9:00 AM to 6:00 PM – Eucharistic Adoration (sign up for an hour at https://oratory.weadorehim.com/)
5:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Confessions heard
6:00 PM – Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament
6:30 PM – The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
The holy and learned Baronius regretted that even in his day the Acts of the great Oriental Martyr were open to discussion on certain points, which were eagerly seized upon by the extreme critics of the succeeding centuries, in order to lessen popular devotion towards her. (Baron. Annal. ad ann. 307) There remains however this glory to Christian virginity, that in the person of St. Catharine it was honored by pupils and masters, and became the guiding spirit in the development of human thought, during the centuries illustrated by such brilliant suns of learning as Albert the Great, Thomas of Aquin, and Bonaventure. Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God. (Matthew 5:8) Methodius, a bishop and martyr of the third century, thus speaks in his Banquet of Virgins: “The virgin must have a very great love of sound doctrine; and she ought to hold an honorable place among the wise.” (Methodius, Conviv. Oratio 1:1)
Let us now read the abridged Legend of St. Catharine in the book of holy Church.
Catharine, a noble virgin of Alexandria, united from early youth the study of the liberal arts with an ardent faith; and attained in a short time to such a degree of holiness and science, that at the age of eighteen she surpassed the most learned men. Seeing many, at the command of Maximin, cruelly tortured and executed for professing the Christian religion, she went boldly to Maximin himself and reproached him for his impious cruelty, showing him by wise reasons that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation.
Maximin, marvelling at her wisdom, caused her to be kept in custody. Then he summoned the most learned men from all parts, and promised a large reward to him that should refute Catharine’s arguments, and lead her from the faith of Christ to the worship of idols. But the result was contrary to his expectations. For many of the philosophers who had assembled to refute her were, by the force and subtlety of her reasoning, so enkindled with love of Jesus Christ, that they were ready to die for him. Maximin next tried to seduce her by flatteries and promises; but seeing his labor lost, he caused her to be lashed and torn with scourges tipped with lead, and finally shut up in prison for eleven days without food or drink.
During this interval, Maximin’s wife, and Porphyrius general of the army, going to see the virgin in prison, were by her exhortations brought to believe in Jesus Christ, and were afterwards crowned with martyrdom. Meanwhile Catharine was brought out of prison, and a wheel was set up garnished with many sharp knives, to cruelly rent the virgin’s body. But at Catharine’s prayer the wheel was speedily broken; by which miracle many were converted to the faith of Christ. Maximin only grew more obstinate in wickedness and cruelty, and ordered Catharine to be beheaded. Offering her head bravely to the sword, she took her flight to heaven, adorned with the double crown of virginity and martyrdom, on the seventh of the Kalends of December. Her body was miraculously carried away by Angels and buried on Mount Sinai in Arabia.
Today’s feast has inspired many liturgical compositions in the West. We will limit our selections to a Sequence from the Gradual of St. Victor’s, and a beautiful and touching Responsory still used by the Friars Preachers.
Let the voices of our choir resound in praise of our Creator, who disposes all things; by whom they fight who are unskilled in war, by whose power maidens triumph over men.
Through him, the people of Alexandria stand amazed to see in blessed Catharine qualities that seem above her sex, when she vanquishes learned men by her science and the sword by her courage.
To the glory of her race she adds the precious ornaments of incomparable virtue; and noble by birth, she becomes more noble still by grace and holy living.
Tender is the flower of her beauty, yet she spares it neither labor nor study; and in early youth she masters earthly science and that which is of God.
A chosen vessel full of virtue, she considers transitory goods as mire, contemning her father’s wealth and her ample patrimony.
Filling her vessel with oil, as a wise and prudent virgin, she goes to meet the Spouse; that, ready at the hour of his coming, she may enter without delay to the feast.
Longing to die for Christ, she is led before the emperor; and in his presence, by her eloquence, puts fifty philosophers to silence.
For love of God she endures the horrors of the prison, the cruel wheel, hunger and want, and all her other sufferings; she remains unchanged through all.
The tortured overcomes her torturer, a woman’s constancy triumphs over the emperor; yea, the emperor himself is tormented, seeing both executioner and torments unavailing.
At length she is beheaded, and by death ending death, enters into the joys of life, while Angels with all care bury her body in a far-off land.
An oil flowing from her body, by a visible grace heals the sick; good indeed is the unction she gives us, if she heals our vices by her prayers.
May she rejoice to see the joy she causes us; may she who gives us present joys give likewise those to come; and may she now rejoice with us, and we with her in glory. Amen.
The virgin is scourged, loaded with chains, tormented with hunger; but while she remains shut up in prison a heavenly light shines around. * A sweet fragrance fills the air, and hosts of heaven are there singing praises.
℣. The Spouse loves his bride and visits her as a Savior.
* A sweet fragrance.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
* A sweet fragrance.
O blessed Catharine, accept us as thy disciples. In thy person, philosophy, true to its beautiful name, leads us to Eternal Wisdom, truth leads to goodness, and science to Christ who is the way, the truth, and the life. “O curious inquirers, who delight in idle, fruitless speculation,” exclaims the most eloquent of thy panegyrists, “know that the brilliant light of science which enchants you, is not intended merely to pleases your eyes, but to guide your steps and rule your conduct. Vain minds, that make such pompous display of your learning in order to win men’s praise, learn that this glorious talent has not been entrusted to you for your self-advancement, but for the triumph of the truth. And you, cowardly, sordid souls, who use science as a means of gaining earthly goods, consider seriously that so divine a treasure is not meant to be traded with in so unworthy a manner; and that the only commerce it is concerned with, is of a higher and sublimer kind, viz: the redemption of souls.” (Boussuet. ‘Panegyric on St. Catharine.’)
Thus, O Catharine, thou didst employ thy science solely for the truth. Thou madest “the majesty of Jesus Christ so visible, that his presence dissipated all the errors of philosophy, and the truths it had usurped acknowledged him for their Master, or rather were gathered up in him as in their center. Let us learn form this holy example to bear witness to the truth and to make it triumph over the world, employing all our light of knowledge in the fulfillment of this duty. O holy truth! I owe thee the testimony of my words, of my life, of my blood: for the truth is God himself.” (Boussuet. ‘Panegyric on St. Catharine.’)
This, O magnanimous virgin, is the thought of holy Church, when she thus formulates her prayer for today: O God, who didst give the law to Moses on the summit of Mount Sinai, and didst wonderfully deposit in the same place the body of the blessed Virgin and Martyr Catharine by means of thy holy Angels; grant, we beseech thee, that by her merits and intercession, we may be enabled to arrive at the mountain, which is Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee for ever and ever.
Date(s) - November 25, 2020
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm