It was about a month ago when a mainstream liberal news publication here in the Philippines published a statistic study that claims that one out of eleven Catholics are considering to leave the Church here in the Philippines. This survey claims that the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines (and by extension, the rest of the world) is dwindling in membership because of its \”outdated\” ideas and its extreme opposition on matters of liberalism and post-modern thought on sexuality.
There is a growing call for \”equality\” and \”acceptance\” in terms of same-sex marriage, a celebration of a highly sexualized culture, the freedom to \”choose\” and \”protect\” their reproductive health and even the passage of divorce to allow those who are no longer \”happy\” to have an easier and faster way in allowing the state to \”dissolve\” their marriage,
The attacks against the Church\’s effectiveness and purpose was not done solely by those from the outside, but even the liberal dissident priests who are \”open\” in thought regularly take stands and are very vocal on their opposition on local hierarchy and universal doctrinal teaching on matters of faith and morals. Even Catholic Universities that are managed by religious orders tolerates and even sometime encourages dissent, against official Catholic teaching.
Looking at the current state of Philippine politics, current trends in pop-culture, the mainstream media\’s coverage on issues and \”public opinion\” it does look like the Church in the Philippines is slowly dying. It does seem that the result of the statistical survey reflects the future trend of the Church as it slowly crumbles due to its aging outmoded ideas that hinders \”development.\”
But then again…
The photo above was taken on April 6, 2013 where 9,000+ Catholic youths from all over the world went to Metro Manila, Philippines to attend the 20th CFC Youth For Christ International Leaders Conference. CFC Youth For Christ is a part of the Family Ministries of the bigger community of Couples For Christ, a lay association of the faithful with pontifical right. For one week, these youths stayed and labored under the heat of the sun to attend this conference entitled \”JESUS EXPO\” to celebrate all the blessings and greatness that the Lord has given our community. Everyday before the start of the Sessions of the Conference, the sacrifice of the Holy Mass is celebrated, and the speaker for one of the sessions is a priest.
The theme for the Conference, JESUS EXPO, was taken from the verse John 2:5 \”Do whatever HE tells you.\” The conference, more than being a celebration of the fulfillment of God\’s promises, is also an exhortation for the youth to reflect on the wedding of Canaan where Jesus transformed water into wine. This first miracle of Christ was made possible by obedience, where Christ obeyed his mother and the servants obeyed Christ in filling up the jars to the brim. By this virtue of obedience, the Transformation of Water into Wine is made possible, the same way that the transformation of Wine into the blood of Christ is made possible through the obedience of Jesus to God the Father.
At the end of the second night the community of CFC Youth For Christ reflected on its \”conviction\” 10 years ago, when they proclaimed that in 10 years, the whole world would kneel before Christ. During this conference, the leaders of the community exhorted everyone present that this conviction continues, that the dream of every knee bowing down before the Lord continues to remain as the mission for the next years to come.
The vision of CFC-YFC , Young People Being and Bringing CHRIST wherever they are, becomes more clearer than ever. Offering themselves up with complete obedience to the Church, for the service of the Church in proclaiming the message of Christ\’s Love and Salvation to the world.
What you are seeing there is the Praise fest part of the conference where the youths are raising their hands and kneeling down in front of the Crucifix by the stage and venerating the statue of of Blessed Mother. This veneration served as a reminder that all these \”accomplishments\” and the glory that comes with them is not ours but the LORD\’s! That all of these things are only possible because of JESUS and nothing else. During Praise Fest, the lights throughout the conference venue was dimmed and candles were passed around, and when you look at it from afar, you would see how thousands of these candles overcomes the darkness. How the light of these candles represents the light of Christ and the fire of the Holy Spirit being present in the hearts of these youths, that would set the world on fire.
The 9,000 are just a fraction of the 200,000 members of YFC that were not able to attend the conference. And the members of YFC and CFC are just but a very small fraction of the millions of other Catholics all over the world that shares the same call for the new evangelization. The picture above is more than enough to prove the so-called \”survey\” to be objectively and gravely wrong. This is but a small example, a small event compared to other bigger events of the Church, such as the WYD, International Eucharistic Congresses and etc.
The CHURCH is ALIVE! The Church is YOUNG! and the CHURCH is ON FIRE, all because of Christ\’s Glory, Love and Mercy! And no amount of the world\’s darkness would be able to overcome the Light of Jesus Christ in his Holy Church.
Let me end this post with a verse from a song composed a Lay Missionary of YFC (Bimbo Yerro)
Our God is Love and Light
And in Him I gained new Life
His mercy saved my soul
My night turned into day
Our God is Love and Light
Our God is peace and joy
He raises the weak and feeble
His voice that whispers hope
Amidst the fiercest storm
Our God is peace and joy.
©David Quiambao. All Rights Reserved.
Photography: See our Photographers page.