BOOK 2 Chapter 5f
Days of Lent
Reprinted with kind permission from St. Joseph Publications

from the book She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Book 1)

NOTE: All excerpts from Conchita's Diary will be in extra-bold type

*    *    *

    In Spain the students look forward to March 7th, since it is a vacation day commemorating the feast of St. Thomas of Aquinas, the patron of students. In 1962 that day also had a strong penitential significance for all the faithful, since it was the beginning of Lent: Ash Wednesday.

"There must be much penance ... There must be many sacrifices ..."

    The girls had to apply themselves with greater intensity at that time to what the Virgin had told them both for themselves and for others: There must be much penance .. . There must be many sacrifices ...

    And the lenten days of Garabandal were permeated with penance during that year of grace, 1962. But in the almost daily ecstasies, there was also a place for the many other things, great and small, that comprised each girl's life.

    For example, Loli met again with the departed Fr. Luis Andreu [A previous chapter has been dedicated to the death of this Jesuit priest and the first conversations that the Garabandal seers had with him shortly after his death.] on March 12th and talked to him for a long time:

    «What joy it gives me to talk with you! It's like when you were alive. I'm very happy when you come. It's been a long time since we've seen you! How sad you would have been if we had gone to school, because we wouldn't be able to see the Virgin anymore! Look, I want something. . . Do you know what? Perform a MIRACLE, so that they may see that we are speaking with you and the Virgin ...»

    These remarks by Loli were taken from the notes of Fr. Valentin, who also wrote down what happened to Mari Cruz:
    «At 11:37 at night, I was in her house. She had received a letter from a priest from Villaviciosa (Asturias), [The Carmelitas de la Caridad also had a college in this city in Asturias. The priest's letter certainly refers to this college.] in which the priest said that he would pay for her board and tuition in a school in that city, under the condition that she would not see the Virgin again, something that could cause problems with the archbishop of Oviedo. The girl hadn't read the letter; but her mother had, who put the letter back in the envelope and told the girl to ask the Virgin what she should reply.

PHOTO: "I haven't been seeing you with the other three."

    Mari Cruz didn't want to do this, and it disagreed with her to take the letter. Hardly had she taken it in her hand, when she went out to the Calleja, knelt down at the usual place, took the letter — in ecstasy — and held it up. Looking at the envelope upside down, she asked, What should I tell her? That I'm going to continue to see you? That it's a good place? For a long time now, I haven't been seeing you with the other three ...»

    We can only guess what the Virgin told the girl; however, it is clear that plans for taking the girls from the village were not coming solely from Leon.

    And it is also clear that Mari Cruz was hurt because she was not included in the ecstasies with the other three girls.

    On March 14th, it was Conchita who presented a scene worthy to be filmed because of its elegance. Fr. Valentin reports again:

    «At 6:30 in the evening, Conchita wanted to be alone and went behind the laundry building, where she was in ecstasy. From there she went up to the Pines, and holding one of the albarcas (wooden shoes) that she was wearing, began speaking, Take the albarcas in your hand, the little shoes with the worn-out laces ... Go find a donkey? Where is one? In the Cuadro? (She wanted to bless herself.) With the albarca in her hand, she smacked herself in the face many times. Later she exclaimed, How good it is today! It is night and the sun shines. And also it snows to make saints (snowmen) and go sledding.»

    In the girls' ecstatic conversations on March 14th came out again the old request that the Virgin perform a great miracle as a sign and finale to everything. Jacinta asked her:
    «Come! Perform a miracle! That way the people will believe.»
    A letter from Maxirnina González to Asunción Pifarré, dated March 7, reads:
    «The other night, Jacinta and Maria Dolores asked for a miracle as usual. Please, perform a miracle . . . Please! Are you going to perform it? Please, let light shine. Please, since the people don't believe. Perform a miracle so that everyone will believe . . .
    When the ecstasy was over, we told them what they had said to the Virgin. And they said she smiled when they asked for a miracle.»
    The girls would surely not have insisted so often upon the same request, if they had not repeatedly heard from above that there would finally come a great sign to end all doubts about the supernatural truth of the events. «They will believe. They will believe.» was the prophetic-toned response of the mysterious apparition.

