Girls Have Given Us an Example
Fr. Joseph A. Pelletier, A.A.
From: Mary Our Mother: Reflections on the Message of Garabandal
“The girls have given us an example of how we must act with the Blessed Virgin.” This statement made by Father Luis Maria Andréu shortly after he had been privileged to share in one of the Garabandal apparitions merits our attention. The attitude and conduct of the four girls of Garabandal toward Our Lady during their numerous ecstasies offer a splendid model for us to follow in our relationship with Mary, Our Mother. We have much to learn from them in this matter.
Catholic devotion to Mary has always been characterized by much warmth and simplicity. Like so many things, this has been under attack in our day. Those who look at man and God in an abstract way with the cold light of reason will always have trouble in understanding the role of tender love and childlike simplicity in devotional life. Yet these attitudes are clearly in keeping with the divine dispensation of salvation which utilizes all the resources of man, his heart and his emotions as well as his mind and his will. Scripture itself bears witness to their legitimacy.
Even in the Old Testament, God’s love for us is described in terms of the tenderness of a mother’s love for her young.
As nurslings, you shall be carried in her arms, and fondled on her lap;
As a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you. (Is 66 : 12-13. )
The gospel portrays a Christ whose heart is fully human and filled with the most tender human emotions, a Christ who weeps and sobs at the death of his beloved friend Lazarus, a Christ who fondles children and tells us that we must be like them.
At Garabandal, Mary reveals herself as a tenderly loving mother in her dealings with the four girls. She visits them frequently, some two thousand times, during a period of a year and a half, July 2, 1961, to January 20, 1963. (Our Lady appeared only four times during the second phase of the Garabandal event which went from April 1963 to November 13, 1965.) She even sends them advance notices of her coming, through three llamadas or calls.
Our Lady delights in listening to their chatter “about their work in the fields, their putting hay in stacks and getting bronzed by the sun.” She encourages them in this and shows her pleasure by “laughing as they tell her all these things.” She is very patient with them as they ask naive questions, for example, about heaven and the life that goes on there.
She allows them to take and hold the Infant Jesus in their arms and to play with him, to take in their hands the crown of small gold stars that she wears.
In a gentle way she prods them to comply with the requests she has made in her message: “Why do you not go more often to visit my Son in the tabernacle? He waits for you there day and night.”
Occasionally, she takes sterner measures as when she shows her displeasure with their failure to comply with her frequent requests for modesty in dress by taking them in ecstacy to their homes and making them change their clothes as she looks on.
The tenderness of her motherly love reaches its peak at the conclusion of the apparitions when she often kisses them goodbye.
In all this she was trying to tell each and every one of us: I am your mother. There are no barriers between you and me. As your mother, I am inviting you to come to me with great simplicity. I want to hear about your needs, about those you love. I want to be a mother to you in the fullest sense of the word. But you must come to me first before I can truly act as a mother toward you.“
“The girls have given us an example of how we must act with the Blessed Virgin.” How true these words of Father Luis are.
How important it is that we ponder them in our heart, asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten us and to help us act in faith on the understanding he will gladly provide.
Fr. Joseph A. Pelletier, A.A.