Updated, a conclusion was added by anonymous.
This was not written by me, or by anyone I know, but I felt it is a very insightful view on the "name" issue, and one that can finally cap off the 2 part essay on the CFC name. It was taken in full from an anonymous comment in the Reflections and Musings #1 entry.
To anonymous, whoever you are, thank you (sooooo much). I believe you've hit the nail on the head, and succinctly at that:
I’ve been reading this blog’s entries for several months now and have been, up till now, uninvolved. But CD’s call to make a stand finally broke my resolve to keep silent. So, for whatever it’s worth, here’s my take on things.
Allow me first to explain my understanding of what is going on. As far as I can determine:
- I believe CFC is stronger now than before this conflict started. This conflict is the crucible in which we are being tested.
- When I read FFL’s “we are peace” declaration in August last year after the joint statement, I thought, okay we can all move forward now. But all the actions I’ve seen from them since then did not reflect this peace.
- CFC remains dynamic – its mission is pursued with vigor by the members who give their part according to the charisms given to them by the Spirit. Truly a community whose hearts are on the rise, having separate eyes but with a vision of one.
- CFC is the vehicle God has given to the members so they can exercise their charisms for the good of the church. As a gift from the Spirit, CFC itself is a charism given to all the members. From the exercise of these charisms, each member derives his own identity as a member of CFC.
- The brothers and sisters rising to defend CFC are not just defending the good name of the community; they are defending the very identities they have received from the Spirit through their charisms. I admire and salute you, heroes all.
- In the process of defending, some are more vehement than others. Others defend through prayer, for such is their charism. Others became better evangelizers, using the attacks to spur them on to better performance in service. Still others exhibited fortitude, inner strength, one of the seven gifts of the Spirit. I personally know of several who are deliberately keeping still but responding with wisdom and understanding when directly asked about the conflict. My friends, to me that is an extraordinary show of obedience to the IC while practicing a charism. I am truly convinced that CFC has not lost its charisms as the opposition contends. I believe that the conflict is forcing members all over the world to confront their own selves and discover more and more of their charisms.
Why am I talking about charisms? Because I am convinced it is a central issue.
“A charism is a grace, a freely bestowed gift of the Spirit, given to some persons but not to all, for some useful purpose, and as a special way of being in relationship with God…Some charisms the letters (St. Paul’s letters) name are: prophecy, teaching, leading, governing, evangelizing, miracles, healings, tongues, almsgiving, helping, serving, doing works of mercy, and administering material goods…In the charisms the Holy Spirit is almost, we might say, visible, audible, tangible; all the charisms manifest the one Spirit whose gifts they are” – Francis A. Sullivan, Charisms and Charismatic Renewal, 1982.
“The decree Perfectae Caritatis (Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life), 28 October 1965, without using the word charism, centers the religious life in the action of the Holy Spirit. The text lists four essential elements of this action: (1) inspired by the Spirit, (2) freely accepted by the individual, (3) dedicated to the good of the Church, and (4) recognized by Church authorities. The spirit (Paul VI will later call it the charism) of an institute has an indefinite duration, but the institute as an organization either changes or remains static with respect to the force and the effectiveness of its founding spirit.” – Lasallian Studies No. 13, The Lasallian Charism, pp 36.
The text refers to the “spirit of an institute”, what Paul VI later called as the charism of an institute. This also gives an additional meaning to the Vatican recognition of CFC, namely that the Church recognized and approved the charism of CFC, as an institution. This is also why the CFC Statutes are specifically mentioned in the Vatican Recognition – an institution is defined by its statutes. In the same way the By-laws (read statutes) of companies become the basis for corporate registrations. CFC, as an institution, retains its recognition only if it follows the Vatican approved statutes. (This is the major reason why FFL cannot share this recognition – they do not subject themselves to these Statutes).
