Teachings of the Lady
It has been approximated that the girls received nearly two-thousand apparitions during the years between 1961 and 1965. During this time, the Blessed Virgin instructed the children on many tenets of faith, particularly in regards to the Eucharist, the Rosary, obedience, the Priesthood, and penance. Listed below are few exerts of these instructions;
The priesthood was so essential to the messages at Garabandal, that, according to Conchita, the Blessed Virgin asked for prayers for priests during every apparition to the children. In his book; "Our Lady Comes to Garabandal", Joseph Pelletier (page reference will be 'jp' henceforth) notes; "It is important to know that Our Lady did start speaking to the girls about priests from the first days of the apparitions in 1961. She stressed the need of praying for them so that they might be holy and lead others to holiness by their example." He later states; "[Conchita] has declared that the Blessed Virgin began asking for these prayers at the start of the apparitions, and that She spoke of this almost every time She came." (jp111) In another place, he notes; "The girls were always especially happy when priests came to the village, and they treated them with very special consideration, although they themselves were not always treated this way by the priests."
Conchita, diary, jp94: "...she told us about the worth [el valor] of a priest. She compared him with an angel and said that if we saw an angel and a priest we should acknowledge the priest first or fall on our knees in front of the priest rather than the angel. She told us that it was because the priest consecrated, because he held Jesus Christ in his hands and the angel did not.
Mary Loli, letter, 1963: "The Virgin has made me know when a priest is in sin. She has helped me to know that he needs many prayers and sacrifices."
Conchita, interview, 1973: "I remember during that time, many priests used to come, and many wearing civilian dress. I do not know how, but we always knew who were the priests, even if there were a lot of people. One night in particular, while seeing the Virgin, there were a lot of people. The Virgin told us to hold out our arms, so we did. When it was over, we found out that everyone to whom we had given the crucifix to kiss was a priest in civilian clothes."
Conchita, diary, jp111: "Concerning priests, he [the angel] told me that we should pray much for them so that they may be holy and fulfill their duty properly and make others better....pray much for priests, who are the salt of the earth."
In 1970, Conchita was asked; "why are priests are leaving the Church today" (This, during the confusion after the Council). She replied; "Because they do not have a love for the Blessed Virgin."
The Eucharist also played a prominent part in the events at Garabandal, most notably in Our Lady's repeated exhortations to visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently, and showing the children how to receive the Eucharist properly. Conchita recounts in 1970, that the Blessed Virgin led the children nearly every day (and sometimes several times a day) to visit the Blessed Sacrament in church. Joseph Pelletier notes; "And when the diocesan authorities ordered them not to go into the church in ecstasy, Our Lady made them kneel in ecstasy at the door of the church, or She led them in ecstasy around the church, making them recite the rosary as they walked." (jp95)
| Loli, holding up rosaries that people gave her for the Lady to kiss
Conchita, diary, jp94: "..she told us that it was a greater grace to receive Jesus [in Holy Communion] than to see her."
Conchita, diary, jp188: "She also said to me:'"Conchita, why do you not go more often to visit my Son in the tabernacle? He waits for you there day and night.'"
Conchita, diary, jp94: "...he [the angel] gave us unconsecrated hosts in order to teach us how to receive Jesus with due respect. Then afterwards, he quickly began to give us Communion with consecrated Hosts, when he knew that there was no priest in the village."
"Had there been...the possibility of receiving Communion in the church from the hands of a priest, Communion from an angel would not have taken place." (Joseph Pelletier, jp94)
According to St. Louis De Montfort, the Rosary is the most powerful devotional prayer in the Church; so powerful that demons flee at the very sight of it. Padre Pio called the Rosary his "weapon", the "atomic bomb" of all prayers. It is thus fitting that, in the apparitions of Garabandal, the Virgin would spend so much time instructing the children on how to pray it well. Most notably, She taught the girls how to say that rosary "properly, and slowly", and recited the rosary together during each apparition. Joseph Pelletier writes; "From a series of questions sent to Conchita in April, 1969, it was learned that Our Lady 'ordered - mando' the children to recite the rosary each time they saw her and that they actually did recite it during every apparition." (jp89). He later added; "The girls said the rosary in ecstasy as they walked the village streets, entered the homes of the sick, visited the cemetery, and walked around the church....She taught the girls to say all their prayers (and not only the rosary) slowly and thoughtfully. Tape recordings of the girls praying in ecstasy show us exactly what Our Lady wanted from the children and from us. These tapes show the girls praying very, very slowly, articulating each word carefully..." (jp210) [example here ]
Conchita, diary, jp89: "The rosary is a very important part of the Blessed Virgin's message"..."She recited the prayer very slowly--muy lento"
Conchita, diary, jp65: "When we arrived at the altar...she started to say the Creed very slowly with the Blessed Virgin. Mari Cruz said that the Blessed Virgin took the lead and recited the prayer first, in order to teach her how to pray slowly. After the Creed, she said the Hail Holy Queen and then she made the sign of the cross very slowly and very properly--muy despcio, muy bien" (The Virgin first taught the girls how to say each prayer individually, before teaching the complete Rosary).
The virtue of obedience is one of the greatest indicators for determining the authenticity of alleged apparitions. According to the Saints, it is the only virtue the devil cannot imitate (who, by his nature, is disobedient), and is therefore the hallmark of authentic apparitions. To be obedient, says Venerable Mary of Agreda, is to cancel the sin of Lucifer, who knew what to do and chose not to do it. The Franciscan school teaches, in the religious state, the vow of obedience is the greatest of the three vows (poverty, chastity, obedience). In her diary, Jesus tells Saints Faustina that obedience merits more grace than any other external work.
The Saint even goes so far as to say that God, in a sense, bends His will to that of the direction of His clergy; "Jesus says; 'Obedience. I have come to do My Father’s will. I obeyed my Parents, I obeyed My tormentors and now I obey the Priests'
...I understood that our efforts, no matter how great, are not pleasing to God if they do not bear the seal of obedience....Obeying our superiors, we obey God. It makes no difference whether it is an angel or a man who, acting in God’s stead, gives me orders; I must always obey." -(diary of Saint Faustina)
In the apparitions of Garabandal, the examples of obedience are so numerous and varying, that one can say that it permeated from all facets of the girls' lives. Most notably, the Blessed Virgin instructed the children on the importance of obedience, especially to the Bishop. In fact, She told the children to obey the Bishop even before her; "She taught us to obey the Bishop before her." (Interview with Conchita, 1972). What is most striking, is even the Blessed Virgin Herself, in the apparitions, obeyed the commands of the bishop, as detailed in the account below;
Conchita, interview, 1973: "At the beginning, we used to go into the Church (editor's note; The Blessed Virgin often led the girls into a local church, where She would recite the Rosary together with them). But then the people, because they wanted to be first when we extended our arms, would make a big disturbance. So the bishop said we could not go into the church anymore. Then the Virgin, from the time the bishop said not to go into the church, never would let us in there again." Conchita recounts that, from that day forward, the Blessed Virgin no longer entered the Church, but instead remained outside.
The children learned from the example of the Virgin, and followed it themselves. The girls were not only obedient and docile to the bishops, but also to their parents, interrogations by doctors, physical exams, psychological tests, criticisms and slander, and the like.
They went along with everything imposed on them. Joseph Pelletier notes; "This simple unquestioning obedience to the commission manifested by the girls on this occasion is typical of their attitude and conduct toward the Church and clergy all during the apparitions" (jp53)
In 1965, in response to those eager to spread the message of Garabandal, Conchita writes; "This is agreeable to the Blessed Virgin. She is very pleased to have us work to spread the message. That is what She wants. But she wants us to obey the Church, for in this way we will give greater glory to God. She will provide time for the message to be spread with the permission of the Church." Six years later, Conchita expresses similar sentiments; "Reflect on this. If something is God's work, He will see that it triumphs in the best way over all obstacles. It is God who does everything. Sometimes He acts through us, but He can also bypass us to perform great miracles and prodigies. What we should do is sacrifice ourselves, be faithful in prayer and in the recitation of the Holy Rosary, and visit the Blessed Sacrament often." (jp181)
Penance and Sacrifice
The exhortation to sacrifice and do penance was undoubtedly an important part of the apparitions of Garabandal. It is no coincidence that the first message begins with this exhortation ("We must make many sacrifices, perform much penance..."), and the last message ends with a similar exhortation ("You should make more sacrifices. Think about the passion of Jesus."). It is thus that the call to penance and sacrifice are the 'book ends' of the Garabandal message. And rightly so. There has not been a Saint in history who has attained the heights of holiness without penance and sacrifice. By it, we become purified and detached from wordly affections, so that our hearts may be prepared to love and suffer for the salvation of souls [read more here].
| Conchita, in her room
Conchita, diary jp204, 1966: He [Jesus] replied..."I want to tell you, Conchita, that before the miracle occurs, you will suffer much, for few people will believe you. Your own family will believe that you have deceived them. I am the one who wants all this, as I have already told you, for your sanctification and so that the world may comply with the message. I wish to advise you that the remainder of your life will be a continual suffering. Do not be freightened. In your suffering you will find me and also Mary whom you love very much... I will be with whoever suffers for me."
Conchita, Interview, 1973: "One day, on the last apparition, on November 13th, 1965, I had a piece of gum in my mouth. The moment I saw the Virgin, I put it in my cheek and didn't chew it anymore. She said; "Why don't you dispose of that gum. Offer it up for me." I thought She hadn't seen it, but She knew I had it. So I took the gum out of my mouth. For me, this is an example that She is not asking for big sacrifices, but small ones, so that we can continually offer them out of love for Her."
Conchita, Interview, 1972: "The Lady explained about the sacrifices, and said that they ought to be remembered every moment of the day, as we are always in the presence of God...[Once] we wore tight knotted belts. We were trying to do things so that the Lady would notice that we were sacrificing. She noticed, and smiled, telling us that this was not the penance She meant; never to harm ourselves, but to accept what God gives us in every day life...just small things in every day life."
Mary Loli, letter, 1963: "The Virgin has made me know when a priest is in sin. She has helped me to know that he needs many prayers and sacrifices. She has given me to understand the Crucifixion in The Holy Mass, since I comprehend the humility, the sacrifice for the world. I spoke with The Virgin in a locution and asked Her to give me a cross to suffer for priests. She told me to bear everything with patience and to be humble, which was what pleased God the most. And I said to Her, 'Am I going to die soon?' And She said to me: 'No. You have to remain in the world to suffer. In whatever place you are you will suffer.' She also told me, 'Pray the Rosary everyday. Pray for priests, since there are some who need more sacrifices for them every day."(It should be noted that Mary Loli died on April 20th, 2009. She was diagnosed with lupus, pulmonary fibrosis, and many other health complications, which she had to endure for the last 23 years of her life.)
Conchita, diary jp97, 1961: "During Holy Week, the Blessed Virgin ordered me to go at five in the morning [as opposed to the regular time of six], which I did, because the Blessed Virgin always wants us to do penance."
Conchita, Interview, 1973: "With respect to penance and sacrifice, penance is what we impose on ourselves, sacrifice is giving up things as the situation suggests. For example, a person who scolds us, not to answer them back. Or if we receive a blow, to offer it to God."
Conchita, final vision, 1965: "Then She said to me: "You will recall what I told you on your patronal feast day [the Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8], that you would suffer much on earth? Well, have confidence in us and offer your suffering generously to our Hearts for the welfare of your brethren. In this way, you will feel how close we are to you." (jp186)