Have a Difficult Decision To Make? Garabandal Has The Answer.
Like the seers, we must remain open to God's spirit acting within us. Once we allow ourselves to remain open to God's plan, we can begin to discern what that plan is.
"Prayer is more than thanksgiving, praise, recall, or request: it is a spiritual, supernatural bridge to the Almighty which will lead us to Him!"
The Garabandal messages and events provide an excellent roadmap for making tough decisions: A rocky Garabandal trail leading to the Pines. We have all been there...moving along the path of life when, suddenly and often not at the most convenient moment, we reach a fork in the road.
It seems the more we ponder each option, the better all options look. At such times we can react in various ways. We can close our eyes and leap in one direction or another without really considering what we are doing. We can play some childish, odd-even, "one potato, two potato" game and let that decide our course for us. We can guess what their family, friends, or society would do, or even ask these people for their advice. Others will seek help from astrology, tarot cards, fortune tellers, or a "psychic friends hotline".
Finally, we can just consider which option makes us feel or look better, give us more money or popularity, or helps us gain power and influence. The problem with all of these strategies is that they ignore the best counsel and assistance available, that of God. I have discovered that the Garabandal Messages and events provide me with an excellent "roadmap" for making tough decisions. Whenever you are faced with a difficult choice, ask yourself these questions and think about the "Garabandal answer".
Am I putting God's desire ahead of my own?
Too often our society teaches that "whatever I want is what I should go after", but is that always the way of God? Jesus and His Blessed Mother have repeatedly told us, at Garabandal and elsewhere, that we must not only have faith that God will help us, but that we must obey God's way when it is shown to us. The seers did not always understand what they were told, nor did they necessarily agree completely, but when it became apparent to them that it was God's will that they act or speak in a certain way, they simply did so, because following God's will is an act of faith in itself.
Conchita often said, "Everything is possible with God", so that once one feels a push from God in a given direction, one need not worry about the chances of success, since the mere fact that one is acting along God's will makes success a certainty. By success, of course, it is not meant what we necessarily will see as success for us or on our terms, but according to God's plan.
Many will say that one cannot read God's will as if it were in a newspaper. Perhaps they are right to some degree, but at this initial point in the decision process, we should make sure that our choice is not simply based on our own personal whims or desires to the exclusion of all else. Like the seers when they pondered what God's plan for their future would be, we must remain open to God's spirit acting within us.
Will this choice help me to love God and others more?
Once we allow ourselves to remain open to God's plan, we can begin to discern what that plan is. The two commandments from the New Testament is a good place to start. First, which choice will help us show our love for God more effectively? A few years back we had to choose between putting all our focus on buying a home and putting off a religious pilgrimage to Fatima, Lourdes, and Garabandal. Even though we had struggled for a long time to find a good home at a good price, it was obvious which choice would help us love God more. Conchita made it clear that her two greatest loves were, in order, her love for God and her love for the Blessed Virgin. She also made it clear that she was willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of these two great loves.
After increasing our love for God, the second thing we must focus on is increasing our love for others. The seers always showed a concern and love for each other and for the people around them. When the Virgin appeared more to Conchita than the others, for example, Conchita asked Our Lady to appear more to Mari Cruz. Which option will help others more or will at least help us to help others more? Once again, our house/pilgrimage choice was clear...by going on a pilgrimage we would experience God more closely and be made more sensitive to helping others, but our ability to help those less fortunate than ourselves did not seem to ride on our success in buying a home, much less what kind of home we bought.
How does this choice relate to helping me fulfill the task/role Christ wants me to fill?
One way we can discern God's will is by thinking how a choice will help us follow the example of Christ. The books Imitation of Christ and Imitation of Mary are very popular because people want to understand and appreciate how they can "see" Christ and His Blessed Mother in attitudes and actions. We have been told that "The Son of Man has not come to be served, but to serve." (Matthew 20:28). At Garabandal, Our Lady demonstrated this spirit of service in everything from teaching the girls to attend to each other's needs to answering people's questions through the seers. In short, Garabandal is about removing barriers, and Our Lady often did so in a village where mutual service was already a custom.
Which choice will help me provide a good example to others?
