DAILY CATHOLIC for February 25
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no. 40

The Age of Marian Apparitions
INTRODUCTION:       No matter the age, the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart have been imparting the same message: "Pray! Pray! Pray!" A return to God is the priority and why God has sent His messenger - the Mother of God in a special way to convey God's Will, reinforcing Divine Revelation and His Holy Church. It is only through constant prayer, taken as a bouquet in loving, motherly intercession before the Throne of God, that the hearts of mankind will eventually be softened and all her little ones brought into accord with the Will of God. We continue with our feature on Garandal for the fruits of Garabandal's labors, a poor medieval-like farming village in northern Spain, span the centuries and the fruits of its apparitions may well span the corridor of time from the first paradise in the Garden of Eden to a new "spiritual paradise" on earth - the new Era of Peace - the Second Advent - the Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus where men will live in harmony with each other and nature as God willed it from all time. But before this can become a reality, there must be a "purification" to prepare the world for the cleansing that must first take place. This continuing in-depth series on the grace-filled mystical phenomena of Our Lady's appearances through the ages and the meaning of her messages will open eyes and hearts because she is the mother of us all and her words of wisdom and warnings must be taken seriously...very seriously!

installment fifty-seven
The Apparitions at Garabandal       True to St. Michael's word to the young visionaries Mari Loli Mazon, Conchita Gonzalez, Jacinta Gonzales, and Maria-Cruz Gonzalez the Blessed Mother did appear to the four girls around 6 pm on Sunday, July 2 as many had gathered at the "cuadro" - the primitive hewn stone enclosure erected on the spot where St. Michael had appeared to the girls and which had been constructed to prevent the crowds from crushing in on the children while in ecstasy. This area was half way up the hill between the famous clump of pine trees and the village below. In the Blessed Mother’s first visit to the girls, she was flanked by St. Michael and another angel of the same stature. The children were unafraid and launched into a healthy conversation with Our Lady, even causing the Blessed Virgin to chuckle. Yet they were always reverent, but as children are wont to be, very naïve to protocol.

      Though there were many words throughout her visit, Our Lady showed them symbols and pictures to better emphasize the impact of her message. An example of this was the First Formal Message on July 4, 1961 when Mary told them ""he Cup is already filling."" Simultaneously they saw in vision a large chalice with drops of the Precious Blood dripping into the cup. At Our Blessed Mother’s request, the message was not released to the public until October 18 of that year. The message said:

      "We must make many sacrifices, perform much penance and visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently. But first, we must lead good lives. If we do not, a chastisement will befall us. The cup is already filling up and if we do not change, a very great chastisement will come upon us." The Second Formal Message was a follow-up to this one which we will deal with later in this article and which reiterates mankind’s spiritual procrastination - very similar to her message today throughout the world as well as her ongoing communiqués in Medjugorje.

      Just as Father Jozo Zovko wavered in the early going as to whether Our Lady was really appearing before he took the six Yugoslavian visionaries under his wing once he realized the apparitions were of God, so also the local priest Father Valentin Marichalar harbored some doubts at first, then began to believe as he heard the miraculous accounts from the children and their parents as well as witnessing, with others, the girls’ ecstatic trances. Though this seemingly convinced him and many of his companions and villagers that the children were not fabricating their tale, doubts still cropped up from time to time for he, though a priest, was, like all of us, only human.

      Early tests on the visionaries were performed from shining bright lights in their eyes to pricking them with pins to scientific testing and pulse taking. Through it all they didn’t blink. Though there were those who ridicules the girls, there were those who truly believed, especially after they witnessed these ecstatic trances.

      These phenomena were beyond any natural rationalization and Garabandal did indeed have a baffling prodigy to deal with. In a perplexed state, they grappled with the question if the causes were supernatural or preternatural. The former seemed the consensus since during these visions and dialogue, the children underwent a physical change whisked away from this world spiritually and mentally as their bodies were immune to any natural stimuli inflicted upon them.

      Just as the Rosary as a focal point at LaSalette, Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorje, Betania, etc., so also was the Rosary a link for the visionaries at Garabandal. They were praying the beads when St. Michael first appeared to them. It became the ritual prior to every apparition after that. Soon all who gathered at the cuardo recited the Holy Rosary with the visionaries. When Mary appeared, hovering slightly above them, all four girls tilted their heads back simultaneously and fell into an ecstasy that transcends all explanation.

      They described Our Lady when they recounted to reporters that, "She comes wearing a white robe, a blue mantle and a crown of golden stars; her hands are outstretched with a brown scapular, except when she has the infant Jesus in her arms. Her dark chestnut hair is long and parted in the middle. Her face is rather long, with a very dainty nose. Her mouth is very pretty, with slightly full lips. She looks about seventeen and is tallish, and there’s no other voice like hers."

      The Blessed Virgin asked the children that she be venerated as "Our Lady of Mount Carmel of Garabandal." Whenever she appeared the children became oblivious to time spent in heavenly rapture or the surrounding environment. Yet when the mountain breezes blew during the visions, Our Lady’s hair would fall almost in a cascade to her waist and her veil would waft with the wind.

      Also, the children knew when Our Lady would come through inner locutions for she was calling them. This came to be known as a summons or "llamada." Whenever Mary was coming she would call them three times in this manner first. This specific manifestation of beckoning enabled the children to be very patient, whereas their colleagues, villagers and pilgrims showed an impatience at how casually the visionaries would tarry before going to the place of apparitions.

      For the first two weeks in July of 1961 the visions were sporadic, but as time went on Our Lady came more frequently, sometimes several times in one day. Most of the messages she imparted were private, much like the Medjugorje visionaries. Some of these private missives have been divulged by Conchita in her Diaries. In various interviews the other visionaries have revealed more facets of what Our Lady said. The unique feature about the Garabandal apparitions is that there were nearly 2,000 and that Our Lady practically "lived" in the village for two years, constantly communicating with the girls through locution and visions which lasted from June 18, 1961 to November 18, 1965.

NEXT INSTALLMENT: Part Three - Garabandal: For whom the Bells Toll!

To review all past installments of this on-going series, go to Archives beginning with the inaugural A CALL TO PEACE internet issue in January 1996. volume 7, no. 1.

February 25, 1998     volume 9, no. 40
The Age of Marian Apparitions

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