • We must convince people of the splendor (the magnificence, great brightness, glory) of the Truth.
    • We must rebuke those who bring people to death and darkness, and those Christians who are not living up to the gospel of life.
    • We must patiently endure in preaching the Word.  We must never tire, and we will not, if we draw strength from our Life Source who is God.
    • We must persevere in the preaching until the day we die.  And then the Lord will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Mt. 25,23)
  • We have been sent into the world as a “people of life.”  We must celebrate the gospel of life!  (EV#83)
    • We have a clear call to go into the world and not just be content with our community who is brimming with life.  There are so many people in and out of the Christian Faith who need to hear the Good News.
    • Our lives must be living testaments of the gospel of life – leading to love, joy, peace and harmony, a beacon of hope for ALL who encounter us, a passion for life that is infectious.
  • To celebrate the gospel of life means to celebrate the God of Life, the God who gives life.  (EV#84) It shows our wonder and gratitude for the gift of life!
    • When we are life-giving, and preach LIFE, we are really worshipping the God of Life.  We are honoring Him and pleasing Him.
    • We need to reflect more deeply in our prayer time, in our Bible study, how we are blessed with so much life, and therefore so much of God, that we may all the more stand in awe and gratitude for this gift of life.

 

  1. Where Do We Start?
  • We start by doubling our prayers and getting into the mind and heart of God by spending more time with Him in prayer, that the God of Life may speak to us His will and His ways.
  • We must form our mind and conscience to be life-giving.
    • “Do not conform yourself to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom 12, 2)
    • We need to consciously and constantly form ourselves, that we do not  get brainwashed or confused by the lies and myths that the world is telling us through media and other groups in society.  Society, especially today in its secularist ways, is anti-God, anti-Church and anti-life.  It is also anti-marriage (as we know it) and anti-Church.  In being such, it becomes anti-human or anti-person.
  • Get to know the current LIFE issues that are destroying the world.  There are available pro-life resources on this in the community.
  • We must be Life-Givers, edifying others with our thoughts, words and deeds.  Words can either build up or tear down people.  Build-ups reflect love.  Tear downs reflect insecurity, that you need to tear others down.  May your words build people up.
  • Be a true PRO-LIFER by being a true Christian in word and witness.
    • This term has come to mean one who vocally fights against anti-life forces and acts.  But its roots come from the reality that we are all followers of Christ.  And as followers of Christ, who is the Way, Truth and the LIFE, we must advocate life in every way and in every form.
    • One cannot be a true Christian without being a pro-Lifer, one who speaks out against any violation of the life and dignity of persons.
  • Ask for the intercession of the spiritual advocates of life:  Mary, the Mother of Life and the saints.
  • Encounter Jesus the Bread of Life in the Eucharist and draw strength from Him.
    • Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'”

So Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.  (John 6,31-35)

  • It is in Jesus, the Bread of Life, that we gain spiritual nourishment to be good, life-giving and holy.
  • Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, when asked where she gets the energy to serve and minister to the poorest of the poor, said her sisters and her wake up at 4 am, and do not do ministry until after receiving Christ in daily Eucharist.

 

Reference:  Evangelium Vitae, PJPII, 1995, “On The Value and Inviolability of Human Life”

 

Discussion Starter:

Would you consider yourself pro-life or not?  Why/why not?

Why is there an urgency to proclaim the gospel now more than ever before?

 

SESSION 2 SETTING UP AN ADVOCACY FOR LIFE

 

  1. Advocacy means to plead for, support, recommend, and argue in favor of.  As we end the year, we must bear in mind that we are all urgently called to embrace this advocacy for life, in both a communal and personal way.
  2. CFC-FFL is clearly making a strong stand in the defense of family and life.
  • With the split, God allowed our community to re-assess where we are and discern where God wants us to go.
  • The community, through our leaders, read the signs of the times and sought out what the global moral issues were.  It was the attack on family and life spawned by a culture of death.
  • Yes, there is a Pro-Life Ministry.  But this doesn’t mean they will be the only ones involved in the fight.  It means they will lead it and spearhead it but everyone must get involved.
  • We all need to get into the thick of the culture war between death and life.
  • This is not the time or lukewarm Christianity. (“So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.” Rev. 3,16)
  1. As members of CFC-FFL, we cannot sit by idly and watch other members of the community fight against forces of death while we choose not to.

