Photo by Maria Johnson
If you've ever thought that the story of salvation history ended with the coming of Christ 2000 years ago, think again. The history of salvation continues in the very lives we lead. The will of God continues to unfold in the world today, and Mary, the Mother of God is often playing a decisive role. In the last century and a half we've seen it happening in Lourdes, Fatima, Akita, Kibeho, and elsewhere. Many have believed that Mary has played a role in assisting the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, in the wake of Pope John Paul's consecration of Russia, and the entire world to Mary. Now, I can only guess what Our Lady's intercession may bring to Cuba in the future.
For now, Cuba's patroness, Our Lady of Charity, has brought two papal visits to this tiny nation within 15 years... and there are more and more public displays of faith taking place in the face of government oppression.
This week, my good friend, Maria Morera Johnson, who has taught me so much about this devotion to Our Lady of Charity, and about Cuban history, takes a turn as my guest at my column at Patheos. It is a pleasure to let her share her love of her Catholic faith, her love of Mary, and her heritage in her observations regarding Pope Benedict's visit to Cuba this week.
Here's a little excerpt....
Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba, the country of my birth and the country my parents and I fled in 1966, both delights and pulls on the heartstrings of many Cubans and Cuban-Americans like myself, watching his pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre from afar, yearning to be present with the Holy Father in this Jubilee Year.
So much of my identity lies bundled within the mantle of Cuba’s patroness, La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, that I too easily forget who she is.
To my child’s heart she is a constant companion, my ever-present friend whose image in the homes of family and friends, doctors’ offices, and storefronts in the Cuban neighborhoods of Atlanta and Miami where I grew up identified a little piece of home. The sight of her, especially in an unexpected place, is cause for joy -- as an adult I learned Cause of Our Joy as one of Mary’s many titles -- back then I just knew her as “la virgencita”, a sweet diminutive denoting the closeness of my relationship to her.
Wherever she was, there was Baby Jesus nestled in her left arm. As a child, I never paid any mind to the object in her right hand, a cross. This juxtaposition of the Incarnation and Crucifixion, the dichotomy of joy and human suffering, speaks volumes to me today.
Cuba’s history is also a dichotomy, a history resplendent with the natural beauty of an island paradise and a people filled with goodwill that contrasts with periods of oppression and abuse. In all of this, the Blessed Mother has remained present, watching over her children.
Read it all, please.