PHOTO: The four girls of Garabandal: Mari Loli, Jacinta, Mari Cruz and Conchita.
It was in 1970, thirty-three years ago, that I first heard of the reported apparitions of Garabandal, Spain. There are times that feels like only yesterday. From the beginning I felt these events were genuine, and decided to investigate these events.
But true investigative reporting is not based on feelings but rather on fact. I wanted to investigate and do a documentary film. So I went to Garabandal, Spain and there began a thorough investigation for this documentary entitled "Conchita Speaks". I interviewed everyone that I could in the quaint village of Garabandal, and also had Conchita's company during my visit. I turned over every stone I could. Though some of the locals were not willing to comment on the events, the majority of the people I interviewed did believe in the events. Besides my own direct interviewing, to complete this documentary I relied on three sources within the Roman Catholic Church; Scripture, its tradition and magisterium.
Some ten years after this documentary, I published a book on the events, "Miracle at Garabandal". While preparing the manuscript, I stuck with the facts, once again omitting feelings (still believing), including both pro and con. During the entire preparation, I was under the spiritual direction and guidance of Father Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. Father Ciszek was a no nonsense, very holy typle person, who spent twenty-three years imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain in Russia.
PHOTO: Conchita with the late Fr. Walter Ciszek who believed in Garabandal and always carried on his person one of the small "relic" medals containing a piece of missal kissed by the Virgin at Garabandal.
Now here I am, in 2003, thinking back on the events with the knowledge that they will come to a conclusion very soon. But I still well remember the one, very important, documented fact that made such an impression on me, thirty-three years ago. The main fact that convinced me that these events had to be from God follows:
In the Catholic Encyclopedia (Vol. 7, p.172), under the heading "Mystical Phenomena," we read the following:
Extraordinary mystical phenopmena do not occur in the normal development of the spiritual life, but proceed from a supernatural cause distinct from sanctifying grace, the virtues, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they are classified as charisms (gratiae gratis datae) and since charisms neither presuppose grace in the soul of the individual nor flow from sanctifying grace, they are no proof of the sanctity of the individual. Some charisms are true miracles; others are supernatural in cause but do not necessarily surpass the powers of created nature ... and thus are "paranormal" in relation to mystical activity.
Considered exclusively as paranormal, extraordinary phenomena could be attributed to one of three possible causes: God, occult natural powers, or diabolical influence. Hence the rule established by Pope Benedict XIV in De Beatificatione et Canonizatione Servorum Dei: No phenomenon is to be attributed to a supernatural power until all possible natural or diabolical explanation has been investigated and excluded.
Of all the 19 types of mystical phenomena listed in the Catholic Encyclopedia ranging from "apparitions" to "bodily incorruptibility," there is only one that is exempt from the possibility of either diabolic activity or natural occult powers and that is the Reading of Hearts (sometimes called the Reading of Souls). The famed Capuchin stigmatist, Padre Pio, who died in 1968 and whose cause for beatification is well underway, possessed this charismatic gift among a number of others. (Since this study, he is now Saint Padre Pio) The precise definition of the gift is as follows:
The knowledge of the secret thoughts of others or of their internal state without communication. The certain knowledge of the secret thoughts of others is truly supernatural since the devil has no access to the spiritual faculties of men and no human being can know the mind of another unless it is in some way communicated (from Catholic Encyclopedia, VOl. 7, pp. 173-179).
PHOTO: Mother Teresa with the author, Harry Daley. She wrote: "This is a beautiful book."
Having defined what the Reading of Hearts actually is, I would like to demonstrate how this supernatural gift was clearly present at Garabandal during the girls' ecstasies with the following well-documented incidents taken from the events.
