Sunday, June 19, 2016

Classic Cars in Cuba

One of the joys of spending time in Cuba is to take taxis.  These lovely old cars have a lot of character.

Taxis are not expensive (and the drivers are honest).  You can fit a lot of people into one.  Wait for the convertible you like, wave it down, and you're off to the races.   

Cuban Altar Boys

Please pray for these boys, serving in the Cathedral of Havana.  

Remember them in a special way in your prayers.  

Cuba is in vast need of a native clergy.  And missionary clergy.

Pray for religious vocations.  One still sees a lot of nuns in Cuba, although they are foreign born missionaries from Latin America.   

Cuban Beach

Feeding the locals on a rain day. 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Havana, Cuba

Tour of a Cigar Factory in Havana: H. Upmann Founded in 1844

A lot of history here.  Our group thoroughly enjoyed our tour of this factory, one of many.  Many thanks to our tour guide!   

Cohiba: The Best Cuban Cigar

Cohiba is the finest premium cigar produced in Cuba.  They are flawless.  The tobacco has undregone an extra fermentation process.  As perfect as a cigar can be made. 

And the most pricey.  Prices are set by the government.  There are no deals.  Cuban cigars are not cheap, even in Cuba.   Yours truly has only smoked one of these in my life.  Too expensive. 

Inside warning: do not buy cigars on the street or beach in Cuba -- they are likely made not of tobacco, but of shredded banana leaves.

Cohiba was initiated by Castro as a limited production/private brand for the rich.  Before he quit smoking these were his favorite.  They are still given as diplomatic gifts.  So much for his communism babble about everyone being equal.      

Havana Seminary

Recently restored.  The Pope visited here.

Yours truly took these photos from the bus; it was the best I could do. 

The seminary is located in a lovely old wealthy Spanish part of Havana, a distance from Old Town. 

Havana is a big city and taxis are plentiful.  It definitely helps to have an auto.   

Prominent Downtown Havana Basilica Today a Concert Hall

This had been the most bustling parish in downtown Havana.  It was Franciscan.  Located in a great part of Old Town, just a few footsteps from the famous Port of Havana, which connected the New World to the Old World.  Today it is a concert hall.  It would be nice to see it and the historic attached monastery given back to Franciscans.  It has been owned by the government since 1907.  In 1762, the year of the English control over Havana, the British commandeered the church for Anglican services.

Cuban (Spanish) Ciborium

Seen at the Cathedral of Havana. 

Protestant Church in Cuba

Churches can be seen everywhere in Cuba.  It was not like the Russian Revolution where many churches were destroyed and no one was permitted to rebuild.  Many of these churches have been constructed after the Cuban Revolution.

The Communism in Cuba came later after the Revolution and it was not Soviet-style, but a languid Caribbean style.  Cubans are very laid back.

Castro's story is quite sad.  He had been partly educated by Spanish Jesuits (he came from a wealthy, Spanish-Cuban family, land owners).  Castro was a gifted student, an educated man, a college graduate,  he spoke English quite well in my opinion, he was a lawyer and honeymooned in New York City.

Then it all changed when he got mixed up in the spirit of violent revolution -- killing one regime to replace it with more of the same.  The people cry out to be freed from bondage.  Blame is the one thing he did best.        

Cuban Taxi (De Soto)

De Soto was a great car, sadly dropped in 1960.  Bring it back along with Pontiac and Packard!

The auto marque was named after the great Spanish explorer and conquistador who led the first European expedition into the United States (Florida, Georgia and Alabama).  He was also the first documented European to cross the mighty Mississippi River.

Old World Cuba

People live here.  The chickens roam freely, with no fence, but always return. 

Cuba is infinitely more poor today than it was before the Castro revolution.  Castro simply blames the U.S. embargo.  

St. Elvira: Cuban Church in Resort Town of Varadero

Just a few minutes walk from the beach, on main street in Varadero.

There is only Mass on Sunday.  The church is sometimes open during the week.  In the winter, the church is packed with Canadians who vacation here.

