—My message of October 18th has not been fulfilled.
—The cup . . . is overflowing.
—The PRIESTS: Many are on the road to perdition.
—The EUCHARIST: It is being given less and less importance.
The first message of October 18th, 1961 had passed for the majority, for the vast majority, without concern or glory; that was more than obvious. Even the staunchest enthusiasts of Garabandal were disposed for seeing and experiencing more novel things, especially if they were exciting, than for carrying into practice, the admonition to make many sacrifices, do much penance . . . visit the Blessed Sacrament . . .
But the cup was overflowing because of other things too.(4) The unbridled sins of men and nations —especially sins of the flesh— are so plainly patent to everyone that they need no illustrations or examples.
Almost the same could be said about the denunciation that many priests are «on the road to perdition», taking many souls with them. The facts are there, beyond discussion. Many have faithlessly abandoned their vows and vocations; others, it would have been better if they had abandoned them, for then they would have caused less harm to the faithful by their unorthodox doctrines concerning dogma, and their immoral opinions concerning moral law.(5)
Here is one of the greatest disasters that could fall upon the Church. Jesus had warned about it, You are the salt of the earth; if the salt loses its flavor, what can it be salted with? It serves for nothing but to be cast on the ground, to be trampled on by men. (Matt. 5:13)
But the gravest thing is that the matter is not confined entirely to priests.(6)
During the transmission of the message, Conchita was definitely heard speaking about bishops too . . . and even cardinals! The testimonies cannot be denied. Fr. Luna was asked about his impression when —near to Conchita in ecsasty— he clearly heard her say with tremendous astonishment: «Bishops! Bishops too? . . .»(7) Several other persons testified to the same. And under my gaze, I have a letter from the old professor of moral law at the Pontifical University in Comillas, Fr. Lucio Rodrigo, S.J.,(8) written to Fr. Ramón, dated November 13th,1965. He says in it:
«On Thursday, fifteen days ago, the pastor from Barro brought Aniceta and Conchita to me, to whom I gave communion in the infirmary chapel. We spoke for a long time together, and afterwards I spoke alone with Conchita. She confirmed to me categorically that in the June 18th message, the Angel explicitly mentioned bishops and cardinals. But influenced by truly supernatural and inspired prudence, she was silent about them (in her text of the message) since ‘they were included with the priests.’»(9)
Those who have studied the church and know its history will be immunized against a gasp of amazement such as Conchita had on the night of the ecstasy. They will know that bishops are the keystones in the structure of the Church; but they will also know, that besides innumerable good shepherds who fulfill their duties to God and their people, there are also hirelings, who frequently are responsible for the worst tribulations that can afflict the flock of Christ.
At Rome on December 5th, 1971, Paul VI made public an apostolic exhortation to all the bishops, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the closing of Vatican II. The pope employed a forceful and demanding tone, rather unaccustomed to him, that showed his concern that not all the bishops were fulfilling their duty:
Many of the faithful feel themselves disturbed in their faith by an accumulation of ambiguities, uncertainties, and doubts in essential matters . . . While little by little silence is covering the fundamental mysteries of Christianity, we see a tendency to construct a Christianity derived from psychological and sociological data, a Christianity separated from the uninterrupted tradition that goes back to the faith of the apostles. And we see a tendency to exalt a Christian life deprived of religious elements . . . And from our own selves, just as in the days of St. Paul, shall rise men speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:30)
The successor of St. Peter was speaking at the time to bishops.
Closely linked with bishops and priests is the magnificent mystery of the Eucharist. What is the situation in Its regard? The message makes it clear: there is a progressive veiling, a growing lessening of Its importance. The results of this can be predicted. If the Eucharist is the mystery of the close presence of Jesus among us, the more Its existence is obscured and clouded, the less importance It will have in our lives. And so we will be drawn farther away from Him, farther away from His love, and closer to darkness.
That this was already happening in broad sectors of the Church, and was tending to spread through the entire Church, Conchita could not have known through natural means on that June 18th. The crisis of doctrine concerning the worship of the Mysterium Fidei that had broken out in other lands was still far from being felt in Spanish Christianity; and certainly not in those surroundings that the young girl knew.(10)
Months later appeared the first solemn and official call to attention: the encyclical of Paul VI, given in Rome, from St. Peter’s, on the feastday of Pope Pius X, September 3rd, 1965, in the third year of our pontificate. In his encyclical, Mysterium Fidei, the Pope stated the reasons that led him to publish it:
There are not lacking, venerable brothers, reasons for grave solicitude and anxiety. The awareness of our apostolic duty does not permit us to be silent . . . We know that among the persons who speak or write on this very holy mystery, there are those who spread opinions about the subject of private Masses, the dogma of transubstantiation and of Eucharistic devotion that trouble the souls of the faithful. They cause a great confusion of ideas, touching the truths of the faith.