I once asked a class I was teaching, "Which would give the best example, to defeat someone in a game, or to teach them how to play the game better?" Many students chose defeating the opponent over teaching them, justifying this by saying either that it was not a good idea to teach a foe how to improve or that beating the opponent was more fun than trying to teach them anything. I tried to show the students that "win/win" is always a better solution to any problem, and that by teaching we not only improve ourselves but probably gain an ally in the process. Although we were not so presumptuous in our house/ pilgrimage example to consider ourselves an example to anyone, I think that anyone who saw our choice may be led to think more carefully about their choices as well. Once we provide the example, it is left to others to follow it but, if we fail to provide that example, we have lost a chance to help another!
Much of the Garabandal story is about providing a good example or a model to others. Our Lady provided an example of how to pray, which the seers followed. This had an influence on witnesses, whose prayer life was inspired. Once it became apparent that these innocent girls were seers, many people looked more closely on how they acted and treated others, therefore providing fertile ground for imitation.
Which choice will help me to lead a more holy life?
The dictionary defines "holy" as "being divine or based in goodness". If I choose to go gambling or dancing instead of attending Mass, my choice has not helped me to be more holy. Again, although we were not conscious of holiness in our house/pilgrimage choice, the trip obviously was going to at least help us to be more aware of holiness in our lives. At Garabandal, we see that apparitions were sometimes cancelled when there was dancing or partying too near the apparition in time or place. Also, the villagers became very aware of the way the seers acted and how they showed complete respect to the apparition and onlookers.
Have I consulted the Bible?
One of the things made very clear at Garabandal is that the Word of God was a vital aspect of all thought and deed. At no point did the Blessed Mother downplay the value of reading one's Bible or consulting its pages. Furthermore, everything that was said and done was consistent with the teachings of the Bible. In an age where rebellious people have sought to twist and disfigure the Bible to fit their perceptions of truth, Garabandal stands as an example that truth is found in those very same pages, which are now trampled upon by so many. Everything from Garabandal tells us that it is the fool that ignores, disfigures, and tramples upon truth, and so truth must be consulted whenever possible.
Have I prayed?
One of the central aspects of the Garabandal Messages is prayer. To make a choice without prayer is like making a choice without God. Not only did the Virgin teach the girls how to pray correctly, but she often referred to prayer as the strategy in given situations. Prayer is more than thanksgiving, praise, recall, or request: it is a spiritual, supernatural bridge to the Almighty which will lead us to Him!
Have I sought counsel from a spiritual patron, such as a priest?
Another of the central aspects of Garabandal is that relating to priests. Many will say that recent events make this counsel an ironic or even hypocritical one, but that would be falling into the trap set by the devil. There is nothing that the devil wants more than for us to give up on priests as helpers in time of need. This does not mean that we blindly follow a priest's suggestion or opinion and then use that as our excuse for a poorly made choice. What this does mean is that we seek, with the help of God, a good and holy priest and then seek his advice on all important spiritual matters. To "throw out the priests with the scandal" would be to fault God's choice of priests as special, unique representatives. At Garabandal, we see how the Virgin asked the seers to pray for priests so that they could perform their functions in a holy way and give a good example to the people. We see, therefore, that our important spiritual choices should always include the advice of religious people found after careful consideration of their own holiness. We are not to look for a religious who will agree to anything we say and then choose that one for our convenience. We are to remain open to God's voice from the religious, and we will be more in tune with holy religious if we are open to holiness in our lives as well.
Have I answered the above questions honestly?
All accounts of the Garabandal events indicate that the seers were always truthful in their behavior and words. Words such as "candor" and "straightforwardness" are often used to describe these girls. It must also be recalled that at no point did the Virgin "sugar coat" her messages or ask the girls to do so. In a world where spin and word play is so often seen as an attractive art used by leaders and politicians, being honest and open is not always admired. In the end, however, it does us little good to follow the above guides to making decisions if we are not truthful to ourselves in the process!
We know that making tough choices is very much a part of life, and that not all choices are truly spiritual and relevant ones for our soul, our salvation, and our holiness. While it is always good to ask God for help in our choices, we must seek that help most aggressively when those choices directly impact our relationship with our Creator. In those cases, we may follow guidelines such as those described above. In so doing, we will see that Garabandal provides us with real examples of each guideline, and therefore can be used to help us make better choices. May our almighty Father, His Son our Saviour, and the Blessed Mother always be our partners in our choices!
Reprinted with permission from Garabandal International, October-December 2003
by Gabriel Garnica