by Connie Hoebich for NEEDLES – Spring 1974
From earliest times God has used prophecy to authenticate the message He gives to His people through human beings. The unfailing characteristic of God’s prophecies is that they come true. It is by this that the credibility of the visionary, thus the validity of the message, is established.
Garabandal has an extraordinary allotment of prophecy (ftnt 1), extraordinary not so much in quantity as in kind. All, except for the chastisement, which is conditional, must come to pass before the Garabandal event can be considered in its entirety. Accordingly, though the apparitions are over (there have been none since 1965), we speak of Garabandal as “unfinished”, or “awaiting fulfillment”.
The very next thing we await as the Garabandal event moves toward fulfillment is the prophesied warning. I believe that this warning will be the most powerful event in the history of the world since the Resurrection.
We have many details regarding the warning. Unfortunately, these details are often confused with others Our Lady provided regarding the prophesied miracle and the chastisement. The sequence of these events is also not fixed accurately in the minds of many people. Since the sequence and the nature of all three of the major prophecies are important to our understanding of the warning, we should briefly review them:
DATES: We do not know the date of the warning. From the time she learned of it, the visionary Conchita has spoken of the warning as “imminent”, “expected every day” though she herself does not know the date. Conchita alone knows the date of the miracle. Our Lady permitted her to say only that it will come some time after the warning. Conchita will announce the date of the miracle eight days prior to its occurrence. The chastisement, if it comes, will follow the miracle-how long after is not known.
NATURE: The warning will be seen and felt by everyone in the world, no matter where they may be, at exactly the same time. It will be a terrible experience. The miracle will take place in Garabandal, in the pine grove, and be visible to all who are in the village or the surrounding mountains. In Conchita’s words, the miracle will be “very great because of the world’s needs are very great.” It will be “a miracle of the love of God, something that will manifest His love to us in an outstanding way”. The chastisement, if it comes, will be worldwide and incomparably horrible. The warning, the miracle, and the chastisement will be clearly understood by all people to be from God, that is, not explained by natural causes.
Detailed Description And the Reasons
Answers to the basic questions about the warning–(who? what? when? where? why?)–are found in various statements made by Conchita:
The Blessed Virgin told me (during a two-hour apparition at the pines January 1, 1965) that a warning would be given before the miracle. The warning is a thing that comes directly from God. No one can escape it. It will be visible all over the world. We will feel it bodily and interiorly. The warning is like a chastisement, a terrifying thing for the good as well as for the wicked. It will be like a revelation of our sins. We shall see the consequences of the sins we have committed. God will send the warning to purify us so that we may better appreciate the miracle by which He clearly proves His love for us and hence His desire that we fulfill the message. The warning will draw the good closer to God and it will warn the wicked that the end of time is coming.
These statements make up a good synopsis of the warning. We’ll reflect on them and other expanding statements Conchita has made. Immediately, however, the question arises: Why so many details–what is Our Lady’s purpose in sketching this event so vividly before its occurrence? The purpose is at least three-fold:
- The Authentication Factor–After we have experienced the warning, we will review the prophecy describing it. Point by point, the description of the warning, known and published years before it actually happened, will testify to the credibility of the apparitions and thus the message.
- Preparation–As a personal experience, the warning will probably be the most awesome confrontation of our lives. Are we ready for it? Are we ready for the “terrifying thing” which is “a thousand times worse than earthquakes” which will make us prefer to be dead rather than suffer it? Are we ready to “see ourselves in the light of our sins?” These, especially the last, are stupendous pronouncements. How does one prepare? Our Lady said, “We have given you all that you need,” and her reference was to the message of Garabandal, a message, it must be noted, which re-states the constant teachings of the Church. These fearful details are provided by Our Lady to prompt us to make ready for the warning now through earnest, generous fulfillment of the message in our daily lives.
- Consolation and Inspiration–Any thinking person is aware that the world is in great need of correction. It would seem that here, indeed, are at least the beginnings of the “difficult times” St. Paul spoke of, when “men will be in love with self, in love with money, boastful, abusive; without reverence for their parents, without gratitude, without scruple, without love, without peace; slanderers, incontinent … thinking rather of their pleasures than of God” (II Tim. 3:2-5). Further since, as Pope Paul observed recently, men seem to have lost the sense of sin, it would seem that nothing short of Divine intervention, can open men’s eyes, reform their hearts. The Garabandal warning promises to be understood by everyone as “from God,” “a correction of the conscience of the world.” This is a great consolation to all who are frightened and confused by widespread iniquity, who long for truth to be once again honored. I believe Our Lady also wishes that those so disposed render praise and thanksgiving to God now–even before the warning–for the consolation and inspiration the knowledge of it provides and for the great good it can be expected to achieve.
The Power of The Warning: Purification
To a question about the nature of the warning, Conchita once replied:
“It will be like fire. It will not burn our flesh but we will feel it bodily and interiorly.” We must allow that Conchita gropes for human words, admittedly inadequate, to convey her understanding of the nature of the warning. In fact, she said that the warning would be “like” fire; she did not say that it would be fire. To Conchita, there are two things that the warning and the fire have in common: they can be “seen” and “felt,” and they are “very terrifying.” Hence her use of the words: “like fire.” In this same context—an attempt to make identifiable comparisons—I submit that the warning is “like (our understanding of) Purgatory.”
Based on the doctrine of the Church, we understand Purgatory to be a place or condition of purification, wherein we are made clean—prepared, so to speak—to behold the Beatific Vision. We accept that some sort of suffering is necessary to this purifying process, a suffering that prevails but does not destroy. All of this can be likened to the warning, which “will purify us for the miracle,” which will be “like a chastisement” in that we will suffer; and which we will endure “bodily and interiorly” but which will not destroy us.(ftnt 2)To extend this a little more, the soul in Purgatory, having stood before God in judgment, now exists in the light of truth. With perfect clarity, he understands the extent and consequences of his sins. Similarly, “the warning will be like a revelation of our sins.” We shall see the consequences of the sins we have committed.
This likening of the Garabandal warning to Purgatory is my own entirely; in no way has Purgatory been mentioned in connection with the warning either by Our Lady or the visionaries. And I make the comparison only to underscore the magnitude and power of the warning: “Like” Purgatory, it will be a revelation of our sins, a severe but thoroughly just suffering, a no-turning-back, purifying confrontation with truth for each of us.
Our Lady told Conchita that “we should bear this suffering for the sake of her Son, victim of the gravest offenses.”
This is the language of penance and reparation. However, it is possible–and this again is my own reflection—that, while we are experiencing the warning, we will not be able to make this penance offering or any other comforting identification, so absorbed will we be with the calamity visible to us and within us.(ftnt 3)Hence the necessity to “condition” our souls for it now, while we have the faculty to reflect and the presence of mind to make penance and reparation. I believe that the warning will go easier for us to the extent that we prepare for it now through penance and the overall fulfillment of the message of Garabandal.
Directly from God
A “warning” is not unusual in God’s dealings with men. We see it frequently in the Old Testament; we have seen it in our age at Fatima.(ftnt 4)God has used varied elements, plagues, wars, and even natural phenomena to warn sinful men that they must amend their ways or suffer chastisement. The Garabandal warning is unprecedented, however in that it will be universal: “All nations and all persons will experience it in the same way; it will be visible throughout the entire world, in whatever place anyone might be; experienced equally by believers and non-believers and people of any religions whatsoever.”
This universal aspect, especially the fact that everyone will experience it “in the same way,” will convince men that God has done it. We are further assured of this important factor in Conchita’s response to these questions:
Will the warning be recognized and accepted by the world as a direct sign from God? –Certainly (“claro”), and for this reason I believe it is impossible that the world could be so hardened as not to change.
What about the many people who do not know Christ; how will they understand the warning? –For those who do not know Christ (non-Christian) they will believe it is a warning from God.
We may also dismiss speculation about comets, earthquakes, and other chariots of doom so readily heralded by the pseudo prophets of our time:
We have heard that some say the warning may be a natural phenomenon but will be used by God to speak to mankind.–The warning is something supernatural and will not be explained by science.
The great power of this is obvious. In an age when men fearlessly question, even deny, the existence of God and rampant wickedness openly mocks Him, the Almighty will say clearly, “I am here.” All men will acknowledge God, understand how they have offended Him, and necessarily feel remorse and a desire to make amends. “The warning will be a correction of the conscience of the world.”
Our Lady did not reveal the duration of the warning. Shortly after the apparition, when Conchita learned of the warning, she told her aunt and Godmother, Maximina Gonzalez, about it. Maximina asked how long the calamity would last. Conchita said that she didn’t know, but that “we could suffer it by night as well as by day.” In this same conversation, Conchita said: “It is better to die than to suffer just five minutes of what is to happen to us.”(ftnt 5)In 1970, asked the same question by NEEDLES, Conchita repeated that she didn’t know but that two minutes of it will be enough for anybody.”
These statements lead us to reflect that the warning is probably of short duration, but nonetheless- powerful.
What can we expect from men as individuals, and the world collectively after the warning?
I think that, while we would be off base in underestimating the power of the warning to re-direct men, it would be inaccurate to expect that the warning will settle everything, that evil will no longer exist on earth.
There’s no question that, while the warning is being experienced, all knees will bend before God. But, afterwards? Remember that the warning will not involve the elements—there will not be destruction on earth. Men will have only the memory of their personal experience, etched deeply to be sure, but only a memory. The right use of free will and the nourishing of faith will still be necessary in man’s day-to-day journey through life.
Our Lady said the purpose of the warning “is to draw the good nearer to God and to warn the others (that they must reform),” and “God wishes that through this warning we amend our lives and commit less sins against Him.” To a woman who expressed her fears about the warning, Conchita remarked: “ Oh, but after the warning you will love God very much.” Another time Conchita said, “ I think those that do not despair will experience great good from it (the warning) for their sanctification.” All of this leads to reflect that, at least for a time, there will be very much love and service to God. The warning has the purpose and the power to achieve this, but to what extent and for how long depends on men.
Those of us who have been working to spread the message of Garabandal can expect that, after the warning, ears and hearts will open as never before. Still, we mustn’t expect that everyone will hop on the “Garabandal” bandwagon as such. The message stands by itself; it doesn’t (or shouldn’t) need the reinforcement of apparitions. What I’m saying is that the warning will not tell the world, “Believe in apparitions!” Those who haven’t heard about Garabandal in these years before the warning will not even make the connection. But the warning will, by its nature, inspire fulfillment of the message. The Rosary and Scapular programs, Eucharistic vigils, and other seeds we are sowing now in our respective dioceses will provide the structure by which great numbers of souls, made more receptive by the warning, may begin to fulfill the message in earnest.
Finally, after the warning we can expect far more cooperation from news media regarding the apparitions of Garabandal. This will foster an understanding of the warning in connection with the apparitions and, therefore, greater understanding of the full content of the Garabandal event. Accordingly, we will probably see widespread preparation for the prophesied miracle, and this must include methods of transporting great numbers of people, especially the sick, to Garabandal. The village itself and the mountains surrounding it must be prepared to accommodate multitudes.
How much time will we have to prepare? Asked this question in 1965, Conchita replied: “The miracle will not delay in coming.” She added, and this applies to the warning as well: “Although it is taking time to come, it will not be late. God’s time is always the appropriate time.” In a recent interview with NEEDLES Conchita again stressed the need to fulfill the message in preparation for the warning and the miracle. She said that during the apparitions Our Lady made her understand: “Everything is coming soon”.
- Of the three major prophecies of Garabandal, the warning, the miracle, and the chastisement, only the chastisement is not a certainty regarding the fulfillment. It was always presented by Our Lady as something that could be averted if the world fulfilled the requests outlined in the formal message she gives to the world at Garabandal. The other Garabandal prophecies are less dramatic in scope but nonetheless certain and authenticating. Some of these, the denials and doubts of the visionaries, for example, have already come to pass.
- Asked if the warning would cause people to die, Conchita responded: “I think that if that happens it will be through fear.” Another time she replied: “I don’t know. They could only die of the emotional shock of seeing it.” Considering the event as a whole, my own conclusion is that, differing from the chastisement, it is not the design of the warning to strike fatal blows. However, it is plausible, even probable, that many will die from fear.
- My personal opinion is that the warning will be of very short duration. I base this on my feeling that the warning, particularly “the revelation of our sins,” will be too horrible to withstand for any length of time. Thus, because of the shortness and horror of the event, I feel that we will be thoroughly incapacitated as far as any kind of thoughtful prayer is concerned. Other opinions are certainly possible. The purpose of this article is to stimulate reflection.
- In the apparitions of Fatima, Our Lady said, on July 13, 1917: “When you see the night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is the great sign which God is giving you, indicating that the world, on account of its innumerable crimes, will soon be punished by war . . . . In order to stop it, I . . . ask for the consecration of the world to my Immaculate Heart . . ” The Fatima visionary, Lucia, said that the “sign of God” (warning) was the extraordinary aurora borealis which illuminated a large area of Europe for a long period of the night January 25-26, 1938.
- These statements are made in a signed document by Maximina Gonzalez. The document comes to us from Fr. Eusebio Garcia de Pesquera, the Spanish Capuchin who has done much writing about the Garabandal events.