Monday, August 29, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter VI)


The Children in the Normal State
I have studied closely, and at great length, the four children in their normal state, and I possess numerous and interesting motion pictures and photographs. My conclusions are definite: This affair does not in any way involve young girls who are sick or showing abnormal symptoms. I say this in all honesty, referring the reader to various doctors who have performed their profession on the site with impartiality.
I can speak with knowledge of their behavior at home, at the harvest, in the pastures, in the village, during play, on the way to school, at the church, at other places. My camera and my glance followed or caught them everywhere.

They play, run, jump, laugh, like the other young girls of the village. They love innocent jokes, especially Conchita, resembling in that way her mother Aniceta in her youth. However, two things make them markedly different: their retirement at church, even when they pray as rapidly as all the other people; and remarkable modesty. They wear skirts for their age, but always sit with striking reserve. One can never reproach them for the least indiscretion with regard to feminine purity. In this matter, their modesty was pushed to the extreme. They were molded to such virtue by the Virgin herself. It is sufficient to recall the ecstasies to remember how — in postures sometimes surprising to the observers not forewarned — they concerned themselves with the proper placement of their clothes.
The attentions and even the preferences that were shown to her three companions, and especially to Conchita, whom she liked so much to be with, caused — it seems — much harm to Mari Cruz. These gave her an inferiority complex and frustration which still remains. The gifts were for the others and especially for Conchita whom she liked very much. Did not the two of them line up two abreast from the start of the apparitions?
Why did the visitors always act this way with regard to Mari Cruz? Because she had less apparitions than the others? Because she had no more after September 11, 1962, as she still admits now at certain times. For other motives also? One day it will be known.
In any case, I repeat without hesitation: In their day-to-day life, the visionaries were simple, obedient, charitable — especially Mari Cruz who has remained that way — hardworking, humble, pure, worthy of example. If they acquired faults that they did not have at the start, the visitors are responsible; that’s my conviction.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter V)

August 23rd, 1961
Pastor for a Day at Garabandal
The next morning, while leaving the portico after celebrating Mass, I saw Father Valentín about 30 meters away, conversing near a small bridge that, at that time, crossed over a narrow creek. The dear pastor left Father Ramón Andreu and immediately came up to me.
— “By order of the Commission, you must leave the village.”
— “I know that already.” I responded calmly, “And I also know that you and Father Ramón have to leave, too.”
— “No?”
— “Yes. I heard it yesterday night from the mouth of one of your two confreres. Personally, I really regret having to leave, because I had the intention of staying a little longer here. I must say that I really like this place.”
Then Father Valentín rejoined Father Ramón and the two spoke for a few seconds. He returned to me:
— “Listen. We’ve considered something else. I consider it a duty to leave to make a report to the bishop about the events of these last days. Today you will take my place as pastor. Here is the key to the church of Garabandal.”

I was not only very happy to be able to stay another day longer, but before the trust of this priest, who did not know me, I felt a great peace come over my sacerdotal heart. Other impressions both very strong and very gentle — unforgettable — penetrated my soul.
Father Ramón — we also did not know each other — came near. I took the occasion to tell him:
— “Father, I’m disposed to writing directly to the Apostolic Administrator, Bishop Doroteo.”
— “Why?”
— “To inform him of the very poor impression that this Commission has made on me.”
— “I myself was in the church last night with five or six priests from outside the diocese. We saw and heard everything. We talked about the attitude of the Commission after its departure, and even while it was acting. You are right; follow your idea. It appears good to me.”
As I said previously, on returning to Barro, I did what I had planned.
I repeat again: this day of August 23rd, spent as an interim pastor in Garabandal, remains unforgettable for me.
At nightfall, Father Ramón took me aside:
— “Father Valentín is not coming up from Cosío today. However, he brought back from Santander a decision from the bishop: the church door should be kept closed during the children’s ecstasies. No more ecstasies in the church from now on. What are you going to do?”
— “I will obey.”
And so, without expecting it, it was I, a priest from the archdiocese of Oviedo, who for the first and last time closed the door of the house of God to the young girls in ecstasy. Yes, I had to forbid them never to enter when they were seeing the Virgin, the Mother of the Jesus really present in the Tabernacle. This also was part of my unforgettable memories.

Permit me to relate something which seems particularly important. Not only was I an eyewitness, but I participated actively in an event that I can recall as if it were yesterday.
It was still the 23rd of August, 1961. After the recitation of the rosary, as was the custom, the girls fell into ecstasy under the portico. Two by two, they went through the village. In accordance with the decision from Santander, I locked the door behind me, remaining in place, waiting for what would happen. After some time, Loli and Jacinta, in ecstasy, returned to the church to enter it and pray as usual. Suddenly, apparently due to a compelling command received from someone, they stopped — abruptly, I might say — in front of me.
I was then in front of the locked door, my back turned toward it. Loli and Jacinta were in front of me, five meters away, at the entry to the outside portico. They were completely unaware, by human knowledge, of what I had done, since it was known only by the Apostolic Administrator or the Diocese Commission who had given the order, Father Valentín, Father Ramón Andreu and I myself.
Loli began speaking very distinctly and furthermore, not in a the low voice, very low, that the visionaries always had in speaking to their Vision:
— “Why is the church closed to us? . . . But we are not coming to do anything bad . . . Well! If it is not open to us, we will not enter it any more . . . ”
Convinced that they certainly would not hear me, since I was not participating in their ecstasy, I responded nevertheless:
— “You are right my children, but it is necessary to obey . . .”
Loli and Jacinta, still in ecstasy, made a half turn in a docile manner, and I heard one of the persons who accompanied them:
— “Father, you are doing your duty.”
Everyone could observe that from that August 23, 1961, the seers, when they were in ecstasy, never again entered the church, strictly obeying the order from Santander, not knowing whether it came from Bishop Doroteo or the Commission alone. When their ecstatic journey brought them to the church, they went around the walls with those who were accompanying them while singing the Salve Regina or reciting their very stirring rosary. There was a time when they fell violently on their knees, risking breaking them on the threshold of the closed door. Then occurred the exquisite ceremony of the exchange of kisses with the Virgin and the end of the group ecstasy.
Then after this interdiction, Conchita and Loli, in ecstasy, never received Holy Communion in the church from the hand of the angel. He gave It to them under the portico.
I stayed another day, the third, at Garabandal. The hours didn’t just pass; I felt they flew.
After that Garabandal has always revived my spirits. At that time it was most unexpected and sudden as lightening in the sky.
Also after that I used all the opportunities that presented themselves to go up again to that cherished little village where I have passed, where I still pass, the best days of my priestly life.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter IV)

View of the parochial church in San Sebastián ...Image via Wikipedia


Continuation of August 22nd, 1961

The Diocesan Commission

On this night of August 22nd, 1961, several members of the Diocesan Commission had gone up to Garabandal, completely incognito. I was not aware of them, and it was only later that I learned their names. There were at least two clergy, a doctor anesthetist — not a psychiatrist as has been said mockingly — and an amateur photographer.

We are going to see them “operate,” I might say, and hear them also. And I do not hesitate to express my opinion, in stating clearly that it is absolutely objective since it was mine at the time of the facts, although I was completely unaware of the identity and especially the character of those involved.

They came into the church at the same time that the children were in ecstasy in front of the crowd.

One of them, a layman, (I was to learn that he was a doctor of anesthesiology, Dr. Pinal) without further ado, said in a very loud voice:

— “So, the comedy is continuing?”

At that very moment, kneeling in front of me, Dr. Celestino Ortiz, a distinguished pediatrician from Santander who had followed the matter from the beginning, was taking Conchita’s pulse. He wanted to see if the seer’s running through the village had changed the heartbeat more than at other times. Without raising his head, and continuing his important examination, Dr. Ortiz responded tartly:

— “If there’s a comedian here, it has to be you. The sanctuary of a church is not the place to speak like this, and still less in public.”

His work finished, Dr. Ortiz got up and the two doctors recognized each other.
— “Oh, it’s you Piñal?”
— “Ortiz, we must discuss some things in the sacristy.”
— “In the sacristy, agreed. There you can tell me what you think is proper.”
And the two doctors left the sanctuary.
And so on that day the medical study of the ecstasies by the doctor of the Commission ended. As I see it, I am inclined to think that the scientific work was finished before it began… How different from the professional conscientiousness of Dr. Ortiz, a prominent pediatrician, who I had just seen on his knees next to Conchita, whispering:
— “There are no more pulses than in the normal state.”
Now I understand the trust that everyone gives to his medical observations and his conclusions with regard to the apparitions.
Let us proceed, very objectively also, to the attitude of the two priests of whom, may I be allowed to insist, I knew neither the names nor the functions.
The first went up to the sanctuary. His back turned to the Blessed Sacrament, the visionaries at his feet in ecstasy, facing the crowd, in a loud voice, he resolved the problem in a definitive manner:
— “Whatever happens, I don’t believe in this.”
The second, also in the sanctuary, was speaking with a layman and telling him:
— “I have taught philosophy for five years and theology for ten!”
Undoubtedly he wished to convince the person with whom he was speaking that he had the knowledge necessary to be entitled to express his agreement with the incredible words of his comrade and colleague of the Commission. To myself I thought, “What kind of philosophy? What kind of theology? Had he also been by chance a professor, for example, in ascetic and mystic theology, the only one competent on that evening?”
The second priest retired and his companion greeted me with these words:
— “I am the photographer.”

&#— “Professional?”
— “No, not professional, amateur.”
My heart jumped since I use a camera and know something about it.
— “Oh, your camera’s automatic, with a flash and loaded with color film?”
— “Yes,” he answered.
— “Look then. You are going to miss a gorgeous picture! Look at Jacinta and Loli on their knees on the altar step. What grace, what an extraordinary pose!”
— “Father, I have finished my work, I’ve taken the pictures that are necessary.”
— “Really!”
— “Certainly.”
If I would have known then that this was the photographer from the Commission, perhaps I would have lost the interior composure that the circumstances required. Why? Because I would have had the same conviction that I have today. The Commission should have been accompanied by a professional photographer to take all the pictures that were important, useful, from all possible angles. How else could the study be objective, honest, and complete?
Today I am glad to have been unaware on that evening of the identity and the mission of the four persons who remain present in my memory, as if I were still in the sanctuary of the church at Garabandal.
What did I think at the time?
— Was the layman from Santander proclaiming the comedy a doctor?
And Ortiz then?
— The abrupt and closed judgment of the first priest?
It was inconceivable. It smacked of prejudice and the ridiculous.
— The second priest?
Was he conceited or worse?
— The photographer?
He surely did not know his trade or like it.
— My conclusion?
I was not in agreement, and I held my own personal opinion.
I stayed in the church until 11 o’clock, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. I prayed, I reflected, and I also listened very attentively from my place to all that I could hear. This was not difficult, since everything was said in a loud voice and nothing appeared to be secret.
It was then that I understood perfectly, for example, pronouncements from the mouth of one of the two priests:
— “We are going to close the church to this cult.”
— “We will give Father Valentín a month’s vacation. Since he is so upset now, he will gladly accept.”
— “We will give the Jesuit priest, (Father Ramón Andreu) the order to leave.”
— “We will forbid priests to come up to the village.”
— “And if this comes from God, it will make its own way.”
“Really!” I said to myself, “This is a fine way of proceeding and acting, when studying such important events! Is Pilate being resurrected? In any case, this is a new Praetorium and once again the washing of hands...”
During this time, the Bishop of Santander, would have thought his delegates were working at Garabandal as true men of the church, as true doctors, and as a real photographer should work with professional and religious conscientiousness. The various “Notas” have been dictated, relying on these disputable foundations, and I have every reason to believe no other more serious, more solid efforts have been made. The visionaries have told me many times:
— “The Commission came up here very seldom; it never concerned itself with us. It questioned only some persons from the village chosen from those who didn’t believe in the apparitions or doubted them.”
I did not think that these gentlemen were concerned with me personally. I was wrong. Exactly at 11 PM, Father Valentín came up to me:
— “The Commission has ordered me to tell you that it is time for you to leave the church.”
A slight consolation, nevertheless: at the door, two policemen, placed there to keep order in case they were needed, greeted me with a friendly smile.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, August 22, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter III)

August 22nd, 1961

My first visit to Garabandal was the consequence of a casual conversation with the Cure of San Claudio at Leon, Father Manuel Anton. He was taking his vacation at Barro where I had recently taken charge of the parish. He spoke to me about events which were taking place in a diocese near to Santander, 57 kilometers from my place. He told me that apparitions had started on the previous June 18, less than two months before my arrival at Barro on the following August 10. I questioned him briefly and the interview aroused my curiosity.
I set out with my father on a motorcycle on August 22, led on, I admit, by curiosity. As we were coming from Barro it was necessary to go up and descend until reaching Cosío, and from there climb 600 meters higher by a very bad road. At the last turn on this difficult climb Garabandal appeared, a little village of 270 people, humble, very plain, isolated to itself, but charming. In front of us, above the houses , about 200 meters higher, was a grove of 9 pine trees on the first ramp of the mountains. On the horizon at the left was Pena Sagra; we were on the foothills of the Picos de Europa.
My first question was not long in coming. “When will the apparitions take place?” Someone answered me, “Father, these strange happenings begin at nightfall. After the recitation of the rosary in the church, the children usually fall into ecstasy under the church portico.”
We had to stay longer than we thought since the motorcycle which had brought the two of us, worn down after Cosío, did not want to go on. My father, who had an appointment with his doctor on the following day at Oviedo, therefore left alone by taxi. I learned later of happenings on the trip that were truly providential.
While waiting for the rosary, I familiarized myself with the winding and rocky little alleys, talking with a priest from Burgos and observing the visionaries from afar. “Three of them are 12 years of age,” my companion said, “The fourth is 11; but all of them appear to have the education of 7 year old children from our cities.”
The first one that I encountered was Loli. She was running around a jeep parked in front of the door of the house where she lived. Afterwards Mari Cruz and Conchita, who were accustomed to go out together. Jacinta, I did not see until the evening while in ecstasy.
I took some photographs of Mari Cruz and Loli which I carefully keep with many others. Around the neck they wore rosaries and chains with medals. Some one informed me, “During their ecstasies they give them to the Vision to kiss. They belong to persons gathered in the village, brought there by curiosity or simple faith.”
“At the beginning,” someone added, “They presented — for the Vision to kiss — little stones which they had picked up from the streets and which they later gave to those around them. You won’t see them present these little stones anymore, for the visionaries have now gone on to religious articles.”
At nightfall, on this August 22, 1961, I returned to the church near the altar of the Blessed Sacrament in the sanctuary.
It seemed simple and welcoming to me, this small church of the mountain, dedicated to St. Sebastian, whose feast the parishioners had obtained permission to celebrate in the summer, following a solemn procession, on the 18th of July.

In the middle of the retable, above and behind the tabernacle, is the statue of the glorious martyr, commander of the Praetorian Guard of the Emperor Diocletien. On each side on a pedestal is a large statue: the one is the Sacred Heart of Jesus; the other is the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
At the entry to the church, at the right, is the altar of the Immaculate Conception. The Virgin wears a white robe and a blue mantle, which has led someone to say that this statue influenced the girls before the apparitions began. This proves that whoever said it was completely unaware of how our Lady of Mount Carmel was dressed when she appeared to St. Simon Stock in 1251, more than 700 years ago. On the other side of the church, the gospel side, there is another altar with a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. This time — to refute completely the argument — clothed all in brown. In a dark chapel in the back of the church, behind grates, is the baptismal font.
There is a choir loft, filled with men on Sundays. The entrance is on the left side of the church. A massive tower, with bells sounding in all directions, is climbed from outside by an attached stone stairway under an overhang on the right side of the entrance. Under the portico roof is a stone bench where the pastor at the time, Father Valentín Marichalar, had the habit of sitting with his parishioners to chat a little before the services.
Now I return to my first entrance into the church. I deliberately chose the first step in the sanctuary on the left side of the altar, reflecting, “If this is from God, it is here I will see the most important things.” To a woman who had come up to the village for the first time like myself, I told my feelings. And that is what happened.
I prayed with devotion and implored Our Lord to soon clarify the meaning of these events. It was not to be that way on that 22nd of August, 1961. His judgments are different from those of men, and especially my own, because He knows in advance the best way to act and the hour to be awaited. We have already mentioned that He alone can write straight with curved lines.
On that day, as if by chance, in Garabandal were five priests from Asturias of my archdiocese of Llanes and a canon from our cathedral of Oviedo. With them was a Jesuit priest who several months later was to become one of my best friends: Father Ramón Maria Andreu Rodamillans.

The holy rosary was recited, led by Father Andreu, since he was a Jesuit religious. Before beginning he spoke some words from the foot of the altar. “These happenings are worthy of attention.” he said, “Here is a field of study for theologians, mystics, psychologists, psychiatrists, medical doctors.” However he did not speak in public of the supernatural.Contrary to what was falsely reported, the word was never used.
The rosary finished and the people having left the church, muffled noises could be heard outside and a voice that was repeating, “The children are already in ecstasy.”

The pastor, Father Valentín, came up to me to ask me to close the church in order to prevent the spectators from re-entering when the children came back. “It is not possible,” he explained, “To repeat what happened on the previous days. There was such a crowd that the people climbed up on the pulpit, on top of the pews, breaking everything. They seemed to have little respect for the holy place where they were.”
I was not enthusiastic about doing what he told me, for I felt that it was impossible to control such a numerous and curious crowd. I told him so frankly. He retorted sharply, “But they’ll respect your decision better than mine. Do it.”
Arriving in ecstasy at the church, Mari Cruz tripped over the doorway and fell inside near the altar of the Immaculate Conception. The other three, also in ecstasy, fell on top of her, and formed with her a human sculptural tableau of admirable elegance. I am not able to describe it because of its incredible harmony and inexpressible splendor. Nor could I describe my astonishment. In spite of the sudden fall and the unexpected position that resulted, the girls’ clothes remained in their walking position, and their dresses covered even their knees. To the splendor and harmony of the picture was added the most exquisite Christian modesty.

Getting up without assistance and gracefulness, raised up as if by an interior force, the children left the church and made their way through the village still in ecstasy.
On my part, I returned to the altar slowly, having only one concern: to pray interiorly to the Blessed Sacrament and ask Him with insistence to enlighten the Bishop of Santander and those who were charged with studying such activities.
Several times the children returned to the church two by two: Conchita and Mari Cruz; Jacinta and Loli. They came to place themselves close to me on the first step of the altar. I had only to turn my head slightly, to see perfectly the unfolding of these phenomenon, mystical at first glance. They prayed with fervor and with a hushed voice in front of the tabernacle. All their appearance was of admirable beauty, the head tilted backwards, the face transparent, as if lit up from the interior by a light which would have been dazzling had it not been tempered by a beautiful softness.

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter II)

Bishop Puchol Montis
Sacerdotal Obedience
It appears important for me to present the moral justification of my trips to Garabandal, in spite of “Notas” forbidding it and repeated warnings from the Bishop of Santander.
On August 23, 1961 I wrote to the Apostolic Administrator of the diocese which is not mine, Bishop Doroteo Fernandez of the Diocese of Garabandal itself, at a time when there was still no “Nota” on this matter. In loyalty I wanted to make him aware of my feelings about those who were said to be members of the Diocesan Commission, which I had just met in the village at the time of my first visit. (I will speak later about this meeting, which I consider very important.)
In essence, I said two things to Bishop Fernandez:
1. That I could not commend this Commission.
2. That in my opinion it should be changed.
Shortly after the first “Nota” from Santander, dated August 26, 1961, I wrote two other letters: one to my own bishop, the Archbishop of Oviedo, my diocese, Monsignor Segundo Sierra Mendez, the other to the Apostolic Administrator of Santander just mentioned. I requested from each of them permission to make a 10 day retreat: “at a place that appeared to me to be very suitable for recollection, namely Garabandal itself.” At the same time, I expressed clearly the desire to be able to study the ecstasies carefully and on location.
My own archbishop did not answer. On the contrary, Bishop Doroteo did answer to acknowledge receipt of my previous letter of August 23.
He wrote me the following: 1.“You are aware through the press that the presence of priests is not desirable at Garabandal. As a consequence, I cannot give you written authorization.” 2. “The prohibition made in the “Nota” (of August 26, 1961) is not formal.” 3. “I thank you for your letter of August 23 and the evaluation that it gives me on the Commission.”
Concealed in a way, the words appeared clear to me: They gave me a way out, an exit, and I understood that I could use the opportunities that I had at hand.
Besides the occasions that presented themselves sporadically, but rather frequently, I went up to the village each summer for 10-15 days.
Prior to going, I would write the bishop then in charge at Santander, to notify him of my plans and to list the dates. I would add, each time, “Excellency, if you forbid me, let me know. If you permit me, it is not necessary to inform me.” I never received a negative response.
One year, not having time to write Bishop Beotia in adequate time, I called him directly by telephone.
“You can go up to Garabandal as often as you want,” he answered me, “But understand clearly that you, the priests that go up there frequently, should refrain from giving public testimony on these events.”
During the reign of Bishop Puchol, (may he rest in peace), I did not think it opportune to ask permission. I went up the road from Cosío to the village, but I did not enter the village itself. I did not cross the boundaries until after that “Nota” of March 17, 1967 which everyone knows about.
Did not the “Nota” say that everything could be explained naturally, that everything was only “an innocent game of children”? It affirmed that “nothing at all” had happened at Garabandal. Since it was like this, the prohibition obviously lacked all jurisdictional basis.
After that, I went up frequently to the place, even to the present time.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Chapter I)

PICTURE: Father Jose Ramon contributing his
"very little" in helping with the work of harvesting.


