Without it no army could ever win a battle, no society could remain stable for very long, the Church could not exist, and souls could not be saved, since all of the Ten Commandments deal with it. Such is the importance of — obedience.
The saints have always given it top priority. I believe it was Saint Pio who said, "Duty first, even before something holy." Jesus Himself told Saint Faustina: "I obeyed My parents, I obeyed My torturers and now I obey the priests." Christ's obedience cost Him His life, but it was the price that had to be paid to correct the disobedience of our first parents.
Immediately after the Second Vatican Council, disobedience again became an issue when "dissenting" theologians and members of the hierarchy revolted against Church teaching influencing many of the laity to follow suit. The results have been devastating.
PHOTO: Conchita, front, and Mari Loli in ecstasy by the village church door.
At Garabandal, Our Lady anticipated this impending crisis by emphasizing the paramount importance of obedience for those who hope to be saved. She did this first by insisting upon obedience from the four visionaries and not so much to her, but to their parents and others, such as priests who had lawful authority over them. She also set the example as can be seen in the following excerpt taken from the notes of of one of Garabandal's great witnesses, Father Ramon Andreu.
We have further evidence that Garabandal followed the most sensible pattern of obedience. The parish priest, Father Valentin, was at Conchita's house one night and said to her, "Look, it isn't possible for all of us to wait up at this hour. I'll give you a quarter of an hour, and in that time I'm going to give you three warnings. If nothing happens before the last one, you go to bed; this is the first warning." And he walked off.
After ten minutes he returned to give the second warning. "If nothing happens in the next five minutes, as I said, go to bed. It's already very late." Two minutes after Father Valentin walked away, Conchita went into ecstasy. The Virgin yielded to the will of those who had spiritual authority over the girls, to confirm in them the duty of subjection to their superiors. This episode seems to have occurred on the twenty-fifth of August at one in the morning following a plan made by Father Valentin in conjunction with the pastor from Ribadesella, Father Alfonso Cobian, and another priest.
On that same day, I had a similar experience with Loli and Jacinta who knew nothing of what had happened with Conchita. They were waiting for the vision since they already had had two calls. I said to them, "We can't wait any longer since it's very late. I'll give you five minutes and if nothing happens in those five minutes, go to bed."
After four minutes had gone by, I said to them, "A minute remains. Count to 60, and if nothing happens before you reach 60, go to bed." They started to count in a loud voice, chanting as in school. When they got to 16, without being able to say the word "sixteen," they were drawn into ecstasy with the typical snap of the head backwards.
Another excerpt from Fr. Ramon's notes shows how Our Lady would not place obedience to her before the obedience the visionaries owed to others.
Some parts of the dialogue with the Apparition were recorded on the first day that Conchita had an ecstasy at the Pines: "One day I couldn't see you, since they wouldn't let me come up.... Yes, I know that we have to obey; but you first of all... good, but we have to obey you too..."
When it came to the visionaries' obedience to their parents, Our Lady was very firm. On one occasion when Jacinta was waiting up for the vision, she remonstrated with her father when he told her to go to bed. The Virgin's punishment was severe as she stopped appearing to Jacinta for a month during which time the girl languished, losing her color and her appetite, while the others continued to see Our Lady on a regular basis. When the Virgin finally did appear to her, Jacinta immediately wanted to know why the Virgin hadn't come to her for so long. The reply was instructive: "For the wrong that you did to your father on that night. How many times do I have to tell you that you must obey your parents, even before obeying me?"
Lawful Church Authority
In August, 1961, the bishop ordered the church be locked when the girls were in ecstasy because of the disturbance caused by the crowds that followed them inside. Some even stood on the altar rail to get a glimpse of the girls in ecstasy. Later, the Virgin told the seers that the bishop was right in doing this.
PHOTO: Loli in ecstasy holding up rosaries and medals.
On August 22, 1961, the pastor, Father Valentin Marichalar, received the bishop's directive and only he, Father Ramon Andreu and Father Jose Ramon Garcia de la Riva, who had just arrived in the village, knew about it.
Since Father Valentin had some business to attend to on the following day, he asked Father de la Riva to take over as pastor in his absence. The latter gladly complied and recorded in his Memoirs his experiences for that day which reveal how the Blessed Virgin also obeyed the directive of the bishop.
In the afternoon on that unforgettable day for me, Father [Ramon] Andreu told me that notification had come from the bishop to close the church doors to the girls while they were in ecstasy so it was up to me to be the first one to comply with this order.
That day on finishing the rosary, recited as usual at nightfall, the girls went into ecstasy. After one of their walks through the village, Loli and Jacinta returned to the church, and I was struck by the way they stopped before the courtyard. At the time, I had my back to the closed door of the church and Loli and Jacinta were in front of me at the entrance to the courtyard. The girls certainly were not aware that the door was going to be shut, since only those who had given the order and I myself knew it. I heard Loli say, "Why have they closed the church to us? We aren't coming to do anything wrong! If it isn't open for us, we won't enter anymore." Since it wasn't possible for me to enter into their conversation, I then said, "You're right, but it's necessary to obey orders." A woman present answered, "You're only doing your duty."
Everyone could verify that after August 23, 1961, the visionaries never again entered the church in ecstasy, thus strictly obeying the order from Santander. They satisfied themselves with going around the church with those who accompanied them, reciting the rosary and singing the Salve Regina. And even when the mystical Communions took place, they never occurred inside the church, but under the roof overhang.
A final example involving Our Lady on the question of obedience comes from the FAS (Fontaneda, Andreu, Santa Maria) Archives.
During the summer of 1961, Father Gomez from Valladolid went up to Garabandal to witness the events. He also wanted to have his rosary kissed by the Virgin and gave it to Mari Loli.
When the seer went into ecstasy later that evening, Father Gomez was unable to stay, but left a note that his rosary, after being kissed by the Virgin, should be given to Father Ramon Andreu whom he knew and who could eventually return the rosary to him.
When after several months Father Gomez still had not received his rosary, he gave it up for being lost.
On January 27, 1962, the Marquis and Marquisa de Santa Maria were among those present in Mari Loli's house shortly after midnight when the girl was in ecstasy holding up rosaries and medals for the Vision to kiss. After holding up one rosary to the Virgin she handed it to the Marquisa de Santa Maria saying: "For Father Andreu."
When the Marquis was told about the rosary and to whom it belonged he returned it himself to Father Gomez and "witnessed the emotion and joy he felt upon receiving it."
While the Marquise certainly was well intentioned, he seemed to have missed the point in returning the rosary himself. The Blessed Virgin knew the rosary belonged to Father Gomez when she kissed it, however she did not forget his note in which he said that it should be given to Father Andreu. In this little incident is demonstrated the perfection of the Blessed Virgin's obedience in not overlooking Father Gomez's instructions.
Reprinted with kind permission from GARABANDAL JOUNRAL September-October 2004, By Barry Hanratty