Authorities Attempt to Impose Mourning on Cuban Churches / Mario Lleonart
Mario Lleonart, 27 November 2016 — What is happening to the poor people
of the island – as the also deceased former president of El Salvador,
Salvador Flores, might have once told Fidel Castro to his face — is
utterly intolerable. It is as though the authorities want to impose,
almost by decree, a period of mourning that very few Cubans want to
observe. They have already had to endure so much suffering during the
lifetime of the deceased. And to top it off, they are now expected to
endure public expressions of grief when it is more likely, judging from
history, that they have more than enough reasons to celebrate, as their
brothers and sisters in Miami have been doing in an atmosphere of
freedom. That is what multitudes of people on the island would really
like to be doing.
It is not just that alcohol sales have been suspended during the period
of national mourning, presumably in an effort to make sure no one who
has had a few too many dares to give full reign to his repressed
desires. Popular festivities such as the celebration in the town of
Taguayabon have also been cancelled, an action which led its residents
to express their displeasure. It is not as though the tyrant had not
already disappeared from their lives back in 2006 when he transferred
power to Raul.
In the realm of religion, what is happening far and wide throughout of
the island today is unprecedented, making what those of faith had to
endure from the early 1960s until the present seem small by comparison.
Many churches are self-censoring, foregoing the routine use of music in
religious services out of fear. Congregations which have not done this
"voluntarily" are receiving official reprimands of one sort or another.
Several pastors related stories like the one below, though I prefer not
to reveal their identities out of concerns for their safety:
Things remain complicated here, my friend. Today, I received news that
many churches have suspended adoration and prayer services and that
others are singing without accompaniment out of "respect for national
mourning." Just as Daniel prayed three times a day with the window open
in the manner to which he was accustomed,* so we celebrate our Sundays
as usual, though we now only use a piano and play it softly so as not to
seem disrepectful of those who "feel the loss."
The president of the local Ministry of Justice and one of her officials
showed up between Sunday school and Mass, asking to speak to me. They
told me that they were bringing me orders to cancel Mass that day and
suspend all other services we had scheduled through December 9 because
of the country is in mourning. Can you imagine? You know what I told her?"
"You can go fetch the police or anyone else you want but I am not going
to suspend any masses and we are not going to stop singing. We sing and
hold adorations even when one of our own dies. That does not show a lack
of respect. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is
God's. Kill me, jail me, but we are not going to suspend Holy Mass."
We talked a bit more, they softened their tone and she finally said,
"Well, at least tone it down."
I quickly told the everyone in the church about it (some 200 of us). I
told them my response and added that, if anyone wanted to leave Mass,
they could go home. Everyone replied "Amen" to everything I said and no
one left. IT WAS A GLORIOUS SERVICE, LIKE IN THE EARLY CHURCH." Praise
be to God!!! Keep praying for us. Blessings and hugs.
*Translators note: A reference to the biblical passage, Daniel 6:10.
"Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went
home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem.
Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to
his God, just as he had done before."
Source: Authorities Attempt to Impose Mourning on Cuban Churches / Mario
Lleonart – Translating Cuba -