2nd of November-Day of the Dead / Ricardo Medina

The Commemoration of the 2nd of November as All Souls Day, did not arise suddenly.  Since the 7th century, the Archbishop of Seville, Saint Isidoro (560-636) established that the Monday of Pentecost would be offered to Saint Sacrifice = Eucarist= Holy Mass for all the dead, as was customary in other countries, especially in the chapters and monasteries.  St. Odilo (+ 1049), abbot of Cluny (France) was dedicated to this tradition and usually established it as a commemoration, as it is now; other traditions offer altars decorated in the style of life of the deceased, meals, flowers, candles, the traditional bread of the dead and people spend the night in cemeteries with their loved ones, for example the Night of the Dead (Mexico).

The monasteries dependent on Cluny Abbey, endorsed the Office for the Dead, then Rome gave it great importance, and officially established the Office of the Dead spread throughout the church, complete with the Liturgy of the Hours and enriched with lessons of Saint Peter and St. Augustine, with the privilege of three masses. Today religious congregations include the office of the canonical hours, prayers for the members and supporters who have gone to meet the Father and mention their names.

In each daily celebration and all the masses the moment for the Dead is presented, when it is said among other formulas: «Remember also, Lord, for our deceased brothers and N … N … who have gone before us with the sign of faith and who sleep the sleep of peace. To them and to all who rest in Christ, we pray, Lord, grant them the place of renewal, of Light and Peace.»

There are also offices of liturgies for the deceased lying in state, at the time of burial, for those who die at sea and a special liturgy for young children, who are those children who have not attained the use of reason; it is desirable to shroud them according to their age and to surround them with flowers to honor their spirituality, for this service white vestments are used, the offices for the dead are not celebrated, instead are celebrated masses of glory masses, masses of angels, to praise and bless God, the prayers and psalms in serving infants are of triumph and joy, even though the pain and sadness afflicts their relatives.

In the Commemoration of November 2nd as All Souls Day, the church is dressed in purple, a sign of humility and sorrow, encouraging us to retreat and meditate for our loved ones who have gone before us with the sign of death.

Sadly in Cuba we can see every day the loss of the tradition of visiting cemeteries, holding Masses, burning candles, laying flowers for our deceased relatives and friends; this humble servant thought to present my humble prayer to God for all those who in life I have loved well, my grandparents, my uncles, my teachers, friends, brothers in faith, fraternal, my spiritual directors and all who are entrusted with and have instructed my prayers.

Lord grant them eternal rest!

And may perpetual light shine within them!


Translated by: Norman Valenzuela and Carlos Maristany (first half of first paragraph only). Others: remainder.

November 5 2012

Our Lady of Mercy / Ricardo Medina

ImagenFor the frequent intercession attributed to her by prisons and the prison world, Our Lady of Mercy or The Most Blessed Virgin of mercy, is proclaimed Patron of the Captives, her feast is celebrated September 24, her image dressed in white, with a scapular with a shield embroidered in red, with a cross at the center and topped by a royal crown, in whose hands the image shows broken chains and handcuffs, as a sign of broken bonds, applicable to life in sin, some images may show Jesus or not, and her carrying a child also wearing the scapular, the Church celebrates her feast and as a Major Feast Day, dressed in white.

Mariana is a dedicated, popularized by San Pedro Nolasco, a pious Spaniard who devoted his vast fortune inherited from his parents when he was orphaned at age 20, and decided to serve Jesus Christ in a ministry dedicated to rescuing captive Christians who were arrested by the Muslims. He was able to do his work by pretending to be a merchant in Valencia. In 1203 he declared that he had received a prescient vision of his mission, and he joined with St. Raymond of Peñaford, in an association that ultimately gave rise to «Los Mercedarios,» the Order of Mercy.

In the early hours of August 1st to 2nd in 1218, he declared his second vision this time of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in which the Virgin asked him to found a religious order dedicated to the liberation of the prisoners which he called «The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy of the Redemption of Captives,» — «Order of Mercy» or the «Mecedarios» is the name by which its members are known.

