Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Apparitions of Our Lady at Garabandal Page 1 of 2

Written by Fr. Joseph A. Pelletier, A.A.   
Garabandal is a quaint hamlet of three hundred souls isolated in the gorgeous Cantabrian mountains of northwestern Spain. It lies about sixty miles southwest of the provincial capital and episcopal see of Santander. Some seventy solid rustic stone houses stand huddled together on a narrow strip of land overlooking the delightful wooded valley which stretches north
Garabandal Village 3Image by garabandal archives via Flickr
ward toward the plain below.
The story of Garabandal opens on June 18, 1961, on a Sunday at eight-thirty in the evening. Four simple, unsophisticated girls were playing in a sunken lane, called the calleja, at the southern extremity of the village. The sound of thunder was suddenly heard and later a brilliant angel appeared, first to Conchita (Maria Concepcion) Gonzalez and then almost immediately afterward to Loli (Maria Dolores) Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez. Notwithstanding the identical family names, none of the girls were closely related. The first three girls were twelve years old and the other only eleven. However, because of the backward village environment, their mental and psychological age was considerably less. The angel came bac
Michael (archangel)Image via Wikipedia
k eight more times during June.
Our Lady Comes

The first time he spoke was on July 1st. He said: "Do you know why I have come? It is to announce to you that tomorrow, Sunday, the Virgin Mary will appear to you as Our Lady of Mount Carmel." The angel's mission was to prepare the children for Our Lady's coming and to be her messenger. He returned with her the next day but came back much less frequently after that. However, the Blessed Virgin began appearing almost every day and occasionally was accompanied by the Infant Jesus whom she carried in her arms.
A Mother and Her Children

The four girls talked with the Blessed Virgin with great simplicity. They talked about their everyday life, about going out to the fields to make hay and about getting bronzed by the sun. Our Lady delighted in their childish talk. A charming and almost disarming spontaneity marked the apparitions. In her Diary, Conchita mentions that the angel and Our Lady smiled profusely and that they laughed at some of their childish remarks. She says that several times the Blessed Virgin kissed them. On a few occasions when she came with the Infant Jesus, she allowed them to take him in their arms. They also did simple little things to amuse and please him, such as hiding pebbles in their sleeves and in the tresses of their hair. Once, Our Lady took the crown of small golden stars from her head and permitted them to hold it in their hands. Many have seen in all this an indication of the childlike attitude we should have in our relationship with Christ and his Blessed Mother.

First Formal Message

On July 4th, Our Lady gave the girls what has come to be known as the first message. This message affirmed that it was important to make many sacrifices, to perform much penance and to visit the Blessed Sacrament often. It said that first, people should lead good lives, and that if they did not do this, a chastisement would befall them. It warned that the cup was already filling up and that if men did not change, a very great chastisement would come. This message had been inscribed on a sign that had appeared under the angel's feet in June, but the children had not understood the inscription at the time. Our Lady told the girls to announce the message publicly to the people on October 18th, which they did.

Second Formal Message

The second message was given much later toward the end of the apparitions. The Blessed Virgin told Conchita on January 1, 1965, that the archangel Saint Michael would appear on June 18th, and would deliver a message in her name. Through Saint Michael, Our Lady complained that her first message had not been complied with and warned that this message would be her last. She said that the cup which previously had been filling up was now flowing over. She stated that many priests, bishops and cardinals were on the road to perdition and taking many souls with them. She deplored the fact that less and less importance was being given to the Eucharist. She said that we should turn the wrath of God away from us by our efforts and that God would pardon us if we asked forgiveness with sincere hearts. She affirmed that if we asked with sincerity, our requests would be granted. Her final words were to exhort us to make more sacrifices and to reflect on the passion of Jesus.

