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April 3, 1998     The Message
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April 3, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 i,L Refreshment in the rain By PAUL R. LEINGANG Editor I took a two-minute vacation the other day. I left my desk at work and went to a quiet part of the building where I could look through a window and watch the rain. I wish I could have stayed longer. In just those few moments, the rain had carried me to other places and other times. The rain had washed away the distractions of a busy day, and even more effectively than a day of bright sunshine, the rain brought me peace. Rain brings me memories of home and family, of good times and times of sadness, too: Part of the roof above my head, in the house where I grew up, was covered with tin. A heavy rain could be deafening, a light rain was like a lulla- by. In either case, storm or gentle rain, my upstairs bedroom was a place of shelter and security. Rain was falling the night I heard from my brother that I should try to come to the hospital to see my mother. We left in the middle of that night, and drove in rain and darkness through the night and into the next morning. When the sun broke through the clouds that morning, and the puddles in the streets reflected slanted sunlight, we arrived at the end of that jour- ney. Expecting the worst, and having accepted it, we were met instead with unexpected but wonder- ful news: the worst had passed on that particular night, and my mother had regained some of her strength. Rain is often part of my memory of Good Fri- day. So often, at least where I have lived in the Midwest, the storms and mid-day darkness of the Gospel account of the crucifixion are somehow repeated or recalled--or perhaps renewed. It is as if the earth itself remembers that day of darkness, that dreadful day, the day that brought us our sal- vation. The Scriptures are filled with stories about the weather. Noah survived a flood. The word of God is like rain that will not return to the heavens until it accomplishes the good that was intended. Jesus rebuke,the winds and calmed a storm on the lake. Paul was shipwrecked by a storm and found hospi- tality on the Island of Malta. Pay particular attention the next time you hear or read about the rain and the weather in the Scrip- tures. How has the weather helped to shape your experience of the story of our salvation? Take the time today to reflect on the rain that has fallen in your life. Think about the times when rainfall was refreshing, and times when it was not. Talk with other members of with your friends, about the where you have found shelter. Take the time today to make secure shelter for your children Take the time to offer comfort to ful of a storm. Give assistance to agencies victims. Find out more about Habitat not-for-profit organization dedicated i affordable housing for God&apos;s house, or help pay for it. Get friends or your neighbors involved: Take a child on a camping the wonders of nature--the Support the efforts of local and groups. Help your church to sup[ by grief, or who may appreciate a time of sickness or death, Spend the time it takes tO on the journey from Good Friday to! Comments about this column or the Christian P.O. Box 272, Ames, Iowa 50010. Changed hearts here may signal shifting U.S.- sion without either country's leader having to risk too much politically. "The decision to link (the embargo changes to) the pope's visit and the church response is kind of a safety net," said Michael O'Heane Cuba program direc- tor for Global Exchange, a non- profit research, education and action center. He noted that even the most vocal backers of the economic embargo seem reluctant to com- plain much about actions meant to facilitate the church's role in delivering humanitarian sup- plies, especially if through the common bonds of religious faith the Cuban people begin to demand more individual rights. In ways important to the U.S. government, the pope's trip "had more of an impact in Miami and southern Florida than it did in Cuba," O'Heaney said. Chris Gilson, Cuba program manager for Catholic Relief Ser- vices, agreed that the vociferous anti-Castro community in Flori- da since the papal trip has become more supportive of pro- viding relief to Cubans. "People are more willing to support providing relief through church agencies," Gilson said. "It seems a lot easier for them to accept than it was before." O'Heaney said the pope's "scolding" of the United States for its Cuba policy provided a basis for some U.S. citizens who disagree with the strong embar- go to be more vocal in encour- aging a change. "It's partly a matter of Clinton reacting to the movement in Miami," O'Heaney said, as well as "space that has opened up for identifying,, chpnge,  'ith the By PATRICIA ZAPOR Catholic News Service church, which creates a political opening." The U.S. government official- ly had nothing to do with the pope's trip to Cuba, other than temporarily easing restrictions to allow religious pilgrimages and delivery of food and medicines. But a congressional committee held an unprecedented hearing a few weeks later to discuss the papal visit. And in two trips to the Vatican in March, Albright met with the pope and with Vat- ican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano to discuss, among other things, the Cuban embargo. In those meetings, as he had during his trip to Cuba, the pope strongly criticized the embargo as unnecessarily harming the Cuban people. Albright, for her part, encouraged the Vatican to keep pressing Castro to release political prisoners. Shortly after the papal trip, about 300 prison- ers were released, including some on a list the Vatican dele- gation "As to Poland church, not and the asm which that caused suspect in ized shared or controlled the kind produce The few iI a major O'Heaney mistic that vided an tro and chu political addressing needs that Blessing of the Big Garden, at U.S. Highway 41 and Morgan April 4, 9 a.m. CST. Palm Sunday, Mass, Mass at o ville, Sunda April 5, 9 a.m. CDT. Old Catholic School Ded: V'mcennes, Sunday, April 5, Chrism Mass, Holy Redeemer day, April 7, 5:30 p.m. CDT. Mass of the Lord's ville, Holy Thursday, April 9, 7 p.m. Good Friday Service, Old Ca April 10, 12:15 p.m. EST. Easter Vigil, St. Joseph Church, April 11, 8 p.m. CDT. Easter Mass, St. Mary Church, day, April 12, l0 a.m. EST. WASHINGTON (CNS) -- What might be the first major chink in the armor of a 36-year- old U.S. embargo is being tied by the Clinton administration surprisingly bluntly -- to help- ing the Catholic Church in its work in Cuba. "The presence of His Holiness John Paul II in Cuba inspired the Cuban people, providing an important psychological boost to the Cuban Catholic Church, to Cuba's nascent civil society, and to the Cuban people," said President Clinton March 20 as he announced the relax- ation of a few components of the embargo. After decades of military threats and a firm trade blockade have failed to pressure Cuba to end repression and move Presi-  Weekly newspaper of the Diocese of Evansville / week # December by the  Press of Evarwvtlle .......... : ................ J P,A.mmg ............................... P N, ktnnm aU oommunkor  P.O. Bo 4t69, EvanlP, IN 4T/24-0169 Subscription rate: $18.50 per year Single Copy Price: $50 . ErB as pei<x rrer a ',e pos o  Evar@, IN 47701. Pubc<- rrrbe' 843800. Poemae:  1:30 rns 35 to O,e of  tg Press o E i dent Fidel Castro toward a more democratic government, Janu- ary's visit there by Pope John Paul II might just provide the leaders of the United States and Cuba with the political cover to finally make some progress. During the pope's visit, special arrangements allowed Cuban- Americans to return home for the first time in decades. There, they heard the pope's strong condemnations of the economic embargo, saw how dramatically their Cuban rela- tives have been affected by the trade blockade and carried back an understanding of how resur- gent involvement in religion might make a difference in per- manently changing Cuba for the better. A few weeks later, U.S. Secre- tary of State Madeleine Albright went to Rome. On March 20, she and Clinton announced plans to make it easier to deliver food and medicine to Cuba, to arrange special flights for people to visit relatives and to allow U.S. residents to send some money to Cuba. In announcing the changes, the president explained that he hoped to "build further on the impact of the pope's visit, to sup- port the role of the church and other elements of civil society in Cuba, and to thereby help pre-; pare the Cuban people for a democratic transition." Clinton's exuberance about the pope's Cuba trip certairfly has more to do with politics than it does an appreciation for burgeoning religious interest. But some observers are hoping it proves to be a canny way of helping Cuba inch toward openness and for the United , Stat .to,show greater ,ompas -