Opening Statements and the Contradictions
I am very familiar with the apparitions of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and St. Michael the Archangel in the small village of St. Sebastian de Garabandal, in the province and diocese of Santander.
I was a witness by eye, by ear also, of approximately 200 ecstasies. I heard the thoughts of the visionaries during the time of their tests, which followed the period of their absolute certainty. I have kept many letters that they wrote to me, especially at the beginning of the events. What I’ve seen, heard, and sometimes touched with my own hands, I now give public testimony with the humble and devout loyalty of a priest.
It is a well-known truth that God has His time and His affairs with men, even though in reality even when using them, God Himself does everything. At Garabandal, the work of God is clearly visible if one gives attention above all to the totality of the events and the persons who are involved in them. The events follow one after the other; human beings reveal their true — character and allow us to observe their special roles. Everything and everyone involved accomplish a divine work in a manner complex and at the same time simple.
I might say that God acts, as in a marionette theatre, not to entertain, but to instruct and teach us. He directs the marionettes according to a plot He has designed, and He manipulates them according to His pleasure, depending on their submission. At times, or even frequently, men refuse to play their parts, obstruct or disturb the plot, with or without malice. Fortunately, it is always true that Providence writes straight with curved lines to portray the works of men and especially those of God.
These recollections encompass the eight years from 1961 to 1968. And so they embraced a period after 1966 — the period of the visionaries tests in regard to the truth of their apparitions. I am not going to speak at length about this, but I want to say some words here to show that God has not changed his way of writing the story of man.
In 1961, two months after the events started, the young girls in ecstasy said to the Virgin, whom they were seeing, to whom they were speaking: “How could we say one day that we have not seen you, since we are seeing you?” That was plain and logical.
Then would come the time of denials, or to be more accurate, the time of contradictions. It appears that even at the periods of their return to certainty, mysterious darkness still tortured them, in spite of their apparent peace. I have written “the time of contradictions” for at least as far as Conchita, Loli, and Jacinta are concerned — examining their answers carefully — there has never been a question of definite, absolute denial.
Who could understand this test without referring it to the mystery of Providence?
Especially if one considers what I am going to add by way of example, staying within the limits of my knowledge of the subject.
In the middle of the period of denials, or rather “contradictions” Conchita was staying in her school at Burgos and Loli in her school at Balmori, my district. Father Morelos, a priest who was Mexican and therefore spoke their language, presented to each one a picture of our Lady of Garabandal painted by an artist from his country named Octavio. Separated the one from the other by many kilometers, their response was identical. “This picture does not look like the One we saw. Our Lady does not have a crown resting on her head like this one, but a diadem of 12 stars forming a circle behind her head, starting at the bottom of her ears. She did not have her head bowed. Her hair fell on her shoulders. She did not have a waistband. On her right wrist, she carried a scapular in the form of a maniple; the bands of this were longer than those of your picture. On one side there was a mountain; on the other side a cross.”
I was present at the conversation in Balmori. When she finished, I asked the visionary a question: “Did you see her, yes or no?” She blushed and with a smile that was both embarrassed and exquisite, she answered as usual, “Well! At least that is who we say we have seen!”
That was in 1967.
One year later, on the evening of August 18, 1968, I was in Garabandal. I read a letter dated on that day which Conchita had written to a woman from Santander, in which she gave her opinion about a picture of the Virgin painted by a foreign artist. “No,” she said. “I don’t like the Infant Jesus at all. He does not resemble Him in anything. His eyes were dark brown in color. His face was not so round. His arms were more outstretched and pointing downwards.”
With regard to the Virgin, she noted: “I like her better than the one painted at Barcelona. Her face is more human and true to life, although one can never paint the Virgin the way she really is.”
At that time, if I would have asked Conchita the same question as Loli in Balmori, would I have received the same answer? It is quite possible.
I leave these matters to whomever (in the face of the apparent contradictions of the visionaries) would want to make an extensive study of the events of Garabandal.
In addition, with the sole purpose of filling in spaces in the other reports and writings, I am going to recount simply, by pen, what I have seen, what I have heard, what I have been able to testify to, having observed these things during my numerous and frequent trips to the village.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Memoirs of a Spanish Country Priest (Introduction)

(Visits to Garabandal from 1961 to 1968)
FATHER JOSÉ RAMÓN GARCÍA DE LA RIVATranslated from the French and Spanish
Recollections from approximately 200 Apparitions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and
St. Michael the Archangel which I witnessed at San Sebastián de Garabandal
N.B. At the request of the Holy See, this book in its first edition in the French language, was sent by the author in May, 1971, to the Archbishop of Oviedo to be forwarded to the Nonciature at Madrid and from there to the Sacred Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith.
With all the love of a Spanish priest for his friends of the English language.
Also with the desire that the events of Garabandal be made known.
Signed, José R. de la Riva
Barro, June 18th, 1980

We thank Father José Ramón for the kind authorization he has given us,
signed on June 18th, 1980 (the anniversary of the first apparition of St. Michael)
to translate his book Memorias into English.
St. Joseph Foundation of Los Angeles