This order of a military character, and later mendicant, because among them its members supported the prisoners by asking for alms in the streets. It’s headquarters was established in the Santa Eulalia Hospital of Barcelona on August 10, 1218, with approval and support of James I, King of the Crown of Aragon (the Conqueror). In 1235 the Order came to be governed by the Rule of St. Augustine and Pedro Nolasco served as its first superior until his death on 14 May 1249 in the city of Barcelona.

For his pious life and work he was canonized by His Holiness Pope Urban VIII, who declared the feast of St. Peter Nolasco to be celebrated on January 28.

Prayer to the most Most Holy Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Mercy

 Virgin of Mercy, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, refuge of the sinful!

To you I draw close, filled with love and confidence, knowing that you always listen to your children, for you are the Mother of Mercy.

I ask of you, dearest Mother, that my faith, hope and charity may grow and strengthen. That I may always live as a true child of God, your son, Madre mía. 

I dedicate to you this day all that I have and all that I am: my life, my work, my happiness and my suffering. I want to be completely yours. I want to follow your footsteps along the path that leads me to Christ, our Redeemer and Liberator.

Do not forsake me, Heavenly Mother. Grant what I ask of you from my heart, for me and for all those who suffer imprisonment for their causes. I pledge my everlasting gratitude for your favors and to love you more each day.

Lady of Mercy, pray for me and for all prisoners, and grant them the grace to be freed from the chains of earth and from sin through love for your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns forever and ever.


September 25 2012

A Young Man’s Life Endangered Because of the Holidays

ImagenSerguei Lanza Figueroa, 33 years old, resident of Calle 28 # 601, municipality of Cespedes , province of Camagüey, discusses his brush with death, after being refused admission to the Manuel Azcunce Domenech Provincial Hospital of Camaguey on July 24, because it was a holiday leading up to the 26th of July. When he presented himself along with his mother Lucia Figueroa Mantilla, suffering from severe appendicitis pain that led to peritonitis, due to rupture of the appendix, he belatedly underwent surgery late on August 4 in the same hospital.

August 6 2012

CUBA, Talitá’ cum – I speak to you / Ricardo Medina

Talitá, cum, is a phrase in Aramaic, a language spoken in Palestine in Jesus’ time, meaning «I speak to you», and it belongs to the gospel of Mark 5, 21-43, and the church has set it has aside for us to meditate this week.

This gospel tells us the story of a woman, who, for twelve years, had been suffering from hemorrhages caused by some anomaly in her menstrual cycle, and in the middle of a crowd, she came up to Jesus from behind and touched his hand seeking health. She had already used up of all her resources going to different doctors, and none of them had been able to find out about her condition, especially since in those times women were excluded in society.

Coincidentally, since 4:00 pm on Saturday, June 30, Zuleydi Lizbeth Pérez Velázquez, a well-known activist of the Independent and Democratic Cuba Party (CID) and of the Laura Pollán Ladies in White Movement, in Holguín, had been facing harassment from the political police and its repressive agents, who seek to ingratiate themselves and to gain perks, so that they can act as deliberately as they please, protected by the shield of the insecurity of the State, spent 20 hours monitoring Lizbeth to stop her from participating in her demand for freedom for all the political prisoners, along with the Ladies in White. A group of activists from CID did not hesitate in offering their support and converged on her modest dwelling showing their support. During the act of coercion from the political police and the state security agents, Lizbeth and her family were not alone; Hoguín’s CID supported them.

Jesus’ answer was: «Daughter, your faith has cured you. Go now in peace and health«. There was no scolding from his side as the poor woman may have thought, as she walked fearfully towards him. Jesus asked: «Who has touched my cloak?» The story tells that at that precise moment Jairus, the chief of the synagogue, arrived to ask for a prayer for his very ill daughter, who had been reported dead. «Don’t be afraid; it’s enough to have faith,» was Jesus’ answer.

After Jesus said Talitá, cum, the girl began to talk and walk, and became healthy.

San Pedro, summarizes the healings and resurrections carried out by Christ throughout his life, saying: «He went doing good«. This is, then, a call for health and faith, to which we are all invited to continue healing and removing prejudices toward political and social affiliations, and creeds.

