The warnings unheaded in the Bible, from the pulpit and from Marian apparitions caught up to our days. And the results devastating.
Our Lady of Kibeho, Rwanda
For those unfamiliar with the story of Our Lady of Kibeho, the Virgin and Jesus appeared to several children in Rwanda in the 1980s. What struck me is they didn't just appear to the Catholic faithful. It was to a Muslim, to a pagan. It warms my heart to see these reminders that Our Lord is for everyone, even those who may not know Him yet.
The warnings of Kibeho were to convert their hearts before the looming holocaust, which sadly occurred in the 1990s. While thousands came to witness the miracles and visionaries in Kibeho, perhaps it was a watch-and-see of a show, versus true conversion.
For someone like me, who loves to read about Marian apparitions, it was a reminder that just learning isn't enough. Taking the messages to heart and re-centering ourselves in the love of the Lord is a daily, moment-by-moment process. And it's one I keep working on, struggle with, aim for.
Father Elijah: An Apocolypse
Michael D. O'Brien's fictional account of the Catholic Church in the last days was shocking to me. The tale of Father Elijah, a monk and Holocaust survivor, is thrust into unraveling a scandal that is threatening the faith of millions.
The book begins slowly, but quickly dissolves into chaos for those within the Catholic Church and in the public arena who are trying to retain the trueness of Catholic belief. A politician and humanitarian - known only as the President - has leapt to worldwide acclaim as the one who will be able to save our world. Others within the Catholic Church worry this man may in fact be the Antichrist.
As the President's power and influence grows and the worldwide culture continues to erode to finding and leveraging our internal strengths versus trusting in a God, Father Elijah witnesses the gradual - and then building - destruction of the Catholic Church and its people.
Those who do not ascribe to the new theology are discredited, publicly destroyed, even killed. Yet Father Elijah and the faithful remnant are repeatedly called to forgive, pray and trust in God even as the outside world unravels.
Working on Our HeartsBoth books are prophetic in a larger sense but also on the micro level: We must truly work to convert our hearts.
It's not a simple question of being "saved" or having attended church. It's about being consistently working to strengthen your faith, even in the midst of trials. Trust and true faith in the Lord takes place in moments large and small. I hope one day I can fully achieve that.
I end this book with an excerpt from Our Lady of Kibeho, one that truly spoke to me. Her words are far more eloquent than anything I could ever pen:
My children, there are many who want to pray, who try to pray, but do now know how to pray. You must ask for the strength and knowledge to understand what is expected of you. My love goes out to you all, for there are many here who want to reach the road to heaven, but do not have the strength or knowledge to ask for God's help. My dear children, listen to my words, for I will teach you how to pray from the bottom of your hearts.
You must begin your prayers by offering God all you conceal in your soul. God sees your every action and knows your every thought; you can hid nothing from Him. But you must tell Him yourself--you must be wiling and strong enough to confess all of your transgressions of body, mind, and spirit to Him. Hold back nothing; admit your bad deeds and thoughts. Then you must ask for God's forgiveness from the bottom of your heart. Rest assured that if you confess and seek forgiveness sincerely, He will forgive you. By beginning this way, the sins you carried will not distract you from praying sincerely. You can then speak to Him knowing that your heart is clean and your conscious is clear. Pray to Him fervently, make a petition, beg His favor, ask for His blessing; God sees into your soul and knows you seek His help with a repentant heart.
There, my children, you too must offer forgiveness by asking God to forgive all those who have trespassed against you, all who have caused you suffering or given you insult or injury. Forgive them in prayer and ask God to bless them and help them.
Then pray for the spiritual and physical welfare of your relatives, for all your brothers and sisters, that God may bless them. Then give thanks to Him for having received and answered your prayers. Most important, you must ask God for the strength you need to do His will; ask for the strength not to stray from His light. Pray for the courage and wisdom to walk only the road leading to heaven.
And never forget, my children, to pray for the strength to be humble. Your prayers have no meaning if they do not come from the depths of your heart, and you cannot open your heart to the Lord without humility. I love you, my children. When you lack the strength to pray, ask for my help. Pray for my intercession, and I will strengthen you and bring you to my son and to the Father through your prayer.
- the words of the Holy Virgin Mary, message through the visionary Valentine in Rwanda