IT IS for good reason that I am first focusing on the Garabandal apparitions (1961-1965).
But first, a Garabandal statement from the Blessed Mother that can prod readers not to leave this piece.
On June 18, 1965, visionary Conchita Gonzales saw St. Michael the Archangel to convey to her a message from the Blessed Mother as follows: "Since my message of October 18 has not been complied with and has not been made known to the world, I will tell you that this is the last one. Before, the chalice was filling, now it is overflowing. Many Cardinals, many Bishops and many Priests are on the path of perdition and they take many souls with them. To the Eucharist, there is given less and less importance. We should avoid the wrath of God on us by our good efforts."
Why the Blessed Mother did not convey the message herself, I don't know, but that was among the last words from her before the Garabandal apparitions ended.
Now, why believe Garabandal in the first place? The Catholic church, after all, has not approved the apparitions so far. My previous column briefly answered this question, but here's more.
While the Church ruled that the origin of the Garabandal apparitions have not been established as supernatural, she has not condemned the events.
In an "Official Note" of July 8, 1965, Bishop Eugenio Beitia of Santander -- the diocese containing Garabandal, wrote: "We point out, however, that we have not found anything deserving of ecclesiastical censorship or condemnation either in the doctrine or in the spiritual recommendations that have been publicized as having been addressed to the faithful, for these contain an exhortation to prayer and sacrifice, to Eucharistic devotion, to veneration of Our Lady in traditional praiseworthy ways, and to holy fear of God offended by our sins. They simply repeat the common doctrine of the Church in these matters."
Again, I cite mystics who, in their earthly life, confirmed the supernatural nature of the Garabandal events. Among them were Padre Pio, as I already noted in my past column, plus St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Pope Paul VI, and St. Josemaría Escrivá de Balaguer.
Even more recently was Pope John Paul II who, on July 23, 1988, received among his audience Garabandal visionary Mari Loli Mazon (who was already married with children by then). After being told that Mari Loli was there, the pope, now a saint, exclaimed "Garabandal!" embraced Mari Loli and lifted and kissed her daughter Maria Dolores.
In 1993, John Paul II also gave his blessing to the author of a 1993 book titled Garabandal: Finger of God.
1961, June 18: The story started on this date in a mountain hamlet called San Sebastian de Garabandal, populated at that time by some 300 folk who were largely isolated from much of modernity.
At night that day, four girls were playing on the outskirts of the town -- Conchita Gonzalez, Maria Dolores (Mari-loli) Mazon, Jacinta Gonzalez and Maria Cruz Gonzalez (not related despite having the same name.) Maria Cruz was 11 years old; the others 12.
The children were eating apples they had stolen when all of a sudden, a clap of thunder despite good weather. Suddenly, before them was St. Michael the Archangel, who did not say anything before vanishing. Another day, in the same place, the Archangel again showed up to announce that the Blessed Mother would appear to them on July 2.
The story of Garabandal was to unfold in a series of Marian apparitions that involved events that baffled scientists, nay, defied science. The supernatural exploded outside the realm of created nature.
The Garabandal all later married and raised families although Loli was to die on April 20, 2009 after a lingering illness which she reportedly accepted as "victim soul."
What is interesting is that some of the visionaries said they knew when the Warning and the Miracle would happen, and they would occur in their lifetimes.
They are now in their late 60's. Thus, the implication of when the Warning and the Miracle will happen is clear: they are to happen in our times.
Next: the Warning.