Message Doctrinally Sound

Bishop Eugenio Beitia, one of the former bishops of Santander, issued a decree on July 8, 1965, in which he refused to recognize the supernatural character of the apparitions at Garabandal. However, in that same decree, he acknowledged the doctrinal integrity of the Garabandal message: "we point out, however, that we have not found anything deserving of ecclesiastical censorship or condemnation either in the doctrine or in the spiritual recommendations that have been publicized as having been addressed to the faithful, for these contain an exhortation to prayer and sacrifice, to Eucharistic devotion, to veneration of Our Lady in traditional praiseworthy ways, and to holy fear of God offended by our sins. They simply repeat the common doctrine of the Church in these matters."

Rosary Message and Renewal of Private Prayer

Bishop Beitia mentions "an exhortation to... veneration of our Blessed Lady in traditional praiseworthy ways" as part of the spiritual recommendations of Garabandal. He is apparently referring to the rosary message of Garabandal. Now this is not part of what could be termed the official or formal messages, those given by the Blessed Virgin, either directly, as in 1961, or through Saint Michael, as in 1965.
But the broader message of Garabandal definitely does involve an exhortation to that traditional Marian prayer, the rosary. The Blessed Virgin took the pains to teach the girls how to say it properly, that is, very slowly and attentively. She also made them recite it during every apparition and she commanded them to recite it daily.
It is interesting to note that Our Lady taught the girls how to say other vocal prayers in the same deliberate manner. Her first lesson in private prayer was given on August 8, 1961, to Maria Cruz, who at the time was in ecstasy in the village church. Here is how Conchita describes this in her Diary: "…She started to say the Credo very slowly with the Blessed Virgin. Maria Cruz said that the Blessed Virgin took the lead and recited the prayer first, in order to teach her how to pray slowly. After the Credo, she said the Hail Holy Queen and then she made the Sign of the Cross very slowly, very properly."

Tape Recordings Informative

Tape recordings of the children saying the rosary and other prayers in ecstasy reveal two features of these "very slow" prayers. Each word is pronounced very, very slowly and there are distinct pauses between each grouping of two or three words, for example, H-a-i-l M-a-r-y..... F-u-l-l o-f G-r-a-c-e..... t-h-e L-o-r-d-….. i-s w-i-t-h T-h-e-e .....
Garabandal Ecstasy 4Image by garabandal archives via Flickr

Renewal of Rosary and Private Prayer

Our Lady was teaching us the renewal of the rosary and of all private or vocal prayer. She was telling us that all these prayers must be slowed up enough to allow us to think and love as we pray. When we have put our mind into our prayer, our heart will follow. This slow, meaningful and affective praying of the rosary and other vocal prayers adds a whole new and rewarding dimension to them.

Informal Message

These specific instructions for the renewal of private prayer, and many other things which the Blessed Virgin told the children during the numerous apparitions and locutions (interior voices or messages communicated interiorly and without any accompanying vision), comprise what could be called the informal, but truly authentic message of Garabandal.

Private Messages

Many of the messages delivered by Our Lady were of a purely private nature. Some were words of enlightenment or comfort directed to people who came to the village with personal problems. Others were statements that revealed the hidden thoughts or actions of visitors, some of whom were doubting priests. The Blessed Virgin told Conchita that the great American apostle of Garabandal, Joey Lomangino, would recover his sight on the day of the great miracle. She also told Conchita and her three friends other things of this kind.

Divine Commands in Times of Spiritual Crisis

The messages given on the occasion of apparitions do not involve new doctrine. The content of our faith can know no increase. Divine revelation came to a close with the death of the last apostle. The messages of apparitions are divine commands telling us what to do in times of spiritual crisis. In this regard it is interesting to note that the message of Garabandal warned us in advance of the things that we should hold to and that were soon to be the object of direct or indirect attack in the Church: Mary, the rosary, the Eucharist, sin, penance and repentance, meditation on the passion (which gives us our insight into sin and the role of penance and reparation). Her request for prayers for priests and members of the hierarchy who are on the road to perdition is particularly prophetic and significant.

