Forgive but Never Forget: 25yrs After Rwandan genocide

9 04 2019

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

crowd of Rwandan at 25 yrs of genocide

 

Forgive and forget is an old saying but not in Rwanda as it marks 25 years after the genocide that killed close to a million people. The people are convinced that peace will continue only if they never forget.

 

“We are family once again, but never again will this happen”, said Paul Kagame, the Rwandan president on April 7 during the lighting of the commemoration lamp that will burn the whole of 100 days, the time it took to end the genocide that began on April 7, 1994.

On 6 April 1994, a plane carrying then-President Juvenal Habyarimana – a Hutu – was shot down, killing all on board. The government blamed the Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF), a Tutsi led guerrilla fighters in the north. The next day a well-organized campaign of slaughter began. Youth militias (Interahamwes) were given hit lists of Tutsi victims. Many were killed with machetes in acts of appalling brutality. They set up road blocks to find Tutsis, incited hatred via radio broadcasts and carried out house to house searches. The killing lasted a 100 days ending when the RPF, led by Kagame and backed by Uganda, marched on Kigali. Some two million Hutus fled, mainly to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Unlike the sowers of hatred who orchestrated the genocide and ethnic division, Kagame has fostered unity and common brotherhood of all Rwanda.

Today, the country has recovered economically, with President Kagame’s policies encouraging rapid growth and technological advancement. Growth remains good – 7.2% in 2018 according to the African Development Bank.

“The arms of our people, intertwined, constitute the pillars of our nation,” Kagame said. “We hold each other up. Our bodies and minds bear amputations and scars, but none of us is alone. He added: “The fighting spirit is alive in us. What happened here will never happen again…”

From the constant bloodletting of Boko Harm in Northern Nigeria to the threats of vicious Somali gunmen in Kenya. African sees a lot of blood and horror. The African leaders present at the ceremony are hopefully here to learn how to stop the constant bloodshed, hatred and injustice in their own countries by building bridges that create spirit of brotherhood like Kagame has done in Rwanda.

 

True peace comes from Forgiveness

Immaculee Ilibagiza

The 1994 genocide destroyed the illusion that African fault line wars are triggered by lack of religious homogeneity. With an estimated population 5.6 million, 80 percent of Rwandans are Christians, mainly Catholics, yet they ditched the truths of the Catholic faith taught to them as children to heed the screech of murder and rape.

Immaculée Ilibagiza, a woman who survived the genocide hiding in a pastors toilet for 90 days with seven other women but lost her entire family with the exception of one brother who was outside the country, in her New York Times best-selling Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, she talked about her struggles with hatred and desire revenge against those trying to kill her, and her initial inability to forgive. Then one day like one who had since been looking at a tapestry from behind seeing only a meaningless jumble of treads, she was finally given through prayers to see it upfront, and marvel at its beauty . She tells the story like this:

One night we heard screaming not far from the house and then a baby crying. The killers must have slain the mother and left her infant to die in the road. The child wailed all night; by morning, its cries were feeble and sporadic, and by nightfall, it was silent. I heard dogs snarling nearby and shivered as I thought about how that baby’s life had ended. I prayed for God to receive the child’s innocent soul, and then asked Him, How can I forgive people who would do such a thing to an infant?

I heard God’s answer as clearly as if we had been  sitting in the same room chatting: You are all my children . . . and the baby is with Me now.

In God’s eyes, the killers were part of His family, deserving of love and forgiveness. I knew that I couldn’t ask God to love me if I were unwilling to love His children. At that moment, I prayed for the killers, for their sins to be forgiven and for the first time since I entered the bathroom, I slept in peace”.

immaculee in toilet where she lived for 90 days with 7 other women

Immaculee in toilet where she lived for 90 days with 7 other women when she returned to Rwanda after the war

True, bad indoctrination can contribute to evil actions, but every evil act is still an individual act. Those who choose evil exercise personal freedom and thus are responsible for their acts.  It is heartening to note that many  Hutus chose to die rather than kill. They were true Hutus because they chose freedom rather than slavery of evil and their action are an indictment of those who took up the machetes to kill.

One can be trapped in the most horrendous and inhuman prison and yet be free, by accepting God’s will and by loving sacrifice, thinking of all the souls on earth Immaculée found her deepest relationship with God, learning to love all mankind, especially to pray and forgive her enemies.

