• Spirituality

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On November 4, 1961, barely fifteen days after the First Message's publication, the Virgin Mary gives the girls the new task of waking up early and praying the Rosary at sunrise in the "Calleja."

"Jacinta and Mari Cruz used to go at six o'clock in the morning. During Holy Week, [Our Lady] told me to go at five o'clock in the morning, and so I did, because the Virgin Mary always wishes that we do penance." (Conchita's Diary)

It would be frequent from now on in Garabandal for the girls (not in ecstasy) to have an intense prayer life marked by the penance of early hours and inclement weather. In spite of the fact that it truly was a sacrifice, they persevered in fulfilling the Virgin Mary's desire. In a letter she wrote on January 3, 1962, Jacinta revealed what the Virgin Mary's petition entailed, "At this moment, Mari Cruz and I have just arrived from praying the Rosary to the Virgin Mary. We had very bad [weather] yesterday morning. A river of water came down [the Calleja] and we could barely kneel down... Now, as long as it does not snow, everything is fine."

The words of the First Message, dated October 18, were palpable during these Rosaries, "We must make many sacrifices, do much penance." Notwithstanding, the Virgin Mary teaches the girls that penance is not the most important lesson in her visits. Conchita tells us about this lesson that they learned, "One day, during an apparition of the Virgin Mary, we were wearing the cilicio, although very loosely, and we would touch it every once in a while so that She could see that we were wearing it (it was on our waist). Finally, She said, "Yes, I know that you are wearing it. But that is not precisely what I ask of you, nor that which most pleases me, but rather your faithfulness in daily life."

Here the Virgin Mary teaches us that while She had asked them to make sacrifices and always do penance, these do not constitute the end that God expects of them. They are just a means to dispose the soul to be faithful, to love, and to be humble. If sacrifices do not produce humility but instead vainglory, they no longer please Her. What She expects from us is faithfulness in our daily duties and in the little things in order to be faithful in greater matters.

This is an important lesson to know: we have to do penance and sacrifices, but if they do not proceed from love and humility, they will not help us grow because they are not what God desires and nor what the Virgin Mary asks of us.

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