HAVANA TIMES — “How poor am I really? How impoverished is my inner world?” These were some of the questions posed by Pope Francis during his homily at the Havana Cathedral, on the afternoon of last Sunday.
His words aim to suggest we should not allow material concerns to guide our lives and make us neglect the spiritual, in terms of our concern over those in need, excluded from society or those who no one mentions because of the unease they cause – beings no one cares about, helpless persons who depend on others to go on, considered socially worthless because they produce nothing.
The Pope tackled these delicate issues after hearing the testimony of a nun who cares for mentally challenged patients in a Cuban institution named La edad de oro (“The Golden Age”). The young nun, devoted to serve the “useless,” the shunned (as the Pope called them) spoke of her weakness and how much she cried before taking on the task assigned her.
Her fear of coming face to face with the meek, and the strength she discovered after helping them and recognizing them as human beings, made me think of the French film about nun Marie Heurtin, who served in an institution that aided abandoned persons and devoted many years of her life to helping a blind, deaf-and-dumb girl, with whom she communicated through sign language.
Her service was an extremely hard test. She herself was a sickly, fragile woman, and confronting that savage creature who had never known anything beyond her family was her service to others, her way of embodying Jesus Christ on earth.
After sister Heurtin’s death, the blind woman worked as a teacher for several years. Her spiritual learning made her grow and led her to become the teacher of other young people in similar conditions.
Caring for others, having compassion, a useful compassion that can help others, in whom we can see the fruits of our work, is something we should all do.
Faith should not only serve to seek God’s help. It should serve to make us like God, or to speak through him. It is not what some millionaires do, dishing out a little cash with one hand to get attention, while they buy mansions with the other. Faith is giving what you needs to others who need it more, that is what true spirituality amounts to.