ON THE WAY TO
Or rather a new and exceptional manifestation of the great Mystery of Salvation.
That this is new and exceptional seems obvious; but not everyone fully understands the meaning of The History of Salvation. What does this expression mean?
The long process of divine intervention on behalf of a creature so honored by Him as the human being—to pull him away from the harmful situation in which he has fallen and to place him on the right road toward his final goal—constitutes the History of Salvation.
It is not a history easy to understand. To comprehend it in its true dimension and meaning it is not enough to have high intelligence and a capability for good judgment, since the information that comes forth can be just as confusing as it is clear. And so our way through it is always between the light and the darkness: light that is sometimes marvelously bright, and darkness sometimes the blackest. Likewise in going through the History of Salvation we continually encounter the Mystery of God. And once more we find here the certain and enlightening truth
of Scripture, My ways are not your ways, nor My thoughts your thoughts, as the sky is above the earth, so . . .
The History or Mystery of Salvation has its official chapters that give the theme or the key to understanding the material, and which make up the Bible, the only writing known and approved with complete authority. But there also have come out, and continue to come out, complementary chapters. Without these, the official writings of the Scared Scripture would be very difficult for most people to understand, and consequently the march of history would fail to make place or come alive for them.
We can consider what has been written — in lines not always clear or straight — by the events of Garabandal as one of these complementary chapters of the last times.
Did not official revelation close with the death of the last apostle, John? While this is true, the history of salvation did not conclude with it, and the march of this mystery continues involving all people for the rise or for the fall (Luke 2: 34) even until the consummation comes. (Matt. 13: 39-49; 24: 29-31) Just as God has intervened by actions and words of salvation from the beginning, so He will intervene until the end; through Himself, or through others; through
His prophets, through His own Son,(1) through the Blessed Mother . . . I will be with you all days even until the end of time. (Matt 28: 20)
It is the Blessed Mother whom He has sent to act at Garabandal, especially in the early times that we are now describing. But it appears immediately clear that her action — it could not be otherwise — is immersed in the general dynamics of salvation which comes to us from God. (Luke 1: 77-79) We are facing a new manifestation of the great mystery of salvation that He has shown from the beginning to aid His human creatures.
The Mother of God and all mankind has appeared again among us to repeat one more time in her own name and on behalf of Him Who sent her, Salus populi, ego sum; de quacumque tribulatione clamaverint ad me, ego exaudiam — I am the salvation of the people, in whatever tribulation they call out to me I will hear them. (Introit of the votive mass "Pro quacumque necessitate")
News of the events soon began to spread out into the surrounding areas, and many who were undergoing trials went with them to Garabandal . . . I have no evidence that the Virgin performed any obvious miracle at the time to free those coming for aid from physical or material tribulation. But there are innumerable persons who give revealing testimony that they have not come to her in vain, and that she certainly heard.
There were many mysterious answers given by the Virgin to questions arising from those tortured in the most hidden areas of their conscience.(2) And what peace, consolation of soul,(3) and security went out toward the countless participants of those almost daily ecstasies that some considered an excess that could not be justified, or ridiculed as a game that could not be accepted as coming from God. Those who desired to approach God with simplicity of heart (Wisdom 1: 1) found at Garabandal what they sought.
I now wish to insert a very unusual case. It occurred in the early days of September, 1961. Fr. Andreu was in Ceferino's tavern and store when a priest in a foul mood entered brusquely and made his way toward him aggressively.
— Tell me, Are you Fr. Andreu?
— At your service.
— Well, I am coming to tell you that I don't like this.
— No one can know better than you what you don't like . . . Nevertheless, I appreciate the information . . . Have you been here long?
— Ten minutes.
— Man. I have been here four weeks, and still haven't come to see everything clearly . . . And you . . . in ten minutes . . .
This was a priest from Asturías, strong, built like a truck driver. To get out from under this, since he saw right away that he was getting very irritated, Fr. Andreu called Dr. Ortiz of Santander who was passing by and said to him, Listen, Dr. Ortiz, this priest here is very interested in this. And since you are an intellectual, you can explain it to him.
Dr. Ortiz took the priest with him.
Ten minutes later the priest returned. But this time his attitude was completely different. He was pallid, trembling; not the same man.
— Fr. Andreu, Fr. Andreu. It's for real! I'm convinced.
— Listen, Let's slow down. Ten minutes ago you didn't like it at all. And now you are already convinced? Doesn't it seem that you're going too fast?
— See for yourself what has happened to me. I was walking over there with Dr. Ortiz when we came upon one of the girls named Jacinta in ecstasy. She came up to me and made the sign of the cross over me; and there was a short man at my side, and she made the sign of the cross over him too. And then she gave me a cross to kiss, and she also gave it to the short man. Then she made the sign of the cross over me again, and did the same to the little man. During this I thought, "If it is true that it is the Virgin who is appearing, then let the ecstasy end." At that very instant the girl lowered her head and looked at me entirely normal!
This left me breathless, and I said to her:
— Aren't you seeing the Virgin?
— No, señor.
— Why is that?
— Because she has gone away!
Then the girl turned around and walked away. She couldn't have taken four steps when she fell into ecstasy again, and came toward us another time. She made the sign of the cross over me, and then the sign of the cross over the short man; and she gave me the cross to kiss, and she gave it to the little man to kiss . . .
— Listen, Listen. Fr. Andreu interrupted him. Let me know who that short man is, for it seems to me that the really important one in this case is the little man and not you.
And so it actually was, as was soon revealed.
That short man was a parish priest from one of the villages.
For some time he had been terribly tormented by great doubts about his priestly ordination: whether or not he had a clear and explicit will to be ordained; and whether as a consequence, his ordination was valid or not; and thus, whether he would be exercising improperly and without effect his priestly functions. Only God could know what the man had been suffering because of these scruples.
