Sign for Priest
Reprinted with kind permission by Dr. Brian Miller: SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN,
by Eusebio de Pesquera, O.F.M., CAP.
I now wish to insert a very unusual case. It occurred in the early days of September, 1961. Father Ramôn Andreu was in Ceferino’s tavern and store when a priest in a foul mood entered brusquely and aggressively made his way toward him.
“Listen, are you Father Andreu?”
“At your service.”
“Well, I’m here to tell you that I don’t like any of this!”
“No one can know better than you what you don’t like. Nevertheless, I appreciate the information. Have you been here long?”
“Hombre! I’ve been here four weeks and still haven’t come to see everything clearly and you—in ten minutes.”
This was a priest from Asturias, strong, built like a truck driver. To get out from under this, since he saw right away that he was getting very irritated, Father Andreu called over to Dr. Ortiz of Santander, who was passing by, and said to him, “Listen, Dr. Ortiz, this priest here is very interested in this and since you are an intellectual, you can explain some things to him.” Dr. Ortiz took the priest with him. Ten minutes later the priest returned. But this time his attitude was completely different. He was pallid, trembling, not at all the same man he had been before.
“Father Andreu. It’s for real! I’m convinced!”
“Listen, let’s go slow. Ten minutes ago you didn’t like it at all. And now you are already a convert? Don’t you think you’re in a bit of a hurry?” “Judge for yourself what has happened to me. I was walking over there with Dr. Ortiz when we came upon one of the girls, named Jacinta, in ecstasy. She came up to me and made the sign of the cross over me; and there was a little man at my side, and she made the sign of the cross over him too. And then she gave me a cross to kiss, and she also gave it to the little man. Then she made the sign of the cross over me again, and did the same to the little man. During this I thought, “If it is true that it is the Virgin who is appearing, then let the ecstasy end.” At that very instant the girl lowered her head and looked at me entirely normal! This left me breathless, and I said to her:
“Aren’t you seeing the Virgin?”
“Why is that?”
“Because she has gone away!”
“Then the girl turned around and walked away. She couldn’t have taken four steps when she fell into ecstasy again and came toward us another time. She made the sign of the cross over me and then the sign of the cross over the little man. Then she gave me the cross to kiss and she gave it to the little man to kiss….”
“Hold on a minute,” Father Andreu interrupted. “Let me know who that little man is, for it seems to me that the really important one in this case is the little man and not you.”
And so it actually was, as soon became evident. That little man was a parish priest from one of the villages. For some time he had been tormented by doubts about his priestly ordination: whether or not he had a clear and explicit will to be ordained; and whether as a consequence, his ordination was valid or not; and thus, whether he would be exercising his priestly functions improperly and without effect. Only God could know what the man had been suffering because of these scruples. When he heard talk of Garabandal and of the marvels that were happening there, he thought that he might be able to find a way out of his dark tunnel. As soon as he could, he went to the celebrated village. But before arriving there, he disguised himself carefully. (At that time it was very unusual for a priest or religious to take off his cassock or his habit without serious reason.) He had so carefully disguised himself that Father Andreu said,
“There was no way to suspect even remotely the presence of a priest there; his outfit was the strangest that could be imagined.”
It was an initial and consoling response to the priest’s interior doubts that the girl was so definitely repeating on him everything that she had done previouslyto the priest who was at His side. But that was not enough. What more could be asked for to bring peace to his scrupulous conscience! After the first joy, spiritual confusion returned and he thought: “I cannot leave like this; I need more proof.” He found a place in a stable to pass the night, hoping to see if on the following day he would obtain the absolutely convincing proof that he needed so much.
The new day came and the poor man did not have to wait for nightfall as would ordinarily be the case. Already in the morning there was an important ecstasy; many people were gathering for the celestial visit and our little man naturally was in the front row. When the girl in ecstasy began to hold out the crucifix to be kissed, the people rapidly formed a line along her path so the girl could do it more easily. The little man positioned himself like everyone else in the middle of the line, and from there observed with what celestial grace the visionary offered the crucifix, and with what feeling those lined up were kissing it, one after the other. But he did not content himself with observing; his mind was working, and he formed this idea: “If I am truly a priest, instead of giving me the crucifix to kiss like the others, let the girl come and make the sign of the cross over me with it.”
Then the girl went up to the police chief who was so well-disposed to the cause of Garabandal. She stopped in front of him, smiled, and without looking at him—actually she looked at no one, since during the ecstasy her face was turned sharply upwards—she slowly made the sign of the cross over him. Then she continued her way down the line presenting the crucifix to be kissed. She came in front of the little man and made the sign of the cross over him! The answer seemed very clear, but….
The man was hard to satisfy. He did not hesitate to think: “This isn’t enough since she made the sign of the cross over the police chief too, and the police chief isn’t a priest. If instead of this she had given the crucifix to everyone without exception to kiss, and if on me—only on me—she had made the sign of the cross three times, then there definitely would have been no doubt.”
He had not finished thinking this when the girl interrupted her path and made her way back to the beginning of the line, to once more begin holding out the crucifix to be kissed. She came again in front of the police chief, and she must have heard something from the Vision, since she was heard to ask, “What?” Following a brief pause, she smiled, and gave the crucifix to him to kiss like the others. When she arrived in front of the little man again, we can imagine his emotions. The girl was very carefully making the sign of the cross over him repeatedly—until it was done three times! And something more: she said to him very clearly, “Yes.”
That was too much; the poor man tried to hide his tears while the girl continued down the line, and he went to the church as soon as he could. There in the sacristy he opened up the sack that he had brought with him; he put on his priest’s cassock with more feeling than ever before, and then fell on his knees in front of the tabernacle, without being able to express to the Lord and His Mother all his feelings of love and gratitude. When he left the church, he was truly another person, much more interiorly than exteriorly.
How many ineffable mercies of God came through the Virgin to the souls of those who ascended the high places of Garabandal, believing to have found there a “throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). As for those who came for other favors of lesser value—like an improvement in health, the settling of a difficult situation, the resolution of some definite problem—and who to the eyes of others would have appeared to have wasted the trip, they ended feeling deep in their souls that they had not come, nor hoped, nor prayed in vain. In their contacts with the Mystery of Salvation, if their hearts were well-disposed, they did not come away with empty hands. ….
Reprinted with kind permission by Dr. Brian Miller: SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN, by Eusebio de Pesquera, O.F.M., CAP.