Garabandal saved my priestly life
I heard about Garabandal in 1966, which saved my priesthood life. Towards the end of the Council and in the first years that followed this historic event, the lethal "spirit of Vatican II" was created.
The Council's letter, its orthodox and genuine interpretation, was quietly put to rest. Few took the trouble to read the documents, the minutes. An entire "new Church", as it was naively called, was conjured up by lecturers and liberating editors. Not only were traditional rituals and forms of devotion declared open to radical change, but the tenets of faith and morals were quickly seen as targets worthy of review and disagreement.
This revolution was experienced more attentively in seminaries and convents. I was an instructor at a seminar during the heyday of this bold new era. I followed the Council eagerly and was elated by its progress and what it promised, but I began to be seduced by the pseudo-spirit that hung over us all.
At this crucial point, in 1966, I read a short story about the apparitions in Garabandal. I asked to be sent the first account by Sanchez-Ventura. It was a special grace, a gift of recognition for Our Lady of Good Counsel. I was sent abroad to develop higher studies on the Scriptures. The need for knowledge became the most urgent in a time of school unrest and systematic demystification. When I returned with my PhD, the seminar was close to dissolution and I was appointed to do pastoral work. Throughout all these years, I have kept myself closely informed of Garabandal's events and messages, "the words and deeds". A memorable day was the visit to my parish by Joey Lomangino.
Against the brief summary I made about the context, I would like to note just a few of the many elements of Garabandal that endured me and that literally "saved" me through years of intense spiritual pain and inner suffering.
As I said, I was extremely excited by the announcement and advances of Vatican II. It was an unexpected joy that such a historic event occurred in my early priesthood. If any designation could have been given to me, it would have been connoted with what was called the "liberal" or "progressive" wing at the time. When I heard about the apparitions in northern Spain in 1966, I was convinced that it was not a coincidence that the years of Mary's "residence" in Garabandal coincided with those of the ecumenical council. The way in which we should interpret this is not easy to assume. Perhaps Garabandal means a comment from Heaven to the Council's minutes, to give believers the key to the true meaning of Vatican II and an antidote to the "spirit" that had quickly spread. Whatever the case, I took this coincidence as a signal to assess the waves of change with the utmost care.
Fatima and Garabandal
I was also convinced that the Message of Garabandal was an updated statement of the Message of Fatima, in interpreting what happened earlier and what will happen in the near future. The fact that these events took place so close to the date of the revelation of Fatima's "third secret" and that they passed with the consequent disillusionment of many who, perhaps confused in their curiosity, anxiously awaited a public revelation, led me to establish a list of Mary's two appearances in our century.
The whole atmosphere of Garabandal's apparitions, as well as the summary of his themes in the final Message, seem to convey what many experts believe to constitute a large part of the Secret of Fatima, namely the crisis within the Church, the serious attack on the Holy Eucharist, the priesthood , the papacy, devotion to Mary and the apostasy that could only have been made possible through a divided hierarchy. In Fatima, Maria warned that Russia would spread its errors around the world. Russia's mistakes were, by definition, an atheistic "dialectical materialism". I realized that, without a political or military conquest, the Church of Western nations had unintentionally succumbed without a struggle to Russia's "mistakes".
The Heart of the Christian Life
The final Message recapitulates the great themes of Garabandal. The Holy Eucharist, the Mystery of Faith, as the epicenter of Mary's Message. As the Council so magnificently declared, this Sacrament is the "source and heart" of all Christian life. During the days and years of her appearances, Mary, directly and indirectly, drew our attention to Her Son's Real Presence. "Why don't you visit my Son more often? He waits for you day and night." The girls' frequent reception of Holy Communion, through the ministry of an angel, crowned by the "milagrucu" of the visible Host, are woven into the pattern as a mystical thread. One of the thousands of amazing episodes touched my heart: that of the firm pride with which the Sacred Host was taken to prisoners, by Faith, during Spanish persecutions. Both the children and the crowd were intrigued when Maria asked to kiss her before everyone else: "She belongs to my son". What a memory of reverence for the holy grail!
While the first Message (18 October 1961) urges us to "... visit the Sacred Sacrament frequently ...", the final message (18 June 1965) conveys Heaven's tearing verdict: "Less and less importance has been given to the Eucharist ". This message came at a time when the decline in faith in the Eucharist had begun to set in, as a result of negligence, doubt, denial, contempt, abuse and sacrilege. For centuries, the Church has nourished the existence of a protective siege around its most precious treasure, the Eucharist, inaestimabile donum, a priceless treasure. However, in the last chaotic decades, this siege has been dismantled, piece by piece, until now the Sacred Species are exposed to everyone's whims and weaknesses. The doctrine of this Mystery of the Faith has been lost to much of our generation. Practical results: fewer visits, less signs of reverence, not to mention adoration for what is often just treated as simple bread and wine, ineffective symbols that have more to do with secular themes than with sacred realities.
