Saturday, July 23, 2011
Last night Sr Helena and I went to a screening of "If Only We Had Listened," a one-hour documentary of sorts narrated by Immaculee Ilibagiza (author of "Left to Tell," a first-person account of the Rwandan genocide), who was there to greet us. The movie, shot on location in Rwanda, uses Immaculee's experience to tell the story of the little-known (but Vatican-authenticated) apparitions of Mary at Kibeho fourteen years before the genocide that left a million people dead in just three months. Mary had come in plenty of time to call for conversion of heart, genuine love, sincerity in prayer. (In 1982, who could have fathomed what it might mean that the land would be transformed into "a river of blood"? Sadly, even the church in Kibeho was the scene of a massacre when the walls were breached and grenades lobbed in.)
Does that mean that Mary couldn't "do something" to stop the genocide? That not enough people prayed, and so a million people died at the hands of machete-wielding neighbors?
I think Mary's visit did "do something" even if we can't tally up the results. Surely, those who took her message to heart were strengthened by prayer not to succumb to tribal rivalry and incitements to violence, and even those who were carried away by the rampant blood lust would be more likely to repent, take full responsibility for their actions, and begin to make reparation.
If we put love into action and pray "without hypocrisy," we can hope to be so confirmed in faith, hope and love as not to succumb to the temptations that could sweep us away from ourselves. Even wild violence is not all that remote or unreal (what else would you call road rage?). Obviously, Mary's message still holds true.
Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
Our Lady of Kibeho: Mary Speaks to the World from the Heart of Africa
Led By Faith: Rising from the Ashes of the Rwandan Genocide