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
The raging waves of the great disillusion that were dashing against Garabandal during the winter of 1963 reached also, as we have seen, the one who seemed the most secure of the four: Conchita. Not only with regard to the truth of what had occurred, but also with regard to the fulfillment of what she had predicted.
I also doubted a little that the Miracle would come.And one day, while in my room, doubting if the Miracle would really come, I heard a voice that said:Conchita, do not doubt that my Son will perform a Miracle.I felt this inside; but as clear as if it came through my ears; or even clearer.It was without words.It left me a peace ... A joy!More than when I see Her.And the first person to whom I told this was Plácido.[Plácido Ruiloba, a businessman from the capital of Santander, whose name comes up many times in this story.]And later he told it to the others.They are called locutions.And they could be called a voice of joy, a voice of happiness, a voice of peace.And then, I didn't doubt anything again.But the days passed.And the voice didn't return.That made me suffer.But I understand: how could God go on giving me such happiness so often, without meriting it?The locutions did me much good.Much, very much.Because it was as if the Most Holy Virgin were within me.What happiness!I prefer the locution more than the apparitions, since during the locution, I have her in my very self.Oh! What happiness, with the Most Holy Virgin within me!And what a shame, to be so bad!But that is the world.
The adolescent girl — having just had her 14th birthday — was at that time living a period of special fervor. In Maxiimina's letter of February 11th, it can be read: «Conchita, when she is home, (that is, not working in the fields) spends almost the whole day in church. In the morning she goes there to pray a rosary and some women go with her; in the afternoon she goes to spend most of the day there. She doesn't know what it is to get weary. The other day I asked her, What do you like most: to play or to be in church? And she said to me, I like both things very much.»[A sincere and most human answer, which reveals how normal Conchita was. What 14 year old girl would not like to amuse herself, with the world just beginning to spread open before her? Merit is in knowing how to renounce at times the desire for pleasure out of higher motives, so as to attend to matters that are more important, although less pleasurable. Here again is seen the theological axiom that grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it.]
Conchita told me that the new phenomenon had already happened to her several times. On asking her to explain it better, she told me, I hear something; yet I hear it without hearing.
The new phenomenon began in March, when she had been suffering since the past January due to the absence of the Virgin. Assailed by many people's doubts, she also had begun to waver. And one day on her knees at home, with considerable anguish she heard the Virgin say (without speaking): Do not doubt that my Son will perform a miracle. After that time her confidence with respect to the miracle [A letter that Conchita wrote to Father Odriozola in the early days of May ended this way: «I am certain also that the Miracle will come, since the Virgin told me, and also the dale of the Miracle, and in what it will consist ... I am as certain that the Miracle will come as I am that two and two equal four.»] was evident in the unalterable peace that she now enjoys. She confessed to me that at the same time she heard without hearing other things for the good of her own soul and the souls of others.
The mystics have described their difficulties in explaining the high spiritual communications that they receive from God. In Conchita and Loli the matter was complicated by their poor vocabulary. Their education was very limited, especially with regard to religion. During the time of the apparitions, they still asked what the word council meant; and several times they asked me about words that seemed very ordinary to all of us. Living without a resident priest in the village had made it difficult for their religious formation. Today, the minds of the girls are much more enlightened than previously; but they stumble with great difficulty in describing their interior experiences.
In my first investigation I noticed that Conchita didn't know that the same phenomenon had been given to Loli. (And likewise Loli didn't know about Conchita.) But both, when separated, coincided with each other in their answers to me. Both insisted that neither their feelings nor their imagination had played any part in what had happened to them.
Not satisfied with the first examination, on "I hear it without hearing." returning from Garabandal to my quarters, I composed a list of questions and took advantage of Conchita's trip to Lourdes [This trip, arranged by Fr. Retenaga, had its story. On May 9th Conchita wrote to Fr. José Ramón, the pastor of Barro: «I still don't know if we are going to Lourdes. My mother thinks we won't go, since she prayed that if this were true, that we would go; and if it were a lie, we would stay. And she thinks that we won't go,»
Also they absolutely rejected any suggestion that it could have been their imagination or that they could have been dreaming. Opposing this latter idea, Conchita stated: «It was during the day», and Loli: «It was when I was wide awake.»
They denied likewise that they could have these interior voices when they wanted . . . «Listen, Lolita» — Fr. Retenaga said — «since Jesus is in the tabernacle and you receive Him every day, holding Him that way, you are able to hear His words whenever you want, isn't that right?
Oh! No, Senor. If I could hear His words whenever I wanted, I would be hearing them all the time.»
Conchita said that her locutions always came when she was in prayer: sometimes in her home, but ordinarily in the church. Loli said the same thing, declaring that twice she heard them in her room unexpectedly; another time, while she was praying at the Cuadro in the calleja; and the rest of the time in the church, one of these times after receiving Holy Communion.
