It can be seen that during those days, God was showing special attention to that old man, who was then at death’s door, as if attempting to assist him in his great step toward eternity: facing the meeting he would have with God.
How easily do men forget that we do not end like irrational animals, but that all of us are heading inexorably toward this great encounter, and that we cannot present ourselves there anyway we please. J. Staudinger writes in the introduction to his book The Holy Priesthood:
“The encounter of the soul with God starts eternity. In that hour, the person stands in total solitude. As helpless as when he came from the Hands of the Creator, he now appears before Him. The Creator and the creature meet for the first time in front of each other, face to face: God alone and the soul alone . . .
The only thing accompanying the person there will be what he has done during his life.
It will always be supreme wisdom to prepare for that hour . . . This is the most holy task of the Church; her special mission toward every human being is to prepare him for that final hour of encounter."
Poor Uncle Leoncio, Jacinta’s grandfather, blind and in extremis, stands in our story as a symbol of the frail human being in his final helplessness, when there is nothing to hope for from the world below, and only from the world above can help and comfort come. Attending to the dying will always be the highest work of Christian charity, a thing that the Church and those in the Church, cannot in any way forget.
And the girls, immersed in the deep mystery of Garabandal, did not forget. The case of Uncle Leoncio was not the only one in this regard. Nor was the episode of January 28th that we have just seen the only one with him.
We know, for example, that on January 30th, Conchita and Loli were in ecstasy towards 7:20 in the evening, and after having «prayed in the Cuadro, they visited the houses where the sick were, holding up the crucifix to be kissed and praying
And on January 31st, after the rosary ended in the church, Mari Cruz went into ecstasy and «she walked through the village, visiting several houses where she gave the cross to be kissed. And she also went to the house of Jacinta’s grandfather, where she was with him about a quarter of an hour, praying and holding up the cross to be kissed . . . And a little later, Loli and Conchita did the same, and they were with him for a period of an hour; and they came back to the same place, and sat on the bed.»
The old man, semi-conscious, did not respond to the girls’ desire for him to kiss the crucifix, and they asked him, «Why don’t you kiss it? If you kiss it, the Virgin can restore your sight.» To that, the old man replied, «And what would I want my sight for?»
The episode concerning Uncle Leoncio ended a few days later with the end of his stay on earth. Among Fr. Valentín’s notes are found these, corresponding to February 8th:
«At 9 at night, Mari Loli went out of her home in ecstasy. She went to the home of Leoncio, who was laid out, and she held out the crucifix to be kissed by the persons who were there (almost the whole village). She prayed a station before the body and then left and went into other houses.»