Letter #123, 2023, Saturday, September 2: Letter from Garabandal
I write this letter to bear witness to three things I have seen and heard:
— five centuries of the Rosary in Garabandal;
— the profound silence of The Pines which have grown up above the village;
— the remembrance and sharing of kisses given by the Virgin to four girls 60 years ago, which continues to be shared even today.
The rosary of centuries
In the small church in the middle of the Spanish village of Garabandal, a rosary has been recited every evening for the past 500 years.
(The rosary is a Catholic prayer which focuses attention on the coming into the world of the Logos, the Word of God, Jesus Christ. In five joyful mysteries, the birth of Christ to the Virgin Mary is recalled; in five sorrowful mysteries, the passion and death of Christ is recalled; in five glorious mysteries, the resurrection of Christ, his triumph over death itself, is recalled.)
In the rosary, 10 Hail Marys are prayed with each mystery, totaling 150 Hail Marys for the 15 traditional mysteries; this is the same number as that of the Psalms of King David, which number 150. Three other Hail Marys are prayed at the beginning of each Rosary, for faith, hope and love. So the total of the Hail Marys is 153, which is the same number as the number of fish caught by the disciples in the Sea of Galilee after Christ’s resurrection, when they had fished all night and caught nothing, but then cast their nets on the other side of their fishing boat, and caught 153 fish, which John says were poured out on the beach, and counted. Many Church Fathers later interpreted this number as symbolic of all the species of fish, but also symbolic of the number of all the nations in the world, which would be drawn into the nets of the evangelists by the preaching of the disciples in the centuries up until today.
A century of the pine grove
Above the village of Garabandal, there is a grove of pine trees.
The trees were planted from seeds given to children making their first communions in the 1920s. So the trees are now 100 years old.
This is a place of profound peace.
It is said that a miracle will someday occur in this place, a miracle which will be visible to the entire world, which will leave a permanent sign until the end of time.
The kiss of the Virgin
Each time the four girls of Garabandal saw the Virgin, and spoke with her, she spoke with them as a mother speaks to her children.
She was familiar, gentle, encouraging, loving.
And each time she left them, the children said, she kissed them, to show her love for them.
So, at the center of the Garabandal apparitions was the Virgin’s maternal kiss.
The love of a mother for her children.
I spoke briefly today with Jacinta, and with her husband, Jeffrey, who has my same name, Moynihan, and whose father was named Dr. Robert Moynihan.
She showed me a crucifix that she has kept for more than 60 years. She told me that the Virgin had kissed the crucifix when she had held it up to her.
She held out the crucifix to me, so that I too might kiss it.
In this way, the maternal kiss of the Virgin of Garabandal was shared also with me; in this letter, it is my hope that such a kiss may also be shared with each of you.
Here are excerpts from an article which seems relevant on this occasion (link):
“On the night of October 11, 1962 [the day of the opening of the Second Vatican Council] Pope John XXIII gave the most popular and memorable papal speech of all time, known as his ‘moonlight speech.’
“Thousands of people, many carrying torches, made their way to St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the opening of the historic Second Vatican Council. Naturally, they hoped the Pope would speak to them. (link)
“Pope John’s secretary, then-Monsignor and later Cardinal Loris Francesco Capovilla (…) said that the Pope was at first reluctant to address the crowd. No doubt tired after this great day, Pope John said ‘I do not want to speak! I’ve already said everything this morning.’
“But, seeing how many people were waiting with festive torchlights, Pope John relented, asked for his stole, and came to the window (then already ‘the Pope’s window,’ and now the place from which the Pope delivers his Angelus message on Sundays).
“His impromptu remarks are called ‘the moonlight speech’ because he said:
Here all the world is represented. One might even say that the moon rushed here this evening – Look at her high up there – to behold this spectacle.
“You can hear in the video how the people began to laugh and applaud as soon as he mentioned the moon. Among his most famous words:
When you go back home, you will find your children: and give them a caress and say, ‘This is a caress from the Pope.’
“Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council recalled that night:
Fifty years ago on this day I too was in this square, gazing towards this window where the good Pope, Blessed Pope John looked out and spoke unforgettable words to us, words that were full of poetry and goodness, words that came from his heart.
This simply means that we, all of us throughout our society, should love and care for our children.
This message, the love of a mother, the love of a father, is the essential message of Garabandal.
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