JULY 18th , 1830

 The 18th July encounter has many lessons for us. In the person of Mary, radiant with the light of God, the spiritual path followed by Catherine is an invitation to us to be open to the Infinite.

 Love waits patiently

Catherine’s experience of meeting Our Lady is first of all a story of love. By her discreet and unhurried manner of acting, Mary patiently follows the method of taming the fox described in Saint-Exupery’s story. The supernatural relationship she offers Catherine does not crush her with condescending goodness or with demands on her. She asks her to experience a genuine encounter in the light of God’s presence, where each person needs the other, each person needs to love. Is not the entire Bible the inexplicable story of God’s love for people and the tireless confidence he persists in having in them? Even in the opening pages of the Book of Genesis, we hear the footsteps of God as he walks among the trees in the garden, searching for man, and his voice, like that of a father looking for his son, saying, “Adam, where are you?” (Gen 3, 8-9). In other pages of Scripture, God ceaselessly presents himself as a lover who comes looking for us, who weeps when he cannot find us and who fears he might lose us when we have let ourselves be found, who takes us in his arms when we are exhausted or injured, who kneels down to wash our feet, who shares our misery even to the point of death and gives his life in order to save us. Again, it is he who is preparing the banquet table to which he is inviting us in the joyful hope of seeing us all united to him.

So, on 18th July 1830, with the simplicity of being one of the family, Mary sits down in a chair. She is there as presence, as utter welcome and pure gift. She is, at the same time, Sister, Mother, and the humble Handmaid of the Lord. Her attitude reflects and extends in a human way, the attitude of God revealed in Jesus when he says to Zaccheus, “I must dine with you today.” Jesus, begging for love, stands humbly at the door and knocks….

In most cases, God comes to visit us in a quiet way. He invites himself as a friend would. He knocks at the door and respectfully waits for us to answer because he cannot force us to love. Love is not possessive, love offers itself. God begs for our yes, our smile. When he finds our door open, God only asks to come in to make our hearts burn with his love. He has already taken the initiative in order to welcome us to himself. With Mary, we become more aware that God’s love goes ahead of us and that our own love is only a response to his.

Source: Catherine Labouré – Bearing a message from heaven. Sr Anne Prévost, DC