We have to keep in mind that the Creator saw good in everything, as he spread encouragement for life in the universe; the man (his image), second to God in the Creation, has the responsibility to continue filling the world with good and life. We cannot stop making this call, as long as men and women remain imprisoned for claiming their rights. Rights also for those have bags full of food, and the people next to them suffer from hunger and needs.

We are the ones who have to keep the balance, and the harmony among all.

Pope Paul VI said in his homilies: Christ is the center of history and of all things; he got to know us and he loves us; he is companion and friend of our lives, a man of pain and hopes, and eventually our judge; and according to our level of trust, He is also our fulfillment and our bliss.

Christ is the beginning and the end, the Alpha and Omega, the king of the new world, the hidden and supreme reason of human history and of our future fate.

Jesus would say today, Talitá, cum – I speak to you Cuba; You, man, women, elderly, Cuban, wherever you are, must assume  your Christian responsibility, acquired by you or by your parents on the day of your baptism; do not stain with blood or hatred your soul for those who erroneously have imposed on you a rule of life, for more than half a century, which the world already recognizes does not work, and its imposer publicly recognized it as wrong.

CUBA, Talitá, cum – I speak to you.

Published on Cuba CID

Translated by Chabeli

July 2 2012

Pollution in Santa Clara

ImagenThe well-known Bélico River in Santa Clara is showing, in these rainy days, the pollution in the city of Marta, causing astonishment among the people passing by and the rest of the population.

Santa Clara, capital of the Villa Clara province, was founded on July 15, 1689, under the shade of a tamarind tree, by 14 families from the village of San Juan de Los Remedios who declared its foundation after a public mass. This took place in what is now Parque del Carmen, named after the church that stood there, and where a tamarind tree was kept in place to honor the historical fact.

It was the capital city of Las Villas (Santa Clara, Cienfuegos and Santi Espíritus) before the last political-administrative border division* given by the so-called revolutionary process; the splendor of this city was always contagious to its visitors, and it distinguished itself by its hospitality, and the cleanliness of its streets and residents.

The Train Memorial

The Bélico River, cuts through the city; it was a navigable river, where Mrs. Marta Abreu Esteves, benefactor of the city, created public laundry sinks for the poor women. The sinks were later tarnished with the building of the Minerva and Ochoa dam, another Castro invention that ruined my beloved hometown.

The images published on this post denounce by themselves the health authorities of Santa Clara and of the province of Villa Clara, the waste management services, and the office of the monuments; in the background of the images, you can see the monument to The Armored Train, and there it says «triumph of Fidel Castro’s Revolution» and there, a question comes to my mind: «Aren’t the monuments also interested in the hygiene of the city?»

I share this enormous pain with people from this place. In my Free Cuba, I want Santa Clara and the city of Marta free of pollution and dirt, and for that I will work.

Note: For more pictures visit  http://www.flickr.com/photos/cubacid/

Ricardo Santiado Medina

CID Cuba –  http://www.cubacid.org

*Translator’s note: Before the Revolution Cuba had 6 provinces, it now has 15.

Translator: Chabeli

June 26 2012

June 24 Day of the Godparent (Feast of Saint John the Baptist) / Ricardo Medina

According to custom immemorial the Church has highlighted the personality John the Baptist in the life of Jesus, to these ends it marked his celebration on June 24th, for being the precursor of the Messiah and he who baptized Him at the shores of the river Jordan, the condemnation against Herod Antipas Tetrarch of Galilee for marrying Herodias, wife of his half-brother, provoked the ire of Herodes and he was incarcerated (Luke 3, 1-20), and later was decapitated by request of Salome, daughter of Herod and Herodias (Matthew 14, 3-11).

ImagenSaint John the Baptist appears represented in the religious imagery dressed in a lamb skin, carrying a staff and a parchment with the words Ecce Agnus Dei «This is the Lamb of God».

Many are the traditions, I recall my great-grandparents and my grandparents would save old junk pieces that would break during the year and on that day they would make a bonfire in the yard and would burn them, whilst someone in the family would recite or pray El Pregon del Bautista (Proclamation of the Baptist), as a sign of a new beginning; this day also marks for others, the beginning of bathing in the beach, alluding to the fact that the jellyfish retire from the Caribbean, since they provoke skin irritations in bathers.

