Spirituality of the Cuban Association

The Cuban Association has implemented a series of activities to foster the spirituality and assist in the implementation of the Charisma of the Order in hospitalary and charitable works of our Knights and Dames.

2Our Association counted until recently with the spiritual direction of Mons. Agustín Román+ (in the photo), one of the retired auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Miami, who became the first Cuban in 200 years to be appointed bishop in the United States and was responsible in 1986 for bringing about a peaceful resolution to the prison uprisings in Atlanta and Oakdale, CA.

1After his death in April 2012, Mons. Thomas G. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami, became Head Chaplain of our Association since August of 2012. Assisting him are Msgr. Jose Estevez, Bishop of St. Augustine, Msgr. Tomás Marín, Msgr. Mario Guijarro de Corzo (in Puerto Rico), Fr. Fernando Hería and Fr. Richard Vigoa.

Since the exodus, there had been no member in Cuba until 2004, when Mons. Alfredo Petit y Vergel, Auxiliary Bishop of Havana, was named Conventual Chaplain ad Honorem.

 

Liturgical Celebrations

As with all Catholics, the celebration of the Holy Mass is the center of the spiritual life of the Association. Accordingly, the Association celebrates the liturgy throughout the year including:

Mass of Investiture: All new members of the Order are invested in a solemn Mass of Investiture. During the Mass, the novice knights, dames and chaplains of the Order are invested with their church robes and the Cross of the Order and pronounce on the Holy Gospel their commitment to live their lives within the charisma of the Order and in accordance with its laws, rules and traditions. A Knight of the Third Class makes the following commitment at the time of his investiture:

I, N.N., knowledgeable of the aims of the Sovereign and Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem ask to be admitted in the Order and solemnly swear before this relic of the holy cross, sign of God’s love for us, on these holy gospels, and the Cross of this sword, symbol of knighthood, that I am Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman, the religion in which, with the grace of God, I wish to live, die, and defend even at the cost of my life. I declare that I am ready, as a Knight of the Order of Malta, to attend to our lords the sick and the poor with all of my strength and ability. I swear to fulfill all obligations under the Constitution, Rule, Code and customs of the Order of Malta and the statutes of its Cuban Association and whatever pronouncements made by its officials and promise, with the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and intercession of Our Lady of Philermos, of St. John the Baptist, and blessed Brother Gerard, founder of the Order, to search for perfection in a Christian life, in accord with my station in life and with the spirit, traditions, and the laws of the Order. I propose, with the help of God, to live for the defense of our faith and to help the poor, by giving of myself, to the limits of my ability, to the greater glory of God, to the service of the Church and to the goals of the Order”.

The commitment for Dames and Chaplains are similar.

spirit1

The photo above shows the investiture ceremony held at Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami, Celebrated by Mons. Wenski, Archbishop of Miami.

15Mass on the Feast of St. John: June 24th is the Feast of St. John the Baptist patron saint of the Order of Malta. It is the major feast day celebrated by the Order.   So important is the feast to the life of the Order that during the Great Siege of Malta the few surviving defenders of Fort St. Elmo celebrated the Eucharist on June 23, the eve of St. John’s Day, before proceeding to stand to the last man in defense of their faith. In the Sovereign Order, June 24th is considered its national holiday and treated as such in all of its governmental installations and embassies.   The Priories and National Associations similarly celebrate the Feast of St. John primarily with a Solemn Mass. The Cuban Association generally holds its Chapter General at the same time as it celebrates the Feast of St. John.

First Friday Mass: The members of the Cuban Association in Miami gather for the celebration of Mass every First Friday. The members continue to attend Mass in the Chapel of St. Hugh’s Church in Coconut Grove, or at the Ermita de la Caridad del Cobre in Miami. Masses are celebrated by our chaplains, or by a visiting priest from Cuba. Afterwards there follows a fellowship lunch for the participants. On these occasions about 15 knights and dames regularly participate.

The Delegation of Puerto Rico also celebrates their Masses in the Chapel of St. Peter Martyr Church in San Juan.

Retreats and days of reflection

The members of the Order are encouraged to live a life of reflection. The purpose of the retreats and days of reflection is to set aside a time away to strengthen one’s relationship with God. The time is spent in prayer and spiritual direction. To this end, the Cuban Association hosts a three day retreat every August. Generally, those retreats are structured based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and usually held at Casa Manresa administered by the Jesuit order. They are attended by our knights and dames, and especially by our members in Obedience. (The photos above left show Casa Manresa, and at right the Mission of St. Francis and St. Clare).

In addition, the Cuban Association hosts two Days of Reflection each year, one for Advent and the other for Lent. We normally celebrate these retreats in the church of St. Francis and St. Clare, in Miami; they are directed by one of our Chaplains or by a visiting priest invited for that purpose.

Spirituality Meetings

For the past several years, we have conducted our evening meetings on spirituality, directed by a chaplain or invited priest. They have been held the second Tuesday of each month, except during the month of August and the month of December. These meetings are held in the homes of some of our members, who open their homes for this important work for our Association. On average, we have had the participation of more than twenty knights and dames of the Association in each of the meetings. We also invite to these meetings our postulants and possible new members, as a means to impart on the potential new members the spiritual values of becoming a Knight or Dame.

Pilgrimages

The Cuban Association, as part of its program of Spirituality, regularly participates in the following pilgrimages:

Lourdes Pilgrimage: Every two years, in the first week of May, for 4 to 5 days, the Cuban Association of the Order of Malta hosts a pilgrimage to the Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes in France. This pilgrimage coincides with the International Pilgrimage which the Order of Malta holds every year.

The pilgrimage consists of 10-20 members of the Cuban association of the Order of Malta that lend their services at the shrine. The work consists of assisting in the transport of the Malade, manning the baths, and lending assistance in the local hospitals. During this time members and volunteers also serve in support of the various religious services during the pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of La Caridad del Cobre: Beginning in 2011 the Cuban Association started a series of pilgrimages to the Shrine of our Lady of La Caridad del Cobre, in the Province of Oriente, patron saint of the Island of Cuba. It was done to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the apparition of the Virgin to two Indians and a boy in the year 1608, when they saw a small statue of the Virgin Mary, carrying the Christ child and a gold cross. She floated on a board bearing the inscription, Yo soy la Virgen de la Caridad, “I am the Virgin of Charity.”

On a yearly basis the feast of the Virgin de la Caridad del Cobre is celebrated in Miami, Florida, on September the 8th, with a special Mass hosted by the Archdiocesis of Miami, with a procession, gathering of the clergy and the people worshipers. The Cuban Association of the Order of Malta participates as a Corporate Body in these celebrations, honoring our most sacred Patron Saint.

Apostolate for the Faith

The Association started the ministry in 2010 to defend the faith, representing Lighthouse Catholic Media, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promulgate Catholic topics and readings in English and Spanish.

17
16

We currently have a booth at St. Timothy Parish led by our chaplain Monsignor Tomas Marin. The program of CD’s and brochures are a great help to deepen the love and knowledge of our Catholic faith. They also help answer the call of His Holiness John Paul II to the new evangelization.