Most interesting was the response to Fr. Retenaga's question as to whether they would choose an apparition, a Communion, or a locution. «Communion!» They responded without hesitation.
«Understand» — noted Father Retenaga — «the words of that answer, taking into account the state of happiness and the effects that followed for them from the apparitions and locutions, in contrast with the aridity and dryness that so often accompanied their Communions.»
During their locutions, many things must have been discussed by the visionaries that we will never know. This is clear from some of the remarks made by Father Retenaga:
«One day Conchita told me that she gave a reply to a man who wasn't a Catholic; she also took another reply — which she was required to keep secret — to a young man who overtly didn't believe in God or in priests. [Things like this were the basis for people to think that Conchita read consciences. On November 8th, 1966, Conchita mentioned to the Mother Superior of the school at Burgos: «I think back many times to what happened in my village. There were those who came there because they believed that I read consciences. This made me laugh. How was I going to read consciences? The Virgin advised me about the things that I told some people at the time.»] And with regard to herself, she had been told secrets concerning her actual life and her future, but she didn't specify what they were, since she lacked express permission from the Virgin.»
FATHER RETENAGA. — «After that reprimand,
were you hurt, like a child who is disciplined by his parents?
LOLI — No, Señor.
But I like even more to have Jesus within me . ..— Jesns, who gives me the cross to purify me,— and also to see if with my crosses I can do something for the world.
Concerning priests . . .
He told me that I must pray much:
•so that they would be holy and fulfill their duties;
•so that they would make others better;
•so that they would make Me known to those who do not know Me;
•so that they would make Me loved by those who know Me and do not love Me.
This page from the history of the locutions in Garabandal is magnificent . . .
What material for reflection !
But if this page from Conchita's life is well known, not so well known is a page from Loli's, which is equally valuable and instructive, and gives us new insight into the mystical phenomena with which the two visionaries were favored in 1963. It is reported in a letter to Father Retenaga, dated October 13th, 1963:
«Reverend Father Luis,
So that you see that I do what I promise, I am going to tell you a few things . . .
The Virgin has made me know when a priest is in sin. She has helped me to know that he needs many prayers and sacrifices. [There are numerous incidents demonstrating that Garabandal has always given preferential importance and solicitude for priests, antecedent to the greatest crisis in the priesthood that the Church has ever known.]
Also she has given me to understand the Crucifixion in the Holy Mass, [Also in advance of the time when the primary meaning of the Catholic Mass, that of sacrifice — the sacrifice of the Cross — would be forgotten or lost by most people, the Virgin Mary would come to repeat this lesson.] since I comprehend the humility, the sacrifice for the world.
She has also made me recognize when a person needs prayers to be said for him. And one time she told me about a person who didn't pray the rosary, and that person told me to write a note for him. And in it I wrote down that he should pray the rosary. And he then began to cry and said to me, Who told you that I don't pray the rosary? And later he wrote and told me that since that day he had not missed saying it.
Well, Father, at another time I will tell you more, because now I am writing from my bed, since tomorrow I have to gather hay in the pasture, which is a long way from the village, and I have to get up early . . .
And I said to her, Am I going to die soon?
And she said to me, No. You have to remain in the world to suffer. In whatever place you are, you will suffer.
And I said to her, Let my parents believe! [It is known that Loli's parents, especially Ceferino, held the greatest doubt about the truth of what was happening to their daughter; and she found this to be a heavy cross.]
And she said to me, They do not believe, so that you will have more to suffer. Suffer with patience.
She also told me, Pray the rosary every day.
She told me, Pray for priests, since there are some who need more sacifices for them every day.
And again I said to her, Why don't my parents believe?
And she said to me, Because you have to suffer. You have much to suffer in this world.
And I said to her, What sacrifices should I make?
She said to me, You have to be more obedient.
I told her that one time I was going down the road, and suddenly a man with long hair appeared to me in a long coat, and said to me, I am hungry. And as I was carrying my lunch in my hand, I gave it to him. And suddenly he disappeared, without my knowing how. And I was very frightened. And I said to her, Who was that man? And she smiled and didn't tell me.
I'm not writing more. Don't say that I don't write much. [This letter is exceptionally long. I have seen many letters written by the visionaries, and I can verify that almost all of them were very short.] Goodbye.
Maria Dolores Mazón»
It is evident that any similarity between the instruction that the Virgin gave her children at Garabandal and that which is now given to many children by our new theologians, is purely coincidental.
No wonder. Today what is stressed is the importance of the individual, while in the school of Mary, the main focus has always been on the ancient pattern of giving oneself to God and denying one's very self.