Here, the message, in a nutshell, rescued my conscience. The loss of adoration for the Eucharist has become a constant and growing suffering in my priesthood life. Power is given to all pastors to be depositaries of the Eucharist. I found myself involved in a daily struggle to protect Our Lord and maintain my people's instincts of faith and reverence. I have been blessed with deeply devoted people who have given me great consolation.
The Message, by itself, seems to be negative, but taken as a verdict from Heaven confirmed my own assessment of what is perhaps the most serious warning to Catholic life.
The Eucharist can never be separated from the priesthood. This is another major issue for Garabandal - deep concern for priests. Conchita commented that Maria talked about the priests almost every day. While many priests were in agony in an "identity crisis", in a remote village Heaven proclaimed, in words and deeds, the grandeur and dignity of the priesthood, its true identity. Mary showed a motherly love for all priests, because they are her children, other Christs. I do not explore here what most readers know so well. I will only mention the fact that the Angel distributed Holy Communion to the girls only when the parish priest was absent from the village. When Conchita, incited by the observers, asked how the Angel obtained Hosts, since only the priests could consecrate them, the angel confirmed that in fact only they could consecrate them. The Hosts were taken from earthly tabernacles. Maria repeated the traditional warning to the girls: if you find a priest and an angel at the same time, you must first reverence the priest.
After these facts, we heard the shocking words of the final Message: "Many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are on the path of perdition and take many souls with them". Conchita's reluctance to divulge these words can be understood. Wasn't it Mary herself who taught the children to bow to priests? There was some temporary pious evasion in Conchita's intervention. The first version only mentioned "many priests". When the bishop asked her if this was exactly what the Archangel had said, she added: "Many cardinals, many bishops ..." When asked not to include them all, Conchita asked, "Aren't they also priests?"
Two Divergent Paths
How can we reconcile the contrast? The words of the Message give us the reason why the sublimity of the priesthood needs to be emphasized and "why the believer has to pray fervently for the pastors of their souls". Although the words are so indicative and seem so negative, they were especially useful to me. I, too, had felt Conchita's reluctance. In the early days, I endeavored to explain the drift of so many brother priests in matters of doctrine and discipline. Was I, after all, misjudging? Here, then, is the bitter awareness: the priests were now divided into two groups and were moving in divergent directions. And despite the accumulated evidence, it was only a few years later that I ended up accepting the whole truth. In fact, cardinals and bishops were also priests and, like priests, were divided into two paths: fidelity or seclusion.
During the apparitions, Mary, Mother of the Church, underlined the supreme and unifying authority of the papacy. The two paths we talked about are, in a final analysis, those of fidelity or distance from the Pope. The Pope is the rock, the bearer of the key, the vicar, the universal pastor, and all dissidents, even the most important pastors, are "on the road to perdition ...". It is this desertion, responsible, above all, for the phenomenon of confusion, which Maria presaged would intensify until the time of the Miracle. When the shepherds are hit, the flock disperses. The mysterious "final count" of recent popes, which ended with John Paul II, will mark the finale de los tiempos, literally "the end of time", interpreted in different ways. This prophecy, however, brings us the consoling news that the present anarchy will not last. There will be a time limit for Satan's illusory triumph.
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Resultados de tradução
As the crisis intensifies, it becomes increasingly evident that the foundations of the prophecies must be the solution. When nothing on earth can be taken advantage of, then heaven will intervene. And, in all possible ways that the intervention may have, the sequence of the Conditional Warning-Miracle-Punishment seems to better reflect God's mercy and justice.
The Warning, "the correction of the conscience of the world", "an anticipation in the time of our final judgment in eternity", is surely the ultimate appeal of God's mercy. I have often observed the relationship of these events to Sister Faustina's revelation of Divine Mercy.
The great Miracle will be an outpouring of the healing love and purifying mercy of the Heart of Jesus towards those who have responded to the Warning.
Does the Cross of Christ, appearing in the heavens illuminating the Earth, as Sister Faustina predicted, is in any way related to the Miracle?
The crisis of the Eucharist, which later developed, seems to have been anticipated in Garabandal with its emphasis mainly on the Eucharist.