This morning I sent a message to the owner of the apartment I am staying at in Garabandal. He informed me that everything is closed because of the feast of St. Joseph. Last night we attended a vigil mass for the feast. My love of Spain has always been mysterious to me; however, today, the mystery unfolded a little more.
Spain does not boast a deep faith as a country; however, they sincerely respect the faith that is offered to them. Many businesses are closed today, and Garabandal is completely shut down except for the church. We are excited to arrive and climb up to the pines, where we will offer our gratitude for God's mercy in delivering us to this holy place.
Spain is the birthplace of the three saints that have guided me to deeper communion with God: St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Ignatius. St. Theresa hugely relied on St. Joseph in prayer.
"As he himself [Jesus] was subject to St. Joseph while on earth, recognizing in him the authority of foster father and guardian, so now in heaven, he is pleased to grant all his requests." Teresa of Avila
In reading more about the feast, I found a great site with many quotes about St. Joseph. (https://yearofstjoseph.org/quotes/) Not surprisingly, many of them by Spanish saints.
Lastly, our Lord provided me a special treat via the Iglesias de San Jose (St. Joseph). Upon entering the church, I saw the priest in his box waiting for confessants. I felt a nudge from God to ask for a confession. In this church, you confess on your knees in an open confessional where anyone walking by can hear you. The level of vulnerability you feel is incredible. I asked him if he spoke English, and he indicated 'a little'. Not wanting to confess without a conversation, I thanked him and moved along.
As we were leaving the church, I waved goodbye to the father; he called me over and said, "do you need confession? Do not leave with sin on your soul." He said we would work together with my feeble Spanish and his reasonably good command of English (far from little, my dear humble priest).
The confession was deep, powerful, and enlightening to the role of a confessor: to be the face of Jesus. I will share with you his word to me, "Courage." We must all have the courage to live out Christ's mission, to listen to the will of God, and to fear nothing.
The drive up to San Sebastián de Garabandal was filled with contemplation of courage. I looked at my everyday decisions, the little ones that do not seem to have any consequences attached to them. The ones made with love, patience and without judgment are those that are done with courage to deliver Christ to this world. Then there are the other decisions. Too many to count. God forgive me.
I will take the contemplation of courage that my confessor gave me as my penance and turn it into action.
And they were ignorant of the mysteries of God; they neither hoped for the reward of justice, nor judged the value of holy souls. For God created man to be immortal, and he made him in the image of his own likeness. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world, yet they imitate him, who are from his side. Wisdom 2:22 - 25