Many Catholic Christians, practicing and confessing, and the populace itself, don’t know that the 24th of June is the Day of the Godparents, a feast established by His Holiness Pius XII, who in the founding ceremony said: «Make certain that the godmother and the godfather be fervent Catholics so they be completely conscious of the duties they acquire of perpetually having entrusted (the spiritual child) the Godchild, and to care diligently for however much refers to the formation of the Christian faith, so that this be demonstrated throughout all their existence just as they promised in the solemn ceremony that should have been endeavoring also their religious education».

This feast, aside from promoting the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, is created in order to seek in society the respect, the personality and the veneration toward the godparents, who through these Sacraments can fulfill the functions of Father and Mother in absence of one’s own and tries to tighten the bonds of union between families each day more through the spiritual kinship between Godparents and Godchildren.

The symbol of this feast is the White Dove, having descended the Holy Spirit in this form over the head of Christ in the moment He was baptized by John in the river Jordan.

Let us have on this date a remembrance for our Godfathers and Godmothers who through the sacrament of Baptism and Confirmation assumed the responsibility of being our second parents before God.

Congratulations Godmother!

Congratulations Godfather!


Translated by: Maria Montoto

June 26 2012

They deposited a formal request for investigation into the murder of Juan Wilfredo Soto Graca

Abdel Rodriguez Arteaga, Vice President of the Cuba Independent and Democratic Party, gave to the Attorney General’s Office, at noon, July 11th, a document in support of the request for investigation to the death of Juan Wilfredo Soto Garcia. The original request was made by two priests on June 8th.

Copies of the document, presented by Rodriguez Arteaga, were delivered to the State Council, Ministry of Interior and Justice, and were accompanied by a hundred signatures in support of the request for investigation to the death of Soto Garcia, presented by the priests: Ricardo Santiago Medina Lleonart Salabarria and Mario Felix Barroso, on June 8th.

The letter dated July 8, states that the signatories ask the Attorney General to exercise his powers to:

1) Give a public explanation from the Cuban government of this lamentable event.

2) Restore the Methodist Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado to his pastoral ministry and to his rectory in the Methodist Church: «The Trinity» of Santa Clara. Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz, (Bishop of the Methodist Church in Cuba) removed him under pressure from the Department Religious Affairs, Ministry of Justice, after the minister attended the funeral of Soto Garcia.

Copies of this document were given, in addition to the Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament, to His Eminence Cardinal Jaime Ortega, Archbishop of Havana, and Bishop Ricardo Pereira Diaz, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Cuba.

Translated by Hank Hardisty

June 11 2011

Condemning the Attitude of Bishop Ricardo Pereira, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Cuba

Let integrity and uprightness preserve me; for I wait on thee.

Psalm 25:21 King James Bible

At 10:34 PM I received a text message from my brother the Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collado in which he told me: «Bishop Pereira and Oscar Carpio Licea (administrator) threaten my family with possible eviction this coming Saturday, the Methodist pulpits are used against me and to defend the corrupt-communist bishop.»

Sadly, I have a duty to support Yordi and condemn the attitude of Bishop Pereira and his cabinet, and his confabulations with the organs of State Security, who I am certain are using some perks as blackmail, they have organized and executed a campaign to recall Pastor Yordi Alberto Toranzo Collago, who was rector of «La Trinidad» Methodist Church in Santa Clara.

One thing I guarantee is that Bishop Pereira is being extorted by the repressive forces of the regime, Ricardo Pereira never, and I repeat never, has been a Communist nor a Castroite, to the contrary he has always shown himself to be against Castro-Communism.

Yordi, it is not only Pereira, Yordi has numerous pastors who support him and will continue to support him, the minister is not removed, you have suspended Yordi Alberto Toranzo from the ministry but he will continue faithfully working for the extension of the Reign of God in Cuba.

Pereira you have given your soul over to evil, you haven’t learned how to distinguish between Holy things and the forces of evil, once again I ask you to remember your vows before the people of God, today is the time, tomorrow will be too late, reflect on the light of the Holy Spirit, assess your attitude, and if you decide to confront the evil I will support you.

