Heed the advice of Our Lady of Kibeho

Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza.

“If you say the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and meditate on it well, you will find the strength you need to repent of your sins and convert your heart. Pray my Seven Sorrows to find repentance.”

By Chris Sparks

It's the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Sept. 15, and I remember the first time I heard of Our Lady of Kibeho, and her appearances to three young women in Rwanda in the 1980s.

I’d been reading about Marian apparitions since ... well, since that book of the lives of the saints when I was in elementary school, and the small, thick book on Our Lady of Fatima. But I’d really begun to delve into Marian apparitions in high school after being challenged to defend my Catholic faith. If Mary was appearing to people, then, well, that was pretty good evidence that my Church had some clue about what was actually going on, right?

So I’d read up on Fatima and Lourdes. In college, I sought out books on Guadalupe and some that surveyed the whole history of Marian apparitions, as well as reading up on the unapproved ones. I thought I had a fairly good grasp of what had happened.

But then I came across Rwandan genocide survivor Immaculee Ilibagiza’s book on Our Lady of Kibeho. Hmph, I thought to myself. Cool!

The beauty of Kibeho
And man, that was quite a book. Miracles, messages, an array of visionaries ... it was awesome! And terribly sad, as well. As Immaculee points out, if Rwanda had fully listened to and lived the message of Our Lady, the genocide in 1994 that left an estimated 800,000 to 1 million people dead need not have happened.

Why? Because Mary’s message was the same as ever: “Do whatever He tells you” (Jn 2:5). She came to Kibeho, Rwanda, accompanied by signs and wonders, to get our attention, to touch our hearts and transform our lives by God’s grace and visible signs. She came to call Rwanda and the world to love God above all else, and to love one another as Christ has loved us.

She came to ask for us to pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows, promising, “If you say the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows and meditate on it well, you will find the strength you need to repent of your sins and convert your heart. Pray my Seven Sorrows to find repentance.”

Civilization of love 
A people, a nation, a world that listened to such a call would not end up slaughtering family, former friends, and neighbors a decade later. A world that heard that call and answered it generously, with all our hearts, would be a much better place today — a civilization of love, in fact.

Kibeho remains a place of pilgrimage for millions of people from all over the world, people who are hungry for the love and teaching of Our Lady and the Church, people who want to be part of the civilization of love. To answer their great need for the Sacraments and wise teaching in accordance with the truths of the Catholic faith, the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception have built a house of formation near the apparition sites in Kibeho, and run a variety of ministries serving the pilgrims and the local people alike.

As we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows on Sept. 15, ask Our Lady of Kibeho to pray for us all. Give thanks to God for all His many gifts, including the extraordinary gift of so holy and loving a mother to us all. And do whatever Jesus tells you this month, including giving food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, and love to a world aching for it.

Do whatever He tells you — that’s the heart of Marian consecration and the Divine Mercy message and devotion. That’s the love and self-gift at the very heart of the Trinity. That’s true devotion to the Immaculate Heart, and the pathway to peace.


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