Friday, May 30, 2014

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.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Garabandal continuing to attract the faithful |

Garabandal continuing to attract the faithful |

pilgrims are continuing to journey to Garabandal in northern Spain
fifty years after the alleged Marian apparitions there catapulted the
small village onto the world stage.

Between April and October, pilgrimages fly out from Dublin and though
the Church has never formally recognised the events in San Sebastian de
Garabandal, these pilgrimages include priests and religious as well as
many of the pious faithful.

Read more here:

Monday, May 26, 2014

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.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

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.

Monday, May 19, 2014

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, May 14, 2014

Fr. Ramon Andreu's Notes: Part Three, Post 77 [End of Notes]

Santa María

(letter) February 26, 1962

“From there the rich man of the village is preparing a session of hypnotism and trance—this is abysmal, but if it wasn’t Valle, it was the rich man, I suppose (if he has seen the rich man). This man is coarse to suggest that these four girls, whose actions show delicacy and high spirituality, should be hypnotized. I believe that if the rich man could hypnotize the girls, they would sing “Mexican songs” or other jokes in bad taste.

Santa María

[End of Fr. Ramon's Notes]

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fr. Ramon Andreu's Notes: Part Three, Post 76

(Dr.) C. Ortiz Perez

(letter) February 26, 1962

When I went up the last time, Jacinta told me that she would not see the Virgin again until February 18th, and that is what happened. From this date on, she had an ecstasy every day. She has said that the Virgin announced to Mari Cruz and her that after the 26th, they would only see her on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Cuadro, where she appeared for the first time.

What a strange sickness—to announce this days or months ahead of time. The cerebral disorders of all of the girls present themselves with the following symptoms at a young age: permanent asthma, sleep disturbances, aggressiveness, and irrational and incontrollable anxiety. After 8 consecutive months, they don’t have only these symptoms but also the opposite. I find them happy, and their parents tell me that they sleep soundly. They say that they have sweet characters, and that they continue to be obedient and submissive to their elders. In my estimation, they continue to be as normal as always.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1st 2014 New York Garabandal Center Update

The Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
May 1, 2014 To the Ends of the Earth
Dear Friends,
Today marks one year since the launch of the redesigned, the official website for the Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New York.
In that year, we have welcomed over 40,000 unique visitors from about 150 countries. Views on our YouTube channel Message of Garabandal continue to accumulate and now exceed 50,000 for the online documentaries. With God’s blessing and your help much has been accomplished in the past year towards the furtherance of the global promotion of the Message of Garabandal.
Many years ago, we used to keep a large wall map at the Center with colored pushpins marking the advance of the Message; each envelope opened from a new location would be matched with a pushpin on the map marking the boundaries of our promotion.
Today, Google provides us with the digital version. When a visitor comes to the site, their country on the world map turns blue. It is a wonder and a consolation for us to see the countries and cities light up for Garabandal.
We are astonished by the extremities the Message has reached, the very ends of the earth. From Dunedin on the South Island of New Zealand to the mines of Norilsk in northern Russia, across the continents to Cape Town, South Africa, north over the Mediterranean and Baltic as far as Tromso and Porsanger in Norway, south across the Atlantic to Rio Gallegos in Argentina, north to the frozen outposts near the roof of the world, Igloolik and Yellowknife in Canada and Fairbanks, Alaska on to Hawaii and Fiji with many points in between in a given day, every day without stopping, one day into the next.
We are grateful to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and to Saint Michael the Archangel for obtaining for us the grace to persevere in this holy work and permitting us, after many years sowing, the reward of seeing this abundant harvest rising in real time.
Since we wrote to you last July, we have also said many goodbyes.
In November, Conchita’s husband, Patrick Keena, passed away from cancer. The small church of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal was filled to capacity; the pews and even the choir loft taken by rows of religious and also by many young families. Of the seven priests, the presider from his place before the alter told the congregation he believed Patrick to be a saint. The funeral mass was a joyful requiem for this humble man, a faithful father and husband, a good friend, a gentle patriarch – at the threshold of paradise.
In February, Rachael and Silvio Leonti retired as coordinators of the New York Center. They have been associated with the work of Our Lady of Mount Carmel since the late seventies when Rachael was relieved of debilitating back pain upon venerating Our Lady’s kissed medal.
The last few years have been very difficult for them, now both well into their eighties, and this last hard winter laid the final straw. They have departed for the warmer climate and to the care of their children. We are profoundly grateful for their friendship and for four decades of selfless labor and devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Recently we completed the total distribution of our entire inventory of materials. With the success of the Internet promotion the time has come to wind this facet of the work down. Found in one of the final outgoing batches – the Chaplet of Saint Michael bound for Russia. This was a good way to end our forty five year campaign to promote the Message of Garabandal through the mail.
Remember that during the locution of December 8, 1964, Our Lord spoke to Conchita concerning the conversion of Russia and the Great Miracle saying, “She will also be converted and thus all will love Our Hearts.” These words come back to us as we watch the changing times.
In the past, we have accepted donations to defray the cost of shipping gratis materials around the world. With the closing of the inventory, we will no longer need this assistance and cannot accept it in the future. Thank you for so many years of faithful support.
One last farewell – Many will remember the little yellow house in Lindenhurst which for thirty five years was the very center of the global promotion of the Message of Garabandal. Since 2002, we have used this house mainly for storage – inventory and documents – but the incursions of Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy have left the facility unsuitable for this purpose and it has been sold.
The 1963-64 Anniversary marks a personal half century commitment to Garabandal for Joey Lomangino.
Joey is alive and well, although now stripped of his once extraordinary stamina and memory. Nearly eighty-four, he is no longer able to meet the public but continues to hold fast to the promise of the Great Miracle and his new eyes given for God’s glory. He accepts God’s holy will for his life and passes his time in expiation and quiet prayer. He remembers you and all the Workers in his daily rosaries.
From time to time, rumors may surface about Joey – his health or even his untimely demise. We ask everyone not to become concerned unless we confirm it in writing by an email to our subscriber list sent directly from the official address for the Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in New York
Joey is irreplaceable, our founder and the driving force of this organization. Without him, we could not carry on in good faith and the work would, of necessity, pass to others.
We remain guided by Joey’s directive that the Message of Garabandal be made available gratis to anybody in the world who wishes to know it via the Internet.
Joey believes Garabandal belongs to the entire Church and we must begin to prepare for that singular day when all eyes are opened and our unique mission, which is to advance the Message of Garabandal in these final days before the Great Events, is concluded.
We will keep this email connection open and will use this channel to relay Conchita’s Eight Day Announcement of the Great Miracle.
We look forward to celebrating the final year of the Golden Anniversary in 2015.
Remember, every day, the Morning Offering of Reparation, Mass and Communion, the Rosary, the Scapular and Devotion to Saint Michael.
Please continue to pray and promote.
Live the Message of Garabandal.
In Union of Prayer,
The Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel de Garabandal
Lindenhurst, NY USA
P.O. Box 606, Lindenhurst, NY 11757-0606
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