A look at the last and most fearsore of the three great supernatural events.
What happens after the Warning (bright star) and Miracle (Pines) will depend on the response to the Message.
Of the three great prophesied supernatural events of Garabandal, only the Chastisement is conditional. It can be averted. Whether or not it will be depends entirely on how the world responds to the Message after the Warning and Miracle.
In biblical times, God used the prophets to warn His people when their transgressions against the law were reaching the breaking point. In our time, it is the Blessed Virgin, queen of prophets, who fulfills that role. At Fatima she foretold the Second World War and the spread of atheistic communism if the world did not change. At Garabandal, she warns of the greatest cataclysm in human history since the deluge if mankind does not reform.
While the Chastisement has never been the favorite topic for discussion when it comes to Garabandal, it was primarily to warn us of this potential event that the Blessed Virgin appeared. This is supported by the fact that in the first Message of October 18, 1961, the message of Garabandal, the whole second part, more than fifty percent of the text of the entire Message, is devoted to the Chastisement. The first part tells us what we must do to prevent it from happening.
In the second Message of June 18, 1965, delivered to Conchita by St. Michael on behalf of the Virgin, reference to the Chastisement is again made when Our Lady says: "Before the cup was filling up; now it is flowing over....You should turn the wrath of God away from yourselves by your efforts. "
Neither the Warning nor the Miracle are mentioned in the two formal Messages, but they play an important role nonetheless in regard to the Chastisement. If it is true that God always warns before He strikes, then the world should know of the threat of this Chastisement which at the present time it does not. But after the worldwide Warning and the great Miracle, the appearances of the Blessed Virgin at Garabandal, with her Message (containing the threat of a Chastisement), should become common knowledge. It will be at this point, when the Message is universally known, that the way will be cleared for the Chastisement to take place if that is what divine justice decrees.
In his book The Apparitions of Garabandal, Francisco Sanchez-Venture y Pascual includes the following note written by Conchita about the Chastisement:
The Chastisement is conditional and depends on whether or not mankind heeds the messages of the Blessed Virgin and the Miracle. If it should take place, I know what it will consist of because the Blessed Virgin told me about it, but I am not permitted to say what it is. Moreover, I have seen the Chastisement. I can assure you that if it comes, it will be worse than being enveloped in fire, worse than having fire above and beneath you. I do not know how much time will elapse between the Miracle and the Chastisement.
On the feast of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 1962, Maria Herrero de Gallardo was in Garabandal and took the occasion to question Mari Loli about the visions of June 19-20, 1962 (the Nights of the Screams), and what she and the other visionaries could possibly have seen to cause them to cry out in such a terrifying manner. Sefiora Herrero reported:
"Oh!" exclaimed the girl. "That was horrible to see. We were really frightened, and I know no words that could explain it. We saw rivers change into blood.... Fire fell from the sky.... And something much worse still, which I'm not able to reveal now."
- SHE WENT IN HASTE TO THE MOUNTAIN
Further information from Loli was contained in messages bearing her signature that were presented to Maria Saraco and published in 1970 by Fernand Corteville in his newsletter L'Impartial (No.31):
In spite of continuing to see the Virgin, (during the Nights of the Screams) we saw a great multitude of people who were suffering intensely and screaming in terror. The Blessed Virgin explained to us that this great tribulation, which was not even the Chastisement, would come because a time would arrive when the Church would appear to be on the point of perishing. It would pass through a terrible trial. We asked the Virgin what this great trial was called and she told us it was "Communism." Then she showed us how the great Chastisement for all mankind would come, and that it would come directly from God.
At a certain moment, not a single motor or machine would function; a terrible heat wave will strike the earth and men will begin to feel a great thirst. In desperation they will seek water, but this will evaporate from the heat. Then almost everyone will despair and they will seek to kill one another. But they will lose their strength and fall to the ground. Then it will be understood that it is God alone Who has permitted this.
Then we saw a crowd in the midst of flames. The people ran to hurl themselves into the lakes and seas. But the water seemed to boil, and instead of putting out the flames, it seemed to enkindle them even more. It was so horrible that I asked the Blessed Virgin to take all the young children with her before all this happened. But the Virgin told us that by the time it came, they would all be adults.
The four visionaries from left: Jacinta, Mari Cruz, Conchita, and Mari-Loli in 1962.
Will it Happen?
According to the first Message of Our Lady, the Chastisement is conditional and can be averted. However, if history repeats itself, as it usually does, then it's hard to see it not happening. Both at La Salette and Fatima conditions were given by Our Lady that, if met, would forestall the impending threatened punishments. The warnings were not heeded and the rest is history.