Back to charisms. The second paragraph of Nº 12 in Lumen Gentium, vigorously endorsed by Cardinal Léon-Joseph Suenens, places charisms alongside the other basic elements of the Church and provides Vatican II’s basic definition of charism:
“It is not only through the sacraments and the ministries of the Church that the Holy Spirit sanctifies and leads the people of God and enriches it with virtues, but, “allotting his gifts to everyone according as he wills” (1 Cor 12:11), he distributes special graces among the faithful of every rank. By these gifts he makes them fit and ready to undertake the various tasks and offices which contribute toward the renewal and building up of the Church (1 Cor 12:7).
These charisms, whether they be the more outstanding or the more simple and widely diffused, are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation, for they are perfectly suited to and useful for the needs of the Church. Extraordinary gifts are not to be sought after, nor are the fruits of apostolic labor to be presumptuously expected from their use; but judgment as to their genuineness and proper use belongs to those who are appointed leaders in the Church, to whose special competence it belongs, not indeed to extinguish the Spirit but to test all things and hold fast to that which is good (1 Thess 5:12 and 19- 21). (Nº 12).”
The Church leaders have the responsibility to judge the “genuineness and proper use” of an institution’s charisms. Because the Vatican recognized CFC, I believe we can safely conclude that the Vatican has also given its judgment as to the “genuineness and proper use” of CFC’s charisms. Especially in light of this conflict, the fact that the Vatican hasn’t withdrawn recognition, is de facto proof that CFC’s charisms are genuine and being used properly, including it’s charisms of uplifting the poorest of the poor and building the church of the poor. GK is a charism of CFC.
One final point on charisms. “Founder’s charism” is a special term used in ecclesiology to refer to the special gift given by the Spirit to an individual who, in response, started and created an institution or community dedicated to following that charism. For example, John Baptist De La Salle was such a founder. Today their charism even has a name – the Lasallian Charism. St.Ignatius was another – he started the 400-year old company that changed the world – the Compania de Jesus. This charism is supposed to be given for life. This is the root of the term “keeper of the charism”. Others may share in this charism while others may find their own charism because they followed the founder’s – like the Jesuits’ charism to educate giving birth to a music ministry.
Having said all these, here’s how I see the “other side”. Like many of you I have some very close relationships with some of their members, relationships that have been strained by the conflict.
I see evidence of conscious strategy in what they are doing:
a. FFL’s slogan is “restoring the original CFC charism”
b. FAP is claiming that he is the Founder of CFC
c. FAP is laying claim to the Title “Keeper of the Charism”
d. FFL is fighting tooth and nail to keep the CFC name.
In order for FFL to “restore” the original charism, it has to “remain” in CFC, otherwise there is no restoration to speak of, much less aspire to. To restore is to bring something back to an earlier state. But only if you are still part of that something. That’s why they’re fighting tooth and nail for the name. Without it they cannot fulfil their objective of restoration.
But what is it they say needs restoring? The original charism. To do this, they have to lay claim to it first. After all one cannot give what one doesn’t have. How to prove that they have it?
They can’t do the proving on their own. Because of Vatican II, they need the Church to pronounce judgment on the genuineness and proper use. But they also have to show that whatever charism FAP has is, as he says, the CFC charism. To prove this, all FAP has to do is prove that he is the founder of CFC. If he can do this, he can lay claim to the Founder’s charism and the title of Keeper of the Charism.
So, in order to achieve their goal of restoration, FFL has to be seen to be “in CFC” – hence the tenacious hold on the name – and FAP has to be recognized as the founder of CFC by the Church and by the community. Sounds logical, doesn’t.
How to achieve this? First, FFL changed the meaning of the word FOUNDER. In an email to their brethren in Canada, dated 2 March 2008, entitled THE FOUNDER AND KEEPER OF THE CHARISM: THE MEANING IN ECCLESIOLOGY AND ITS IMPLICATIONS TO CFC, they said “If we refer back to the above-referenced article we released explaining the implications of Archbishop Lagdameo's letter, the meaning of Founder is one who has shaped the life and mission of the community.”
