At Lourdes, Fatima, and Garabandal, the Rosary is a central part of Our Lady's visits and messages to this world.
"Stop and smell the roses." This is a popular suggestion of our time. In a world where technology has progressively pulled, then dragged and, now e-mailed us away from the slower pace of the past, we are reminded that the cure for the race is to stop. To actually listen. To think without a cordless phone, a palm pilot, a laptop, or even a watch at our side. But stop? Stop to do what?
The phrase suggests that we enjoy nature or creation. But if it is a noble suggestion that we stop to enjoy and appreciate creation, then is it not a far superior suggestion that we stop, not just to enjoy creation but, to enjoy the creator of that creation, God Almighty? How much better to meditate, not just about creation, but about the Creator, without whom that creation would not exist! This is yet another message of Garabandal, as shown by the emphasis on prayer, meditation, and humility.
We live in a world where patience is no longer a virtue, but a handicap. Technology was once hailed as the key to freeing up more hours to live, to enjoy life, but has since become merely the vehicle to do more in less time. Pride of workmanship has been replaced by mass production. The personal touch has given way to the assembly line. Even the toys of today emphasize speed, efficiency, and technology over creativity and individuality.
But like many others, I have fallen into this modern time trap! While running seminars on time management, I have discovered that we are struggling to do more unimportant things in a day, leaving little, if any, time for what is really important. What could be more important than our souls, our eternity, our God? Apparently, for our society, just about everything! Religion has become a novelty hat that we wear whenever it is convenient or we have time. How easy it has become to take off this hat to fit society's demands or expectations, but how difficult it truly is for us to wear our religion proudly when society is not interested or makes other demands of us! We have allowed "Western" society to dictate to us what is and what is not important, and religion has fallen far behind almost everything else, from job, mortgage, car, and family, even, alas! to the next television programme. Even when we try to pray, our prayers often have that flavour of this society: quick, short, efficient, to the point. Quantity over quality followed by a fast "Amen".
Like many others, I am guilty of this societal sin; I have either not prayed or prayed pitifully. Prayer had become a job to do, an expectation to meet, a quota to fill and, oh...God better give me what I asked for, otherwise why pray at all? Then came Garabandal. Slowly, I have come to realize that prayer is the way God asks us to "stop and smell the roses". The greatest example of this message of true prayer is the Garabandal Rosary.
That the Rosary is a central part of Our Lady's visits and messages to this world cannot be disputed. At Lourdes, Fatima, and Garabandal, Our Lady clearly emphasized the Rosary as spiritual vehicle and cure, necessary to counteract and deal with the evils of this world. At Garabandal, Our Heavenly Mother ordered the visionaries to recite the Rosary and then led and instructed them in its proper recitation. The result of this instruction and example was the Garabandal Rosary, which is merely the Rosary devoid of our society's tarnished time frame. Recited rhythmically, slowly, carefully, lovingly, this Rosary encourages us to think about each word we say and to embrace the messages contained in these words.
Said this way, the Rosary becomes a loving, joyful song of praise, faith, thanksgiving, and petition. Its impact has been described as moving by all who have heard it. There are numerous examples in the Garabandal story where such a Rosary seemed to carry first the girls, and then the witnesses, to new heights of sound, pitch, and quality of expression and meditation. When I first heard this Rosary on one of the Garabandal videos, I was jolted into the shameful realization that my prayer life has been nothing short of pathetic!
"At Lourdes, Fatima, and Garabandal, Our Lady clearly emphasized the Rosary as spiritual vehicle and cure, necessary to counteract and deal with the evils of this world."
Either I did not pray (I have no time!) or I prayed as if competing in a foot race (Time to get it over with!). I realized that, no matter how many times I may have uttered these words, they had no effect for me, my soul, anybody else's soul, My Heavenly Mother and, above all, My God. How empty and ashamed I felt! Instead of praising God, I was offending Him by mumbling these golden words like some homework assignment. At one point, I realized that I was more concerned with praying 15 decades quickly than praying one decade well...a clear symptom of this societal cancer we have been sold.
The messages and events of Garabandal and the actions of the visionaries both at Garabandal and in their subsequent lives clearly outline three lessons that the Garabandal Rosary teaches us. First, we must embrace the Rosary lovingly and joyfully. This means that we detach ourselves from quantity and speed and embrace quality and meaning. We must also celebrate the Rosary, for it is a joyful message to Our God that also honors Our Heavenly Mother. It is a song whose rhythm is in tune with the idea that God should be our background music in all we do.
Second, the Garabandal Rosary should be recited or sung everywhere we go. It should not be confined to a church or a given day or time. The boundless love and mercy that God has for us should be reflected in an equally boundless expression of our praise and gratitude. Our Heavenly Mother wants to love and protect us everywhere, not just in certain places and at certain times, and our remembrance of her should be, like the presence of the scapular, constant.
Third, the Garabandal Rosary as practiced by the visionaries is also a family, a home practice. If "the family that prays together stays together," then the family, which rejoices in the Rosary together will reach a true union with the Garabandal message.
We all, no doubt, have far to go in our prayer lives, but Garabandal has given us the tools to at least build a better foundation. The Rosary recited by the children at Garabandal is an antidote to the poisons of this society. Like the children floating up the rocky path to the pines, the Garabandal Rosary will carry us over society's obstacles and negative influences in a wing, a prayer...and a song.
by Gabriel Garnica
Reprinted from GARABANDAL International MAGAZINE, October - December 2002