    If it were not for this, the statements that Loli made two days later, on March 16th, would not be comprehensible.

    On that day she was requesting insistently for the cure of a woman whose sight was failing, and according to the judgment of the doctor, would be lost completely. The girl kept on imploring, finally exclaiming loudly, «Come! Cure this woman, Alicia 's mother, who already does not see out of one eye, and will not see the MIRACLE THAT YOU WILL MAKE IN THE SKY!» [All the previous material was derived from Father Valentín's notes.]

*    *    *
    True penance, presupposing a change from within, spontaneously leads to the sacrament of confession. An interesting episode illustrating this happened on the night that ended on March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph.

    The report of it was signed in Reinosa (Santander) on the 23rd of March, 1962, by a priest who went up to Garabandal with Mr. Matutano: [Mr. Matutano was mentioned in an earlier section of this book.]

    «On Sunday, March 18th, the second Sunday of Lent, two priests came to Garabandal with a young boy who was afflicted with severe heart disease, and whose days — according to the doctors — were numbered.

    One of the two priests — no one at the time knew who he was — was the renowned Father José Silva, from the Ciudad de los Muchachos at Orense. The priests had come disguised as tourists. They walked behind the girls, constantly bothering them. This came to such a point that the Chief of the Civil Guard had to call it to their attention several times — he also didn't recognize them as priests.

    When Jacinta went into ecstasy in Conchita's house, they leaned physically on the girl. They were hanging onto her, and holding their ears to her mouth, trying to understand some of what she was saying. The parents of the girls called their attention to this, and on seeing that this accomplished nothing, and that one time they almost made Jacinta fall to the ground, I could not contain myself and I gave a hard shove to the one who was to the right of the girl (this was Father Silva), thinking he was a layman . . . Although perhaps at the time I would have done the same thing, even if I had seen him in a cassock.

    During this action Jacinta turned around, and put the crucifix on my lips. Following this, she did the same to the one that I had shoved. The girl continued her walk, but the two of us looked at each other and we understood . . . We embraced each other, and together went to the church. There the two of us wept.

    And I asked him to hear my confession. (We were alone, leaning against the doorway.) He told me that he didn't have faculties, but I insisted vehemently, assuring him that I had a true need. He heard my confession and asked why I had performed that action. I answered that at the time I only meant to defend the girl who was seeing the Most Holy Virgin. He gave me absolution.

    Later he asked me to hear his confession, since he said he had a great need, for having abused his position as a priest to go ahead of all those that were following the girl, when his position as a priest obliged him to go behind the last . . . He thanked me for the shove, and told me that up to then he hadn't paid attention to the actual message that the girls came to give us.

    Finally, he asked me as a favor to wake up the parish priest so that he — Father Silva — could say the dawn Mass. It was not long until the beginning of the next day, March 19th, the feast of St. Joseph. We weren't able to obtain permission, since there was a prohibition from the bishop that didn't allow Mass to be celebrated by visiting priests. But we could receive Communion and make the most beautiful Holy Hour imaginable. It was fantastic. That priest said wonderful things, and thanked the girls, their parents, and everyone for having made him feel an emotion that, up until then, he had thought didn't exist.

    We prayed the holy rosary! Almost all of us holding arms.

    This is what I experienced on those unforgettable days in that fortunate little town.»



    We can complete this report with some details that we owe to the Captain of the Civil Guard, Juan Alvarez Seco. While that unforgettable night vigil of March 18th . . .

    « . . .was going on to the next day, March 19th, Loli went up to the counter of the tavern in her home in ecstasy, took a pen from a drawer, and holding a card against the wall of the kitchen, wrote on it what the Virgin had told her, The Virgin congratulates Father José.