Their meaning of founder is “one who shaped the life and mission of the community.” It does not have anything in common with the one from Webster Unabridged Dictionary which defines founder as “One who founds, establishes, and erects; one who lays a foundation; an author; one from whom anything originates; one who endows.”
The difference is like this: GE was founded by Thomas Edison in 1890. But it was Jack Welch who made GE (shaped its present life and mission) what it is today. Democracy was not founded in America but it is the US that is giving shape and life to it.
FFL says FAP is the founder because he was the one who shaped the life and mission of CFC and because a few Bishops said so. But this doesn’t change the fact that he wasn’t the author. Charisms, remember, are gifts of the Spirit and Spirit bestows it on whomever He will. Obviously the founder of CFC is the one to whom the Spirit gave the idea, the original inspiration. This was not FAP, because when he joined CFC in the first CLP, CFC was already founded. What FAP may have is a participative charism but certainly not the Founder’s Charism. The Bishop’s pronouncements don’t have anything to do with it. Remember the Church’s responsibility is to judge the genuineness and proper use of the charisms. I have no doubt that FAP’s charisms are genuine but whatever they are, they are not the Founder’s charisms because he is not the founder.
Truly, only the real founder and the Spirit know who has the Founder’s charism. But FFL would have us all think that by changing the definition of the word founder and adding the pronouncements of the Bishops, FAP can be declared as founder and, (retroactively?) gain the original Spirit-given charism. If this is how it truly works, we should all convert to FAPism because these guys have the power to change the truth and correct the Spirit.
However they do it, it is essential for FFL to prove that FAP is the founder AND keep the CFC name. Otherwise they cannot become who they profess to be – restorers of the charism.
Mark this well, my friends, this is not just a battle for a name and it is more than envy or pride. It is a battle for their very existence. In the same way that the heroic bloggers defend their very identity, FFL is fighting to keep their raison d’etre. Without it they cannot continue to exist. So they will not stop until the price has been paid for their continued existence - the destruction of CFC.
So where do all the accusations of veering away, disobedience and attacking the church come in? Well FAP needs a reason why the charism has to be restored, doesn’t he? After all the books he has written, doesn’t he realize that by nature, attacks intend to destroy? There is an old Chinese saying: “A man is known by his tools. An axe for the woodsman and a plow for the farmer. “ Written and verbal attack is hardly a tool for peace.
My friends, let us not indulge in illusions. This will not go away until there is a victor. And to him go the spoils. CD, you have to keep this forum running. If you’re getting over 180,000 unique visitors, then we in CFC are not doing enough, considering there are over 800,000 of us throughout the world.
Here’s what I think we can do.
1. Get MMC to commission a book on the Charisms of CFC. Develop new teachings on the identity of a CFC member. If we are forced to defend it, then we better know a lot about it. Who are we as CFC members? What sets us apart? What charisms define us? You all know a lot about this topic. Let’s institutionalize that knowledge and get it out to all members worldwide, especially to those who just graduated from the CLPs. The objective is to strengthen the identity of each member. The premise is if you know who you are then no one can make a fool of you without your consent. This should contribute to building up our immunity to FFL’s attacks.
2. Create a new teaching on Christ’s meekness and get this out to the rest of the world. Jesus, even at the point of death never defended Himself. Neither did He condemn His accusers. The lesson here is that this meekness, this apparent weakness, is in fact divine strength. Inner strength that allows us to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. This should answer the questions of members who are asking why we have to be still when we are being attacked. You see, it is not about what you are against but what you are for. Everything you are against weakens you but everything you are for strengthens you. This is why FFL’s attacks backfire because they fight against something and that weakens them.