We want Yordi.

July 5 2011

Rest in Peace Monsignor++Pedro Claro Meurice Estíu

… I should introduce to you the nation that lives here and lives in the diaspora; Cubans suffer, live and hope here and also suffer, live, and hope out there.  We are a single people that, navigating the seas on logs, continues to look for unity… 

Mons. ++ Pedro Claro Meurice Estíu 24/1/98 (Words of welcome to His Holiness Pope John Paul II)

Monsignor Pedro Claro Meurice Estíu and His Holiness Pope John Paul II in Cuba.

In my life there have been three great moments that I consider historical: kissing the hands and personally meeting three people that live in the presence of God today. Two of them already decorate the Altar.

The first was Mother Teresa of Calcutta, at the consecration of the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de Regla; she has been beatified by the Church.

The second was His Holiness Pope John Paul II, at the mass in Santa Clara on 22 January 1998, when Mons. +Fernando Prego (blessed memory) asked him to bless an image of Saint Joseph, after which all the monks, nuns, priests, seminarians, and bishops present kissed the episcopal ring, he gave his apostolic blessing to each of us and presented us with a blessed rosary.

The third was Mons. ++Meurice Estíu (Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba). Accompanied by another saint, Mons. Modesto Peña Paz, I served him as master of ceremonies during mass. He had already been asked to end mass with the Salve in Latin to the Patron of Cuba and he generously accepted. When we finished service and arrived to the sacristy, we saluted each other. He thanked me for serving at the altar; he congratulated me and we hugged. I cried with emotion because I knew I was in the presence of a holy man who did not know fear. During my prison time I remembered a phrase that whispered in my ear while he hugged me and patted my back: Forward, forward!

For your example of life, your bravery to publicly claim and report the needs of your people and for that wonderful opportunity that I will never forget, in which I assisted you at God’s altar. Thank you Mons. Meurice.

Today, 21 July, I cannot explain what I feel in this moment. It is a mix of pain at his parting, intertwined with happiness for the freedom that he already experimented with; but I make my pleas before the altar of God for his soul’s eternal rest, while I hope that the Church will surprise me by lifting him to the glory of the Altar.


Thank you for your example of life

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share the Eucharist together with you

Thank you for the eloquence of your word and your example of humility

Rest in peace

Your faithful servant, Fr. Ricardo Santiago Medina Salabarria+

Translated by: M. Ouellette

July 21 2011

Cuban Olympic Medalist: From Glory to Misery

In Cuba we have all very carefully followed, in one way or another, the 2011 Panamerican Games in Guadalajara, not so much for the love of sport, but because there are no other entertainment options. But it hasn’t gone unnoticed that Cuban commentators politicise them heavily, which is bordering on indecency.

The government and the broadcasters have glorified the standing of our athletes in the medal count and categorised this ‘as an achievement of the revolution’. Fidel Castro issued ‘thoughts’ which have been read to the nation several times in all the radio and TV media operating on the island. In it, he makes unbalanced comparisons in terms of population, size of the territory and the number of medals won.

That’s when I remember the case of the silver medalist from the Special Olympics that took place in Beijing, China, in 2007. I’m talking about Rauler Castellanos Moreno, a black youth from Pinar del Rio who, despite his victory in this competition, now lives in inhuman conditions.

His house, with dirt floors, has a rudimentary table with very few utensils and no food to cook whatsoever. He has a small hotplate for an «electric stove», his closet is an egg crate. His mattress is made of jute sack stuffed with dried banana leaves. His windows are improvised from a badly constructed palisade as protection from wind and rain.

This is the reward for bringing the HOMELAND a silver jewel which was – like those of the Cuban team that travelled to Guadalajara on this occasion – loudly celebrated. Meanwhile, Rauler Castellanos and his life were forgotten by everyone.

Rauler Castellanos got to know other places, made ​​new friends, and upon his return was greeted with a certificate of recognition given by The Cuban Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). Today, he shows in dismay the photos of that event to his friends, and shrouds himself with the country’s insignia recalling his efforts and success. However, he went, like so many others – from glory to misery.

 Translated by: Branislava Vladisavljevic

2 November 2011