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COLF anniversary letter focuses on conscience

By Deborah Gyapong
Canadian Catholic News


OTTAWA (CCN) — The Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF) marked its 20th anniversary with a reflection on the formation of conscience, entitled, “Parents, will your children be happy?”

The organization is mandated “to promote the culture of life and to build a civilization of love,” said COLF’s director Michele Boulva, who joined the organization in early 2004 as French-language co-director, and became the sole director a year later when English-language director Jennifer Leddy departed.

The latest document reflects, among other things, on one of the key themes of COLF’s focus: the universal call to holiness. “Our baptism calls us to be saints,” Boulva said. “It also calls us to be apostles. We are the first Christians of the third millennium. We live in a world very similar to the pagan world in which lived the first Christians. In the context of the new evangelization, we also need to bring people to meet Jesus Christ. This is what the new evangelization is all about. And we need to be very attentive to the Holy Spirit who is going to be sending us to our mission field in the midst of the world.”

Boulva noted the preacher to the papal household, Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa, has spoken of four waves of evangelization since the early church. The fourth, in this “very secularized world,” will come from the laity, the priest says.

Lay apostles, responding to their baptismal call, will lead the way in enabling people to have an encounter with Christ, she said. “Where does the encounter with Christ happen?” she asked. “It’s an extraordinary encounter, but it happens in ordinary life, in your family, in your workplace, wherever you go for social, cultural activities.”

“You are called to be an apostle, first with your own children, to bring them to Christ, to bring them to accept Christ, and do the same with your colleagues at work,” she said. “We are also called to be active citizens because we have a right to freedom of conscience and religion.”

“We need to transform the world with Christ by bringing our values to the public square, to where we work. We need leaders who have a Christian formation and who will help not necessarily by naming Christ every five minutes, but by making choices and decisions inspired by Christ’s teachings.”

COLF’s latest document aims to equip and support families as they dedicate themselves to the education of their children in the hope that they come to choose what “is good, beautiful, right and true,” she said.

“By creating us free, in his image and likeness, God also imprinted deep in our heart a law — Natural Law — which, if we respect it, leads us to live and love as God does and, as a result, to be happy,” says the document released Oct. 13, while the synod of the family was underway in Rome.

The document challenges the notion that truth is subjective or relative, where “everything is seen as relative . . . it all depends on my perspective, my experience, my preferences.”

It stresses the importance of forming conscience in children, especially as society threatens freedom of conscience. “When indifferent, religious ignorance, moral relativism, doctrinal errors and confusion prevail, consciences are stifled, misguided, and as a result become lukewarm or die,” it says.

It outlines the important role parents play in teaching moral responsibility and inculcating virtue into their children and in teaching the true value of freedom. “Upon reflection, there is nothing more essential than to lead our children to heaven,” the document said.

It ends with a suggested workshop to help families deepen their reflection.

Co-founded and funded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Supreme Council of the Knights of Columbus, COLF is a non-profit organization working in close collaboration with the CCCB. Its mission is to “promote Catholic teachings on life and family” and to “educate and support families in their mission in the church and in society,” she said.

“We want to reach out to families through parishes, dioceses, movements and associations, Boulva said, by means of our publications, seminars, workshops and participation in public debate on moral issues such as euthanasia. Over the years, COLF has produced documents on subjects ranging from marriage, abortion, euthanasia, assisted human procreation, end-of-life issues, education, seniors, vocations, youth, work, natural family planning, etc., she said.

Boulva said she finds it encouraging to see the church focusing more and more on marriage and the family, noting the two synods on the family this year and last year, as well as the recent World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in Sept.

She pointed out that the canonization Oct. 18 of Zélie and Louis Martin, the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, during the synod, “sends a very strong message out that marriage is a vocation and a path to holiness.”

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