The encyclical did not succeed in correcting the evil. Amost three years later, on May 8th, 1968, the same Paul VI saw himself obliged to explain his proposal to assist at the International Eucharistic Congress which was going to be celebrated in Bogotá, Colombia in August:
It is not the external solemnity that draws us here, although it has its highest value . . . It is the affirmation of the Eucharistic Mystery that draws us; an affirmation that wishes to consolidate strongly and express in an unequivocal form the faith of all the Catholic Church . . . An actual confirmation of the Eucharistic doctrine in the face of the ineptitude, the ambiguity, and the errors from which a part of our generation suffer with regard to the Mystery of our altars.
What was almost unforeseeable in Garabandal in 1965 is now visible to all: the disrespect—if not outright disdain—that many priests hold for the forms of devotion that Catholic piety has built around the Eucharist through the centuries. Now comes the placing of the sanctuaries and tabernacles at the side of the churches; the arrangement of churches more as a center of reunion than as a place to meet with the Lord Jesus present among us; the tearing down of the altar rails; the Communions made carelessly and without thanksgiving; the progressive elimination of Benediction, Nocturnal Adoration, Forty Hours Devotions, and processions of the Blessed Sacrament.
As an illustration of this, in 1968 I was waiting at a train station, speaking with a man who had begun his theological studies in a diocesan seminary. We had a friendly conversation and among the things that I heard in the conversation, this stuck especially in my mind: The other day several seminarians were talking about what each wanted to do in his church as soon as he was in charge of a parish. One of them, after saying what he thought about statues, the arrangement of altars, the placement of pulpits, etc., ended like this, “I haven’t decided yet what to do with the tabernacle . . . Although perhaps, when my time comes, that won’t be a problem, since it will have disappeared.” The seminarian was certainly speaking ironically, but this illustrates the truth of the statement: The Eucharist: It is being given less and less importance.
4. According to traditional symbolism, the cup represents the tolerable level of our sins. If the cup overflows, it shows that level has been surpassed.
5. I am not talking about all priests, or even the majority. Those who remain faithful deserve only praise; they do not make as much noise as the others, but they get the work done.
6. Complementing what was said about the bad state of the priesthood, it would be well to place here what Conchita wrote on July 29th, 1967 to a young French priest who asked her what the Virgin wanted from priests:
«The first thing that the Virgin wants from a priest is his own sanctification.
Fulfilling his vows for the love of God.
Leading many souls by example and prayer, for in these times it is difficult to do it any other way.
That the priest be sacrificed out of love for souls in Christ!
That at times he retire in silence to hear the God who speaks to him constantly.
That he meditate frequently on the passion of Jesus, so that his life may be more united to Christ the Priest, and thus invite souls to penance, sacrifice . . .
To speak of Mary, who is the most secure way to lead us to Christ.
And also to speak about and make people believe that if there is a heaven, there is also a hell.
I think that this is what God asks from His priests.»
7. For a young girl from the mountains, as Conchita was at that time, it was almost inconceivable for even a priest to be bad— much less a bishop! For the inhabitants of the primitive villages, the faraway Reverend Bishop had the halo of unquestionable sanctity, far above common human frailty.
8. This saintly priest was obliged by his superiors to keep silent about Garabandal. When insistently asked, he was not reticent in revealing in private his opinion completely favorable to the events considered as a whole.
9. It is undeniable that the Angel said in his message that «Many priests, many bishops and many cardinals are on the road to perdition.» If later it was not put literally like this in the written text, it was due to Conchita believing it more prudent, given the circumstances, to ease the impact of that tremendous denunciation . . . For in considering everything, «they were included with the priests.»
10. During the days on which the message was proclaimed from the heights of Garabandal, I arrived at a region in France where I immediately discovered things that I would not have suspected from Spain . . .
In Paris several months later, the message given in the apparitions at the village of Garabandal in Spain came into my hands. I was then surprised by the clearness with which it seriously pointed out the four most dangerous things that were revolutionizing the Catholic Church:
* The crisis of the priesthood
* The doctrinal and liturgical deviations concerning the Eucharist.
* The progressive loss of every notion of penitential and ascetic life.
* The setting aside of everything that required personal patience, submission, sacrifice, and humiliation for Christ.
At the time, these things could hardly have occurred to a child in Spain; and much less, to one who had no more perspective than that of a little village lost in the Cantabrian Mountains.