Vatican City, 6 September 2014 (VIS) – On 8 September, the festivity of the Nativity of Mary, Cubans also celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the patroness of the island. To commemorate the occasion, the Pope has written a letter to the metropolitan archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Dionisio Guillermo Garcia Ibanez, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba (C.O.O.C.), extensive extracts from which are published below:
“Every time I read the Sacred Scripture, in the passages that speak about Our Lady, three verbs come to my attention. I would like to pause and look at these, with the intention of inviting the pastors and faithful of Cuba to put them into practice.
“The first is to rejoice. It was the first word that the Angel Gabriel addressed to the Virgin: “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you”. The life of those who have discovered Jesus is full of an inner joy so great that nothing and no-one can take it away. Christ gives his people the necessary strength not to be sad or overwhelmed, thinking that their problems have no solution. Supported by this truth, the Christian has no doubt that what is done with love engenders a serene joy, the sister of the hope that breaks down the barrier of fear and opens the doors to a promising future. … How good it would be if all Cubans, especially the young, could say: “I am a man of charity”; I live truly to love, and not to be trapped in the vicious circle of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. What joy there is in loving authentically, in our daily actions, and not with plentiful but empty words that amount to nothing”.
“The second verb is to rise. St. Luke says that, with Jesus in her womb, Mary rose and promptly went to help her kinswoman Elizabeth, who in her old age was about to become a mother. She fulfilled God's will, making herself available to anyone in need. She did not think of herself, but instead overcame setbacks and gave herself to others. Victory belongs to those who rise again and again, without giving up. If we imitate Mary, we cannot do so while sitting down, merely complaining, or even at times passing the buck to others rather than facing our own responsibilities. … Mary was always with her people, especially the least among them. She knew loneliness, poverty and exile, and learned how to create fraternity and to make her home any place where goodness grew. We implore her to give us a poor soul without pride, a pure heart that sees God in the faces of the disadvantaged, and unwavering patience that does not give up when faced with the difficulties of life”.
“The third verb is to persevere. Mary, who had experienced God's goodness, proclaimed the greatness He had worked in her. … For this reason, she stood by her Son, when everyone else had abandoned Him; she prayed without fail alongside the apostles and other disciples, lest they lose their mind. ...We too are called upon to continued in the love of God and to continue loving our neighbours. In this world, in which eternal values are discarded and everything is subject to change, in which a throwaway mentality triumphs, and in which there is fear of lifelong commitments, the Virgin encourages us to be men and women constantly engaged in good work, who maintain their word, who are always faithful”.
“Be joyful and share this with those around you. Lift your heart and do not succumb to adversity, stay on the path of good, tirelessly helping those who are oppressed by sorrows and troubles. These are the important lessons Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre teaches us, and which are useful to us now and in the future”.