She reached the peak of  forgiveness when she decided to visit Felicien, the man who killed her mother, and personally forgive him. After she had told him so, she asked him: “How can you have done this? Killing so many people, you can’t be at peace.” In rags, he seemed small and confused. “”I wanted to reach out to him,” she said. “I cried, and then he himself started to cry.”

The official in charge of the jail, a Tutsi who was a survivor like Immaculée  who was initially angry at her for forgiving the man latter came to her and said, “You don’t know what you did to me, when you went to the jail and forgave Felicien.  I was shocked but I learnt the necessity for forgiveness.”

Just like a tennis ball striking a soft pillow decelerates and loses its power to rebound, violence stops when it hits a forgiving heart. This is a lesson that Rwandans and millions of African victims of violence should take to heart and never forget.

By Chinwuba Iyizoba

 





Epiphany means “manifestation”

6 01 2019

Epiphany means “manifestation”. Today the Church celebrates our Lord’s manifestation to the whole world. He had already made himself known to the shepherds. Now he shows himself to the Magi, the first Gentiles to know him. The Epiphany is a proclamation of God’s will to save all mankind. Although the newborn Child is the Messiah promised to the Israelites, his redeeming mission extends to all people. He is the new Adam who, appearing in human flesh, has renewed us in the new light of his immortality.

The adoration of the Magi foreshadows the future coming of millions of souls of every race and tongue, called by God to adore Christ. Such is the full meaning of Isaiah’s prophecy: Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Isaiah addresses the holy city, which is a figure of the Church, the new Jerusalem, the light of all nations. Kings and peoples will come from all over the world, drawn by the brightness of its glory. The Church, as Mother and Teacher of every nation, welcomes them and presents them as a precious gift to Christ, her Spouse.

We know that all this began, says St Leo the Great, when a star led three Wise Men from a far country to come to know and adore the King of heaven and earth. The Magi’s obedience is held up to us as a model, so that we may also respond to the best of our abilities to this grace that draws all men to Christ.

Whoever lives a pious and chaste life in the Church, whoever savours the things that are above and not those of the earth, resembles, in some way, that heavenly light. By preserving in himself the splendour of a holy life, he shines like a star and shows many people the way leading to God.

Fortified by this zeal, dearly beloved, help one another to shine like the children of light in the Kingdom of God, which is to be reached through sincere faith and good works.





Chiemezie Okeke Weds Nkiru Aniagolu (Videos) 30th Dec 2018

31 12 2018

The couple leaving Holy Trinity Parish

The couple entering the reception venue

Moms dancing for joy

Enugu state governor pays his respects

Chiemezie and Nkiru, newest couple in town takes the throne

The couple cut the Cake of love

Chiemezie and Nkiru tell it all





After 6 children, 55 yr old Couple Begins a New Family

20 12 2018

When all the children leave home to start their own lives, empty-nester- parents do not have to live sad lonely lives, concerned about food and rest, anxiously awaiting children’s visits. Rather they can begin again, like the Mack couple.

According to lifesitenews, the D.C. couple was beginning life as empty nesters when they learned of a family crisis. Five siblings, all ages 10 and under, needed a home.
Tyrone and Karen Mack prayed, “Lord, what can we do?” and then agreed to adopt them all, Live Action News reports.
Now, the 55-year-olds are parents to young children once again. The five siblings plus the couple’s six grown children make the Macks parents of 11.
“… we decided to take all the kids and keep them together. I guess that’s what God wanted us to do,” Karen told the Washington Post.
On Nov. 18, 10-year-old Heaven, 7-year-old Chanel, 6-year-old Hakeem, 5-year-old Hayden and 2-year-old Jeremiah officially became members of the Mack family, according to the report.
They are the biological children of Tyrone’s niece, who has drug abuse and mental health problems and could no longer care for them. Tyrone said their biological fathers have not been around to take care of them either.
Initially, the Macks brought the girls and Jeremiah into their home, while the other boys were placed in separate foster homes, according to the report. But the Christian couple said they did not want the siblings to be separated.
“It was important that we kept them together,” Tyrone told the Washington Post. “So many people sit back and don’t give their all to kids that are not theirs. But if we didn’t step and take our place in their life, they wouldn’t be society ready.

And these children need it more so now because they are our future. They are our Congress. They are our president.”
Raising five young children comes with many challenges, but the Macks are committed. A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help the family buy a van.
And If we are honest, used textbooks and pass-me-down clothes reduces the costs of raising these unfortunate children yet gives much joy.
Granted, raising someone else’s child as your own, and not merely exploiting them as slaves or helps is in God a type of selflessness that takes effort. It’s even true that occasionally, adopted children or children of poor relatives ungrateful but same can happen with ones own biological children, yet that deos not negate the good done, and valua added to society.





