Monday, October 17, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter XX)


CHAPTER XX

The Most Holy Virgin at Garabandal

This chapter has exceptional importance since it concerns the Most Holy Virgin, the Envoy of Christ in this village specially cherished by God.

I will limit myself to excerpting some quotations from Conchita’s Diary — the manuscript — that relate with marvelous simplicity all that we can know of Our Mother of Heaven at Garabandal.

It was on the first of July, the eve of her first apparition, that Conchita tells us for the first time of the Virgin. That day the Angel said:

“I come to announce to you a visit by the Virgin under the title of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, who will appear to you tomorrow, Sunday . . ."

“I will return tomorrow with the Virgin . . ."

The Virgin appeared to us with an Angel on each side.

That day, we talked much with the Virgin and she talked with us. We told her everything. We told her that we walked to the pastures, that we were tanned, that we gathered the hay into stacks.

And she laughed.

We said the rosary while looking at her. And she prayed with us in order to teach us to pray well.

When we had finished the rosary, she said she was leaving.

And we told her to stay a little while, since she had been there only a very short time.

And she laughed, and told us she would return on Monday.

When she left, we were sad.

That is how Sunday, July 2, ended.

A very happy day, because we saw the Virgin for the first time.

For we are always with her, whenever we want to be.

Conchita then gives us an admirable description of the Virgin.

The Virgin comes in a white cloak, a blue mantle, a crown of little golden stars.

The feet are not seen; the hands are open and there is a scapular on the right one: the scapular is brown.

Her hair is long, a dark chestnut brown color, wavy, parted in the middle;

The face somewhat elongated;

The nose also somewhat long, and fine;

The mouth, very beautiful with lips a little full;

The color of her face tan, much lighter than that of the angel, different.

The voice very beautiful, a voice very unusual.

I don’t know how to explain it.

There is no other woman who resembles the Virgin, either in the voice or in anything.

Sometimes she carries the Baby in her arms.

Garabandal

He is very small, like a newborn baby, with a round face the same color as the Virgin’s.

He has a very small mouth, and hair slightly long.

He is dressed in something like a blue tunic.

Conchita recounts with simplicity the apparition of the Virgin and the Child Jesus that took place on the next day, July 3, 1961. The girls played with the Child, but the Virgin did not let them hold Him.

As soon as we arrived at the Cuadro, the Virgin appeared to us with the Child Jesus.

But the angels did not come.

She came with a broad smile, and the Child was smiling too.

And the first thing we said was, “Where is St. Michael and the other Angel?

And she smiled even more.

The people and our parents who were there gave us articles so that we might present them to be kissed.

And she kissed them all.

And since we liked to make up games for the Child Jesus, we picked up pebbles.

And I put them in my braids, Loli put them in her sleeves, and Jacinta gave them to Him.

He did not take them; He only smiled.

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And she said many things to us.

But she didn’t allow us to tell these things.

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The apparition started at 7:30 and ended at 8 o’clock. Then she said, “Stay in God and in me also.”

That made us sad.

We said, “Adios!”

The last thing she said,

— “Tomorrow you will see me again.”

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The 4th of July came . . .

The Virgin was smiling as usual.

And the first thing that she said was,

— “Do you know the meaning of the writing the Angel carried beneath him?”

We spoke out together, “No, we don’t know.”

Then she said to us,

— “It gives a message that I am going to explain to you so that you can tell it to the people on the 18th of October.”

And she told it to us.

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On the following day she told us she would explain it later.

Later she explained what the message meant and how we had to say it.

She indicated to us that we had to say it at the door of the church.

And that on October 18th we should tell it to Fr. Valentín, so that he could say it at the Pines at 10:30 at night.

The Virgin told us to do it this way.

On August 17, 1961, something took place which we are going to mention, which shows us the Virgin’s kindness for her four angelic little girls. Conchita wrote:

On the next day and at the same time as the previous day, the Most Holy Virgin appeared to the four of us.

And for several minutes she was smiling very much.

And she didn’t say anything to us.

After a few minutes, darkness came upon us, and we heard a voice call us.

Then Mari Cruz said, “Tell us who you are; if you don’t we will go home.”

While we were hearing the voice, it was very dark.

