Bernardo M. Villegas
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Strong Culture Based on Family

           It was with great joy that I had a recent reunion with the pioneer batch of the CRC College of Arts and Sciences that first opened its doors in June 1989.  These alumni and alumnae are now in their early forties and still have very young children.  One of them, who married quite early, has a daughter who is already in her fifth year in the University of Asia and the Pacific into which the CRC College of Arts and Sciences evolved in 1995.  The majority of them have children who are still in grade school.  They are the ones who will bring up the generation that will see the Philippines attain First World status in the next twenty to thirty years.

          I challenged them to continue growing in their respective businesses or professions to take full advantage of the bright prospects faced by the Philippine economy, despite our continuing political and social problems.  It is their responsibility, as they were taught in their college years, to make full use of their talents in building institutions for the common good, as they go about earning a living for their respective families.  Above all, I told them to be "evangelizers of the family", making sure that Philippine society will avoid the fate of many countries where the family is under threat from many destructive forces.

          I did not want to reinvent the wheel.  I just reminded them that all of them have a special role to disseminate the abundant doctrine that the Pope with whom they grew up for twenty six years of their childhood and adult life--soon-to-be canonized John Paul II--preached to the four winds.  It was this Pope who repeated time and time again that "the future of humanity passes by way of the family."   I told them to read and reread the Apostolic Exhortation entitled "Familiaris Consortio" (The Christian Family in the Modern World) that came out in November 1981 when they were still in their grade school.  They should be among the first ones to heed the call of John Paul the Great to show the family special love, an injunction that calls for concrete action.

          What does it mean to love the family?  John Paul II's answer is very clear:  "Loving the family means being able to appreciate its values and capabilities, fostering them always.  Loving the family means identifying the dangers and the evils that menace it, in order to overcome them.  Loving the family means endeavoring to create for it an environment favorable for its development.  The modern Christian family is often tempted to be discouraged and is distressed at the growth of its difficulties; it is an eminent form of love to give it back its reasons for confidence in itself, in the riches that it possesses by nature and grace, and in the mission that God has entrusted to it.  'Yes, indeed, the families of today must be called back to show their original position.  They must follow Christ.'"

          The language used by the late Pope, speaking about love for the family and the need to follow Christ, jibes completely with the recent declarations of Pope Francis about not being fixated with such intrinsic evils as abortion, homosexuality and artificial contraceptives but to spend most of our effort and time to talk about the need to seek, find and love Christ.  That is why I encouraged our alumni and alumnae to recognize fully that "the Church knows the path by which the family can reach the heart of the deepest truth about itself.  The Church has learned this path at the school of Christ and the school of history interpreted in the light of the Spirit.  She does not impose it but she feels with great confidence and hope, although she knows that the Good News includes the subject of the Cross.  But it is through the Cross that the family can attain the fullness of  its being and the perfection of its love."

          Our graduates also find it the most natural thing to  work with others of different creeds and persuasions to promote the common good of society.  They, therefore, fully understand the final exhortation of John Paul II:  "Finally, I wish to call on all Christians to collaborate cordially and courageously with all people of good will who are serving the family in accordance with their responsibilities.  The individuals and groups, movements and associations in the Church which devote themselves to the family's welfare, acting in the Church's name and under her inspiration, often find themselves side by side with other individuals and institutions working for the same ideal.  With faithfulness to the values of the Gospel and of the human person and with respect for lawful pluralism in initiatives this collaboration can favor a more rapid and integral advancement of the family."   Indeed, there are many non-Christian Filipinos who are also completely convinced that the future of humanity passes by way of the family. For comments, my email address is bernardo.villegas@uap.asia.