Friday, September 2, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter VIII)

The Nature of the Ecstasies

I have some letters from Conchita making illusion to a question that I had her ask the Virgin on the subject of the nature of the ecstasies at Garabandal.
She knew absolutely nothing of this question — and that was my entire wish. It will be seen that she was not alone in this matter. I am going to try to explain this clearly.
I adopted a terminology of my own invention, making use of a case that could be called classic. I only wanted that she would help me to resolve the problems I was posing to myself in using words that I was employing according to my personal conception of things. Neither Conchita nor any other person would be able to discover this.
Then I said to Conchita only these words:
— “Ask the Virgin if it is perfect or imperfect.”
She answered, “What do you want to say?”
— “Simply what these words mean.”

According to my opinion, but without pre-judging the decision of the Church in this matter, ecstasies of a supernatural divine type were taking place at Garabandal. Therefore, speaking then to Conchita, I used the words ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ in making an abstraction of the supernaturality of the divine order of the events.
Furthermore, at that moment, I thought that the ecstasies that I was calling ‘perfect’ had to leave traces of pain with the ecstatic person.
I was considering on my part as ‘imperfect,’ the ecstasy that took place with or without total loss of the senses, and in both cases did not leave any trace of fatigue or illness in the bodies of the girls.
Then it was this ‘imperfect’ — according to the vocabulary that I had designed myself — that I would verify. Conchita should then respond on the part of the Virgin, “It is ‘imperfect.’”

In the first place the ecstasies lasted an hour, sometimes several hours. Obviously the positions taken by the seers could not be maintained for such a length of time even by vigorous persons in the normal state, How could it be possible for children — healthy certainly — but still so young? Furthermore, on leaving the ecstasies they had an extraordinary freshness and were more vibrant than they had appeared before. Far from being exhausted, they went back to work, as if nothing had happened.
Although sleeping soundly at times, they ordinarily slept very little. Because some ecstasies lasted a long time and were repeated often; because most of them took place at night; because the children in order to see the Virgin, and also in the spirit of sacrifice, remained in the kitchens, sleeping completely dressed, leaning against the wall. Because those who were not in ecstasy even during the night accompanied their companions who were in ecstasy. On the contrary, on certain occasions, the eyelids closed, although for the most part, this was not observed. Usually their hands were perfectly rigid. At other times one could make their fingers move, before becoming immediately rigid. The ankles and the feet always had their normal play. As for the hands and face, sometimes they were warm, at other times they were not.
Due to my personal conception of things, and my terminology (which was at the least unusual) the two cases that I am going to describe gave me something to ponder and left me perplexed.

I will express myself in another way. If one wills, here is the same question like that employed in the words ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect.’ The ecstasies were they of a major or minor level according to the supernatural order? Being understood that for me those of a major were identical to ‘perfect’ which would lead the ecstatic into painful residuals and leave them with vestiges of fatigue and illnesses (things they never showed).

One day Conchita wrote me: “The Virgin did not answer me on the subject of ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect.’ She will tell me later.”
Another letter followed: “The other day, without my asking her, the Virgin told me concerning the matter of ‘perfect’ or ‘imperfect,’ it was ‘perfect.’”
On my return to Garabandal in the kitchen in front of Aniceta, I thought of the courtesy of Our Lady who answered on her own initiative, and I said:
— “Then, Conchita, the Virgin has really said it was ‘perfect’?”
— “Yes. The Virgin told me on the subject of ‘perfect’ and ‘imperfect,’ it was ‘perfect.’”
— “Good, Conchita. But this answer completely demolishes my idea because I had thought it was imperfect.”
Aniceta intervened instantly:

— “Conchita, didn’t I tell you that you should sayimperfect’?”
This was the answer of the child of 12 and a half years:
“I don’t know what this subject of perfect and imperfect is about. What I know is that the Virgin told me ‘perfect.’”
It remained then for me to secretly correct my conception of things and my made-up terminology by accepting the lesson of mystical theology the Virgin had given me. To admire also the absolute loyalty and exemplary firmness of Conchita, who without understanding either my thought or my terminology had remained — in spite of her mother Aniceta — a very faithful messenger of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.


I had previously mentioned that the children slept in the kitchen with their clothes on, so as not to miss the company of the Virgin. They were well aware that, after having said that she would come at night, if they were in bed, she would respect their sleep. And they ardently wanted to see her.
They knew also that after having said that she would come during the night, regardless of this, the Virgin wanted them to obey their parents if they ordered them to go to bed.