3. FFL denounces GK. Our response should be to get the word out on GK, massively. Use this forum, text your friends, use all means at our disposal to extol the GK heroes. Let everyone know the selfless sacrifices our GK caretaker teams and full time workers are giving. Circulate GK stories. Better yet, let the pharma companies provide testimonies of their own evangelization. We know that FFL’s accusations are becoming boringly repetitive. Let’s provide contrast. Let’s inform the world and the Vatican how exciting GK’s charism to evangelize the poor is.
4. FFL repeatedly accuses CFC of veering away and talks about CFC in angry tones. As the teaching goes – by their fruits you shall know them. There is also the orange juice lesson. Why do you get orange juice when you squeeze an orange? Because it’s what’s inside. Now when you squeeze a person and hatred and anger and self-righteousness come out, it’s not because of the one doing the squeezing. It’s because that’s what’s inside. Galatians teaches us that the fruit of the Spirit is joy, love, peace, generosity, etc. WHAT SPIRIT IS PRODUCING THE FRUIT OF ANGER IN FFL? Because that is what is coming out, it must be what’s inside. THEREFORE, we should behave in the exact opposite. Not just in the blogs but all over the world. Let’s give “Be Still” an additional meaning, not just the passive keep quiet but the active dealing with them in peace, turning the other cheek. One question I would really love to ask FFL is this: “What is hurting you so much that you have to attack me and put me down just so you can feel better?” I know this is hard to do. But someone else’s neurosis does not have to be ours. Be still can also mean be at peace. And peace is not just the absence of strife. It is an active exercise of a charism.
5. Let all name calling stop. Let’s not stoop to that level. Practice the seven gifts of the spirit.
6. On the right side of the blog is a prayer request corner. Put up a prayer request for the intention that FAP and FFL will be enlightened. Ask participating people to click on it and then put up a very visible counter showing how many people are praying. Let’s drive this counter to massive numbers. Print T-Shirts saying “I prayed for FAP”.
For the kalog in all of us, consider these:
7. Name a GK Village for FAP in honor of his 26 years of tenure.
8. For those who have a mean streak: rename the GK Livelihood program FFL (for Feed For Life.)
9. Stretch goal: get Pfizer to sponsor a natural birth control program and call it Families Faithful to Life (FFL).
What say you, my friends? Can we do it?
Who wants to come up with the prayer for FAP and the FFL?
Update: Our anonymous contributor has given us a second part:
I want to share some thoughts with all you heroes who defend CFC. I want to lift up your spirits if I can. This was supposed to be part of the first piece but it just got too long...
We should defend CFC not because it is the family in which we grow but because it is a gift from the Spirit to us. Such a gift, such a treasure, is worthy of protection. Yet a gift from God is not a passive thing. This treasure is not like a pearl or a bar of gold that, by itself, is helpless. This gift of ours is, by nature, active. Believe it or not the best way to defend CFC is to live out its teachings to the full.
I have often wondered why St Paul lumped love, joy, peace and six other traits into one and called it the fruit (singular) of the Spirit. Perhaps it is because when God gives, He doesn’t give in pieces but wants us to have it all. CFC is like that. We are a community of joy and peace, generosity and kindness, love and goodwill and more, all rolled into one.. CFC is not only the synergistic result of over 800,000 charisms but the vehicle in which we experience all the parts of the fruit of the Spirit. It is truly a work of God.
My friends, who is he who can destroy God’s work? Who among the mass of humanity throughout all history has ever succeeded in trumping God? God is never mocked. The Lord has already triumphed. So let us defend but let us not attack. Contrary to popular belief, in this case, offense is not the best defense. Why? Because the Lord already proclaimed victory. Let us not fight a war that was already won. This is the first argument I have why there is no reason to attack FFL.