Profession of Catholic faith
I make no pretense of substituting myself for our Holy Mother, the Catholic Church. Everything that I report here, I offer with filial submission to her judgment, and I submit myself in advance to her final decision.
Father José Ramón García de la Riva
Pastor of the parish of Our Lady of Sorrows
Barro (Llanes), Asturias, Spain
* * *
We state here that we have not found any reason for ecclesiastical censure with regard to condemning either the doctrine or the spiritual recommendations that have been promulgated because of the events of Garabandal in so far as they are directed to faithful Christians. On the contrary, they contain exhortations to prayer and sacrifice, to Eucharistic worship, to devotion to Our Lady under traditional praiseworthy forms, and to the holy fear of God offended by our sins. They simply repeat ordinary Church doctrine in these matters. We recognize the good faith and religious fervor of the persons who go up to San Sebastian de Garabandal, and who merit the greatest respect.
Santander, July 8, 1965
Apostolic Bishop,
Administrator of Santander

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Garabandal et Notre Dame du Mont Carmel [French Video]

Why We Need Marian Apparitions - IndiaMariae

Why We Need Marian Apparitions - IndiaMariae

By Rev. Bernard M. Geiger, O.F.M.Conv.

EVERY NOW and again when the subject of Mary’s apparitions comes up, someone will announce smugly or even impatiently. “My faith doesn’t depend on that! I don’t need visions, revelations and miracles in order to believe! They don’t add anything new to what God has already told us anyway. Who needs them?”

  • Reasons why we need Marian apparition
  • Fruits of Marian apparition
  • Its efficacy in evangelization
True enough, we don’t need Mary’s apparitions to tell us something new about God or our relationship with him. Divine, public Revelation, which was complete at the death of St. John the Apostle, contains all the Divine Mysteries God has ever revealed or intends to reveal.
We do, however, need apparitions and private revelations for other reasons. The Bible itself indicates this when it lists prophecy as one of the gifts of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. “In fact, it was (Jesus) himself who by his gifts made some apostles and some prophets; others in deed evangelists and others shepherds and teachers, in order to equip his holy ones for the work of the ministry, the building up of the Body of Christ” (Eph. 4, 11; cf. also I Cor. 12, 7-1 1).
To say we don’t need the apparitions of Mary when Jesus himself sends her to us is arrogant and ungrateful, to say the least. It’s also stupid. Do we know better than Jesus what we need? It’s up to the apostles and their successors, of course, to judge whether a claimed apparition or prophet is authentic or not, and worthy of belief, as St. Paul himself indicates.
But when you contemplate what the Bible and Sacred, Spirit-guided Tradition tells us about Mary and her role, you should really be surprised if she did not appear in our midst at least occasionally. If she is the Immaculate Conception, the Virgin Mother of God, the New Eve, the Mother of the Church assumed body and soul into the glory of Heaven, what else would you expect?
The apparitions of Mary serve to build up the Church, the Body of Christ. They do this in four ways at least. First, they are signs of Mary’s powerful presence and continuing fruitfulness in the pilgrim Church on earth.
Quotationthey are signs of Mary’s powerful presence and continuing fruitfulness in the pilgrim Church on earth.Quotation
Second, they are instruments of that fruitfulness. Third, they are God’s promise to make the Church similarly fruitful. Fourth, God uses them as instruments to fulfill that promise.
As signs of Mary’s powerful presence and continuing fruitfulness in our midst, Mary’s apparitions renew our faith in God’s goodness and care for us. They are always accompanied by miracles, prodigies, prophecies, motherly warnings and promises of help and protection.
In Mexico in 1531, for instance, she left a miraculous image of herself which she named, “The Entirely Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary Tequatlasupe” (that last word was changed by the Spaniards to “de Guadalupe”). Tequatlasupe means “She crushes the stone serpent,” referring to the Aztecs’ debased worship of their feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl which demanded the sacrifice of thousands of human beings yearly and the eating of their flesh.
She also asked that a temple be built for her, where she could show and offer all her love, compassion, aid and protection to all who dwell in our land and who would love and invoke her. In Paris in 1 830, she gave the design of a medal depicting her Immaculate Conception as a constant and present blessing for all mankind, and promised that every one wearing the medal, especially around the neck, would receive great graces. At Lourdes, she also asked for a temple, for similar purposes; insisted on the Rosary, and left a miraculous fountain of healing waters for people to wash in.
And so on. In each apparition she establishes tangible signs and witnesses of her constant presence, action and power in our midst, and of her admonitions and promises to us. Since she wouldn’t do this if she couldn’t deliver on her promises, these apparitions are powerful signs of her firm commitment to continuing fruitfulness in our midst.
As instruments of Mary’s presence and fruitfulness, her apparitions give us joy and hope. Thus, through her miraculous image constantly being explained by Juan Diego, her chosen emissary, and by other clergy and lay apostles, and by her temple where she kept her promise to hear and help all who came to her, she initiated and directed the evangelization of eight million Aztecs and other central American Indians in seven years, more than offsetting the splitting away of some seven million Catholics from the Church in Europe through the Protestant Reformation. It was a tremendous boost and encouragement to the Church in one of its darkest periods.

