Thursday, July 24, 2014

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter XIII)


Conchita’s Mystical Communion at the Pines
One day in the month of August, 1962, Father Valentín, who was staying in the valley at Cosío, gave permission for Father Luis Retenaga, from Renteria, another basque priest like myself, and me to celebrate mass in the village church, but on the express condition that all the doors would be closed, locked to those who were outside.
Father Retenaga celebrated the first mass; I the second; and I was serving for that of my fellow basque priest.
Praying to the Virgin, I asked her one request:
— “Our Lady, if we are not able to give Communion to Conchita, let the Angel give It to her. Permit us to have this proof that the Mystical Communions are truly authentic. You know as I that the children really desire to receive Communion, but because of their occupations, it does not always happen.”
After a while, I noticed that some people were talking outside the church. By the noise and the talk that they made, it was obvious that their number was increasing. They tried to enter, knocking at the door, then they stayed where they were, talking under the portico.
I appealed a second time to the Virgin.
— “Mother, let it be possible for me to leave this church in order to advise Conchita that she has an opportunity to receive Communion after the last mass.”
That said, I began to pray with devotion three Hail Mary’s . . . Did I have time to complete the last? I don’t remember, but I perceived clearly that the noise outside had stopped as if by magic… I went to the door, bent down and looked through the keyhole. I saw no one. I opened the door cautiously, cast a glance at the stone seat attached to the wall. There was no one moving. Without hesitating I ran down the path that went toward Mari Cruz’ house, to take the alley leading to Conchita’s home. There was no one around. Everything happened as I had wanted. I arrived still running at Anecita’s house. She was preparing the basket for the donkey who would take Conchita to the mountain with the lunch for her brothers.
— “Aniceta, Aniceta, where is Conchita?”
She raised her head, looked at me sternly, and answered in a rather sharp way:
— “You priests, you are going to spoil my daughter. I don’t know how long a time she has been at the Pines with some others like you. Now she should be taking lunch to her brothers who need to eat now.”
— “I’m coming to tell Conchita that if she wants to receive Communion, we can give It to her now…”
I did not have time to finish the sentence...
— “Receive Communion! Receive Communion! Duty comes before devotion! One thing matters! It is more important for her to bring dinner to her brothers, who must be waiting impatiently…!”
At that very moment, Conchita arrived. She was accompanied by three ecclesiastics, who being seen against the sun, seemed to me to be Carmelite priests.
Anita sternly scolded her child.
Humbly, her head down, the child attempted to talk:
— “The Angel gave me Communion.”
— “The Angel, the Angel,” murmured Aniceta, very upset. “All right, go now, it is your brothers’ lunch time.”
Why did Aniceta look at me immediately? Who could say? In any case, I had to disguise my feelings, for I could not hide my joy. I was too elated to thank the Virgin right then for giving me these two proofs which I had requested from her on the subject of the authenticity of the Mystical Communions; for hearing me so swiftly and in a manner so unexpected.
It remained for Aniceta and myself to sit down to hear the new arrivals. They had but one desire, to recount what had just happened at the Pines.
— “Aniceta, you’re wrong. We are not priests, but hospital Brothers of St. John of God. Never could we have hoped for something more extraordinary than that which happened to us. Listen to this.
— “We came yesterday from Celorio de Llanes to make the spiritual exercises which were beginning this evening at 9:30. As we had time, we decided to go up to Garabandal. We were four, but at the last minute, one of us dropped out. A car brought us from Celorio to Cosío where we went up by Jeep. Not being acquainted with your village, we soon climbed up to the Pines. Then we saw a young girl, accompanied by very small children. We wanted to share our lunch with her, but she said:
— ‘No, the Angel is going to give me Communion.’
“It was noon. We had not recovered from our astonishment at such a response, when before us, as if struck by lightening, she fell on her knees in ecstasy, her head sharply thrust backwards. We had a film camera, but we didn’t know very well how to use it. However, one of us did what he could. We then witnessed the complete unfolding of a Mystical Communion, something which we had never seen before.
“During her ecstasy, the young girl lifted up our scapulars and presented them, one by one, to the Apparition. At the same time, she said the exact names of the one who was wearing it. Imagine the indescribable impressions that we felt.
“After that, she told us:
— ‘I have received messages for each one of you. But I do not yet have permission to reveal them to you. In the next apparition, I will ask the Virgin.’”
Then I remarked, “Brothers, how fortunate you have been. You have seen in the day that which at night you would have viewed with difficulty. Ordinarily, the apparitions take place in the dark, after the recitation of the rosary in the church at nightfall. We only have flashlights for illumination. Besides we get pushed around because there is a big crowd and all the spectators want to see. You can go away very happy, since you carry your pictures in your film camera. Consider this also: if you would have waited until night, you would not have arrived in time to begin your retreat at Celorio de Llanes.”
The good hospital Brothers of St. John of God were fully in accord with me. They promised to send me some copies of their photographs.
They said goodbye, asking Aniceta to remind Conchita to send them their messages. However, they deliberately refused to give their personal addresses. I mention this fact which appears important, for the messages transmitted later by the visionary arrived nevertheless at their destination. As for the photos, they did not forget to send them to me. I keep them with great care.
Many things happened to me that day in a short time. The brothers left and Aniceta questioned me in her kitchen. I concluded . . .
— “Anecita, you know I could not be present at the Miracle of the Host on the night of July 18 to 19. Today on the subject of the reality of the Mystical Communions, the Virgin gave me such proofs that I’ll keep a more profound impression than if I had seen the Miracle.”
— “Father, you amaze me.”
— “Anecita, it’s true.”