Friday, September 8, 2017

Cachita's Feast Day, Hurricane Irma and the Christian Liberation Movement's Founding

"Lift up your heart and do not succumb in the face of adversities, persevere in the way of good; tirelessly helping those oppressed by sorrows and afflictions: these are the important lessons taught to us by Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre." - Pope Francis

Hurricane Irma batters Cuba on September 8, 2017
Today is the Feast Day for Cuba's Our Lady Charity and it coincides with Hurricane Irma devastating the north coast of Cuba's central provinces. Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits are praying for the intercession of Cachita for those impacted by the force five hurricane.Rosa María Payá Acevedo tweeted a photo of the Maria of Cuba along with the following message: "To the Maria of Cuba we entrust the families affected by Irma. At the feet of the Virgin of the Caridad de la Cobre our sorrows and joys."

In the pictures below taken in 2011, one in Miami and one in Havana, on the same day Cubans gathered to pray and worship for the Virgin of Charity also known affectionately as "Cachita." The Virgin of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba unites Cubans inside the island and in the diaspora.

For the past four centuries, since the Virgin of Charity appeared to the three Juanes in the Bay of Nipe in 1612, She has been a source of popular devotion among Cubans and on May 10, 1916 forever linked with Cuban independence when Pope Benedict XV proclaimed Her Patroness of Cuba in response to a request by veterans of the Cuban war of independence. Since then She has also been known as the Virgin Mambisa. Since 1959 she has accompanied the Cuban diaspora.

Today she gives comfort to the impacted and the afflicted by this monstrous storm.  In 1988 on her feast day a movement was born inspired by Christian teachings and the desire to be free. On this day in 2014 Cuba's Christian Liberation Movement released a statement recalling their founding:

We were born there in the parish of the Cerro, one of the many neighborhoods of Havana. The background: The Circle of the Cerro. Then something more formal, The Circle of Cuban Christian Thought. This was banned and dissolved when it launched the first free Cuban publication, also prohibited, titled "People of God", proclaiming the source of liberation: when we said, "We must obey God before men", "Render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's, "But if God gives you Freedom, who is Cesar to take it away? "All men and women are my brothers and sisters." "We will not act violently or submit to violence," "You are my brother, I do not hate you, but I am not afraid of you."
Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas described how the Christian Liberation Movement, a democratic opposition movement, came into existence and explained how it was related to the birth of his first child, Oswaldo José.

“When our first child was going to be born, we have three children, we said that our children cannot live in a country without liberty and we are not going to another country to seek freedom. Therefore we have to fight for our children to live free here in Cuba and everyone else's children and their parents too.”    
Oswaldo José was born on February 17, 1988 and the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) was founded that same year on September 8, 1988.   Oswaldo Payá was killed on July 22, 2012 along with the movement's youth leader Harold Cepero. 

Jesús Mustafá Felipe at Solemn Mass for Our Lady of Charity
The dictatorship in Cuba is cruel and represses Cubans and also endangers the lives of foreign visitors. Reports emerged in the British press that travel agencies had not alerted tourists that four of the island's provinces, like South Florida, is presently under a hurricane warning. Mimi Whitfield in The Miami Herald, who on occasion gives the Castro regime the benefit of the doubt in her reporting, published a strange tweet on September 7th stating "Cuba expected to escape Hurricane Irma’s full force." Independent Cuban journalists trying to cover preparations for Hurricane Irma in Cuba have been arrested. Tonight many Cubans on and off the island would strongly disagree with her but more importantly many will be praying for Cachita for protection.

Tonight in Miami and Havana many are praying to Cachita to see them through this terrible storm and in their appeal they are united.

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