Today was All Saints Day in the Catholic Church, when we remember those whose godliness decades and centuries after they have passed, continue to inspire us, and remind us of the type of people we all can be.
The priest at Mass this morning reminded us that there are saints all around us, who with their examples of courage and willingness to take the path less traveled and their calling to serve their fellow man, show us what we all can be.
As he spoke, I couldn't help but think of Oscar Biscet and Darsi Ferrer and Jorge García Pérez "Antúnez," and others in Cuba who have set aside their personal interests and their personal safety to show what is possible for Cuba by breaking with how things are and dreaming and acting on how things should be. I do not know how religious these and other Cuban dissidents are, but with their example, with the faith they have shown in themselves and in their fellow Cubans — and for how they have been persecuted and prosecuted because of that faith — they have proven themselves heroes, if not saints.
The Gospel reading at Mass today reassures us that despite the challenges and obstacles they face, political prisoners and other dissidents in Cuba will one day be vindicated and rewarded for their efforts on behalf of the cause of liberty:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Matt: 5:10)
The struggle for Cuban freedom is a test of our faith in the face of a great evil. Some days, it appears impossible that Cuba will once again be free. On the island, I imagine the feeling is worse that many of us can imagine.
But we must keep the faith, because as today's Gospel reminds us, when people insult us or persecute us or lock us up in prison because of our trust in God, great is the reward.
Those rewards are not only in heaven. In fact, they have already been experienced on the Cuban street and in cyberspace and in the dark cells of the Castro gulag, with men and women breaking the bounds that tie them to tyranny and choosing, despite whatever their earthly circumstance, to be free.
That is an example all of us can follow.