You are all beautiful, Mary

8 12 2018

Would you like to read (and hear) a beautiful prayer written about our Blessed Mother Mary? Tota Pulchra Es dates back to the 4th century. Its original Latin text, given below, along with the translation, has been set to music by such noted composers as Robert Schumann, Anton Bruckner, and Maurice Duruflé,

It is a wonderful prayer of praise and petition to Mary that also refers to her Immaculate Conception, an important dogma in our faith, in the line below in the English translation which reads “the original stain [spot] (of sin) is not in you.”

LATIN:

Tota pulchra es, Maria.
Et macula originalis non est in Te.
Tu gloria Ierusalem.
Tu laetitia Israel.
Tu honorificentia populi nostri.
Tu advocata peccatorum.
O Maria, O Maria.
Virgo prudentissima.
Mater clementissima.
Ora pro nobis.
Intercede pro nobis.
Ad Dominum Iesum Christum.

ENGLISH:

You are all beautiful, Mary,
and the original stain [spot] (of sin) is not in you.
You are the glory of Jerusalem,
you are the joy of Israel,
you give honor to our people.
You are an advocate of sinners.
O Mary,
Virgin most intelligent,
Mother most merciful.
Pray for us, plead for us,
To the Lord Jesus Christ.

Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma (a significant truth) of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th 1854. In a papal letter he wrote of Mary as having been conceived without the stain of Original Sin.

[As he put it more eloquently “We declare, pronounce and define that the doctrine which asserts that the Blessed Virgin Mary, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God, and in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, was preserved free from every stain of Original Sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and, for this reason, must be firmly and constantly believed by all the faithful.”]

As such, our Blessed Mother was shielded from having the sinful proclivities that have befallen Humanity ever since our first parents Adam and Eve committed the fateful act of disobedience in eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge, which in turn drove them out of paradise.

Mary’s role in salvation history is truly unique, although a large number of our non-Catholic Christian brothers and sisters feel sadly uncomfortable when her name comes up, as if we were treating just some woman like a Goddess.

Many Protestants and evangelicals tend to bristle at the mention of Mary’s name. It’s as if they’re saying “why do you have to bring her into this”? When the movie Heaven Is for Real came out not long ago, about a 3-year-old boy who had a near-death experience, the boy’s father reacted uneasily to his son’s account of seeing Mary by Jesus’ side.

Nonetheless, we cannot stress enough that we do not worship Mary in our prayers and devotions to her, especially the rosary. We honor her in her unique role in our salvation as the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. She was the one God spoke of after the serpent tempted our first parents into their calamitous fall from sweet unity with their Creator.

You may recall that famous line in scripture: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel” (Gen 3:15). (By another interpretation, Jesus is the one who crushes the head. The heroic hatred towards Satan still stands from both Mother and Son in any case!) Indeed, Mary’s “seed”, her offspring, our Lord Jesus Christ, made a heel of the devil through His Passion, death and resurrection!

But it’s important to stress again as a reminder that when we speak of the Immaculate Conception we are talking not of Jesus but of Mary. Her being conceived without Original Sin was essential, not just from some abstract theological perspective but from a quite practical one as well!

We see in sacred scripture more than a few people with feet of clay. Jesus’ genealogy, the tongue twisting Gospel reading we hear mostly at Christmastime (Mt 1:1-17) includes some whose reputations were less than stellar, along with those who were more Godly.

Clearly, the mother of the long awaited Messiah would have to be someone whose soul could be as pristine as that of her child, our Savior. She was, after all, carrying God’s most precious gift to us in her womb!

And her life with Jesus was turbulent almost from the start. First Mary gave birth to Jesus in a cave in Bethlehem, not in the Temple in Jerusalem, not even in an inn! (It seems like God wanted to show us an example of true humility in service.)

And soon afterwards, she and St. Joseph had to “get out of Dodge” and flee to Egypt to protect baby Jesus from being killed by the homicidal King Herod, who saw the Christ child as a threat to his sovereignty.

A lesser woman might have been filled with resentment about giving birth in such humble surroundings instead of in the Temple. Or perhaps she would have been puffed up with pride and glorified herself rather than her divine Son.

Or maybe she might have somehow tried to bail out on her responsibilities towards Him as a member of the Holy Family when she became aware of the suffering He (and she by extension) would have to endure!