    As a result of this, the priest involved was deeply moved, since he hadn't told anyone his name or that he was a priest.

    While they were going to ask for permission to celebrate holy Mass, they went to Conchita's house. Father Silva spoke of making a Holy Hour, and the girl asked, What's that? Father Silva explained it to her, and it was decided to make the Holy Hour at 1 A.M.

    But they didn't have the key to the church. Fr. Valentín was sleeping in the home of Primitiva. Mr. Matutano from Reinosa and I went to ask him for it, since he knew us. I talked to him but he didn't want to give us the key. We returned to Conchita's house and then Maximina said: Let's go to the church in case it's still open,

    About 20 of us went with Conchita and Maria Dolores. We found the door of the church open, but we didn't have the key to the sacristy, where the key to open the tabernacle was kept. In the meantime, Father Silva found the tabernacle open, although the sacristy was locked!

    We were able to make the Holy Hour, sometimes holding arms. Afterwards almost all of us received Communion.

    I testify that this was fantastic. And the Marquis and Marquise of Santa Maria, Mr. Matutano and others whom I no longer remember felt the same way. Father Silva told us that Garabandal was absolutely true.»

    Maximina also gave a report of what happened in a letter that she wrote to Doctor Ortiz on March 21st:
    «There were two priests. They made a holy hour at three in the morning on Sunday (Actually it was not Sunday, but Monday March 19th. Her confusion undoubtedly was due to the fact that Monday was also a feastday, honoring St. Joseph.) They asked if any of those present wanted to explain the mysteries of the rosary. Mr. Matutano explained the first one. Many of the people were crying! The Marquis said that he couldn't talk because of emotion.

    The priests spoke very much . . . And one said, It would be a disgrace to participate in the apparitions and not meditate. And he added, I swear to God that I believe this is true. They talked at length.»

    And so the first feastday of St. Joseph began with a beautiful and edifying Holy Hour.

    No one could say that the lenten days of 1962 at Garabandal were not replete with vigils, penance and prayer.
*    *    *
    Those days reached their peak on March 25th. This was the third Sunday of lent, according to that year's calendar, but also the feast of the Annunciation, according to every year's calendar. And since it was the feastday of the Annunciation of the Virgin, it was also the feastday of the Incarnation of the Son of God. With all these great feasts combined on a single day, there was reason to expect something special . . .

    Simón, Jacinta's father, said to Dr. Ortiz several days later:

    «I thought something exceptional would occur that day, since it was such a distinguished feastday. And so it happened.
    The three girls, Conchita, Loli and my daughter, who until then had only recited the rosary, [In August, 1961, the girls began singing during their ecstasies. They sang both popular religious songs and original verses that they themselves made up during the ecstasies. What Simón means to say is that on March 25th they sang a complete rosary for the first time.] began to sing it on that day, and they sang the whole rosary. At the beginning of the apparition only a few of us were with them, but the people began to come out of their houses, and finally, I think the whole village was there . . .
    I felt a tremendous joy, since I know my daughter well — and how bashful she is — and because of this I thought in my mind that

<>she had to be seeing something very great to be singing as she was.

    After the rosary ended, the girls continued singing, and we heard these verses:

Men, women and children,
Pray the holy rosary,
To find holy rest
In the next world.
Indecent dress leads [The second verse is from the Ave Maria of Fatima. Obviously not all styles of dress lead to eternal fire, but only those  -- and they are many -- that are incompatible with decedny.]
To eternal fire ,
Dress decently,
If you with to be saved.

The Virgin has warned us
Three times already.
Oh, Virgin of Carmel, how unfortunate!
How unfortunate death is for us!

Mari Cruz, get up, etc
[We have already mentioned this verse dedicated to MAri Cruz since they sang it for the first time during the vigils in August of 1961.]

    Simon ended like this: «On that day my joy and excitement were so great that they couldn't have been greater if I had seen the Virgin myself.»<>

    There are more particulars about March 24th and 25th in Garabandal. We have a letter that Maximina began writing to the Pifarre family of Barcelona on March 26th:

    «The apparitions on Saturday, March 24th were very nice.