In 1961, Fr. Luis Andreu, S.J., went to Garabandal with his brother, Fr. Ramon Andreu. Both brothers visited without the least bit of belief in the apparitions. During one of the visits, Loli and Jacinta were called into ecstasy. It is here that Fr. Ramon, well versed in mystical theology, put the discernment gift of Reading of Hearts to the test. Without communicating with another soul, he thought to himself, "If this is authentic, let the apparition cease for one of them." Instantly, Loli came out of ecstasy. Then, a few moments later she entered back into her ecstatic state. Fr. Ramon considered this as a proof (Miracle at Garabandal, p. 153).
A further incident involving Fr. Ramon is related in Conchita's Diary and in "Miracle at Garabandal" for Wednesday, October 18, 1961 (the day of Our Lady's first Message).
In the calleja, at the place we called the cuadro, the Blessed Virgin appeared to us and She said to me: "At this very moment, Fr. Ramon Maria Andreu is having doubts." Because I was very surprised, She told me where he had started to doubt, what he had been thinking about, and everything else (Miracle at Garabandal, p. 165).
What the Virgin had told Conchita was, of course, true, and from the Journal de Conchita we have Fr. Ramon's own description of how he had felt:
I managed nevertheless to get halfway up to the Pines without any incident when I experienced suddenly and brutally an intense interior bitterness. It was, if you wish, a mixture of painful impressions and depressing feelings. Everything seemed to get out of joint. I had just entered a moral desert. The past became obscure. The only thing that remained clear and evident was the death of my brother, Luis, which had occurred a little more than two months before.
Then this state of interior suffering began to get worse. I believe I can affirm that never in all my life have I experienced such spiritual and moral desolation.
I was tempted to leave. "These four children are just simply sick," I told myself. "Why are you stilll here? You can see that all this is only a miserable act put on by backward countryfolk!..." (from a taped interview with Fr. Ramon conducted by G. DuPilier, editor of the French version of Conchita's Diary [Journal de Conchita]. See Our Lady Comes to Garabandal, pp. 82, 83.)
The reading of the Message at the Pines did nothing to alleviate Fr. Ramon's interior desolation and afterwards when he was called with two other persons to Loli's house, he reluctantly accepted and only to take the occasion to say goodbye. Loli invited him to sit down and without him having revealed anything about his doubts, she said: "The Blessed Virgin said to us: 'The Father doubts everything and is suffering very much. Call him and tell him that he should not doubt, that it is really I, the Blessed Virgin, who is appearing here. When you went up [to the Pines] you were happy; when you went back down you were sad.'"
Fr. Ramon was stunned and completely lost for words. Loli then went on to tell him that the Virgin had talked at length to Conchita about him. Fr. Ramon immediately went with his two companions to Conchita's house and here is his own account of the conversation that took place:
Before I had opened my mouth, Conchita smiled and asked me:
"Father, are you happy or are you still sad?"
"I don't know," I replied. "Loli told me that the apparition spoke to you quite a bit about me. Is it true?"
"Oh, yes! at least a quarter of an hour."
"And what did She tell you?"
"I can't tell you," the child answered.
"Then, I am just when I was before," I thought out loud. Conchita smiled.
"There is something I can tell you, however," she resumed.
"When you went up [to the Pines], you were happy; when you went back down, you were sad."
And the child added: "And She told me everything you were thinking about, and the place where you thought it. You thought: 'Now I shall return to Central America.' At another spot you thought: 'I don't want to hear anything further about such and such a person.' And you were suffering a lot. The Blessed Virgin asked me to tell you this, and to let you know that all this happened so that hencefortth you would remember these events and never doubt again." I was dumbfounded. The following day, Conchita pointed out to me on a photo the precise places where each thought had invaded my mind. (See Our Lady Comes to Garabandal, pp. 82, 83).
I have always been impressed by Fr. Ramon's obedience especially in view of his strong involvement in the Garabandal events. Whenever publicly asked if the Virgin really appeared at Garabandal, he has always refused to answer before the Church makes a final decision. However, in my opinion, Our Lady used Fr. Ramon's knowledge of mystical theology to confirm for him the authenticity of the apparitions so that he would never doubt them again.
By Harry Daley, Written for the Workers of Our Lady, July 2003.