Today and Tomorrow of a Pandemic (8)

Por: José Antonio Michelena y Yarelis Rico Hernández

The 2020 leap year that began on Wednesday will be set to fire in human history by the uncontainable transmission, to the five continents, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19, a spread initiated in China during 2019.

Covid-19 has claimed many lives and tested, in crisis management, very diverse governments and states of societies: from the most democratic and open, to the most authoritarian and closed.

But it has also tested us, that we are living an uneedited, unimagined experience, and we do not know exactly when and how this nightmare will end. Nor what will come after it’s over.

Much has been speculated about it, to the point of reaching the (almost) saturation of the subject, but not by looking the pandemic the pandemic will no longer be there, like the dinosaur of Monterroso. Every day we get up and lie by his shadow.

As other publications have done, we wanted to consult the opinion of a group of intellectuals, to which we have added the opinion of some Catholics, including priests, religious, religious and young lay people, to inquire about their particular experiences during all this time, to know how they have used it, how their days have elapsed, what they think about this present, and what they expect from the future , how you imagine it.


Sor Nadieska Almeida Miguel (Hija de la Caridad)Sor Nadieska Almeida Miguel (Hija de la Caridad)

Sister No oneska, how have you lived through these months of confinement?

“It’s very strong when you utter or hear the word locking up. Although it’s a reality, I find the term difficult, but I don’t think I’ve heard a better one yet. Many prefer to call it protection, be in care, I would like to say ‘at home with others’ or ‘in shelter and shelter’. I believe that as many of me have experienced the feeling of having mixed feelings: protection, insecurity, fears, desires for risk, feeling comfortable, called to leave myself, Church at home, cries of my people…

“It’s been touching the human limit, experiencing ‘we can’t’. It is something that is not in our hands and you feel strongly the fragility, the smallness and at the same time the confidence, the strong call to abandonment in his hands, because He and only He can ‘turn the water into wine’. Only Jesus can get good out of all this, and from that gaze of faith, we human beings, believers or not, can try to see what we have to do, what to learn, what to review, and what to begin.

“It has been possible to return to what is essential in my life by letting go of what is not essential, which does not make me a consecrated woman and seeking to embrace the best and the worst that inhabits me, also welcoming the best and the worst that inhabits this reality.

“As a woman of faith I can breathe and believe that there is something new rising beneath this reality and wait for the right time to sprout. In the words of the Apostle Peter: ‘We, confident in the Lord’s promise, expect a new heaven and a new earth, where justice dwells’ (2Pe 3:12ss). I live convinced that God has a new word for all, and will gradually reveal himself, and I prefer to dare to use a small fragment of the psalm of a Jesuit priest, friend, who gathers my feeling: ‘(…) You are the Lord of righteous closeness, of the necessary sacrament that allows us to go, without so much cold and night that our mud is raw, not so much sun and noon that your fire will make us'” (Benjamin González Buelta).

Have you benefited from this stage of physical isolation?

“Yes, on two sides. The first has been to stop me from thinking more, to pray insistently and confidently. I think this has been a time of deep encounter with myself and God, in a different way. Paradoxically, going inside yourself empowers you to get out of you and put life with others. Looking for creative ways to reach others, I’ve discovered other modes of communication and expressions of closeness. In truth, I have also had the opportunity to live once again this gift of ‘intercongregationality’ that occurs in our life as consecrated persons, I have been able to approach some congregations to share some food or medicine, which others, in turn, have shared with me.

“Communities that have senior members have been a great concern to me. Whether there is one thing I have learned in my life as Daughter of Charity is respect for them, because they have given their lives here, whether Cuban or not, they have given everything for God and for this people of ours of which we are part. Today it is our turn to step up and protect them as much as we can and with the resources we have. I have enjoyed every visit, all from the portals and with the possible protections; In each one I have received a blessing, a gratitude, a promise of prayer and, above all, in my heart smiles are engraved that express safety because we are with them, and do not feel forgotten or unprotected. But the most beautiful thing about this is the gift of working with others, and that’s a blessing I enjoy and it does me a lot of good. And in this time it has also been possible.

“We have been able to re-create ways to be a community family, to be sisters. Stop some things and question the meaning of others on a personal, community, ecclesial, social level. Clarify calls or at least find out what is required to look for, ask ourselves where we will continue and in what way. To feel part of a Church that seeks ways to maintain communion, prayer, presence, through each of its agents.”

Are there any conclusions you have made, in existential terms, that you want to share?

“I confirm as inner certainty, my smallness and the dependence of God combined with the experience of a God who assumes all my fragility, ours, that of all. That God who is also hungry, in the queues …, who resists the inexpression of his rights, because he is in every human being, especially in the weakest or most ignored, a great God who believes in us, expects us and counts on us. I also confirm the profound need to feed on the encounter with Jesus Christ more and more, a meeting that sustains my life and that of others as well.

“I have concluded that we are a humanity in need and with which God counts, although there are realities that forget many (we ourselves sadly forget many). That there is a mode of communication, communion, presence and embrace that nothing and no one can take away from us. That letting out the best or the worst is a personal decision and that only to the extent that we become aware of it can we build a better world and a Cuba, between all and for all. That our Voice as a Church has weight, and we cannot and should not shut up. I feel an immense cry that emerges from the lives of many of our brothers and sisters and cannot be heard, they have the right to have their voice heard through ours, from which they can raise it, because I firmly believe that the way is with others, alone we cannot. And it is an urgent time to discern, to ask God, and to those who have ‘power to decide’ where and how we can look and dream of the future.”

What teachings could leave us, as social beings, this time of isolation?

“May the strong and the difficult, but beautiful of finestitude, fragility and interdependence, help us to become aware that the duration of life is not in our hands. That we are fragile and needy beings. That we are all important and no one is a must. That before the limit and before the experience of God’s love, there are no distinctions: we are all just as fragile, equally loved. That we have responsibility to the life of my brother, whoever he is, wherever, and that we are called to live universality and interdependence with all. That you can be very close even if there are no physical ways to be. That there are many situations that we have been incubating and this reality has only made them come out, it has given them name and face.”

How does the future post-pandemic live up?

“It is already good to think about the future, because that leads me to dream, to glimpse a way out. Happily it remakes me to look beyond the immediate and what I can humbly suggest so that that future is not to return to normal, but to restart as a new creation by feel co-creators and not owners.

“I believe that we must live more like Jesus of Nazareth, He is the way, the only way and from there we can say that it is from Him that we can walk towards the love of charity that must be embraced by truth and justice.

“To give and share the greatest thing we have that is Jesus and his good news, because it is what sustains life, what we turn to give and allows us to recognize Him in the midst of our reality.

“I can think of a future for all, looking after those who have less, being with them and helping them sustain their voice.

“I believe that it is possible to make way with others, where everyone contributes what they can and is entitled to according to their mission, responsibility, function, vocation.

“I believe that we must make a path of humility, a Church more like the early Church, less self-referential, perhaps less so but with the strength of having lived with Him, having seen Him Risen and supported by the power of testimony. This time has allowed us to return to Galilee. May we feel the Power of the Spirit as believers and stand to return to the path after the Master.”

Sister Nadieska Almeida Miguel (Daughter of Charity). Superior of the Daughters of Charity in Cuba. He currently chairs the Conference of Religious of Cuba (CONCUR). She is Cuban and has twenty-eight years of Consecrated Life. She declares to be happy to “be the daughter of this Church, of this people, happy to be a woman and a consecrated woman”.

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