And we didn’t see the Virgin.

But afterwards she came.

And it became very light.

And she said to us, “Don’t be afraid.”

And she spoke to us for a while.

And that night was the first night that she kissed us, one by one.

And then she left.

In the last part of Chapter VII, I mentioned how the little girls kissed the Virgin tenderly on each cheek at the end of the ecstasies. The Virgin never stopped being a mother in showing signs of maternal affection.

It is in this passage that I just quoted that Conchita mentioned the Virgin’s first kiss to the young girls in ecstasy.

Conchita continues.

The next day, (August 18th) almost at the same hour, the Virgin appeared to us again. The first thing that she told us was to recite the rosary.

Since we had never led it, she told us: “I’m going to lead it and you answer.”

She prayed very slowly.

Coming to the “Salve,” she told us to sing it, and we sang it.

When we finished the rosary she kissed us, and before leaving she said, “I will come back tomorrow.”

The following day, (August 19th), as she had foretold, she came and she told us the same thing as on the previous day, “Recite the rosary.”

And we began the rosary.

And that night we went to the places where the Virgin had appeared to us at the beginning.

And after our ecstasy the people said that we had gone up to the Pines, and that we had gone from pine to pine on our knees, praying.

Conchita then reveals to us an important detail.

Up to then, in all the ecstasies, we have been the four together. Jacinta, Mari Cruz, Mary Loli, and myself.

But then we started to have ecstasies separately, each one in her home.

And so the Most Holy Virgin called us even though we were not together but separated. But we always saw the Most Holy Virgin in ecstasy.

Another sign of maternal tenderness to note:

And during that ecstasy, while we were seeing the Virgin, Mari Cruz, who had seen an apparition earlier, was in bed.

And we told the Virgin that she should tell us a song to sing to Mari Cruz.

We would compose some words, and the Virgin would aid us with others.

The songs were the following:

Get up Mari Cruz!
Here comes the good Virgin
With a basket of flowers
For her little child.

Mari Cruz, Mari Cruz!
How sad you make us.
Pray hard to the Virgin,
So that she will return to you.

Mari Cruz, Mari Cruz!
Do you smell the lilies?
The Virgin has brought them for you,
So that you will be better.

That night the Most Holy Virgin stayed with us from nine in the evening until 7 o’clock in the morning.

That night, we played Los Tios (hide and seek) with the Virgin. Two of us hid and the other two searched.

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The Most Holy Virgin commanded the four: Loli, Jacinta, Mari Cruz and myself to recite the rosary at the Cuadro.

We went some days at 6 o’clock in the morning; and some days later.

Jacinta and Mari Cruz went at 7 o’clock in the morning.

Loli did not have an hour fixed.

As Mari Cruz did not get up so early, she decided it was better to go at 8 o’clock.

Jacinta went at 6 o’clock, accompanied by her mother and people from the village who always accompanied us.

During Holy Week, I was ordered to go at 5 o’clock in the morning, which I did, since the Most Holy Virgin wants us always to do penance.

***

It might be mentioned here — to emphasize Conchita’s remarks — that when the children were asked why the Virgin came at such late hours, they answered that the Virgin told them that it was at that time most of the sins of the world were committed and that they should do penance . . . And for them it was a penance, and not the smallest, to stay up until the Virgin came to visit them, late in the night, or very early in the morning. They performed this penance because the Virgin wanted it and also because they wanted to see her again.

They stayed awake then, or else they slept on a chair or stool, leaning against a wall or a table, but out of bed. Unless, of course, their parents had decided otherwise, since the Virgin had told them that they ought to obey their parents above all.

***

From the beginning of the apparitions, the Virgin adapted herself to the children to capture their attention and gain their confidence, achieving her planned purpose that way. A mother does not stop being a mother when she plays with her young children; that is even one of her duties.

Some of the priests and faithful saw reasons in this to deny the supernatural character of the actual happenings.

Afterwards, the Virgin concerned herself with their spiritual life, teaching them the life of grace, and certain virtues, always adapting her instruction to their level of understanding.

***

The Virgin always performed the role of a priest in regard to “extraordinary” instruction when the priest did not perform his ministry or could not perform it. She watched maternally over the spiritual life of her young children.