Cuba: The courage of the Carmelites

Lockdown, enforced isolation, economic paralysis, social distancing. The Covid measures imposed by governments worldwide have fallen hard on many contemplative religious, as they rely on outside help. Yet they continue to trust in God and pray for the healing of the world. Sister Maria of the Rosary is the Superior of the Discalced Carmelites of Saint Teresa of
Avila in Havana, the capital of Cuba. She writes to us from their quarantine to tell us what they need: milk, bread, soap, medicines, disinfectant and money for the telephone and electricity. Their country has been plunged into a downward spiral of poverty by the pandemic, because it depends so extensively on imports and tourism to stay afloat economically. The
borders are shut, and many goods can no longer reach the country. A lack of hygienic and protective items makes it harder to effectively tackle the pandemic, resulting in still wider economic shutdown in yet more areas. Then there is the lack of basic services.

“God wants us to be joyful” (Teresa of Avila): Sister Luz del Carmen and Sister Reina in the convent garden.
“God wants us to be joyful” (Teresa of Avila): Sister Luz del Carmen and Sister Reina in the convent garden.

Workers can no longer do their work, nurses are unable to visit: uncertainty about the future hangs over everything. But the Carmelite Sisters turn to the wise words of their foundress, the holy Doctor of the Church, Saint Teresa, who wrote in her Way of Perfection that for those who live in the love of God, “We have nothing to fear, only to look forward to”. Certainly, “He sends contemplatives heavier crosses than to others”, but at the same time “the first thing our Lord does when He sees them waver is to give them courage”. Now the Sisters want to share this courage with others. They ask “our prayers, that in the midst of this critical situation [they] may be a flame of hope for the people, who suffer so greatly” – such is the appeal from these contemplative souls. We have promised them our support. Their presence strengthens not just Cuba, but us as well, as they are praying for us every day.

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