No Sinner a Lost Cause

Mary’s conversion of Bruno Cornacchiola, a rabid enemy of the Church in Rome in 1947, at the Grotto of Tre Fontane on the outskirts of Rome, encourages us now in an era of ferocious enemies of the Church that Mary still converts such persons and turns them into zealous apostles. No sinner is a lost cause.
Similar fruits have resulted from her other apparitions. Wherever Mary appears or manifests her presence, sinners and unbelievers are converted, saints begin to develop, the work of evangelization appears and grows strong, the unity and harmony of the Church are strengthened,
QuotationWherever Mary appears or manifests her presence, sinners and unbelievers are converted, saints begin to develop, the work of evangelization appears and grows strong, the unity and harmony of the Church are strengthened,Quotation
difficulties and opposition are overcome, and sufferers are consoled, strengthened and often freed of their suffering.
How are Mary’s apparitions a promise from God to make the Church fruitful too? That’s easy! By calling our attention to the stunning fruitfulness of Mary shown in her apparitions, the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are reminding us of what Jesus proclaimed in John’s Gospel, chapter 1 5: “Every branch in me that bears fruit my Father purifies that it may bear more fruit. . If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit... You have not chosen me, I have chosen you and formed you that you might go forth and bear much fruit and that your fruit might remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he would give you” (Jn. 15, 2. 7-8).
If Mary is so fruitful, and if the fruitfulness revealed by her apparitions is only the tip of the iceberg, then her ongoing, overflowing, never ending, always increasing, runaway, out of sight fruitfulness now is due to the constant purification the Father subjected her to during her earthly life. It is due to her unspeakably perfect, never failing mystical union with her Son and to his free choice and power in making her so fruitful, and to the Holy Spirit who joined her to Christ and brought her all his gifts.
It is due finally to her own faith in God’s goodness and promises, to her own ardent, unceasing, unyielding prayer for everything she could possibly ask for the Father’s glory, the coming of his kingdom, and the fulfillment of his will in all its limitless details.
In short, Mary’s apparitions must be seen in the context of the Gospel. In that context they cannot help but remind us that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have chosen us, too, to go forth and bear fruit, and that we will do so if we seek purification from the Father, mystical union with the Son, and understanding and fulfillment of the Son’s words and promises in the Holy Spirit.
Finally, the apparitions are the Father’s instrument to make the Church fruitful. Through them the Father answers the prayer of Jesus at the Last Supper: “that all may be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, that they too may be one in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17, 20-2 1).
That is, the Father uses the apparitions to draw us into union with Mary, first of all, just as he drew the apostles and disciples into union with her in the days before Pentecost (Acts 1, 14). In this union, we enter into Mary’s mind, heart and life, and she into ours, so that we begin to share all her thoughts, mental images and attitudes, all her marvelous gifts, virtues and fruits, just as the Father and the Son are in each other and share all things in the Holy Spirit (Cf. Jn. 17, 10).
This union with Mary is brought about by the Holy Spirit as we listen to and contemplate the Scriptures, the Sacred, Spirit-Guided Tradition and her apparitions, and as we accept what they tell us and act on it. When that happens, we become instruments and sharers in Mary’s own awesome fruitfulness.
The purpose of the M.I. and (the Mission of the Immaculate Mediatrix - MIM) is evangelization that is, the true interior conversion and growth in holiness, the real, inner transformation of every human being and moral entity, and of all culture and society, into the adopted offspring of God, and into the culture and society of his kingdom, by the power of the Gospel. Its particular purpose is to bear witness to Mary’s role in this, and to work for the full implementation of her role in every legitimate way.
Mary’s apparitions demonstrate her role in evangelization in a striking, irrefutable way. They show her doing it, they show her irresistible effectiveness in it, and they show graphically that she is in charge.
They do not, of course, take the place of Divine Revelation --. either Sacred Scripture or Sacred, Holy Spirit-guided Tradition. It’s only from Scripture and Tradition that we can discover and demonstrate with certainty that God indeed gave Mary a central role in evangelization alongside her Son. Without the witness of Scripture and Tradition, Marian apparitions are really an enigma, their meaning an insoluble mystery.
But once we have discovered Mary’s mission set forth in Divine Revelation, her apparitions are not at all surprising. On the contrary, they are a logical consequence, even a practical necessity. If Mary didn’t show herself active in our midst, we might come to doubt her mission, or at least to be unaware of it, as we are unaware of so many things in Divine Revelation.