Nov 25, 2014

The Cross of Garabandal and the death of Joey Lomangino

Garabandal seen from the Pines

A little bit late, but I just heard of the death of Joey Lomangino, the blind man who became one of the principal apostles of the apparitions of Garabandal, Spain (1961-1965). Joey passed away on June 18th of this year, and shortly thereafter his New York Garabandal Center was closed. Only a tiny remnant of true believers still remain from those long ago days, still waiting for the expected Warning and Miracle. Joey, however, was special, a genuinely holy man of profound faith and deep surrender to the Divine Will. 

This is very moving news and quite sad in its implications, but only of possible interest to Garabandal devotees and enthusiasts, of which, I confess, I am one. I first visited Garabandal in August 1976, shortly before the death of Pope Paul VI and the election of Albino Luciani as the saintly John Paul I. I was profoundly moved by the visit and have never doubted the spiritual authenticity of the Garabandal charism, though I've kept myself distant from its more spectacular elements and all of the attendant speculation about future events. Garabandal is simply one more sacred space on earth where one encounters the Divine Feminine, calling us to a life of prayer, mortification, sacrifice - and above all, forgiveness and love. And in fact the sacrifices most dear to the Heavenly Mother's heart are those moments of forgiveness that sometimes cost us such a struggle of soul. Love and forgiveness, and after them a loving practice of self denial. 

Joey had a now well known visit with stigmatist, Padre Pio, shortly after the accident that left Joey blind and without his sense of smell. This visit with Padre Pio restored his sense of smell and healed his soul as well. Planning a visit to Garabandal, Joey, not wanting to jeopardize his newly restored spiritual state,  asked the renowned holy man if this was all right, and Padre Pio said it was and gave Joey his blessing for the trip. Once he arrived, he heard a heavenly womanly voice comforting and advising him. This was only a very brief epiphany, but it marked Joey for life and embarked him upon his new vocation as an apostle of Mary. However, Conchita, the head visionary (now in her sixties) told Joey she had been told by the Blessed Mother to tell Joey that the voice he heard was her own and that on the day of the great miracle, he would 'receive new eyes.' This prophecy has been one of the mainstays of Garabandal belief and certitude over the past forty plus years, so Joey's passing is indeed a blow, a sign of contradiction and a heavy cross to bear. However, he died peacefully surrounded by his family on the very anniversary of the first apparition at Garabandal, and that does not seem like a coincidence to me. Joey was a holy man and his holiness and humility are the greatest testimony to the vocation given him to spread the message of Garabandal. That in itself is enough of a holy sign. Joey's heartfelt surrender to his Holy Mother and all she asked of him is more of a miracle of grace than the restoration of his sight, however spectacular such an event might have been. There is a mystery at work here. Let us contemplate it in silence and with respect. 

(Lest we forget: The young Garabandal visionaries in ecstasy and the event that rocked the Catholic world in the 1960's long before Medjugorje)

One of the other more significant prophecies of Garabandal, however,  is that as we approach the 'end times' and the moment of the 'Great Miracle,' an event would occur that would cause many to doubt. This has now taken place with the unexpected death of Joey Lamargino, and the naysayers were not long in voicing their gladful responses. However, many sincere persons of faith have been troubled by this event and it leaves them saddened and perplexed.  Personally, this is how I view the fact of Joey's passing, as a paradoxical mystery and a moment of grace. Above all, it is a moment to 'let go' of all expectations of spectacular fulfillments of prophecies. . It is just such paradoxical reversals, so painful and difficult to fathom, that challenge our faith all of the time. The message behind them is peaceful acceptance and detachment in a spirit of deep faith. In faith, we have everything. 

In light of this reversal, those who feel spiritually connected to Garabandal must resort to prayer and discernment to understand the significance of this event - and part of this prayer must be a request for the grace of detachment from any expectations of spectacular events or prophetic fulfillments of Garabandal.

Till the end of my days, I will continue to believe that for one brief moment of time, the veil concealing Eternity was gently pulled aside on a hillside in Spain between the years of 1961 and 1965 and the Heavenly Mother of us all revealed her glorious, loving and compassionate presence. Yet this is a presence that can still be discerned, intuited, deeply felt in our own hearts and well as on the hillsides of this still remote Spanish village.

The story of Garabandal is still not over and the death of Joey Lamangino is one of those sacrifices that will bear much fruit. 

Blessings on you Joey and may you rejoice in your new life of heavenly joy and with your newly bestowed eyes of the Spirit. Joey pray for us.

Joey's Garabandal Website here

A Quick summary of the major events of the apparitions

Interesting discussion group about Joey's passing (many conservatives and true believers in view, but not all)

The range of people who feel some connection with Garabandal is wide and broad, though most sites dealing with the apparitions are dominated by Catholics of the most traditional kind. Some of us - myself included - feel called to right the balance of this equation, however. Mary is calling many of us, including this aging happily queer gay Catholic man, who believes in all things liberal in the Church, from women priests (please soon) to gay marriage (a little bit later). I stop at abortion, however, a social phenomenon mentioned in the visions at Garabandal - to the shock and consternation of the then 14 year old visionary, Conchita Gonzalez. Since this was long before the time abortions became legal in many countries, the simple village girl could not comprehend the Heavenly Mother's description of the procedure. "How can a baby be killed in its mother's womb without also killing the mother,'asked the young visionary. 


Anonymous said...

Beautifully Written! I will continue to believe also.....