Our Lady Prophesied ‘The Double Threat’
By Fr Joseph Pelletier. A.A.
The Priesthood and the Eucharist are the heart and life-blood of the Church. For some time now, both have been – and still are – the object of one of the most furious onslaughts of the evil one ever witnessed in Church history. The Church is presently experiencing a terrible crisis; some say it is the worst of all time, because it is being seriously threatened from both without and within.
Our Lady saw this ‘double threat’ long before it was apparent to most of us. She began to warn us as early as 1917 at Fatima. Her warning became even clearer and insistent from 1961 to 1965 at Garabandal. There she spoke openly of the crisis in both the priesthood and the Eucharist. And she continued to speak almost daily over a period of a year and a half, from the middle of 1961 to the end of 1962. With the exception of the rosary, she talked most about this crisis to the four visionaries during the 2,000 apparitions which took place in the tiny village of Garabandal high in the beautiful Cantabrian mountains of north western Spain. That she talked so often of both the priesthood and the Eucharist is not surprising since they are so intimately connected.
Focus On The Eucharist
At Garabandal, Our Lady spoke of the Eucharist in each of her two formal messages; that of October 18, 1961 and that of June 18, 1965. In the first message, she said, “We must visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently.” In the second, “Less and less importance is being given to the Eucharist.” This and the other parts of the first message, were brought to the attention of the seers before October 18, 1961. St Michael, the archangel, was the first to appear at Garabandal. He came initially on June 18, 1961. On June 24, the fifth time he appeared, he had a sign beneath him inscribed with the first message of Garabandal, but the girls were too attracted by the beauty of the angel to pay attention to the sign, and the angel said nothing. However, on July 4, the third day Our Lady came, she communicated the message that had been on the sign and told the girls to announce it publicly on October 18, 1961. Later, she explained the meaning of the message to them. In fact, she instructed them many times, telling them how to fulfil it and reproaching them when they neglected to do so. In a letter to Fr Jose Ramon Garcia de la Riva, dated May 26, 1962, Mari Loli wrote, “She (the Blessed Virgin) tells us every day to be better, to visit the Blessed Sacrament more often and to say the rosary every day.”
Before The Tabernacle
Our Lady’s messages and teachings to the girls were meant for us as well as for them. Some of the instruction was conveyed not only through her words to them, but through their actions, through the things they were led to do. Two of these “teachings in action” deal with Our Lord in the tabernacle. During the early days of the apparitions, Our Lady quite frequently led the girls into the village church and had them kneel and pray before the tabernacle.
Fr Jose de la Riva describes his witness of this event the very first time he visited Garabandal on August 22, 1961. It was in the evening, after the daily rosary. The girls had gone into ecstasy outside the church and went inside once without going to the tabernacle. Then later, they returned: “Several times the girls came back into the church, two by two: Conchita and Mari-Cruz, Jacinta and Mari Loli. They came and placed themselves beside me on the first step of the altar (where I was praying at the time). All I had to do was turn my head slightly and I could observe perfectly the unfolding of these phenomena that at first glance appeared to be mystical. They prayed with fervour and in a low voice before the tabernacle. Their entire bearing was a thing of admirable beauty. Their heads were tilted backward slightly and their faces were transparent as though lighted from within by a light that would have been dazzling if it had not been tempered by an unctuous sweetness.”
Mary’s Motherly Wisdom
So it was that Mary, with motherly wisdom, supplemented and reinforced her verbal message to visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently with the powerful teaching of this example. Even after the ecclesiastical authorities at Santander had forbidden the girls to enter the church in the state of ecstasy, Our Lady continued to use them to teach the lesson of visiting the Blessed Sacrament. She led them in ecstasy (when they walked in ecstasy, it is because they followed the vision, as she moved) around the church, reciting the rosary or singing the Salve Regina. On other occasions, she led them often at the end of an apparition, to within inches of the door of the church – as close as they could get – and had them fall on their knees. In these miraculous ways, the girls in ecstasy still “visited” the Blessed Sacrament as best they could. These acts, perhaps more than anything else, reveal the importance the Blessed Virgin attached to “visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. “
Respect for Our Lord’s Presence
Our Blessed Mother used the girls in ecstasy to teach us still another lesson regarding the Sacrament of Christ’s Love - namely, the respect we should manifest. After bringing the girls to kneel and pray for a short while (“one minute”, ”a few minutes,” according to early Notes of the Pastor, Don Valentin Marichalar), at the foot of the main altar and just a few feet from the tabernacle, Our Lady led them, still in ecstasy, but walking backwards, from the main altar and tabernacle to either a side altar to say the rosary, or out of the church completely. The deeply religious and highly sensitive Simon, Jacinta’s father, was struck by this and grasped its meaning. Here are his comments:
“I also noticed something else. Whenever, in ecstasy, the girls left the main altar to go to another altar or to leave the church, they always moved backward until they reached the door of the Church. Never in ecstasy did they turn their backs to the Blessed Sacrament. Never, never! In reality, their manner of acting was a lesson for us, but they never boasted about it.”
Of course, it was the basic message of respect toward the Blessed Sacrament and not this particular manner of expressing it that Our Lady was teaching us through this unusual conduct of the girls.
Our Lady’s Message – Prophetic
It is important to note the prophetic nature of Our Lady’s message in regard to the Blessed Sacrament. She foresaw that the number of people visiting the Blessed Sacrament would decline and that there would also be a loss of respect toward it. It is as though she were saying, “Be careful, I am warning you in advance, the time is soon coming when people will rarely visit the Blessed Sacrament and when many will fail to maintain a respectful attitude in its presence.”
Here is what Conchita had to say in a February 7, 1974 interview concerning these two points. Her remarks were made in reply to a question asking what she thought offended Our Lord most in regard to our attitude and conduct toward the Blessed Sacrament. “Indifference” When we are in church, we talk with one another and do not think who it is in the tabernacle. If the pope or the president were sitting in this room, would you waste your time to talk to me or to someone else? No, your attention would be on the great person present. In too many ways, people forget that it is Jesus on the altar and in the tabernacle. We must believe in faith that it is He. Besides daily Mass, Communion and the rosary we must go often to pay a visit to Our Lord in the churches where He is alone.”
Lack of Faith the Real Cause
Conchita put her finger on the real cause of all our failings toward the Blessed Sacrament – our lack of faith in the Real or Divine Presence. It is because we do not have a lively faith in Jesus’ presence in the tabernacle that we talk in church, fail to genuflect properly, make no real effort to greet Him, and pray to Him after we have entered our pew. Moreover, there is the whole question of proper and modest attire, especially in the summer and on Sundays at Mass. We need to acknowledge that we have been led, little by little, step by step, to a point of widespread, and at times appalling, lack of respect for our heavenly Father’s house. As a result, our attitude often differs little from our behaviour in the parish hall. Our Lady wants you to visit her divine Son in your churches. She also wants you to maintain a respectful attitude when in His presence. Remember, only you can satisfy her prayers. Have you the heart to deny her?