When he heard talk of Garabandal and of the marvels that were happening there, he thought that he might be able to find a way out of his dark tunnel.
As soon as he could, he went to the celebrated village. But before arriving there, he disguised himself carefully. (At that time it was very unusual for a priest or religious to take off his cassock or his habit without serious reason.) He had so carefully disguised himself that Fr. Andreu said, There was no way to suspect even remotely the presence of a priest there; his outfit was the strangest that could be imagined.
It was an initial and consoling response to the priest's interior doubts that the girl was so definitely repeating on him everything that she had done previously to the priest who was at his side . . . But that was not enough. What can immediately settle a scrupulous conscience! After the first joy, spiritual confusion returned, and he thought, I cannot leave like this; I need more proof.
He found a place in a stable to pass the night and hoped to see if on the following day he would obtain the absolutely convincing proofs that he needed so much.
The new day came and the poor man did not have to wait for nightfall, as would ordinarily be the case. Already in the morning there was an important ecstasy; many persons were gathering for the celestial visit, and our little man naturally was in the front row.
When the girl in ecstasy began to hold out the crucifix to be kissed, the people rapidly formed a line along her path so that the girl could do it easier. The little man positioned himself like everyone else in the middle of the line, and from there observed with what celestial grace the visionary offered the crucifix, and with what feeling those lined up were coming to kiss it, one after the other . . . But he did not content himself with observing; his mind was working, and he formed this idea: If I am truly a priest, instead of giving me the crucifix to kiss like the others, let the girl come and make the sign of the cross over me with it.
Then the girl came up to the police chief who was so well disposed to the cause of Garabandal. She stopped in front of him, smiled, and without looking at him — actually she looked at no one, since during the ecstasy she held her face turned sharply upwards — she slowly made the sign of the cross over him. Then she continued her way down the line, presenting the crucifix to be kissed . . . She came in front of the little man, and she made the sign of the cross over him! The answer seemed very clear; but . . .
The man was hard to satisfy. He did not hesitate to think, This isn't enough since she made the sign of the cross over the police chief too, and the police chief isn't a priest. If instead of this she would have given the crucifix to everyone without exception to kiss, and on me — only on me — she would have made the sign of the cross three times, then there definitely would have been no doubt.
He had not finished thinking this when the girl interrupted her path and made her way back to the beginning of the line, to once more begin holding up the crucifix to be kissed . . . She came again in front of the police chief, and she must have heard something from the Vision, since she was heard to ask, What? Following a brief pause, she smiled, and gave the holy image to him to kiss like the others . . . When she arrived in front of the little man again, we can imagine his emotions. The girl was very carefully making the sign of the cross over him repeatedly — until it was done three times! And something more; she said to him very clearly, Yes.
That was too much; the poor man tried to hide his tears while the girl continued down the line, and he went to the church as soon as he could. There in the sacristy he opened up the sack that he had taken with him; he put on his priest's cassock with more feeling than ever before, and then fell on his knees in front of the Tabernacle, without being able to express to the Lord and His Mother all his feelings of love and gratitude.
When he left the church, he was truly another person, much more interiorly than exteriorly.
How many ineffable mercies of God came through the Virgin to the souls of those who ascended the high places of Garabandal, believing to have found there a throne of grace: that we may obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid. (Heb. 6: 16) As for those who came for other favors of lesser value —like an improvement in health, the settling of a difficult situation, the solution of some definite problem— and who to the eyes of others would have appeared to have wasted the trip, they ended feeling deep in their souls that they had not come, nor hoped, nor prayed in vain. In their contacts with the MYSTERY OF SALVATION, if their hearts were well disposed, they had not come away with empty hands.
1. Beginning of the epistle to the Hebrews.
2. One example among a thousand:
The Talavera brothers, who own a hairdressing salon in Astillero (Santander), tell with full knowledge of the matter about what happened to a man from Aguilar de Campoo.
He had gone up to Garabandal during the summer of 1961. While seeing Conchita in ecstasy, he had mentally petitioned the Virgin for an answer to something that was really bothering him . . . The ecstasy ended, and none of the girls came to give him any message. Somewhat hurt, he returned home.
A month passed and he again felt the desire of visiting Garabandal. There he was able to witness an ecstasy of Mari Loli that affected him. After the trance, the man had lost himself among the anonymous spectators (he did not know any of the visionaries personally) when the girl went up to him, and told him on behalf of the Virgin words which were the exact response to what he had requested a month earlier, only mentally, and in front of another girl! This man was ready to swear that he absolutely had not spoken with anyone about his most secret petition.
The Virgin was coming to assist, not to entertain. On the 31st of August, among the many things that the girls were told to ask the Virgin, one was whether it was good for the people to ask questions . . . She answered yes, but that she was not going to answer pointless questions. On more than one occasion, questions of this type were made by people without understanding and without good intentions.
3. Fr. José Ramón García de la Riva, who personally experienced many of the little wonders of Garabandal, mentions in his Memorias:
«One day I placed a white metal crucifix on the little table where Loli had arranged the articles to present to the Virgin. Since she couldn’t see this, she sought all day to know the owner. She questioned one of my friends about this . . .
During the night I was seated in Conchita’s kitchen when Loli came in ecstasy, accompanied by her father and other people. She knelt down, presented the crucifix she held in her hand to be kissed, and stayed quietly in front of me. She wanted to give me something, but because of my nearsightedness and being more intent on her face than her hands, I didn’t notice it until Ceferino said to me, Look, she’s giving you a crucifix. It was one of the most thrilling moments of my life! It was the metal crucifix that I had left in her house in the morning, without her seeing it, and which had so intrigued her throughout the day.»