Vatican City, 23 September 2015 (VIS) – “God’s presence in our lives never leaves us tranquil: it always pushes to do something. When God comes, He always calls us out of our house. We are visited so that we can visit others; we are encountered so as to encounter others; we receive love in order to give love”, said Pope Francis yesterday in his final homily in Cuba, in the Minor Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.
The Pope commented on the Gospel passage that narrates the episode of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth. “Mary went in haste, slowly but surely, with a steady pace, neither too fast nor so slow as never to get there. … Henceforth this was always to be her way. These lands have also been visited by her maternal presence. The Cuban homeland was born and grew, warmed by devotion to Our Lady of Charity”.
“This was what your fellow citizens also stated a hundred years ago, when they asked Pope Benedict XV to declare Our Lady of Charity the Patroness of Cuba”, Francis recalled. “They wrote that 'neither disgrace nor poverty were ever able to crush the faith and the love which our Catholic people profess for the Virgin of Charity, for whom, in all their trials, when death was imminent or desperation was at the door, there arose, like a light scattering the darkness of every peril, like a comforting dew, the vision of that Blessed Virgin”.
This Shrine has since kept alive the memory of God’s holy and faithful pilgrim people in Cuba. “From here she protects our roots, our identity, so that we may never stray to paths of despair. The soul of the Cuban people, as we have just heard, was forged amid suffering and privation which could not suppress the faith, that faith which was kept alive thanks to all those grandmothers who fostered, in the daily life of their homes, the living presence of God, the presence of the Father Who liberates, strengthens, heals, grants courage and serves as a sure refuge and the sign of a new resurrection. Grandmothers, mothers, and so many others who with tenderness and love were signs of visitation, valour and faith for their grandchildren, in their families”.
“Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness”, he emphasised. “We are asked to live the revolution of tenderness as Mary, our Mother of Charity, did. We are invited to 'leave home' and to open our eyes and hearts to others. Our revolution comes about through tenderness, through the joy which always becomes closeness and compassion, and leads us to get involved in, and to serve, the life of others. … Our faith, 'calls us out of our house', to visit the sick, the prisoner and to those who mourn. It makes us able to laugh with those who laugh, and rejoice with our neighbours who rejoice”.
“Like Mary, we want to be a Church who serves, who leaves home and goes forth, who goes forth from her chapels, her sacristies, in order to accompany life, to sustain hope, to be a sign of unity. Like Mary, Mother of Charity, we want to be a Church who goes forth to build bridges, to break down walls, to sow seeds of reconciliation. Like Mary, we want to be a Church who can accompany all those 'pregnant' situations of our people, committed to life, to culture, to society, not washing our hands but rather walking with our brothers and sisters. All together, serving, helping. All sons and daughters of God, sons and daughters of Mary, sons and daughters of this noble Cuban soil”.