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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2010
(Part 4)

WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF OUR LIFE AND MISSION

We might look upon our life and mission in CFC-FFL as divided into several periods, as follows: the first 20 years, then the next 5 years, and finally the next five years, which period we presently are in.

CFC started in 1981, and in the next 20 years (1981 to 2001) grew rapidly and massively. By 2001 we were present in over 90 countries throughout the world, and our membership grew to 1.2 million persons. This was the peak of our membership.

Then came the next 5 years (2001 to 2006), which period was a mixture of continuing blessings but already the start of decline. Through the years, from the very start, we had been experiencing the attacks of the enemy, as is expected whenever we do God’s work. But in this period, the enemy began to succeed in infiltrating CFC and causing it to decline. The veering away was significant in this period, as the leaders of the work with the poor we had embraced began to marginalize Christ, whom we intended to be at the center of our social work. From our peak of 1.2 million members in 2001, the membership started to decline, consistently for each and every succeeding year. By the end of 2006, our membership had declined to 900,000 listed members (those actually active would be less).

But it was not all negative. During this period, in 2005, we also received our permanent recognition from the Holy See. Further, as we joyfully celebrated our 25th anniversary in June 2006, the prophetic word, given over a decade ago, that we would be in 153 countries by our 25th year was fulfilled, exactly on the last day.

Finally we have the next 5 years, from 2006 to 2011. This is a time of intense spiritual warfare, as the enemy who had succeeded in infiltrating CFC continues to try to destroy it completely, while God who had His original plan for CFC acts to preserve and restore His work.[1]

From 2001, the crisis in CFC had been building up. In the latter part of 2006, right after the celebration of our 25th year, the crisis was reaching boiling point and set to explode. This happened the next year, in 2007. The crisis deepened and finally resulted in a split within CFC.

Our people had not responded to the final warning of God, as He brought us to the book of Lamentations in 2007. Lamentations was the story of God’s people Israel, whom he raised from captives in Egypt and made a great nation, but who were eventually destroyed by their enemies. In giving us our theme from the book of Lamentations, God was warning us, that the same thing as what happened to Israel could happen to us, if we persisted in our infidelities. If we had learned the lessons of lamentations and turned away from our infidelities, the Lord would have blessed us, reversing the continuing slide and moving us on to greater heights in His work.

But it was not to be. The seeds of destruction, already having taken root, sprouted. The crisis resulted in a split. But God would not be thwarted, so long as there were those who remained faithful to Him and to His call. So out of the split God raised a remnant, who would restore the authentic charism of CFC and would be faithful to its original call. That true CFC is CFC-FFL.

We are now still in this period (2006 to 2011) of intense spiritual warfare. The enemy has not given up on trying to completely destroy CFC, continuing to use its very leaders (under the IC) who unceasingly attack and try to destroy the holy remnant. As of this writing, another major split has happened within the other CFC, and members in large numbers continue to be lost.

Now God has given us (CFC-FFL) our theme for 2010 from the book of Job. This points us to continuing suffering, even in, or perhaps precisely because of, our righteousness and conformity to God’s will and call. We have much we need to learn. Even as we continue to learn the lessons of Lamentations, we now need to take up the lessons of Job. Eternal lessons are learned and truly internalized only through the furnace of affliction. 2010 will be a time of great blessing, even as we are, or precisely because we will be, afflicted. God has much to teach us, as He again prepares us to be used as His instruments for the life of the world. God would not want another crisis to happen, as His own people failed Him and became the enemy within.

So 2010 will be a time of intense purification and formation. With accompanying pains and crosses, it will be a blessed time.

God teaches us the privilege of suffering for the sake of righteousness, including suffering injustice. “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven. For their ancestors treated the prophets in the same way.” (Lk 6:22-23).

In 2007, God raised what He intended to be a holy remnant. “But I will leave as a remnant in your midst a people humble and lowly, who shall take refuge in the name of the Lord” (Zep 3:12). The remnant is to be holy. “They shall do no wrong and speak no lies; nor shall there be found in their mouths a deceitful tongue; they shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them.” (Zep 3:13). Since the leaders of CFC (that is, the IC) had precisely resorted to telling lies about us, and since they had failed in their responsibility to care for the flock, causing their dispersal, God wants the remnant to never again fall into these same sins.

Further, God wants a remnant that is humble and lowly. Given that He will raise us to great heights again, as He already did before, then we need to be able to handle that without degenerating into sinful pride. Thus God brings us to the book of Job. Even as we will be righteous and blameless, we need to have an even deeper spirituality. God will allow us to be afflicted further. But out of that we should emerge as a people truly humbled and revering Him as God the Almighty. We would be a people who would be steadfast in every situation, whether up or down, looking only to the God who is just and righteous.

Our greatest sins as CFC are unfaithfulness and pride. Unfaithfulness is veering away from our call and not living out our covenant. Pride happens when we look to the great things God will do through us and begin to think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Through affliction, God tests our fidelity. Through affliction, God humbles us. Though afflicted, may we still, like Job, bless God (Job 1:21,2:8-10). Though afflicted, may we remain in awe and fear of God, without whom we are nothing and can do nothing.

God has great plans for CFC, as He has had from all eternity. In our first 20 years we have already seen how God can act and bring His people to great heights. But as has been the case throughout history for many religious groups and movements, we too have failed God.

But God persists. Because God has already chosen to do His work through sinful people such as us. For the work of this third millennium God has raised new ecclesial movements, one of which is CFC. Though we have proven unfaithful, God persists. God still intends to use CFC, if only we will be faithful and true. Thus God has brought good out of evil, and restoration out of the crisis and split. God has raised the remnant that is CFC-FFL, the authentic CFC.

Let us continue to learn the lessons of Lamentations. Let us begin to learn the lessons of Job. Then we will be in the right place that God intends for us to be. Then we will be truly blessed, as God uses us to be a blessing to many others.


* * *


[1] God is still in control, but allows the good and the bad. “For he scourges and then has mercy; he casts down to the depths of the netherworld, and he brings up from the great abyss.” (Tb 13:2)

(November 15, 2009)

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