THAT I picked an outwardly unattractive publication in the mound of bargain books in a store could have been providential. One book titled Garabandal, with an indistinguishable something for its yellowish cover and cheap brown paper pages, was somewhere half buried in the pile, but I mysteriously picked it up and decided to buy it after having read in it a phrase indicating it was all about an apparition of the Blessed Mother.
Another time under similar circumstances in the same bookstore, I noticed three workbook-size publications in another bargain mound, each with different covers but all titled Poem of the Man-God. Browsing through the inexpensive brown pages, I learned they were all about the writings of one Maria Valtorta. I bought all three publications which turned out to be among the most stupendous ever. Thus was boosted my interest in mystic phenomena in our times.
Even in those wretched days of mine so many years ago, I started to write about Catholic mystics, nay, the messages they have been receiving, mostly with urgent tones calling for response primarily from Catholics and through them, from all mankind.
What I now refer to as my mission began thus.
(But some apologies first for last column's typo on a date. The piece said Pope Benedict XVI resigned in 2017 which, of course, is wrong. He resigned in 2013. Getting old has its downs.)
And so let me go back to the Garabandal apparitions in the 1960's, one of the most documented and scientifically well studied Marian apparitions (perhaps next only to Medjugorje) and which were explicitly declared as authentic by no less than Padre Pio and Mother Teresa of Calcutta, both now saints.
Except for Mari Loli who passed on as "victim soul" in 2009, the other visionaries- Conchita, Jacinta, and Mari-Cruz- are all living and married with children.
I am repeating here some of the important messages conveyed in Garabandal, as they are most relevant to our days.
The Blessed Mother's message on October 18, 1961: "Many SACRIFICES must be made... Much penance must be done... We must pay many visits to the Blessed Sacrament... But first of all we must be very good... Already the Cup is Filling, and if we do not change we shall be punished."
On June 19, 1962, visionary Jacinta said: "Loli and I were in the calleja (place near the first apparition) and She (Blessed Mother) told us a message for the whole world and it is this: The Virgin has said to us that we are not awaiting the chastisement (because we are disregarding Her First Message by the way we live)...But without awaiting it, it will come because the world has not changed... and now with this (Message) She has said it twice and we do not heed Her because the world is worse and must change much but has not changed at all. Prepare yourselves and confess for the chastisement will come soon. The world continues the same and I think that the world has not changed at all.
In her last year of apparition in Garabandal in 1965, the Blessed Mother warned on June 18: "Since my Message of October 18, 1961 has not been complied with and has not been made much 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 will take many would with them. The Eucharist is being given less and less importance. We should avoid the Wrath of God on us by our good efforts. If you ask pardon with your sincere soul God will pardon you. It is I, Your Mother, who through the intercession of St. Michael, wish to say that you amend, that you are already in the last warnings and that I love you much and do not want your condemnation. Ask us sincerely and we will give to you. You should sacrifice more. Think of the Passion of Jesus."
Only last year, on March 12 amid the Covid-19 pandemic, visionary Conchita gave the following message: "God is detaching us from the securities of this world. In the silence of the church or in our house, we are now able to make an examination of conscience so we can clean what prevents us from hearing the Voice of God clearly."
Conchita, as well as the other visionaries, were interviewed many times during and after the apparitions. In one interview, Conchita was asked about the chastisement that would befall mankind if not enough conversion is done.
Conchita said: "[The Chastisement] was horrible to see. We were really frightened, and I know of no words that could explain it. We saw rivers change into blood.... Fire fell from the sky.... And something much worse still, which I'm not able to [talk about] now... She showed us how the great Chastisement for all mankind would come, and that it would come directly from God. At a certain moment, not a single motor or machine would function; a terrible heat wave will strike the earth and men will begin to feel a great thirst. In desperation they will seek water, but this will evaporate from the heat. Then almost everyone will despair and they will seek to kill one another. But they will lose their strength and fall to the ground. Then it will be understood that it is God alone Who has permitted this. Then we saw a crowd in the midst of flames. The people ran to hurl themselves into the lakes and seas. But the water seemed to boil, and instead of putting out the flames, it seemed to enkindle them even more. It was so horrible that I asked the Blessed Virgin to take all the young children with her before all this happened. But the Virgin told us that by the time it came, they would all be adults." (End of quote.)
The latter information saying the children during the apparitions (1961 65) would be adults gives us a hint on the chastisement time frame. Those children are certainly now adults, even as the Garabandal visionaries are in their senior years.