A Matter of Emphasis
by Connie Hoebich
Are we focusing on prophecy or on sanctification?
Prophecy has a mysterious power with men. Some shrink from it, others thrive on it. All, it seems, are roused by it. Perhaps the reason is deep in our nature for, in truth, the human schematic is rooted in prophecy. Regarding a certain tree, Adam was told: “On the day you eat of it … you shall surely die.” After the fall, even as the prophetic words of condemnation were being pronounced, Adam heard also that the privileges he had abused would one day be restored. For centuries, God’s Chosen People were nourished in hope by this prophecy of the messiah to come. Throughout scripture and secular history, from Abraham to John the Baptist, Nostradamus to Jeanne Dixon, men have rallied ‘round the soothsayers. Or they have stoned them. Indifference to a prophet is rare. Prophecy provokes.
Case in point: the Garabandalists—you and I. How often have we heard, “Tell me more about the miracle,” or “The warning-what will it be like?” or “The punishment, will it come in my lifetime?” Sometimes I fret that men have absorbed nothing else about Garabandal except Warning, Miracle, and Chastisement—and this without perspective. Prophecy has intrigued them. They will toss the Garabandal prophecies around for a while, then tuck them away in some cerebral recess with yesterday’s horoscope. If, after I’ve presented Garabandal, men walk away thinking only Warning, Miracle, Chastisement, then I have failed in some way.
Fr. J.M. Laffineur, who, for nine years before his death in 1970, championed the cause of Garabandal in writings and lectures around the world, often said in his holy zeal: “We must announce the warning of Garabandal everywhere, incessantly, assiduously.” This is, of course, our mission—but only part of our mission.
We must just as assiduously make clear the correct sequence of emphasis. Our Lady comes with a message from God: the warning, the miracle God provides so that men may believe the message. Spectacular as they will surely be, the warning and the miracle are subordinately cast in the drama of Garabandal. It is the message—and the active fulfillment of it—that must permeate the world.
What God asks of men in the message of Garabandal will sanctify them. What He does through the warning and the miracle is to put His signature on this call to sanctification. That signature, written also in the phenomena of the ecstasies and the graces and cures already manifest, ratifies the message. It says: “See, I show you that the words of the little girls in Spain are My words spoken through My Mother. I have appealed to you. Heed My words.”
For us, who have been called by Our Lady to announce these words, the dramatic wonders God works are a reward for our persevering work—and an inspiration, that we may ever more tirelessly proclaim the message. Indeed, when the memories of the warning and the miracle have been etched in our hearts, and with the glory of God’s permanent sign resplendent before our eyes, our work will have only just begun.
Eagerly as we look forward to the miracle, these days of waiting are something of a luxury for us. We don’t as yet feel the pressure of time. The chastisement looms—but way off. We must have the miracle first. Ah, but after the miracle … It will be you and I – racing the clock. And whether or not God’s arm is restrained will depend on just how well we have done our work in these years. If Garabandal has held people by prophecy alone, where will the people be when two thirds of the prophecy is complete? To them, the show—all they wanted to see of it—will be over. But if we have preached reform of heart and spiritual growth, God will have worked many miracles of grace in men’s souls, and we shall have armies of recruits to do the work that must follow the great miracle.
This is what Conchita means when she says repeatedly: “Fulfill the message!” She has even said people don’t have to believe in the apparitions—“but they must fulfill the message!” Think of it. She has seen the Mother of God some 2,000 times, but this is not what she would impress you with. Rather: fulfill the message! “My food is to do the will of the One Who sent Me and to complete His work.”
Are we, the believers, putting the emphasis where it must be? Are we focusing on prophecy or on sanctification? Are we fulfilling the message? “First, we must lead good lives,” Our Lady said. OK, chalk that up for us. But what about the rest—which the Virgin, in fact, listed first:
“We must make many sacrifices,
perform much penance,
visit the Blessed Sacrament frequently.”
And her closing words:
“Think about the passion of Jesus.”
This is Garabandal. Not alone prophecy and the spectacle of phenomena. Prophecy does not sanctify, but the quiet, moment-to-moment activity of prayer, penance and Christ crucified in our hearts does. This is God’s appeal at Garabandal, and it must bear fruit in individuals first and eventually, through them, the world.
Is the message of Garabandal fulfilled in us as individuals? Good! Then we are worthy promoters. And our Heavenly Mother is blessing our work.