 

  1. These are some myths about pro-lifers.
  • Pro-life is all about abortion.
    • No it’s not.  There are other issues that come in.  Pro-life defends all forms of life and speaks out against attacks on then life and dignity of human persons.
    • You can be a Christian and not be pro-life.
      • False.  If you are true Christian, you must stand for the sacredness of all human life.
      • Only Christians are pro-life.
        • Wrong again.  Moslems, other Christian denominations and all people who recognize the truth that life is sacred, rally together to defend life.
        • Pro-Choicers aren’t for abortion.  They just believe in a woman’s right over her body.
          • Pro-Choicers are really pro-abortion, whether they know it or not.  If you respect a woman’s right over her body, then you consider that whatever choice that is, including killing the life in the womb, is morally acceptable.  If you uphold the rights of a woman over her body, who will uphold the rights of the child who is human from the moment of conception.  All human life is sacred, not just those of the strong, but especially of the weak.  We don’t own life.  God is its author to say when life begins and when it ends.
          • Pro-lifers will use all means even violence to counter the attack of anti-life forces.
            • Those “pro-lifers” aren’t genuine if they will use violence to harm other lives for the sake of the cause to uphold life.  This is a contradiction of terms.  Pro-lifers respect ALL life, even of those who have caused harm to society.  God is the Author of ALL life.
            • Pro-lifers are ultra-conservative, narrowminded people who aren’t in-touch with the signs of the times and the postmodern world.
              • No.  Pro-lifers are all sorts of people from all walks of life who recognize the respect for all human life.  There is a diversity of pro-lifers, all desiring to conserve the truth and help the global community seek to hold on to the truth.
              • Pro-lifers aren’t “lost in the past.”  Rather, they recognize time-weathered truths that tell us life that is sacred.  No amount of postmodernity, fighting for rights of this group or that, can change the truth.

 

  1. Choosing To Be An Advocate for Life
  • We need to fight for life because it’s the right thing to do.  It’s not just a Christian choice, although that’s true, but it’s basically a human choice.  So, whether you are a Christian or not, you are called to be an advocate for life. (The anti-life movement tells us that the issues have nothing to do with God.  The culture of death is really a culture without God.  But our very existence has everything to do with the living God!)
  • We need to understand that conversion begins by recognizing that there is a problem.  There are more and more people falling away to the “dark side,” and buying the lie of the culture of death.
  • To be an advocate for life, we should be JOYFUL.  There is something about the celebration of the sacredness of life that cannot make us sit in despair.  PRO-LIFE is pro the mystery of life, pro the joy and the wonder of life.
  • We must pray for the end of abortion in every country.  That the Philippines, the only country where abortion illegal, may not bend to the pressure of the global community.  But more than these, we must pray for the radical change of hearts and the transformation of souls, and the redemption of those involved in taking life (anywhere from womb to tomb) especially those who lead many astray into the claws of the culture of death.
  • We must look at life, never as a problem, but as a gift and a mystery.  In spite of a life of suffering, even that suffering can be meaningful and redemptive (saving).
  • We could start by getting more involved in the pro-life ministry of the community.  You do not have to re-invent the wheel!  There are existing structures on this advocacy.
  • We ought to simplify your life.
    • “Live simply so that others may simply live.” Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi)
    • How can we say we are pro-life if our brothers and sisters in our country are suffering poverty, unable to meet basic human needs, and are living in subhuman conditions?
    • We need to sincerely commit to the pro-life advocacy.
      • It’s really a commitment to Christ.
      • It’s a lifelong commitment to life.
      • It’s a daily choice that we must constantly renew.
      • We need to make a clear plan of action done with great prayer and discernment before the Lord.

 

  1. Ending The Year with CHOOSE LIFE Conclusions
  • If we reject the value and dignity of human life, we build our culture on a lie, and its structures will eventually perish.
  • Building a culture of life in this third millennium will not simply happen.  We have to live out the commitment to do so.  The culture of life is a culture of love and solidarity that aims for the true good of the whole human society.
  • When will we see the culture of life in this world?  Not soon enough.  But at CFC-FFL, we are moving in the right direction.  We hope you will join us.
  • As we reflect on the mystery of Incarnation and the joy of Christmas, let us remember how Christ celebrated the sacredness of life, by emptying Himself and becoming one of us.  For in every breath of His earthly existence, He saw, lived, breathed the sacredness of life and calls us to do the same.

See before you is set blessings and life, disaster and death.

Choose.  The decision is yours. CHOOSE LIFE

So that you and your children may live

Live in the love of Yahweh your God

(Deuteronomy 30,19 )

 

References:

In God’s Image: Building a Culture of Life by John J. O’Connor

Moving Toward A Culture of Life by Cathleen A. Cleaver

Choose Life: Toward a Culture of Life in the New Millennium by Charles J. Chaput

 

Discussion Starter:  Where do I start?  What do I do to commit to the pro-life advocacy?