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
It might be better to say the ways to God, rather than the ways of God.
Many souls have found the way to God at Garabandal — many more than we know about. Some have simply found the faith there; others have grown strong in it; and through Garabandal others have gone on to give generously of themselves.
The purpose of Garabandal is more to aid in our salvation than to regale us with visible miracles. The final goal of salvation is what can be expected from its mystery.
This was previously mentioned in the first chapter, but we now present it again, giving new examples that occurred during the weeks of reactivation between winter and spring of 1962.
Finding a Vocation
In the early days of 1962, the news of Garabandal was making itself known in the old Castilian city of Segovia. Father Ramón María Andreu had been giving retreats for the religious there, and the Marquis and Marquise of Santa María had made several public talks on the subject.
Such interest was aroused that in the middle of the winter a bus excursion was organized for the distant village. Among those on the trip was a young woman who until then had certainly not distinguished herself by religious fervor. It was not that this woman led a dissipated life, but rather that she was frivolous and worldly, clashing with the traditional style of that strict Castilian city. She was the first in line for a dance, always ready for amusement, for the beach . . . What was now bringing her to Garabandal in the frigid January of 1962? . . . Even she herself could not explain the reason for her being there.
The excursion group arrived at the place of the apparitions on January 18th, a Thursday. That evening her companions, after gathering information by talking to the people in the village, went to situate themselves in the various settings of the anticipated ecstasies. The young girl tried to squeeze into Ceferino's house; but it was too crowded. She had to remain near the door. Fortunately she found a little bench there against the wall, and she stood on top of it. Thus she was able to observe after a fashion, although from a distance, what she did not have the opportunity to follow up close.
The time for the ecstasy arrived and Loli was in the kitchen, as during so many other ecstasies. The young woman from Segovia had to resign herself to hearing what was going on indirectly, by what was relayed from the spectators in a better position. But even this alone had quite an effect as the atmosphere that normally formed around the ecstasies had a deep religious reverence, even on the part of those most accustomed to it.
In such a climate of silence and waiting, she was able to reflect . . . Withdrawn into herself, in a strange way she was able to feel the frightening proximity of the mystery . . . There came a time when her spirit could not contain itself in that attitude of reverent silence and burst out in prayer: a prayer tremendously obligating:
Most Holy Virgin, if this is true . . . And God wants something from me ... I am ready for whatever it is ... Even to renouncing everything to become a religious! I only ask you, in exchange, for the salvation of... whom you know.
During the terrifying silence following such a prayer, in the depths of her soul there seemed to resound most clearly the answer: I hear you. I hear you. Yes. Yes.
This unexplainable refrain left her trembling with emotion. But it did not take long for uncertainty to settle in. Who can assure you that this is the voice of God? Couldn't this have been your imagination? Are you losing your mind?
Full of distress, she once more raised up an inward request to the compassionate Mother who could well be present there, not far from her.
Most Holy Virgin, if this is true, if all this comes from you . . . Let the girl come to give me the crucifix to kiss. Let her come to me ahead of everyone else!
Hardly had the petition been formulated in the hidden recesses of her conscience, when Loli got up off the kitchen floor where she was kneeling. She made her way through the shoving and surprised spectators and went directly toward the young woman, who had some idea of what was going to happen. Indescribable emotion swept over her, but she did not have time to think or do anything. Loli was there in front of her, and without looking at her, Loli raised the crucifix firmly to her lips, and gave it to her to kiss twice. Overcome, the young woman got down from the bench and tried to hide and disappear from the many people who were there; but it was futile. The little visionary followed her, without seeing her, and repeatedly put the sacred image on her lips.
Could God's answer have been more clear?
But it did not stop there. During the rest of the day, each girl that went out into the street in ecstasy [In the previous chapter it was shown that Jacinta and Mari Cruz also had apparitions on January 18th.] unfailingly went in search of the young woman from Segovia in order to offer her, and to her ahead of anyone else, the figure of the Saviour.
PHOTO: By presenting the crucifix to be kissed, the visionaries confirmed a vocation.
It was a distinction that gave both pleasure and pain. Although it showed the greatest profession of love, it also implied a frightening program of self-renunciation and self-denial.
It would be expected that the young woman in the flush of youth, who was being unequivocally asked to make a total gift of herself, spent the next hours with sentiments never previously felt.
She had come to Garabandal accompanied by her mother; both had found lodging at the house of Piedad, who had furnished them a little room. It was well into the night when they returned and went to bed. But those few hours in bed were not hours meant for sleeping; at least not for the daughter, who did not cease weeping.
The mother, unaware of what had happened in her daughter's conscience, commented on the following day, Something tremendous must have happened to her . . . She didn't stop sobbing all night long. And I don't recall her ever crying before.
NEXT Chapter 2-06b) Encounter with the Faith