She Went in Haste to the Mountain (Page 158)
This fact cannot be denied or evaded: that a Host was seen on Conchita’s tongue like those used for Communion. But is this fact enough to call it an authentic miracle?
For some, a miracle was unquestionable from the first moment; for others, doubts began immediately and have not yet dissipated.
As men debate about the works of men, they are inclined to debate about the works of God, too. And to God this does not seem to matter, since He never takes away all the problems in such a way that disbelief and resistance to belief would be impossible. He never forces us to believe. We are merely given adequate information and sufficient leads to bring us to an attitude of faith based on good reasonable logic.
Whoever avoids searching into obscure areas ends up finding total security. The rich man of the parable said to the patriarch Abraham, If Lazarus, risen from the dead, goes to my brothers, they will not refuse his testimony. The patriarch (and it was Jesus Himself who spoke through him) answered: If they do not accept Moses and the prophets, they will not accept one who has risen from the dead either.
And so on the night of the milagrucu began the doubts, the suspicions, the twisted interpretations.
Conchita was told to remain with her tongue extended after having received the Host, until . . .
. . . the Virgin would come.
And I did it like this.
And when the Virgin came, she told me:
They all still do not believe.
The girl found out the truth of this as soon as she returned to her house, once the long trance had ended. For the trance was long; the Communion was only the beginning.
While many were keeping watch around the girl’s home, hoping for what might happen there (and these were the ones who saw, some well, some not so well, the things just described), others situated themselves in the calleja, thinking that there, at the site of so many other miraculous happenings, Conchita’s miraculous Communion would transpire.
Among these was Luis Navas; expectantly he ran to the Cuadro, seeking to secure the best observation point. But there he had to wait, although he tried to do it with resignation:
«I expressed» — he wrote — «my resignation to the Virgin while waiting there, If we don’t have the good fortune to see the miracle, at least let it be realized! I didn’t want to think of the consequences that would result from the non-realization of the predicted miracle, or the methods that might be adopted by the Commission, reticent from the start to admit any possibility of the apparitions being supernatural.
When Conchita came to the Cuadro . . . (As we have seen, the Virgin appeared to her after the Communion. Then began an ecstatic march, whose first stop was apparently the Calleja, where the lawyer from Palencia was waiting with the other people.) . . . I didn’t know whether she had received Communion. But I noticed that she held her mouth open. I saw this clearly since I found myself in the advantageous position that I had secured previously in case there would take place there, as was probable, the miracle that everyone was awaiting.
After being there some time, the visionary descended backwards toward the village, and I followed her with difficulty through the streets, since I had lost my glasses. It was at that time that I learned that she had already received Communion, and how it had occurred. There was nothing more for me to do than ask pardon for having doubted at the last hour, and to accept not having seen anything.
During the ecstasy, the visionary went in front of the church twice,(45) prayed the rosary through the streets,(46) visited the cemetery, and on returning from there, had barely passed over the little brook when she knelt down and advanced in this position about 50 meters. Finally she sang the Salve and went to conclude the vision where it had begun almost two hours previously, but not before offering the many articles placed on the kitchen table to be kissed.»
It was at this time that the girl began to see evidence of what the Virgin had mentioned when she appeared to the girl after Communion: All still do not believe.
She was . . . as anyone would be after an extraordinary favor from heaven. We know this through reliable testimony. The Commission had asked in its questionnaire:
— «Is it true that Conchita, on returning home, smiled and avoided questions? Was she agitated?»
Fr. Etelvino answered:
— «She was calm when I saw her . . . She spoke calmly and happily.»
Among the people in Conchita’s kitchen at the end of the ecstasy was Dr. Ortiz’s wife. She remembers that they were telling the girl:
— How happy you must be Conchita! Finally the miracle has come.
— Yes, but the Virgin told me that many, in spite of seeing it, do not believe . . . And I think one of these is Plácido.
At that moment, Plácido arrived. The girl smiled broadly and said to him:
— You, you don’t believe?
— Not much — the man replied, trying in vain to smile.(47)
Plácido Ruiloba had been pushed away by the crowd and could not see the Host with his own eyes. Afterwards the Franciscan Fr. Justo, who had seen it and was full of doubts, relayed to him what he felt . . .
Dr. Ortiz’s wife heard Fr. Justo speaking to Fr. Bravo:
— I was tempted to take the Host with my hand, to see if it was real . . .
— Didn’t that seem to be tempting God?
A Franciscan father, Father Justo, didn’t believe what he had seen.
And he said to the people that he hadn’t seen it, that it was a lie, that it was I who had done this . . .In the writings of Luis Navas are these lines:
«In the days prior to July 18th Conchita had expressed her concern that many people would not witness the event, and as a consequence would not believe it . . . This prediction was verified because some didn’t except it (the presentation of the miracle seemed too much to them), because many didn’t see it, and because for other reasons the people in general were rather cold . . . And I think that during the time before the miracle was accomplished everyone doubted, more or less, that it would take place.»
Soon the Commission at Santander was deluged with a flood of comments, suspicions, and questions, all coming from the unconvinced.
And it was not hard for the Commission to think that there had been no miracle.
But something had definitely happened, because of which there was no other way out than to seek to offer explanations. The Commission members thought that by seeking evidence against Garabandal they were fulfilling their duty; but the rest of us might think that they did not accomplish another duty, a first and more important one: to be there at the place of the event, following everything that was occurring from the best point of observation.
The Commission members assert their right to speak out publicly and express their opinions on the events. That being the case, the least that could be asked of them would be to be there in the forefront of everyone else following, observing, and studying the events. It was not this way!
The letter in which Conchita invited them to be present at Garabandal on the 18th of July may or may not have been inspired by God; nevertheless those called had a serious obligation not to lose an occasion (that could well have been of great importance) to bring more light on the complete study that was entrusted to them. Instead of this, initially they showed no concern. Later when collecting information from witnesses, by design they soughtonly witnesses from whom they expected unfavorable testimony.
What would have happened if the responsible persons in the diocesan chancery had been at the appointed spot on the day fixed by God?
God can perform things very well without man; but the History of Salvation shows us how certain divine designs have gone astray because of lack of human cooperation. God does not have to yield to our desires . . . How often He could say to us: Since you attempt to come to the light through your own ways, and not through Mine, you will remain in the darkness!
On July 18th, 1962, a thing that could have decisively clarified the mystery of Garabandal ended by leaving it like it was, or perhaps even more obscure. Whose fault was this?
45. Luis Navas noted something that particularly attracted his attention: the «open mouth of Conchita»; but he does not give more detail. Nevertheless, there are other testimonies that speak of something very remarkable in this regard.
Félix Gallego, a doctor from Polanco (Santander), tells how he, while going with the girl toward the church after the miracle, saw perfectly a halo of light in the back of her open mouth. That same night, on returning to his home in Polanco, he wrote down a report that days later he gave to Father Valentín for him to take, if it seemed useful, to his superiors at the chancery.
And I myself was able to receive an unequivocal testimony from a woman from Madrid, María Paloma Fernández- Pacheco de Larrauri. She had come to the village in the early morning of July 18th, and was spending the day waiting like so many others . . . When Conchita finally left her house in ecstasy, this woman, who had been waiting a long time outside, could not follow her because of the commotion and the people throwing themselves on top of her. Resigned and silent, she went down another street and was walking aimlessly when she perceived, muffled and far away, the noise of those who were coming with the visionary. Soon above the noise that was breaking the silence of the night, she heard a woman shout excitedly: Oh! She’s carrying it in her mouth!
She rushed toward the sound and found there, at the entrance of the church, a spectacle that she will never be able to forget. Within the churchyard in the middle of the people who had arranged themselves in a wide circle, or perhaps rather a rectangle, Conchita was moving in ecstasy. Flashlights were converging on her with their beams of light, but surpassing that light was another light which shone from the mouth of the girl with an unusual resplendence.
Mrs. Paloma succeeded in situating herself well on the left side of the courtyard and was able to observe perfectly, for some minutes, this extraordinary phenomenon in front of her. «It was» — she said — «as if in the center of her wide-open mouth, on the tongue of the child, there were a host or “forma” of concentrated light, around which radiated a little halo of light of a different kind.»
This phenomenon was definitely observed by other persons too, some of whom did not want to talk about it for fear of being considered hysterical or subject to hallucinations.
46. Conchita wrote, And she told me to pray the rosary, and I prayed it.
47. According to a witness’ report, Plácido said then to Conchita: «Liar! You’ve deceived us!»
Undisturbed, the girl replied with a smile: «The Virgin told me: In spite of everything, some do not believe!»