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 the meantime, what was happening in the thoughts and feelings of the people? The witnesses who put together the book, L 'Etoile dans la Montagne, say optimistically:
«A11 the evidence indicates
that the entire year of 1964 was a period of secret meditation and personal
retreat for the visionaries. For the people of the mountains and for the
entire world alerted by the diffusion of the message, these twelve months
were a halt for reflection and examination of conscience concerning one's
responsibilities. Speaking humanly, one might say that during that year,
heaven permitted the earth to catch its breath.»
"I believed when an ecstasy was in front of me."
The village was changing its appearance. The same book tells us:
«Land, houses, and even stables were being bought by Spaniards outside the village. [Maximina's letter to the Pifarrés on June 7 says: «They have bought so much land around here!»] The bricklayers were busy.
The interior of the church was remodeled [«They have remodeled the church. The altar is beautiful.» (Maximina 's letter of November 11)] . . . Thanks to the generosity of an American, people said.
And the attitude of the village changed along with the the external changes.
Peace and harmony were only on the surface. Only the old women, with their wrinkled and withered faces still kept the benevolent look and smile of before. The seers' families were seen with thinly disguised envy. With regard to the apparitions, discord reigned in place of yesterday's harmony.
Many wavered, finding the wait too long, since the celebrated Miracle didn't seem to be coming. The same men and women who had untiringly followed the four girls in their ecstasies, now showed themselves incapable, except for some silent old people and a few solid souls, to hold on to what they had so many times seen, heard and touched.
The people with an inordinate appetite for miraculous phenomena, had now fallen into spiritual blindness, a form of hardness of heart that could only amaze the visitor. If one were to ask them, What about the apparitions? they would answer, Oh Señor! That was nothing.»
Another example of the people's attitude was recorded in the book, L'Etoile dans la Montagne. The Spanish lawyer, who was the interpreter for the book's authors, was going down from Garabandal toward Cossio on a blistering day. On the way he met a woman of the village coming up in the scorching sun and stopped to talk with her:
— Well, Señora, how is it going?
— It's hot, Señor.
— Yes, it certainly is. But I mean in regard to the
— Yes, what do they think at Garabandal?
— Oh! They don't think anything.
— Why not anything? I myself saw the ecstasies. And
— Oh! The ecstasies! At the beginning they were true . . . but now!
— True at the beginning, and not true now?
— Yes, at the beginning they were true. I'll prove it to you. (She mentioned to the lawyer something very personal that had occurred to her and her husband during one of Loli's ecstasies.) Then it was the Virgin who appeared. Why doesn't she start appearing again?
This conversation on the way from Cossio to Garabandal tells the story . . .
And one might wonder if the poor village people were really responsible for their ignorance because of the neglect in which they had been left by their spiritual guides. But such a frame of mind deserved a lesson, and heaven gave it with its silence during the two long interludes of 1963 and 1964.
Even the privileges of the girls seemed to be completely interrupted during the middle of 1964. Maximina wrote to the Pifarrés on June 7th:
«Conchita says that she doesn't have locutions now. I don't know if this is true, or if she wants to hide them, but she is happy as ever.»
Throughout August the situation continued the same. Maximina wrote again on August 15th: «There is nothing new here at present.»
The people from the village were constantly fluctuating between doubt and hope. Most of them had more doubt than hope.
It was the people from outside the village who kept the torch of Garabandal burning bright. We have many testimonies of this in Maximina's letters.
For his enthusiastic convictions in favor of the events, Fr. Luis Lopez Retenaga distinguished himself. The village «was a delight for him.» He went up to Garabandal whenever he could, almost always accompanied by another priest friend, and stayed there whenever possible.
As to how the visitors acted during that year, we can gather from Maximina's lines on the feast of the Assumption:
«Today on the feast day of Our Lady there were many people in the village. I had a French woman in my home for over a month. She is very virtuous and doesn't cause me any trouble. The people are coming and they all seem to believe. Many priests have come too. An English priest stayed a whole month here; another from Llanes (Asturias), ten days; and also several French priests have come. Many French people came this year and they all seem to be very convinced about what is happening here.»
Those who went up to the village knew that there had been an arrest in the apparitions and the phenomena; but they hoped, they went searching. What did they hope for? What were they searching for? Besides personal encounter with the world of the divine, they were certainly looking for a proper finale to all this that had promised so much . . . and had been so strangely interrupted . . .