I received this directly from the lips of the stone mason Pepe Diez,(9) to whom it happened; he remembers it as if it were still taking place.
As on almost all evenings in those days, phenomena occurred in the village, together with remarkable processions of prayer and penance that formed behind the girls walking in ecstasy through the streets and trails. But on this day Pepe Diez did not bother to take part in them. Besides this being nothing new for him, he was also tired, and he had no desire of being in the procession.
From his house he was able to hear clearly the sound of footsteps and prayers approaching, then receding, to be lost in the distance . . . When all became quiet, he went outside and made his way down a dark alley to better avoid any meeting that might detain him. As he was walking close to a wall, he smacked his forehead against a stone jutting out from it. The reaction was instantaneous, motus primo primi, as the moralists say: the typical reaction of so many men who have grown up surrounded by bad language and have made it their own. He let out a blasphemy.
Immediately he felt ashamed. But he did not have time to think about it. Something held him captive in that corner of the alley, as the sound of the procession that had faded away was now returning. It did not take long for the procession to come upon him, and he tried without success to hide where the shadows were darkest, so that everyone would pass without noticing his presence.
The girl who was coming in ecstasy at the head of the parade, without lowering her gaze from on high, went toward him, crucifix in hand. Poor Pepe would have preferred the earth to swallow him. He fell trembling on his knees, and felt the girl place the crucifix on his lips with a soft force, as if requiring a kiss of reparation for the blasphemy that could only have been heard by the ears of God.
The stone mason was well admonished, more effectively than if he had heard many sermons on the faithful observance of the second commandment of the divine law. He will never forget the lesson.
And so at Garabandal Our Lady appeared in an ineffable way to repeat to everyone, My little children, these things I address to you, that you may not sin. But if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father: Jesus Christ the Just. And He is the propitiation for our sins. (I John 2: 1)
There were other episodes of instruction during the final weeks of that unforgettable summer. We are going to mention one that deals with a subject that is today neglected to the extreme.
We know that the girls had a most proper comportment. The testimonies of this are numerous and explicit. Here is one of great value because of the competency of the witness — a person who shared the life of the girls as few others: «Since my first visit, on August 22nd, 1961, I took advantage of all opportunities to go up to Garabandal where I have passed and still pass my happiest days.
I determined to study the girls closely, not only in their trances, but also in their normal state. I took pictures that show clearly that the girls are not sick or peculiar, and have no abnormal symptoms. I can report with a thorough knowledge of the matter on their manner of comporting themselves in their homes, in the fields, in the stables, in the church, etc. They cannot be distinguished from the other girls of the village. They play, run, jump up and down, pray . . .
Now there is something that can be noticed in their external manners that is not the same as the other girls. For example, in their way of sitting, they always do it with great modesty. And never have they been surprised in the least lack of purity.
Their comportment in this has been in the extreme. Furthermore everyone has been able to observe in the ecstasies how they concern themselves that their dresses are in place.»
Memorias de mis subidas a Garabandal)
Yes, their comportment was most proper; although we should bear in mind the customs and styles in mode in the daily dress then prevalent in their sheltered and secluded environment. The girls from Garabandal dressed like other girls of their time and area; and because of this, they sometimes wore short skirts, as was then the style.
The Virgin called their attention to this with a mother's delicateness.
In one of their ecstasies(10) the three girls went to each one's home separately, by the Vision's request, to change the dresses they were wearing for longer dresses. Conchita was heard to say later during the trance, «We should always wear long dresses like this, above all for coming to see you.» (Sanchez-Ventura)
«On August 31st one of the girls,(11) while sitting, went several meters forwards toward the church and several meters backwards. The people who were watching became so filled with emotion that many cried . . . Not so much for the action itself or going over the ground sitting down like this, but because in all the distance traveled, the girl's dress, without being disarranged, covered her to her knees. And I observed afterward that, in spite of having slid like this on the dirty ground, the dress had not become soiled. It was on this same day in August that the Virgin advised Loli to lengthen her skirt a little. She said this smiling.»
Fortunately God has His own criteria, ordinarily close to the reasoning of simple and virtuous souls, ordinarily distant from those who follow their own ways, the wise and prudent who are not well versed in sacred literature.
Salvation in all its immensity is accomplished through things that are small.
Do not think that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets.
I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill . . .
Therefore, whoever does away with one of these least commandments, and so teaches men, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven.
But whoever carries them out and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matt. 5: 17-19)
Modesty and decency can never be neglected in genuine morality because they are required by our condition as creatures made to the image and likeness of God, and furthermore raised up to be His sons and members of the Mystical Body of Christ.
It is not that we are ashamed of our bodies, but that we are convinced that the most important part of us is not seen. And too much attention should not be given to our physical being while the other, our better part, remains forgotten and obscured. Proper dress is a distinctive trait of the human being who bridles and holds in check the animal nature, since there is in us a higher nature that deserves more attention and care.
Salus populi, ego sum — I am the salvation of the people. Each day it was seen more clearly that the Virgin had come to Garabandal to promote the salvation of her people.(12) None of those who came here with true devotion toward her and a well-disposed heart went away disappointed. And there are many who have stated that they have passed the best moments of their life in that little mountain village. I do not yet know what heaven is, said one priest, but in Garabandal, it seems that I have been on the threshold.
9. See Chapter II, footnote 9.
10. This was an ecstasy during the middle of the night, between the 9th and 10th of September.
11. This refers to Conchita, according to Fr. Valentín’s notes. “Never have they been suprised in the least lack of purity.”
12. More about this?
From the ecstasy of September 4th:
«At 1 o’clock they took the hands of all those present, and made them make the Sign of the Cross . . . Then they sang rosaries through the village—the vision leading, the children singing only a part. They went from house to house, singing an Ave María at each house. Sometimes they went up the stairs if it was necessary.»
From September 5th:
«At 5 in the afternoon, Jacinta and Loli went into ecstasy; they made the Sign of the Cross on the forehead of all those that were there; later they went out with a little crucifix and went from house to house, holding it up for everyone to kiss.»
From September 6th:
«They went from door to door singing the rosary. They gave the crucifix to everyone to kiss, and went in where there were sick or old people.»
(The quotes above are from Fr. Valentín’s notes.)
It seems clear to me that in this there is a beautiful way of recognizing and showing that in every home or Christian household — and in Garabandal all of them were — there is truly a domestic church, with all that this means. And that every place where sons of God live, is also a home of God.