4 Dec 2019
Reflection: St. Catherine Labouré Feast Day Mass
I never thought I would experience an apparition! So I was totally caught off guard when I experienced the closest thing to an apparition in my lifetime. St. Catherine Laboure, the young novice who was in training to be a Daughter of Charity in Paris almost two centuries ago, reported the story of how she lived the visions she had of Mary at that time.
Victoria Bonito Kopishke made that whole scene come alive as part of the Eucharistic celebration honoring St. Catherine Laboure, November 27, 2019. Her appearance was not expected. Then, suddenly, Fr. Michael Carroll, Director of the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, simply concluded his homily “Today, we have the honor to have Sister Catherine Laboure tell us what it was like to experience her Blessed Mother in a series of apparitions during the Summer/Fall of 1830″.
With that St. Catherine, Victoria, calmly walked from the Shrine of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal to the center aisle of the Church that will celebrate its 140 years December 8. She was dressed in authentic garb replicating what Catherine would have worn at that time. In flawless French accent she began “Bonjour” and within two sentences in French, she had slipped into the English that we knew. “My name is Catherine Labour but my family knows me as Zoe!”
For the next 16 minutes, she became Catherine Laboure. In an extremely simple and engaging way, she reported the story of the series of apparitions she experienced. Just as she described not knowing how fast the time with Mary passing, so it was with us. I doubt anyone noticed the time. As I listened it seemed as if I was there in Catherine’s presence.
The liturgy continued. I rarely experienced a liturgy that flew by so quickly. When Bishop Alphonse Cabezas said “Do this in memory of me” the words seemed all the more real.
I could have listened to a much longer report of the apparitions. I came to experience the story I had read, and told, so many times in my life. This was different! I found myself moved to tears. At the small informal luncheon after the Eucharist in the lower shrine, I shared that with number of small clusters of people. In each instance, I heard almost everyone felt the same way.
I am filled with thanksgiving that the report of the apparations was live-streamed. As I watched the live-stream later in the day I found myself once again drawn into the experience despite the absence of better close-up views and having to turn the volume up full on my speaker. For those who view it without having been there, it will still be powerful, even if not the same as being there.
The best part – this report was caught on live-stream at the website of the Central Shrine of the Miraculous Medal. I encourage you to visit their website… and, if necessary, fast forward to the 27:00 minute mark if you do not have time for the entire experience. Feel free to share your reactions with us.
John Freund, CM