THE EXTRAORDINARY HAPPENS
Then, from the 4th of July, as we are going to see, she does not hold strictly to the calendar and mixes many things in her narration, relating only what seemed most important to her estimation or what stuck the most in her memory.(1)
Furthermore I do not believe that it is necessary to minutely recount everything about Garabandal. What I would like to do is to present a good indepth picture of the thing as a whole, in a way that will aid in evaluating all the signs of this extraordinary work of God and the Virgin on our behalf.
Study in Action
The month of July 1961 saw these marvels become commonplace. Each day had its session:
More or less in the same manner,
More or less at the same time,
More or less in the same places.
The privileged children went in and out of the ecstasies with an extreme naturalness, and spoke of the marvels in the same way they spoke of other everyday occurrences. The villagers became accustomed to seeing these things without surprise, encountering the intermingling of another world at the turn of each corner, down every street. Only the daily newcomers—the pilgrims who came from areas increasingly more distant—were astonished to behold with their own eyes and touch with their own hands things completely extra-real, things they could never have even dreamed.
All that came were influenced by curiosity; but besides this easily understandable curiosity, there were many different attitudes and motives for coming. Almost no one wanted to remain simply an observer in the moving and beautiful spectacle. The observer pondered over what was happening, trying to size it up to determine exactly what was going on, of possible. First, observe; then try to understand what it meant.
This happened especially with the doctors and priests. The names of some of these will remain forever linked to the history of Garabandal; some pro and some contra; some for what they have done for the manifestation of Garabandal, and some for what they have done for its condemnation.
Among those who contributed to make Garabandal known by his observation and opinions, a priest by the name of Ramón María Andreu Rodamilans merits special mention. He was not one of the first to come; however he was the first to put in writing a serious study of the things that were happening in the remote Montaña village.
1. Sometime after having written this chapter, there came into my hands some notes from the many taken by the parish priest, Father Valentín, during the time that we are recounting. His notes are brief and somewhat confusing. This is not unexpected since he had many things to attend to each day and he had to write down in a hurry what might be called the daily official report.
From these notes, I perceive that the Angel, who had visited the girls so often during the last fortnight of June, did not return to the children for almost a week (from Sunday the 2nd of July, the day of the first apparition of the Virgin, until Saturday, July 8th). But on July 8th and the following day, he showed himself more familiar than ever with them: «he kissed us on the cheeks and on the forehead . . . and he kissed us as though we were in a line.»
And so began a new and astounding page in the heavenly communications.
During those days (Tuesday, July 11th, in all probability) began something that for many would be a cause of difficulty: the girls' Mystical Communions, as they came to be called. I say that this probably began on July 11th, because in writings of Father Valentín is found this short reference: «They said they had received Communion on the 11th, 12th and 13th.» This is the first time that he speaks of this.
These Communions always occurred at the time and place that the Angel advised on the previous day. It is important to mark here the general observation made by Father Valentín: «Whenever the girls said something in advance, it always happened.»
Before beginning these Communions, the Angel gave the usual catechism class . . . in all probability during the apparitions of July 8th, 9th, and 10th.
The first time that the girls talked to Father Valentín about the Angel giving them Communion, he questioned them, then later wrote down, «They said that the Angel does the same as I do when I give Communion.»
These Communions always, or almost always, had a prayer of thanksgiving recommended by the Angel: Soul of Christ, sanctify me; Body of Christ, save me; Blood of Christ . . . (Anima Christi of St. Ignatius)
The persons who were present did not see either the Angel or the Sacred Host; but they did see perfectly the gestures and movements that the girls made in receiving Communion; and there are numerous photographic proofs of this in circulation.
This is significant: it is a proven fact that the Angel came to give Communion only when a priest who could do so was not in the village. This is the style of Divine Providence: to come to our aid with extraordinary means (if God so desires) only when it cannot be accomplished with ordinary means.
From Father Valentín's notes it is seen that on all or almost all of the days during July, the girls had an apparition either with the Virgin, or with the Angel, or with the two at the same time. But it seems to me that to dwell longer on Father Valentín's brief resumés would be both boring and tiring, since they contain no more than external details, which are the least important, and besides are mostly the same from day to day.