The second has to do with their tactics. After reading many examples of FAPs argumentations I came to the conclusion that he mixes tools in logic to justify his own conclusions. Case in point: Bishop Claver’s excellent piece on GK. What the good Bishop used was casuistry or case based reasoning used in ethical argumentations. In other words, Bishop Claver considered the merits of the case before forming his conclusions. Since the Bishop posited a case based argument, the responses should be have been case based as well. But FFL’s response was “the good Bishop would like to make us believe that such good deeds absolve the evils wrought by the killing of millions of unborn children.” FFL is not talking here at the case level but shifted the issue to a general principle, almost equating partnerships with pharma companies with supporting murder. The result is absurd and unfortunately makes the statement sound like they have the high moral ground. The principle applied is that there is no justification for the killing of unborn children. In truth there are cases where the Church permits the removal of an unborn child if the mother’s life is at stake. The article at http://ncronline.org/NCR
FFL’s hardline application of general principles to a posited case based argument is confusing people while making them feel that they have to take sides. Let me tell you that the worst time to make a decision is when one is confused. So Pareto’s rule will apply and 80% of confused people will choose the principle side.
This is the second argument I have why there is no reason to attack FFL. If they are increasing their number through confusion, then they will ultimately lose. Using confusion as a tactic is well documented here – using the same venues, insisting on the name, etc.
But we do have assurance from Isaiah 9:13-16:
Yet the people do not turn back to Him who struck them,
Nor do they seek the Lord of hosts.
So the Lord cuts off head and tail from Israel,
Both palm branch and bulrush in a single day.
The head is the elder and honorable man,
And the prophet who teaches falsehood is the tail.
For those who guide this people are leading them astray;
And those who are guided by them are brought to confusion.
Why use confusion as a tool to win people over? Is not love enough? Is not witnessing to the Spirit enough?
In CFC we learn (Mt 5:37) that we should say yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no and all else comes from the devil. We have to call a spade a spade. We have to say what we mean and mean what we say. We also have to be clear in what we are saying. We are not supposed to sow confusion. Again, we should do the exact opposite of what FFL does.
Brothers and Sisters, huwag na ho tayong magalit sa kanila. The peace that we have been given as part of the fruit of the Spirit is simply too valuable to lose. Like I said before, someone else’s neurosis does not have to be ours. Besides, I’m sure you’ve noticed that the best way to peeve someone trying to attack you is to show him that his attack is not affecting you. We simply put on the armor of faith and let peace be our shield. Parang si Bro Jerome - by remaining cool, sinong lalong nagalit? In short all we have to do is be ourselves – CFC people practicing their charisms.
Further, these times should be for us a time of learning. Why? FFL is providing the necessary learning environment. How many times do we pray in our households for peace in the community? Well, here’s our chance. FFL is giving us grounds to practice. The Buddhists say that peace does not lie in the world, it lies in the man who walks upon it. At every mass the priest reminds us that the Lord has given us His peace. So let’s practice it. Let’s not look on it as a burden. Let’s look on this “practicing the peace” as an opportunity to become even closer to God. Because practice makes perfect and the more FFL does what it does, the more practice we will have. Kaya po, let’s not get angry. Let’s thank them instead.
Whenever they speak in anger, they allow us to practice love.
Whenever they accuse us and malign us, they allow us to practice forgiveness.
Whenever they question our motives, they allow us to clearly define who we are.
Whenever they attack our leaders, they allow us to test our faithfulness and loyalty.
Whenever they say we are attacking the church, they allow us to see our faithfulness to the church even more clearly.
Whenever they act the way they do, they give us examples of what not to do.
You see? We are not getting weak, we’re getting stronger.
Let them do what they do. That defines them. Let us be who we are. That defines us. Remember that what the Spirit teaches is not something to do. They are all something to be. You don’t do peace. We be peaceful. You don’t do love. We be loving. One does not do joy. We have to be joyful. This is what Abraham Maslow called the philosophy of being. While FFL is busy showing themselves to the world by what they do, let us just be who we are – a loving, peaceful and joyful community. Being is more important than doing. After all, we are human beings, not human doings.
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Fr. Read more of William Esposo's take on the modern Pharisees HERE.