The Soul of Chile during September, the month honoring our country

Fresh air of spring
Walking in the streets (población) among the people, one feels the warm spring air and enjoys the almond trees and the aromas of the beautiful flowers beginning to show their white and yellow blooms. It’s a feeling of hope that better times are ahead for the country, for the political situation and for the Chilean Church in its synodal process. (Chile is in the Southern hemisphere, so spring begins in September.)

The pandemic time, a time of solidarity
We recognize that our country and the world have lived through very difficult times during the COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of the campaign to vaccinate, the pandemic reoccurred during winter 2022 because of the intense cold. Nevertheless, it emphasized how the work and commitment of the health department responded during this complicated period of the past three years. We thank these health care workers very sincerely for all their efforts, asking the Lord of Life to continue gifting them with strength and commitment with the people who continue living these difficult moments.

Our country is noted for showing “the soul of Chile” in its spontaneity in difficult times like natural disasters and pandemics, especially the solidarity in the humble areas. There, women in the homes mobilize quickly and create common food sources so that all, even the most vulnerable, can receive something to eat.

We hope that humanity shows itself as it has in previous situations, that from this pandemic new ways of living community will come forth with new values for the health and personal care of all. Facets of this are emerging with online work and new models to confront, in creative and positive ways, a response to risks of future unknown emergencies.

A climate with a rain of hope
Thanks be to God, during this past winter we have received rain, although with much cold, but nothing compared to the drought of the past 13 years. During 2021, there was a horrendous drought which affected biodiversity and the welfare of thousands of animals. About 50,000 animals were affected by the lack of rain. As for the human population, more than 6 million were affected —  38% of the population. Because of the drought, 72% of the land was affected by not having enough harvests. That is why we are so grateful for the rainfall, even though there is a deficit of 35%. The hope is that the melting snow and the rain will be sufficient for the coming summer.

New constitution, fresh air
In the month of September which is upon us, we will celebrate “Fiestas Patrias” (patriotic celebrations), and we are hoping to participate in the process of voting for the new constitution of our country. This constitution will permit us to respond to “new times” to keep our fundamental rights that have been part of the constitution since the beginning in 1812 until 1980. We value the right and duty to vote for the approval or rejection of the constitution in its new form. With pride we will be able to live a historical moment of change in that the citizens will have the right to decide and participate in choosing or rejecting the new constitution.

In regard to this we are reminded of Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez, who in 1974 proclaimed “the Soul of Chile” in the Te Deum for the country’s celebration. He said, “the country does not invent or transplant, because it is fundamentally ‘soul,’ the collective soul of the people, the consensus and communion of spirit that no one can violate or twist, nor be the will of a few.”

The celebration of the country’s Independence Day and the month of September constitutes the “soul of our political, social, cultural, religious life” which gives us the opportunity to look ahead to the future with hope and to express the good that we love about Chile.

Time of synodality; time of happiness
The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and one’s entire life for those who have found Jesus. Those who have accepted to be saved by Jesus are liberated from sin, from sadness, emptiness and isolation. With Jesus Christ, joy continues to be born over and over again.

We give thanks to God that even with the light and darkness within the life of our church, there’s an enthusiastic participation in the Christian communities for the synodal encounters that are happening in the Chilean church.

The times of the Synod are joyful ones so that the Christian is able to move ahead and live a joyful and peaceful life regardless of what happens. “With those who have found Jesus, the joy of the Gospel fills our hearts and our whole life.” That is what Cardinal Celestino, OFM Cap., wrote to us in a pastoral letter in March at the beginning of the new pastoral year.

Monsignor Cristián Roncagliolo, auxiliary bishop of Santiago, reminded us in a homily that this process was not only good for the church synod, but it is a prophetic “lamp” that will light up our country and will nurture a witness of humility, “that communion and fraternity are indispensable to build the future of Chile.”

We put ourselves under the protection of Our Mother, La Virgen del Carmen, Queen and Mother of Chile

Virgen del Carmen, Holy Mother, God chose you as the mother of His Son, Jesus, who brings us love and peace. Mother of Chile, we honor you with the Fathers of our country of Chile, the very valiant ones in our history since the beginning whom you have blessed. Today we entrust you with all that we are and have: our homes, schools and offices; our factories, stadiums and routes; the countryside, the farms, the mines and the sea. Protect us from earthquakes and wars, keep us from disagreements, assist our government, help our soldiers, teach us to have true progress, which is to build a great nation of brothers and sisters where all have bread, respect and happiness. Virgen del Carmen, Star of Chile, be with us during the day and at night, give us light on our path. Mother of the Church, you receive and you give us Christ, as with you we offer ourselves to Him and that He extends His saving arms of the Cross and the hope of resurrection over us. Amen.

Virgen del Carmen, Queen of Chile, save your people who cry to you.

Story by Sisters Noemí Flores and Rita Manríquez; translation by Sister Marita Beumer

Sisters Noemi and Rita in front of their house in Cerro Navia, Chile, April 2019; contributed photo.

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