DAILY CATHOLIC WEDNESDAY May 6, 1998 vol. 9, no. 88
THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS
To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE & SECTION TWO
GARABANDAL: For whom the Bells Toll! - Testimony to the Fruits of Garabandal part two
[ We continue the touching testimony by Father Richard Gilsdorf that was printed in Garabandal magazine back in 1990. Following is his account illustrating through word the fruits of Garabandal.]
While the first Message (October 18, 1961) admonishes us to "...visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently," the final Message (June 18, 1965) transmits the heartrending verdict of Heaven: "Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist."
This came at a time when the waning of Eucharist faith with the consequent neglect, doubt, denial, contempt, abuse, and sacrilege had scarcely commenced. For centuries the Church had nurtured a protective hedge around her most precious Treasure, the Eucharist, inestimable donum-the Gift beyond price.
Yet, in the past few chaotic decades, this hedge has been dismantled piece by piece until now the Sacred Species stands exposed to the whims and foibles of everyone. The doctrine of this Mystery of Faith has been all but lost to most of our generation. The practical results: few signs of reverence, let alone of adoration, of what is often casually treated as mere bread and wine, impotent symbols more of secular themes than of sacred realities.
Here the Message in a few words rescued my conscience. The loss of Eucharistic adoration has become a constant and increasing suffering in my priestly life. All pastors are commissioned to be custodians of the Eucharist. I find myself engaged in a daily front-line combat to protect Our Lord and kept my people in their instinctive reverence and faith. I have been blessed with deeply devout people who give me much consolation.
Yet the general atmosphere they often meet elsewhere, and the disedifying example of some visitors, is perplexing to them. The Message itself seems to be negative, but taken as a verdict from Heaven, it has confirmed my own assessment of what is perhaps the gravest threat to Catholic life.
And the Eucharist can never be separated from the priesthood. This is another major motif of Garabandal - deep concern for priests. Conchita remarked that almost every day, Mary spoke of priests. While many priests were agonizing over an "identity crisis," in a remote village, Heaven was proclaiming, in words and deeds, the grandeur and dignity of the priestly character, its true identity.
Mary showed a personal maternal love for all priests because they are her sons, other Christs. I cannot here elaborate on what most readers know so well. I will mention only the fact that the angel distributed Holy Communion to the girls only when the Priest, the ordinary minister, was not in the village. When Conchita, prompted by observers, asked how the angel obtained Hosts, since only priests could consecrate, the angel confirmed that indeed only priests could consecrate. The Hosts were taken from earthly tabernacles.
Mary repeated to the girls that traditionally admonition; if they met a priest and an angel at the same time, they should first reverence the priest.
But after all this, we hear the shocking lines of the final Message: "Many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are on the road to perdition and are taking many souls with them." We can understand the reluctance of Conchita to divulge these words. Had not Mary herself formed the girls in loving reverence for priests?
There was even a pious temporary evasion on Conchita's part. The first version mentioned only "many priests." When the bishop asked her whether this was exactly what the Archangel said, she then added: "Many cardinals, many bishops…" When asked why she had not included this fuller formula, Conchita replied," Aren't they also priests?"
How can we reconcile the contrast? The words of the Message give us the very reason why the sublimity of the priesthood needs to be emphasized and why the faithful must pray fervently for the shepherds of their souls. While the words are so indicting and seem so negative, they rendered a special service to me. I, too, had experienced the reluctance of Conchita. In the early days, I struggled to explain the drift of so many brothers and priests in matters of doctrine and discipline. Was I misjudging after all?
But then the bitter realization; priests were now divided into two groups traveling along two divergent roads. And despite accumulating evidence, it was several years before I could force myself to the fuller truth. Indeed, cardinals and bishops were also priests, and like their priests, they too, were divided on the two roads: allegiance or alienation.
Throughout the apparitions, Mary, Mother of Church, underscored the supreme unifying authority of the papacy. The two roads we have spoken of, in the final analysis, are those of allegiance to the Pope or alienation from him. The Pope is the rock, the keybearer, the vicar, the universal shepherd, and all who dissent, even the highest pastors, are "on the road to perdition..."
It is this defection that is mainly responsible for the phenomenon of confusion which Mary foretold would intensify until the time of the Miracle. When the shepherds are stricken, the flock will be dispersed. The mysterious "countdown" on the recent popes ending with John Paul II, will signal el finale de los tiempos, literally "the end of the times" but variously interpreted. This prophecy does, however, give us consoling notice that the present anarchy will not endure. "There will be a time limit to Satan's illusory triumph.
NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Thirteen - Garabandal: For whom the Bells Toll! The Fruits of Garabandal part three
THE AGE OF MARIAN APPARITIONS