HOMILY BY MOST REV. ROBERT RIVAS O.P.,
ARCHBISHOP OF CASTRIES, SAINT LUCIA
COUPLES FOR CHRIST: CARIBBEAN CONFERENCE
GROS ISLET SECONDARY SCHOOL, AUGUST 31, 2016
“Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made secure by what he owns, even when he has more than he needs”
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! God is rich in mercy, Ephesians 2:4!
‘Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.’ That’s what the Preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes preaches to us this weekend. What is the use of possessions? Are they our security and life insurance? Couples for Christ is a Family and Life Movement in the Church. As members of this Movement what is the best thing you want to give to your children? Eternal life? The Scripture this weekend asks the question: What is life all about? Please take time to answer that question for yourselves this coming week, review your values and priorities and see how you are leading your children. Is Christ at the centre of your family?
Your weekend is coming to a close. You have had an opportunity this weekend to spend time with each other and to fine-tune your commitment to the Couples for Christ Movement in the region. You have had the opportunity to re-ignite the fire for a Family and Life Ministry that is essential to the living of the Gospel of the Family and the life of the Church.
“Couples for Christ!” What a vision for Christian Marriage and the Family! “Couples for Christ” is a powerful witness of faith. It provides, as a Movement of the Spirit, formation for enriching and enhancing family life and couple relationships. This is the mission of the Church: to provide good pastoral care for the family and to evangelize the family. Indeed, this is a pastoral priority of the Church today. Couples for Christ as a Movement shares in this Mission of the Church.
In two consecutive years 2014 and 2015, Pope Francis called an Extraordinary and an Ordinary Synod on the family. In this way he emphasized not only the importance of the family but also the great need to care for the family today. There is so much that needs to be done that family life ministry cannot afford to become dull and tired or cease to be a dynamic force for empowerment, renewal and inspiration in the Church. As members of Couple for Christ you have a dynamic mission in the Church and must be spirited, alive and dynamic in fulfilling your mission.
Every parish and every Arch/Diocese should want to have a movement like Couples for Christ at the centre of its ministry to the family. I would like to see Couples for Christ become more inculturated in our region. If Couples for Christ is to be implanted in our local Churches it must be true to its charism
while making the necessary adaptations in order to relate to the faith, social and cultural context in which it finds itself. This will help to foster growth and make it attractive and relevant. What does Couples for Christ have to say to families in the Caribbean? What does Couples for Christ bring to families in the Caribbean? How does its vision for the family meet the needs of families in the Caribbean?
I would like to see Couples for Christ setting Saint Lucia on fire. I would like to see Couples for Christ setting our Caribbean region on FIRE! Now is the time for recruiting new members and forming a new crop of leaders. Don’t allow yourselves to become an ageing Movement. Be a vibrant Movement. Don’t just be inward looking but be outward looking. Pope Francis is constantly calling the Church to be outward looking. As a Movement of families in the Spirit renewing the face of the earth do not exclude anyone in your outreach and evangelization.
Do not isolate yourselves from other Movements in the Church but take your place among the other Movements of the Church and learn from them. Don’t be merely a ‘talk show.’ Lead by example: ‘By their fruits you shall know them’. ‘Couples for Christ’ rise up, don’t grow drowsy and fall asleep. At the Vigil for World Youth Day in Poland the Holy Father challenged the youth from around the world to be bold, brave and committed to their faith. He challenged them to come out of their comfort zones and not to be sofa youth or ‘couch potatoes!’ He told them to trade the sofa for a pair of running shoes. We all need a sense of urgency in living the Gospel of joy and answering our missionary call.
The Church needs you. Re-examine how you do things and seek to understand, with a deeper sense of purpose, the context in which you are called to evangelize the family. If you are families in the Spirit renewing the face of the earth, then renew Saint Lucia! Renew the Caribbean! The Spirit wants you to be praying families, generous families, humble families, compassionate and merciful families, dynamic and committed families. Be joyful in living the Gospel of the family. I would like, indeed, I would strongly recommend, that each delegation represented here as well as those who are missing would invest in purchasing and studying Amoris Laetitia, Our Holy Father’s Apostolic Exhortation on Love in the Family. Read, especially, Chapters 4 and 8. As a family Movement in the Church, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is counting on you to address the challenges of the family today especially as they are identified and outlined in the Apostolic Exhortation.
Your Movement will always be as strong as its leaders. The commitment of members depends on the ability of the Movement to keep its vision alive, the formation of members and the grace to persevere. Your mission is to reach out to the family, therefore, you are not in a sprint race but a marathon. In other words, you are in for the long haul. Don’t lose heart. Don’t give up. I am available to you. Bishop Galt is available to you. God has blessed you abundantly. Make yourselves rich in the sight of God (Luke 21:21).
COME ON, SET THE PLACE ON FIRE! COUPLES FOR CHRIST IGNITE! CHRIST IS COUNTING ON YOU! FIRE, FIRE, FIRE…FIRE FALL ON US!