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Antonio Maceo Square
Holy Mass

Blessed  is the nation whose God is Lord" (Ps 32:12) With the psalmist we have sung that blessings accompany the people which has God as its Lord. More than 500 years ago, when the cross of Christ arrived on this Island, and with it his saving message, there began a process which, nourished by Christian faith, has continued to forge the character traits of this nation. the series of this nations illustrious figures includes: that soldier who was the first catchiest and missionary of Macaca; the first Cuban teacher, Father Miguel de Velázquez; the priest Esteban Salas, the father of Cuban music; the renowned man of Bayamo, Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, Father of his Country, who prostrate at the feet of the Our Lady of Charity, began  the fight for Cuba's freedom and independence; Antonio de la Caridad Maceo y Grajales, whose statue stands in the Plaza  where our celebration is taking place today, and whose mother prayed before the Crucifix asking that he commit himself wholly and completely to the freedom of Cuba. In addition to these, there are many other illustrious men and women who chose the way of freedom and justice as foundation of their people's dignity.

I am pleased to be here today in this distinguished Archdiocese, which counts Saint Anthony Mary Claret among its pastors. First of all, I offer cordial greetings to The Most Reverend Pedro Meurice Etíu, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba and Primate of the nation. I greet  as well the other Bishops, priest and deacons who are committed to furthering the kingdom of God in this land. I likewise greet the men and women religious and all the faithful present here. I wish to extend respectful greetings to the civil authorities taking part in this Holy Mass, and I thank them for their help in organizing this event.
During this celebration we will crown the image of Our Lady if Charity of El Cobre. From her Shrine, not far from here, the Queen and Mother of all Cubans - regardless of race, political allegiance or ideology - guides and sustains, as in times past, the steps of her sons and daughters toward our heavenly homeland, and she encourages them to live in such a way that in society those authentic moral values may reign, which constitutes the rich spiritual heritage received from your forbears. With gratitude, we turn to her, as did her cousin Elizabeth, and say: "Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord" (Lk. 1:45). in these words lies the secret of the true happiness of individuals and peoples;  to believe and proclaim that the Lord has done marvelous things for us and that his mercy is from generation to generation on those who are faithful to him. This conviction of the force which   inspires men and women to commit themselves selflessly, even at the cost of sacrifice, to the service of others.
Mary's example of readiness to serve shows us the path to take. With her, the Church fulfills her own vocation and mission, proclaiming Jesus Christ and exhorting us to do what he says, building a universal brotherhood.
Like the Virgin Mary, the Church is Mother and Teacher in the following of Christ, who is the light for the nations and dispenser of divine mercy. As the community of all the baptized, the Church is likewise the place of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation, opening her arms to all people so that she might proclaim to them the true God. By serving the faith of the men and women of this beloved people, the Church helps them to advance on the path of goodness. The evangelizing efforts being carried out in different places, for example the missions in districts and town which have no churches, must be sustained and promoted so that they may increase and serve not only Catholics  but the whole   Cuban people, so that everyone may come to know Jesus Christ. History teaches that without faith virtues disappears, moral values are dulled, truth no longer shines forth, life loses its transcendent meaning and even service of the nation can cease to be inspired by solid motivations. In this respect, Antonio Macea, the great patriot of the East, said: "he who loves not God loves not his country."
The Church calls everyone to make faith a reality in their lives, as the best path to the integral development of the  human being, created in the image and likeness of God, and for attaining true freedom, which includes the recognition of human rights and social justice.  In this regard, lay Catholics -  holding to their specific role as lay persons so that they may be  "salt and leaven" in the midst of society of which they are part - have the duty and the right to participate in public debate on the basic of equality and in an attitude of dialogue and reconciliation. Likewise, the good of a nation must be promoted and achieved by its citizens themselves through peaceful and gradual means. In this way each person, enjoying appropriate, will be able to cooperate effectively in the pursuit of the common good.
the Church,immersed in civil society, does not seek any type of  political power in order to carry out her mission; she wishes only to be the fruitful seed of everyone's good by her presence in the structures of society. Her first  concern is the human person and the community in which the individual lives; she is well aware that that actual people with all their needs and aspiration constitute her primary path. All that she claims for herself she claims for herself she places at the service of all service of the people and society.  For this reason Christ charged her to bring his message to all peoples, and for this freedom of each individual, of families, of different social units, which are living realities with a right to their own sphere of autonomy and sovereignty ( cf. Centesimus Annus, 45). In this sense, " Chastens and Christian communities are very much a part of the life of their respective nations and can be sign of the Gospel in their fidelity to their native land, people and national culture, while always preserving the freedom brought by Christ .. The Church is called to bear witness to Christ by taking courageous and prophetic stands in the face of the corruption of political or economic power; by not seeking her own glory and material wealth; by using her resources to serve the poorest of the poor and imitating Christ's own simplicity of life" (Redemptoris Missio, 43).
In recalling these apects of the Church's mission, we give thanks to God who has called us to be part of his Church. In the Church, the Virgin Mary has unique place. An expression of this is the new crowning of the venerated image of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. Cuban history is marked by wonderful displays of love for  the Patroness of Cuba , at whose feet the figures of humble natives, two Indians and a Negro, symbolize the rich plurality of the people. El Cobre where the Shrine is located, was the first place in Cuba where freedom was won for slaves.
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the faith, never forget great events connected with your Queen Mother. With the canopy of his family altar, Céspedes put together the Cuban flag and went to prostrate himself at the feet of Our Lady before beginning the battle for freedom. the brave Cuban soldiers, the "Mambises", bore on her breast the medal and "medida" of her holy image. the first act of liberated Cuba in 1898 was when the troops of General Calixto Gracia knelt during a solemn Mass at the feet of Our Lady of Charity for the "Mambisa Declaration of Independence of the Cuban people". the various pilgrimages of the image through the town of the Island, heeding the desires and hopes, the joys and suffering of all her children, have always involved great displays of faith and love.
From this place I wish to send my greeting also to all of Cuba's children who venerate Our Lady of Charity; together with all all your brothers and sisters who live in this fair land, I place you under her maternal protection, asking her, Loving Mother of all, to unite her children once more through reconciliation and brotherhood.
today, following the glorious tradition of love for our common Mother, before proceeding with her crowning, I turn to her and together with all of you I call upon her: