Shall we give cognizance to these things? If so, how much and what?
St Pius of Pietrelcina ("Padre Pio") clearly believed in these future developments and, in particular, in the apparitions and messages of our Lady given to the González children in the little village in the mountains of northern Spain called San Sebastián de Garabandal.
St Pius also believed in the coming miracle and chastisement, whilst recognising that the latter is conditional upon the response of men to the messages of our Lady and our Lord. If men turn from their evil lives and embrace prayer, penance, sacrifice and good lives, then the chastisement will be curtailed or avoided.
But, if they do not, then men can expect a chastisement which has been described at apparitions such at that of our Lady of Akita, in northern Japan, as worse than the Flood - a very sobering and disturbing thought.
These visions given to Sr Agnes Sasagawa have been approved by the local bishop and by Rome so that they, given their apocalyptic content, command our attention.
Additionally, at Akita, the statue of the Virgin wept salt tears in copious quantities - a very clearly miraculous event since wooden or plaster statues cannot weep tears, let alone in such quantities. And, no, for the sceptics, there isn't a secret hose concealed in the statue - anyone is free to check the statue very carefully for themselves!
The approved apparitions of our Lady at La Salette in southern France, at Fatima, at Akita and in other places, clearly point to a great chastisement or punishment which will fall upon mankind if there is no turning back to God.
Whilst this may have been deserved in times past, in the 19th century when men were turning openly against God and staging revolutions against the Church and the State, looking to destroy both and to fashion a spurious new world order in the image of man, how much more is it deserved in our own age of utter licentiousness, godlessness and venality when men have become so corrupted by evil?
Shall we then simply ignore the messages that seem to be pouring down from heaven, warning us of the consequences of our ill deeds, and imploring us to return to God and to the good?
The present level of godlessness and atheism seems unprecedented so it would be very strange if God and our Lady stood back, insouciant and unconcerned at the sorry plight of men.
In fact, our Lord and our Lady have done the reverse. They seem to have been appearing everywhere to warn mankind but always, as ever, respecting the free will of men to choose good or ill. The petitions of the Blessed Virgin have been particularly pathetic and imploring to us.
Shall we listen?
Yes, we must!
But we must also discern and not allow ourselves to be led astray by the Enemy of mankind, the Devil and his legions, who are adept at imitating apparitions falsely. So we must be cautious of false visions. Let us judge them, firstly, by listening to the Church's judgment and, absent any such judgment, by what is taught at such apparitions. If they teach any false or loose doctrine, then we must beware of them.
The Garabandal apparitions were apparitions of Saint Michael the Archangel and the Blessed Virgin Mary that are claimed to have occurred from 1961 to 1965 to four young schoolgirls in the rural village of San Sebastián de Garabandal in the Peña Sagra mountain range in the autonomous community of Cantabria in Northern Spain.
The apparitions drew huge crowds, and featured self-evidently paranormal phenomena, many filmed or photographed, with thousands of witnesses.
The girls receiving the visions were Mari Loli Mazón(1 May 1949- 20 April 2009), Jacinta González (born 27 April 1949), Mari Cruz González (born 21 June 1950) and Concepcion "Conchita" González (born 7 February 1949). The girls were not related despite having the same name.
I have not found anything contrary to the teaching of the Church in the messages given at Garabandal. However, everyone must decide for himself by examining what occurred, and what was said, since the Church has yet to deliver a final judgment.
It is significant that St Pius believed them. Bl John Paul II was a great devotee of St Pius. That, too, is indicative.
At the time, the Bishop of Santander determined a non constat—that is, the events could not be confirmed to be of supernatural origin.
In 21 April 1970, Cardinal Franjo Seper, then Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, backed the Bishop, discouraged pilgrimages to Garabandal and scolded those who sought to minimise the stance of the Bishop who is, in the first instance, the proper authority in such matters. Cardinal Seper said:
"…the Holy See has never approved even indirectly the Garabandal movement…it has never encouraged or blessed Garabandal promoters or centres. Rather the Holy See deplores that fact that certain persons and Institutions persist in setting out the movement in obvious contradiction to the dispositions of ecclesiastical authority and thus disseminate confusion among the people especially among the simple and defenceless”.
However, in April 2007, Joseph “Joey” Lomangino, founder of one of the largest Garabandal organisations in the USA, received from Conchita a letter, dated 12 February 2007, she had herself received from Archbishop Carlos Sierra of Oviedo, then the acting Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Santander, which read:
“I want you to know that I am open to receiving and considering all information about Garabandal, and would like to continue—as long as our Holy Father wishes me to serve as Apostolic Administrator—the work that my brothers at the Bishopric have already done in reference to this subject. What I have just done is authorize the priests to go to Garabandal and say Holy Mass at the Parish, at any desired time, and to administer the Sacrament of Reconciliation to anyone that wishes to receive it. I am sure the next Bishop will promote further studies to examine in depth the Garabandal events and will send the findings to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. I respect apparitions and have known of authentic conversions. How can we not always feel the need to open our heart to our Mother Mary to tell her that we need her protection, her help, her courage, her hope, her faith and her love when faced with these events! I encourage you to keep maintaining such devotion toward our Mother”.
Lomangino, when young, had been in an accident and lost both sight and smell. He regained his sense of smell when in the confessional with St Pius of Pietrelcina. He then visited Garabandal where one of the visionaries was told that he would regain his sight on the day of "the Miracle". Joey Lomangino has since died so, if indeed this was what the visionary was told, it cannot mean that he will regain his sight in this life.
That the visions were paranormal and either supernatural (i.e. from heaven) or praeternatural (i.e. not from heaven but probably from either hell or purgatory) is evident from some of the filmed material made at the time. Particularly striking are the ecstatic walks of the children in which, without looking, they walked without stumbling or falling or stubbing their toes, even when going backwards fast.
Later still, came a miraculous reception of Holy Communion which was also photographed by on-lookers. The children are said to have received Holy Communion from the hands of angels (who, in turn, took them from tabernacles since angels cannot consecrate the Host).
On this occasion, the Host appeared miraculously as the angel gave it to Conchita on the tongue. To on-lookers it seemed as if the Host materialised out of thin air on the tongue of the child. The following is one of the photographs taken of that incident. it is a poor photograph but its veracity is confirmed by many on-lookers who saw the event.
These occurrences clearly show something paranormal occurring and of that there can be little doubt. But are they from heaven? That is the question which must be determined ultimately by the Church.
However, for the present, it is a matter of legitimate private judgement (particularly as the 1983 Code of Canon Law allows more freedom to the Faithful to make pilgrimages to not-yet-approved places of apparition).
It is significant that St Pius recognised the visions, as I said, and that nothing contrary to Catholic doctrine is evident in the messages.
Part of one of the messages was very startling at the time, but much less so now when we have the evidence of our own eyes that it is true. On 18 June 1965, our Lady is said to have told Conchita, the principal visionary, via an angel:
"As my Message of the 18th of October has not been complied with, and as it has not been made known to the world, I am telling you that this is the last one. Previously, the Cup was filling; now, it is brimming over. Many cardinals, many bishops and many priests are following the road to perdition, and with them they are taking many more souls. Ever less importance is being given to the Holy Eucharist. We should turn the wrath of God away from us by our own efforts. If you ask His forgiveness with a sincere heart. He will pardon you. I, your Mother, through the intercession of St Michael the Archangel, wish to tell you that you should make amends. You are now being given the last warnings. I love you very much, and I do not want your condemnation. Ask Us sincerely and We shall grant your plea. You must make more sacrifices. Reflect on the Passion of Jesus."
Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that Cardinal Seper was reluctant to allow pilgrimages or dissemination of the messages!
However, now that we know only too well that many cardinals, bishops and priests are following the road to perdition and are taking many more souls with them, and that devotion to the Holy Eucharist has become weak, we are no longer so startled by this revelation. Alas, it is all too true and many other evils, as well!
We are told that, within a year before the Miracle, there will be a world-wide Warning which will be a personal interior vision or locution, with some unknown but powerful external signs, to every person living which will show us our conscience and cause us great grief at our sins and missed graces. It will be a "wake up" call for mankind. We are even told that some will perish as a result of the experience, presumably at the shock of it.
We are told that the Miracle will be a permanent sign at the pine grove, situated just above the little village, the place of many of the apparitions.
This "sign" will be something one can appear to touch but not feel, "like smoke" says Conchita González (now Conchita Keena and living in New York with her husband and children), which seems to suggest that it may be some sort of miraculous, transparent image that is intangible, permanently visible at the pine grove.
At Garabandal the messages give us a clue as to when these great events are likely to occur. We are told that the Miracle will occur thus:
1. On a Thursday at 8.30pm;
2. On the Feast Day of a martyr of the Blessed Sacrament;
3. On a Feast of great ecclesiastical importance;
4. In March, April or May; and
5. Conchita has been told by our Lady to reveal the exact date, 8 days beforehand.
This may be decipherable, particularly if one accepts that it must occur within the lifetime of the still living Conchita now in old age.
One possibility is 13 April. That date is the Feast of Spanish martyr for the Eucharist, Prince St Hermenegild, whose own father, the King of Visigothic Spain, ordered his execution because he would not take communion from an Arian heretical priest. Prince Hermenegild was imprisoned in Tarragona or Toledo by his father, King Leovigild. During his captivity in the tower of Seville, an Arian bishop was sent to St. Hermenegild during the Easter Season, but he would not accept Holy Communion from the hands of that heretical prelate. King Leovigild ordered him beheaded and he was martyred on 13 April 586.
It is highly significant that this is the feast of a saint who would not take communion from an heretical priest since there are many today who would consider such an action far too "scrupulous" and who quite happily receive communion from priests with heterodox views and from non-Catholic clergy.
We shall know what date is correct because Conchita will confirm the date, 8 days before, there will be a permanent sign at the pine grove in Garabandal and it will be preceded by the Warning.
We can expect the Warning within a year of that date.
Some have suggested that it might be on the Feast day of another martyr of the Eucharist and a Feast day of our Lady. One obvious date would be the Feast of the Assumption which concides with the Feast of St Tarcisius, the young Roman martyr of the Eucharist, i.e. 15 August.
Thereafter, once the Miracle has occurred and been seen, if men do not heed these great events and return to God, then we can expect a fearsome Chastisement, something, again, which St Pius of Pietrelcina believed in and warned about.
The important point which ought not to require to be made but which plainly does need to be made is that now is the time of grace in which we must seize every opportunity for penance, sacrifice, fasting and reparation, lead good lives, pray the Rosary daily, wear the Brown Scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel and make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
We should also attend mass as often as we can, receive Holy Communion and, if possible, partake of the daily prayer of the Church (e.g. Lauds, Vespers etc).