Did the Chastisement change from being conditional to unavoidable during the events themselves? The first Message of Our Lady delivered on October 18, 1961, had virtually no effect, and so after the first night of screams on June 19, 1962, Mari Loli and Jacinta wrote a message which was followed a few days later by a second one. These messages can only be described as dire.
On August 7, 1971, in a message to American Garabandal workers, Conchita twice made reference to the Chastisement and her belief that it would indeed take place:
We are now in the last warnings, in the final moments. God has already prepared us for all the last things, even the Chastisement, for it is needed. The Chastisement must come because the Miracle will not suffice by itself to make us change. It is true that we will change after seeing the Miracle, but then we will fall again. That is why all of us who hear these words should prepare ourselves and induce all those around us, all those within our reach, to change their lives...
...However, it will not be possible to avoid the Chastisement because we have now lost even the sense of sin. We have reached such an extremity that God cannot now avoid sending the Chastisement. We need it for our own good. Those who survive the Chastisement will change very much and then we shall live for God until the end of time, which will also arrive.[OUR LADY COMES TO GARABANDAL, by Joseph Pelletier, A.A.]
Regarding the above statements of Conchita, which the visionary herself acknowledged were only her own opinion, Father Joseph Pelletier had this to say: "Conchita's opinion...must always be considered as strictly her own. No matter how much one may be tempted to agree with her position on the matter, that position does not reflect Our Lady's very precise words which always have presented the Chastisement as conditional, as a thing that can be avoided. Let us heed Conchita and not attach an importance to her words that they do not warrant. What Our Lady has said is one thing. What Conchita conjectures will happen, may very well happen. But it is always her conjecture and she could be wrong." [OUR LADY COMES TO GARABANDAL, by Joseph Pelletier, A.A.]
That certainly is a fair analysis. In fact, when interviewed by Father Francis Benac, S.J., in 1978, [THE CALL OF GARABANDAL] Conchita expressed a different view:
Father Benac: We read in the books [on Garabandal] that on that night of the screams, Our Lady advised that nobody should be around you, that she wanted you girls to be all alone. Could you explain that? Was it about the Chastisement? Did you see it and if so, how would you describe it?
Conchita: Oh I don't know; I don't remember. I don't want to remember.
Benac: Would you mind repeating that?
Conchita: No, that I don't want to even remember it, it was so terrible.
Benac: Would it be a Chastisement such as an atomic war?
Conchita: I don't know; I have never seen such a thing in my life nor could I imagine it.
Benac: Do you think the Chastisement can be averted with prayer?
Conchita: I think so. I don't think that it should take place; I think it won't happen. It seems to me that it would be impossible for such a thing to happen. It is for this reason that I believe God is sending us the Aviso (Warning) so that we may acknowledge all the evil within us. Later He will send us the Miracle to manifest His love and His presence amongst us.....I feel that it is impossible that after this we should not change.
However, two years later in 1980, when Conchita was interviewed by the BBC, she again expressed her view that the Chastisement would come: "I think we're going to get the punishment."
Another statement made by her suggests that it's a foregone conclusion: "Prior to this, the Blessed Virgin had told me that Jesus is not going to send the Chastisement to discourage us, but to help us and to reprimand us for not heeding Him." [OUR LADY COMES TO GARABANDAL]
Blessed Anna-Maria Taigi saw a future "Three Days of Darkness" which is generally believed to be the same event as the Chastisement prophesied at Garabandal. Blessed Elizabeth Canorii-Mora, a contemporary of Blessed Anna Maria, also saw this same event.
While all this points to the actuality of the Chastisement, it nevertheless still can be avoided simply because the Blessed Virgin said so. Much must happen first: the communist tribulation, the Warning and the Miracle. According to Conchita's locution with Jesus on June 21, 1963, He told her that as a result of the Miracle, Russia and other countries would be converted. This seems to suggest that if the Chastisement does come, it will not be for a while although we really don't know.
In November, 1967, Spanish artist Isabel Daganzo, who wanted to commit to canvas representational images of the visions of Garabandal, had a number of interviews with Conchita while the visionary was at school in Burgos. One of the questions she asked was: "Could you speak about something that I could put on canvas that could cause fear?" Conchita replied: "No. What I have seen that could cause fear is the Chastisement, and I can't tell you about that. Besides, terror and fear are not the best means to move souls."
This shows good insight on the part of Conchita. To dwell too much on the destructive nature of the Chastisement could lead to moroseness and would oppose a healthy spiritual outlook. Everything happens within the providence of God even the Chastisement if it should come. If it does happen, it will be because that is the best and most necessary thing to happen at that particular time. And even in this cataclysmic event can be seen divine mercy. If the glory of God in the world is on the verge of being overwhelmed by evil, He will intervene to preserve the good.
Reprinted with kind permission fromGarabandal Journal, May-June 2004, by Barry Hanratty