Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
July 2, 1961 – July 2, 2011
Perhaps only a few know the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, 1858, was the date of the last apparition at Lourdes. Saint Bernadette Soubirous said, “All I saw was Our Lady…She was more beautiful than ever…I have never seen her so beautiful before.” Better known is that as the sun danced at Fatima on October 13, 1917 the three young shepherds saw Our Lady of Mount Carmel give the final blessing to the crowd. And on this day in 1961, fifty years ago, the Most Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Heaven appeared again under this very same title in the remote mountain village of Garabandal.
Lourdes, Fatima and Garabandal are one; a trilogy drawn in an arc across Portugal, Spain and France and united by a shared and increasingly amplified theme. The advocates of Garabandal contend that the Spanish apparitions are the key to understanding this great Marian Age of the Church. Garabandal is the bridge linking what has come already and what has still yet to occur.
At each of the three the Message is repeated with growing urgency; the mounting offenses of sinful men and women warrant supernatural punishment upon the whole earth. Those who love God, especially within the Roman Catholic Church, must undertake sacrifice and penance in reparation for these wicked acts but first they must strive to be truly virtuous, drawing nearer to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and by fervent prayer.
This is the First Message of Garabandal. Given to the four seers on July 4, it was publically proclaimed on October 18, 1961 one year to the week before the Second Vatican Council convened. This timing is noteworthy and may have been to remind the Council Fathers to focus upon the importance of Fatima, which was bearing tremendous fruit in the Church but whose requests had not yet been fulfilled.
In the intervening years, Our Lady of Mount Carmel returned to Garabandal over two thousand times. The period of the apparitions was filled with a host of astonishing prodigies which have been recorded on film and have been made available to the public for over four decades. All of the ecstasies contained acts of Christian devotion which included the sign of the cross, genuflection, the public recitation of prayers, and the reverencing of crucifixes or other sacramentals by the seers which were subsequently offered to bystanders to kiss. These acts provide a strong and enduring argument for the supernatural origin of the phenomena.
Our Lady, with maternal affection, personally instructed the young seers teaching them the devotions so dear to Heaven: Eucharistic adoration and frequent communion, the rosary and scapular, devotion to Saint Michael, sacrifices and penances consistent with one’s state in life, prayers for the dead, for sinners, for priests and for the Holy Father, Acts of Love, to willingly obey the requests of their parents, to remain obedient to their pastor and local bishop.
Over the course of years, a schedule of unprecedented supernatural events was forecast to the visionaries to be made known to the public.
In order of occurrence, they are the Aviso, or Warning, which will be felt by everyone on the planet, an inward purification that will correct the conscience and reveal to each person the state of their soul before God.
Within twelve months following the Warning, a Great Miracle located in the village of Garabandal which will cure the sick and convert sinners, verifying the Message, and attested by a visible sign left over the site of the apparitions until the end of time.
A further period of time will then be granted by God for amendment. At the end of this period, if no correction in the state of the world is evident, a global chastisement, supernatural in origin and of unprecedented severity, will ensue.
As the apparitions drew to a close in 1965, a Second Message was given through Saint Michael on June 18 disclosing that the cup was now “flowing over” that “many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are on the road to perdition and taking many souls with them” and specifically that “less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist.”
The Second Message continued; the faithful who distinguished themselves apart from those going astray would receive pardon from God and grace for amendment through the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel. Our Lady then assures us of her great love and continued assistance in the face of these “last warnings” and closes with another call for sacrifices and devotion to the Passion of Jesus. The apparitions ended on November 13, 1965, a few weeks before the close of the Council. No further messages have been addressed to the faithful since that time.
Our Lady requested her Message be made known and the formal promotion of Garabandal began soon after the apparitions ceased. The New York Center in Lindenhurst was incorporated in 1968 and the work begun by many hands in the United States and Europe. The Second Message was extremely controversial for the time and the early promoters met with much resistance which the seers themselves had prophesied.
Meanwhile great changes were coursing through the Church, not all welcome. Odious impieties were introduced in places, born of a spirit of disobedience, irreverence and discontinuity which attempted to hijack the good work of the Council. The instances of sacrilege, apostasy, iconoclasm and the suppression of authentic religious charism similar to other such periods in Church history came again.
His Holiness, Paul VI remarked that “the smoke of Satan had entered the Church.” Much was lost and many sorrows born in those decades of turmoil and confusion whose iniquities still reach us. Much of the disorder and division that afflicted the Church began to be reflected in civil society. A leading Fatima author and early Garabandalist, Father Joseph Pelletier A.A. wrote about the deteriorating situation calling it “a world in crisis”.
At the time of the apparitions, Our Lady had confided to Conchita “three more popes” then the mysterious el fin de los tiempos which would not be the end of the world, the papacy or the Church but would mark off a certain era seen clearly in retrospect. The third of these popes was Blessed John Paul II whose heroic reign was remarkable for its longevity and profound spiritual victories. His pontificate did much to curb the excessive outrages and initiate the true renewal promised by the Second Vatican Council. John Paul II was renowned for his total devotion to Our Blessed Mother. Following the failed assassination attempt on his life, this courageous Holy Father turned his consideration to Fatima and the resolute fulfillment of the requests made there.
Significant for Garabandal in these years; the raising of prohibitions on the administration of sacraments in the village – a first favorable sign, the canonization of twentieth century seers like Saint Faustina Kowalska who prophesied coming events similar in description to those announced at Garabandal, the official recognition of the apparitions at Akita, Japan which foretold the coming of a global chastisement, and the canonization of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina who had corresponded with the seers and was openly favorable to the apparitions.
Throughout this period the promotion of the Message was carried on by a small community of lay promoters who gave talks and held conferences. At the very heart of the movement was a cadre of learned priests, most of whom were witnesses of the apparitions. By the turn of the millennium, forty years from the apparitions, these good men had passed to their eternal reward. The time had come for a new dispensation which presented itself in the form of the internet. Via this new form of communication the Message of Garabandal would eventually reach millions of people in the first decade of the new millennium, greatly revitalizing a movement whose first generation had suffered attrition and loss from the passage of time.
As his pontificate drew to a close John Paul II focused his remaining strength intently on the importance of the Eucharist. He declared 2004-2005 the Year of the Eucharist again acclaiming the Blessed Sacrament “the source and summit” of Christian life. By this act he reaffirmed the centrality of the Eucharist and advanced the project of restoring true reverence in accord with the implied request of the Second Message. With this grace the era of the three popes came to an end on April 2, 2005 as the great Holy Father passed into eternal life.
Like all occasus saeculi, the transition through which we are presently passing is marked by tremendous upheaval in the natural world and the affairs of men. Natural catastrophes of incredible magnitude occur more frequently. The social, economic and political systems become fragile as the common morality which bonds us together dissolves. The Church is again persecuted by Communism in Asia and Islamism in many lands. In the West, the Church suffers derision and intimidation from a materialist and agnostic secularism which has gained the commanding heights. All this heralds the coming of a new order.
While the Church concludes the long purification of the scandal, our Holy Father Benedict XVI declared 2009-2010 the Year for Priests and closed a year of prayer for priests with the consecration of all clergy to the Immaculate Heart at Fatima on May 13, 2010. This most significant act magnifies Our Lady’s request at Garabandal for prayer for priests to uphold the apostolic tradition of the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ which continues to reconcile the world to God through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
This is the chronicle of the first fifty years of Garabandal. The Message has passed the test of time. No longer controversial, it is becoming a source of hope to many searching for a second chance for the world.
Next, we anticipate the Warning which, despite the necessary pain of the revelation of our own sinfulness, we need urgently. Garabandal Visionary Jacinta Moynihan said memorably in a 1977 interview, “The Warning will occur when the situation is at its worst.” And so we who are devoted to Our Lady of Mount Carmel de Garabandal continue our prayerful vigil in great expectation.
In Union of Prayer,
The Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Lindenhurst, NY USA