Conchita of Garabandal 10Image by garabandal archives via Flickr

Great Miracle Yet to Come

The Garabandal event is not yet over. Its climax will be a great miracle that shall convince everyone of the authenticity of Our Lady's visits to this remote Spanish mountain town. Conchita tells us about this in her Diary in the following words:
The Blessed Virgin advised me of a great miracle, saying that God, Our Lord, would perform it through her intercession. Just as the chastisement will be very, very great, in keeping with our deserts, so too, the miracle will be extremely great, in keeping with the needs of the world.
The Blessed Virgin has told me the date of the miracle and what it will consist of. I am supposed to announce it eight days in advance, so that people will come. The Pope will see it from wherever he is, and Padre Pio also. The sick who are present at the miracle will be cured and the sinners will be converted.
There will be no doubt in the mind of anyone who sees this great miracle which God, Our Lord, will perform through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. And now as we await this great day of the miracle, let us see if the world changes and the chastisement is averted.
Padre Pio is reliably reported to have seen the miracle before he died. This should not astonish us, as we know that another person, Father Luis Andreu, S.J., also saw the miracle, as well as Our Lady, on August 8, 1961, six hours before he died. And Pope Pius XII saw the miracle of Fatima, the dancing sun, four times in the Vatican gardens thirty years after the original event took place in Portugal.
Conchita's manner of describing the greatness of the miracle is interesting. It "will be extremely great, in keeping with the needs of the world." Many feel that the world is in need of some great heavenly event to shake it up and bring it back to God. It should be noted that the chastisement is conditional. It can be averted "if the world changes."
Additional information concerning the miracle is given by Conchita in her report of a locution which she had with Our Lord on July 20, 1963. "Why is the miracle going to take place? To convert many people?," she asked Our Lord. "To convert the whole world," He answered. "Will Russia be converted?," she enquired. "Yes, she will be converted, and thus everyone—todos—will love Our Hearts." He replied.
Conchita is the only one with whom the Blessed Virgin discussed the miracle. It will coincide with an event in the Church and with the feast of a saint who is a martyr of the Eucharist and it will take place at eight-thirty on a Thursday evening. It will be visible not only to all those who are in the village but also to those in the surrounding mountains. It will be the greatest miracle that Jesus has performed for the world. There won't be the slightest doubt that it comes from God and that it is for the good of mankind. A sign of the miracle—un señal del milagro—which it will be possible to film or televise but not touch, will remain forever at the pines.

The Divine Warning

Conchita was advised by Our Lady at the pines on January 1, 1965, of a divine warning that would precede the great miracle. It will be seen and experienced by all men all over the world and will be a direct work of God. It will be very awesome. However, if men die from it, it will be only from the emotional shock of seeing it. It will take place before the miracle at a date unknown to Conchita and its purpose will be to give people a chance to amend their lives before the great heavenly sign.

Miracle of the Visible Host

A miracle to confirm the apparitions was requested by the girls early in the apparitions. One was given to them, one that Conchita called a "little miracle," un milagruco, using a diminutive proper to the Santander region. A visible host appeared suddenly and mysteriously on Conchita's tongue at 1:40 in the morning on July 19, 1962. This precise miracle was announced fifteen days in advance by Conchita at the bidding of the archangel Saint Michael, who gave her the Communion. Many people were on hand for the event and one man, who was standing inches from Conchita, took some pictures of it.

Sufficient Proof Already Given

Other unusual things, for which there is no human explanation, also took place along with the apparitions or visions. These, particularly taken all together, constitute a powerful argument in favor of the authenticity of the event.
The three calls or llamadas which preceded and announced Our Lady's coming, the ecstatic marches, oscillations and falls, the children's excessive weight to others and exceptional lightness to each other in ecstasy, their humanly unexplainable knowledge of what people totally unknown to them had done or were thinking, and the kissing of objects by Our Lady and the amazing way they were distributed to people during the apparitions, these are some of the exceptional and humanly unexplainable phenomena encountered at Garabandal.
[To be Continued . . .]