Friday, September 08, 2006


Many Cubans, both on and off the island, know this day (Sept. 8th) as the celebration of Our Lady of Charity -Patroness of Cuba. Large processesions were held on the island and large masses were celebrated wherever there is a Cuban community. Homage for "Cachita" (as she is commonly called) spreads well beyound the realms of Catholicism or even Santeria for that matter. She is in many respects a cultural icon that transcends the inherit religious implications. I've actually encountered Cuban Jews that have her image on the wall, and to this day that amazes me.

Whether one is Catholic or not, I think there is a lesson to be learned through the image of Our Lady of Charity, and it's lesson that if we take to heart we can use in becoming a better people if not help create a better Cuba.

Cuba as we know is an island lacking peace and justice. It is an island where people live in fear of their lives, and a place where reporters who dare speak their minds find themselves outcasted and imprisioned. The people in Cuba live without peace because there is no respect for justice.

There no peace without justice.

Justice can only occur when the truth that everyone is created equally is respected. And that within this truth there is the freedom to express ones mind and heart without infringing upon others dignity.

There is no justice without truth.

In order to reach this truth that everyone is created equally we must learn to love each other. Only through love can we realize the dignity that is inherit in all humans.

There is no truth without love.

Charity is love in action and this brings us back to "Cachita."

A unique feature of "Cachita" that is different from other images of Mary is that she holds both her child Jesus and the Cross. Many Christians in general know that the Cross is a represenation of taking on our particular sacrifices of daily life. As for the child, on a more secular and ideal level, a child is the product of the love between two people. Clearly there are many children who were born through other circumstances other than love, however, that should not derail from the ideal: a child is proof that love produces life.

Thus, wrought within this image of "Cachita" are two images of "charity": one of sacrifice and one of life. Of these two, the easiest to understand would be life. If love leads to the respect for others, than love would logically leads to the well being of each life as it exists. This is obvious! However, sacrifice is not so clear, and if misused, it can even obfuscate the very meaning of charity.

Sacrifice does not mean accepting abuse, withstanding oppression, or submitting to fear. Abuse, oppression, and fear are contrary to the very definition of charity. Rather, sacrifice is the giving up something for the sake of something else that is held as more imporant. Many times sacrifice is going against abuse, fighting against oppression, and overcoming fear for a greater goal. Many in Cuba who join the various movements against castro, who speak their minds, and who vocally disagree with communism are sacrificing what little they have for something more important -a pluralistic and free Cuba. Many off the island sacrifice the comfort of their lives in order to spread the truth of Cuba and castro's corruption. If life is not the goal and product of one's sacrifice then this sacrifice is done in vain.

Charity is a sacrifice in search of life.

If there is no peace without justice, no justice without truth, and no truth without love. And if the act of love (charity) requires sacrifice, then peace, justice, truth, and love will only happen in Cuba through the sacrifices made by the Cuban people and through all those who hold the possibilty of a free Cuba in their hearts. This sacrifice is what we find in the image of "Cachita". It is the lesson that we must continue to learn, as we are still confronted with corruption that is in Cuba. We must sacrifice in search of patria. We must sacrifice in search of pueblo. We must sacrifice in search libertad.

The more realize and act upon this, the more true Jose Marti's words become:

There is no death that does not transform into life, nor a great enslavement that does not surge towards a greater redemption.


Henry "Conductor" Gomez said...

Amen Brother. Good to have you back around. Don't be such a stranger!

Songuacassal said...

yeah... I'm still sorting some personal sh*t out, but don't worry, I'm not going anywhere!

Charlie Bravo said...

She's la virgen de los balseros, as they rightfully call her in Cuba. Amen, those are saintly words you spoke, Song.

ziva said...

Great inspirational post Songuacassal. Where are you?

songuacassal said...

I back from Spain and swamped with Grad school... And I'm getting ready for a trip to work with some indigenous people in Mexico... busy busy busy