Nice memory

By: Seminarian Rafael Cruz Dévora

The end of the 2018-2019 school year has come, it is a good time to remember gratefully for God’s passage through our lives during this time of formation. In September we began a new stage in the history of the Cuban Seminary, when for the first time after many years the archdiocesan headquarters of Havana did not open its doors for seminarians of all courses but for students from the second year of Philosophy. Thus began the new structural modality that the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba agreed for priestly formation: there was the Propedeutic Saint Augustine in the legendary Camaguey; the Philosophy of St. Basil the Great, in the primate hot land of Santiago de Cuba; and our Havana home as Theologado for all seminarians in the country, except that those who had already started Philosophy in San Carlos finished it without having to go to the Cuban East.
In the rainy October we had the usual celebration of the day of the Seminar, accompanied by the motto of the course: “Call, follow-up and mission”. More than eight hundred people come to share with us the formative experience of everyday life. Then we began the spiritual exercises preached to us by Father José Miguel Martínez exhorting us to a deep life of prayer and holiness. In November the Fiesta San Carlos Borromeo invited us to imitate its virtues and a few days later we were happy to open the Jubilee year for the 500 years of the foundation of the Villa de San Cristóbal in Havana, whose anthem has been composed by our brother Cienfueguero Jesús Emmanuel Gómez Apesteguía.
In December, the Holy Christmas ignited our lives with garlands and that joy was joined by the New Year’s Eve holiday, a good opportunity for the family. World Youth Day in Panama, at the beginning of 2019, surprised us with the possibility of expanding the participation of seminarians. On such a date we were visited by Archbishop Jorge Carlos Patrón Wong, Bishop Secretary of the Congregation of the Clergy for Seminaries, who expressed to us the affection for Cuba of the Holy Father and also that of the Dicastery to which he represented.
In February we got the change of semester, with new expectations. From the first of March, when Lent began, the Church invited us to conversion and penance. Holy Week, from 14 to 18 April, always pastoral in some parish of the diocese of origin, while introducing us to the Paschal Mysteries of our Salvation, allowed us to penetrate deeply into service as future pastors.
May welcomed our families with the doors open. It is true that Christian hope makes us discover the Love of the Father beyond our difficulties, so it is worth remembering that it has not been an easy year for the seminary community, as to the family-related dimension. The death of several parents, grandparents, dear or close friends has been present in almost the entire course. Also the painful reality of the disease has profoundly affected our stay. The pain for those who suffer at home, physically away from the Seminary, becomes very strong. The helplessness of wanting to help and knowing himself incapable sharpens him. But the prayer of the brethren, the solicitous companionship, the good attention of the superiors and the calls, messages or simply timbres that are received in those moments, help to discover a Church loving and dedicated to the service of others.
In June the final exams of the second semester, the difficult high school test of those who finish the formative stage and the departure to the holidays challenges us to a deep encounter with Christ, who has called us to be followers and missionaries of his love on this earth. This course that ends is not a page that closes, on the contrary, it is an essential part of the journey that begins every day in the confirmation of yes before the Altar of Holy and Sanctifying Sacrifice. For this course that ends we thank the Lord, tensions, tears and above all his love. We go on vacation, sore by the burdens of the road, but happy to have shared the sufferings of Christ (Col 1:24). Once again, God has written a page of mercy in our lives, “not in ink, but with the Holy Spirit; not in stone boards but in hearts of flesh” (2Cor 3.3). Ω

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