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Last July 25, CFC-FFL members, together with thousands of faithful coming from the different parishes, schools and lay organizations in Metro Manila and nearby Luzon provinces, gathered together for a Prayer Rally for the Family and Life. This was in celebration of the 40th Anniversary of a very relevant and important encyclical by Pope Paul VI entitled “Humanae Vitae.” The theme of the celebration was “Biyaya ng Pamilya… Biyaya ng Buhay.”

The program began at 3pm with the Opening Remarks given by Fr. Melvin Castro, the Executive Secretary of the Episcopal Commission on Family and Life. Testimonies from different people followed afterwards. Our very own Francis and Debbie Rodrigo shared about the desire and the conviction that God has planted in them to have and raise more children. Presently, they have 4 boys and Debbie is now expecting another baby. Other couples shared about their practice of the natural family planning method and how it has been effective to them. Dr. Brian Clowes from Human Life International told the crowd that the Filipinos are a blessed race and that Faith and Family will make us happy. He exhorted everyone to be on guard because the US government is using its funds to aid the Philippines to try to control our population.

The highlight of the celebration was the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist which was presided by Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, DD, together with other bishops and priests. In his homily, Archbishop Lagdameo stressed that human life is a blessing from God from birth to death. He also emphasized that according to Humanae Vitae and Evangelicum Vitae, the mission of the Church is to celebrate life and every human being should be honored, respected and valued, and we need to praise God for the gift of Life. He further explained that the celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the encyclical is very timely for our country today since there is a move to push the Reproductive Health Bill in Congress. A change in attitude is necessary to fight this threat to life. The Bishop further said that the problem is not population explosion, rather, it is population implosion. He called upon all of us to be Pro-God, Pro-life and Pro-Poor.

In His message during the celebration, Cardinal Rosales likened the massacre of Herod of the innocents to the killing of the unborn. He says that the child is very vulnerable and weak while it is in the womb and it continues on even after child birth until infancy. “Ang pag-aalaga nito ay banal na tungkulin.” Responsible Parenthood is human parenting. It means that in transmitting life one cannot proceed as he wills but must conform to the will of God in the sacrament of marriage. Responsible Parenthood using NFP (Natural Family Planning) demands an understanding and appreciation of the true values of life which include “pagpapahalaga sa buhay,” understanding the meaning of family and self-discipline/self-control. If we are to be protectors of life, we need to imbibe these values. We need to believe that our All-Knowing God and Creator, knows our needs and understands the difficulties we are all experiencing in life and in raising a family. The Cardinal said that the most important solution to this problem is self-discipline. “Ang may disiplina sa kama ay may disiplina sa paaralan, sa daan at sa pamahalaan.” He also stressed that the Church considers abortion as a terrible crime. The unborn has no choice; he cannot fight back nor escape the brutality of men.

Bishop Paciano Aniceto thanked everyone for making the gathering possible.

The Prayer Rally was indeed a meaningful event for all of us in CFC-FFL. Once again we have been affirmed in our direction as a community. It was also both an affirmation and a challenge for us couples to really value the sanctity of life, and to press on with our work of strengthening families. We declare, indeed, that we are here to Renew the Family and Defend Life!

Contributed by:
Mary Grace Oconer
CFC-FFL / Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc.

Copyright 2008 Couples for Christ Foundation, Inc.
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