But being conceived without sin, Mary epitomized love and caring for Jesus up until the very end of His earthly ministry following His death at Calvary, and even beyond that dreadful Good Friday.

We see Mary’s single minded devotion to serving her Divine Son in scripture, as well as in various church approved private revelations and Sacred Tradition. She rejoices in magnifying the Lord in the Magnificat (Lk 1:46-55). In sincere humility she gives all the credit to God for the joy in her spirit in that prayer! And interestingly enough, her last words in scripture are “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you” (John 2:5).

Our Blessed Mother has also made her presence known through numerous Church approved apparitions on behalf of her Son that have been thoroughly vetted for their veracity.

While Mary’s Immaculate Conception is not mentioned in scripture, it does come up in a rather touching way in one such vision. In 1858, Our Lady of Lourdes told Bernadette Soubirous, a peasant girl in France, to inform the local bishop that she was the Immaculate Conception.

This wasn’t meant to be boastful, but rather to affirm her presence at the grotto in the French town of Lourdes. There was no way little Bernadette could have known about Mary’s being the Immaculate Conception, after all!

For a good example of Mary in Sacred Tradition, the church has feast days honoring Mary’s coronation as Queen of Heaven (every August 22nd) following her Assumption into heaven (every August 15th).

As the queen of heaven, our Blessed Mother doesn’t just sit on some royal throne looking down on all of us like some caricature of Marie Antoinette saying “let them eat cake”!

Rather Mary seeks to give us graces entrusted to her by Jesus to help us be better Christians. These include various inclinations towards sanctity and away from sin for each of us, that includes you. And she is more than ready to be “an advocate of sinners”, as she is described in Tota Pulchra Es.

And as far as asking her to pray for us to her divine Son as we do in the end of this prayer, there’s nothing wrong with that! Protestants often misinterpret St. Paul’s famous comment to Timothy (1 Tim 2:5) that there is one mediator between God and man, Jesus. That doesn’t mean we can’t have others praying to God on our behalf!

Haven’t you ever asked anyone to pray for you? That’s what we’re doing with the blessed Mother, asking her to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death” in the Hail Mary, for example. Doesn’t it stand to reason that her intercessions to Jesus for us would be quite powerful?

And acknowledging Mary’s part in salvation history on our behalf (and that means yours as well) is a wonderful component of Catholicism! She wishes nothing for us that would go against the wishes and indeed the ardent desires of her Divine Son.

But, like Him she cannot force us to partake of His graces for our salvation. And indeed her love and devotion for Jesus is such that like Him, she mourns the loss of souls! Indeed when she first appeared as Our Lady of LaSallette she was weeping! We can honor and comfort our sorrowful mother through our love, prayers, (especially the Rosary) and obedience to God!

Speaking of prayers to God and our Blessed Mother’s prayers for us, note the poignant tone of the simple last lines of Tota Pulchra Es as reflected quite beautifully in this rendition in Gregorain Chant in this clip below. May it inspire thoughtful meditation in your soul!

Article courtesy of https://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/tota-pulchra-es.html





The Great Discovery of this Honest Couple

2 12 2018

Ulf Ekman and his wife, Brigitta, were very successful Protestants, richly blessed by God and founders of the World of Life world wide network of churches that spans the world. From their native Sweden all the way to Russia with a strong following of more than 100,000 people. Yet, when they saw clearly that the Catholic Church is the true Church founded by Jesus Christ, they did a very honest thing. They joined the Catholic Church. This was  very unusual and even shocking, given that they were very anti-catholic. In fact, Ulf wrote very critical articles attacking Pope John Paul 2 during his visit to Sweden.

Yet when truth confronted them, they followed it and made the greatest discovery of their lives.
It all began when Brigitta came across a book of the life of St. Brigitta, her namesake. The only problem was that this was a Catholic Saint. More than slightly annoyed that a Catholic Nun could bear her name, nonetheless, she decided to read the book. The story would go on to open a flood gate of the history of the Church that they never heard about. In their book, “The great discovery” they attributed their great ignorance of Church history to the endemic fear and preconceived ideas about the Catholic Church often prevalent in Protestants circles that leads Protestant to read about what the Catholic Church teaches from books written by Protestants without bothering to read the book written by Catholic Church herself about what she teaches and holds to be true: Catechism of the Catholic Church.
The video below is worth 30mins of your time. It is the account of their journey by Ulf and Brigitta Ekman.





Baker Fined $135k for refusing Lesbians speaks

27 10 2018

Now Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh should clear this up, this is why we fought!








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