Varadero is where the best vacation resorts are located that are nearest to Havana.     

What you see here is a simple construction model that could be easily copied anywhere in the world.  Adequate church with attached rectory and garage.  St. Elvira's was constructed in the 1930s.

Ave Maris Stella!

Cuban Lobster: the Best in the World

The best yours truly has ever tasted.  Grilled on charcoal.  Not so pricey, as in other locals around the world. 

Pilgrimage Cross Made From Olive Wood Taken From the Garden of Gethsemane

The garden, located at the foot of the Mount of Olives, where Christ and friends would customarily visit.  Several of the olive trees in the garden are the oldest known in the world.  The Franciscans had many of these crosses made back in the day.  This was brought back by Cuban pilgrims, taken during the first Spanish-American joint pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Rome in 1914.  Located in Havana Cathedral.     

Aka The Good Old Days

I Always Enjoy Visiting This Lovely New Church in Galway

Mother Dolores Hart

Friday, June 17, 2016

Havana Cathedral

Our pilgrimage group had Mass here with the Cardinal Archbishop of Havana -- it was a tremendous experience.

Recently restored, the outside shines in cleanliness.

The stone is coral taken from the bottom of the sea.  In fact, fossils of sea urchins can still be seen in the stone.

A fascinating church to visit and a lovely place to pray.  Cuban baroque is quite simple, as you can see.  Christopher Columbus was formerly entombed here.  

We build cathedrals to declare before men the mighty things of God.  

Cuban Beach at Varadero Peninsula

Welcome to the isle paradise of Cuba.

Our pilgrimage included some time on the beach.  It was much appreciated. 

Lovely to spend time on these very clean and peaceful beaches.  The lewdness seen on other beaches throughout the world is not permitted here.

Security officials dot the beaches.  Safety is a big concern.  The water is usually quite calm and is clean.  The locals are very nice.

The best beach I have seen anywhere in the world. 

Ride in a Cuban Taxi: 1958 Chevrolet Biscayne

All the old cars have ash trays.  And high ceilings for those wearing hats.   And often no seat belts.

A thrill to ride in these big, loud and elegant classic cars.  They were made for tall men.  You can fits lots of people in. 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Catholic Hero Matthew Louis Urbanowicz: 7 Purple Hearts

By the time a man earns seven Purple Hearts and lives to talk about it, he could either be described as one of the luckiest men alive or perhaps just one of the bravest.

Meet Matt Urban.  Aka, "The Ghost."

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Christ of Havana

This lovely 1950s statue overlooks the historic Port of Havana.

The marble, from Italy, was first blessed by Venerable Pius XII before it was shipped to Cuba.

The sculptor was Cuban.  The project was financed by the last dictator before Castro.  It was dedicated Christmas Eve, 1958.  Two weeks later, Castro entered Havana as the new dictator.    

Cuban Monstrance and Candlesticks (from Palermo, Sicily)

Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the former home of the colonial governors, today a museum.

The Grand Lodge of Havana (Largest Masonic Temple in Cuba)

Sad to see this affront to Western civilization, thrust upon an illustrious Catholic country. 

Masonic temples are seen across the tiny island of Cuba.  This is the largest.  Today it is falling apart, just like everything else in Cuba, except for the secluded family mansions of the many members of the Castro family.

There is a lovely neo-Gothic Catholic church located just across and down the street which the Pope visited.

The Masons, every anti-clerical, were more than happy to foment revolution in this tiny, Catholic, island paradise.  They won.  The people have suffered immensely.

Surely this was built by American money just as surely as Masonry was brought to Cuba by the English. 

Havana Cathedral

The entrance to the famous Port of Havana can be seen behind it.  Yours truly took this photo from the rooftop bar of the fabled Hotel Ambos Mundos, constructed in the 1920s (located on Bishop Street). 

Paintings of Old Spanish and Cuban Missioners and Bishops

Franciscan missionary bishops.

Seen inside the Palacio de los Capitanes Generales, the main city of Havana museum, where every tourist visits.