    Conchita carried an unfolded umbrella since it was snowing and then she went into the houses with the umbrella open. She went in without stumbling anywhere. It was marvelous. They walked throughout the village together — she with the umbrella and Loli. They prayed the whole rosary in ecstasy.

    They went to call a woman who was indisposed so that she couldn't go out at night. She was in her bed, and she got up. Mari Loli took her by one arm and Conchita by the other. (Still in ecstasy, they took her half dressed.) First they went to the Cuadro. There they stayed for a while . . . And Conchita fell full-length like a stone, and still kept the umbrella open. And Loli stayed on her knees. See, they take positions that are beautiful. Afterwards they went down the calleja to other places. We saw the people having great trouble going down; but they went down with tremendous ease . . .

    But the greatest thing was on Sunday, the feast of the Annunciation. They began at 9:30 in the evening and they finished at midnight. I almost cannot explain how it went.

    They began the rosary singing. Later they mentioned that the Virgin said that all the people should sing . . . Look, we were all singing with violent emotion. They couldn't fake that.

    We went to the cemetery singing. There they recited a mystery on their knees. At the gate Conchita stretched her arm through the bars with the crucifix in her hand. And it seemed that she was holding it out to be kissed! It was moving, even for the hardest hearts.»

PHOTO: The cemetery gate thru which Conchita held the crucifix as if to be kissed by those in the tombs.

    Later we went back another time through the village, singing until it ended . . . She sang the Salve, the Let us sing to the love of all loves, and later other songs that flow from them while in ecstasy. And they said, Oh, how happy the Virgin is since there are so many people! How she smiles and how she looks at everyone!»

"Men, women, children, you know our message."

    Continuing, Maximina gave some of the verses that the girls composed in ecstasy. One of these is the following:
Men, women and children,
You know our message.
The Virgin wants it accomplished,
For the good of families.
    On the next day, March 26th, Maximina wrote to Dr. Ortiz again:
    «Apparently I mentioned in a previous letter that Conchita was going to leave this week . . . Well, I can say that she doesn't want to leave. It seems that the trip (to the school at León) has been abandoned for the present.
    On one of the past nights Jacinta had a very moving ecstasy. It lasted 2 hours and she asked insistently for a miracle. She said, I don't want to go from the village . . . Look. Do you know what Maximina said? That although they would cut her to pieces, she wouldn 't go. I don't want to go either . . . Come. Perform a miracle . . . Call all the people, as you call us, so that they will all come here . . . And once they come, make a great light . . . Yes, perform a miracle! . , . You are going to perform it? . . . Don't look so serious!

    It was at night — I was not there — and there were only a few people, but they said that those that were there were crying. It was about 8:30, which in this season is already dark, and they said that they saw her face as if it were daylight.

    A young girl, who was very excited, came to tell me about it. She said that she didn't want to see anything more. And it seems also that Maria Dolores said: Perform a miracle so that they don't take us from the village. Tell them that I don't have to go. Come. Tell me again that I don't have to go, since I don't want to go . . . Come, perform a miracle! Good, it's enough of a miracle that now the sun is shining, since when I came here, it was snowing.»

"Perform a miracle!"

    Obviously, during the ecstasies, the sun was always shining.
* * *
    As Winter Passes was the title of this chapter, and now we find that at the biginning of springtime the spectaculat events of Garabandal are beginning to sprout. And from that mountainland a mysterious supplication is being addressed to Him who from on high does not forget the earth, as the ancient biblical prayer refrains:

See, the winter is passed.
The rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth.
The season of joyous song has come.
The song of the dove is heard in our land.

Come then, my love. My lovely one, come.
Show me your face; let me hear your voice;
For your voice is sweet, and your face beautiful.
(Cant. 2: 11-14)

NEXT Chapter 6 .The Ways of God in Garabandal
Finding a Vocation

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