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[Catholic Caucus] Saint Catharine, Virgin and Martyr (Gueranger) ^ | 1868 | Dom Prosper Gueranger

Posted on 11/25/2017 3:35:50 AM PST by CMRosary

Red Double

GERTRUDE THE GREAT, from her very infancy, felt a special attraction towards the glorious virgin Catharine. As she was desirous of knowing how great were her merits, Our Lord showed her St. Catharine seated on a throne so lofty and so magnificent, that it seemed her glory was sufficient to have filled the courts of heaven, had she been its sole queen; while from her crown a marvellous brightness was reflected on her devout clients. It is well known how the Maid of Orleans, entrusted by St. Michael to the guidance of St. Catharine and St. Margaret, received aid and counsel from them during seven years; and how it was at Sainte-Catherine-de-Fierbois that she received her sword.

In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Crusaders of the West experienced the powerful assistance of the Alexandrian Martyr; and, on their return from the East, they introduced her cultus, which soon became extremely popular. An order of Knighthood was founded to protect the pilgrims visiting her holy body on Mount Sinai. Her feast was raised to the rank of first Class, and was observed as a holiday of obligation by many churches. She was honored as patroness by Christian philosophers, scholars, orators, and attorneys. The senior advocate was called bastonier, because it was his privilege to carry her banner; while confraternities of young girls were formed under the invocation of St. Catharine, whose members vied with one another in their zeal for adorning her venerated image. She was classed among the helping Saints, as being a wise counsellor; and was claimed as patroness by various associations merely on account of their experience of her powerful intercession with our Lord. Her betrothal with the divine Child, and other scenes from her Legend, furnished Christian Art with many beautiful inspirations.

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. There remains however this glory to Christian virginity, that in the person of St. Catharine it ws 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. 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.”

Let us now read the abridged Legend of St. Catharine in the book of holy Church.

Catharina, nobilis virgo Alexandrina, a prima ætate studia liberalium artium cum fidei ardore conjungens, brevi ad eam sanctitatis et doctrinæ perfectionem pervenit, ut decem et octo annos nata eruditissimum quemque superaret. Quæ cum Maximini jussi multos propter christianæ religionis professionem varie tormentis cruciatos, ad supplicium rapi videret, non dubitanter ipsum adiit Maximinum, eique nefariam immanitatem objiciens, sapientissimis rationibus Christi fidem ad salutem necessariam esse affirmavit. 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.
Cujus prudentiam Maximinus admiratus, retineri eam jubet, accersitis undique doctissimis hominibus, magnisque propositis præmiis, qui convictam Catharinam a Christi fide ad idolorum cultum perduxissent. Quod contra accidit. Nam plures philosophi, qui ad eam coarguendam convenerant, vi ac subtilitate ejus disputationis tanto Jesu Christi amore sunt incensi, ut pro illo mori non dubitaverint. uamobrem Maximinus blanditiis ac promissis Catharinam de sententia deducere aggreditur: verum id frustra fieri intelligens, verberibus affectam, plumbatisque contusam, dies undecim sine cibo ac potu inclusam tenet in carcere. 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.
Quo tempore Maximini uxor, et Porphyrius belli dux, visendæ virginis causa carcerem ingressi, et ejusdem prædicatione in Jesum Christum credentes, postea martyrio cornati sunt. Interim Catharina educitur e custodia, et rota expeditur, crebris et acutis præfixa dladiis, ut virginis corpus crudelissime dilaceraretur. Quæ machina brevi, Catharinæ oratione, confracta est: eoque miraculo multi Christi fidem susceperunt. Ipse Maximinus in impietate et crudelitate obstinatior, Catharinam securi percuti imperat. Quæ fortiter dato capite, ad duplicatum virginitatis et martyrii præmium evolavit, septimo calendas decembris: cujus corpus ab Angelis in Sina Arabiæ monte mirabiliter collacatum est. 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 he 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.

Vox sonora nostri chori
Nostro sonet Conditori,
Qui disponit omnia,
Per quem dimicat imbellis,
Per quem datur et puellis
De viris victoria;
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.
Per quem plebs Alexandrina
Feminæ non feminina
Stupuit ingenia,
Quum beata Catharina
Doctos vinceret doctrina,
Ferrum patientia.
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.
Hæc ad gloriam parentum
Pulchrum dedit ornamentum
Morum privilegia,
Clara per progenitores,
Claruit per sacros mores
Ampliori gratia.
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.
Florem teneri decoris,
Lectionis et laboris
Attrivere studia:
Nam perlegit disciplinas
Sæculares et divinas
In adolescentia.
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.
Vas electum, vas virtutum,
Reputavit sicut lutum
Bona transitoria,
Et reduxit in contemptum
Patris opes et parentum
Larga patrimonia.
A chosen vessel full of virtue, she considers transitory goods as mire, contemning her father’s wealth and her ample patrimony.
Vasis oleium includens,
Virgo sapiens et prudens
Sponso pergit obvia,
Ut, adventus ejus hora,
Præparata, sine mora
Intret ad convivia.
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.
Sistitur imperatori,
Cupiens pro Christo mori;
Cujus in præsentia
Quinquaginta sapientes
Mutos reddit et silentes
Virginis facundia.
Longing to die for Christ, she is led before the emperor; and in his presence, by her eloquence, puts fifty philosophers to silence.
Carceris horrendi claustrum,
Et rotarum triste plaustrum,
Famem et jejunia,
Et quæcumque flunt ei, Sustinet amore Dei,
Eadem ad omnia.
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.
Torta superat tortorem,
Superat imperatorem
Feminæ constantia:
Cruciatur imperator,
Quia cedit cruciator,
Nec valent supplicia.
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.
Tandem capite punitur,
Et, dum morte mors finitur,
Vitæ subit gaudia.
Angelis mox fuit curæ
Dare corpus sepulturæ
Terra procul alia.
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.
Oleum ex ipsa manat
Quod informos multos sanat
Evidenti gratia.
Bonum nobis dat unguentum,
Si per suum interventum
Nostra sanet vitia.
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.
Gaudens ipsa videat
De se præsens gaudia,
Et futura præbeat,
Quæ dedit præsentia,
Et hic nobis gaudeat,
Illi nos in gloria. Amen.
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.

Virgo flagellatur, crucianda fame religatur, carcere clausa manet, lux cœlica fusa refulget: * Fragrat odor dulcis, cantant cœli agmina laudes. 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.
℣. Sponsus amat sponsam, Salvator visitat illam. ℣. The Spouse loves his bride and visits her as a Savior.
* Fragrat. * A sweet fragrance.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
* Fragrat. * 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.”

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 fulfilment 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.”

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.

TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: catharine; martyr; saint; virgin

1 posted on 11/25/2017 3:35:50 AM PST by CMRosary
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To: CMRosary

So then the St Catherine who guided Jean D’Arc ISN’T somehow decommissioned or defunct? In some history or other I’d read that Catherine was somehow or other removed from the canon of saints (which made zero sense to me. A saint is a saint).

2 posted on 11/25/2017 4:39:18 AM PST by TalBlack (It's hard to shoot people when they are shooting back at you...)
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To: TalBlack
In 1969 her feast day was removed from the General Roman Calendar, although she was still commemorated in the Martyrology. In 2002, her feast was restored to the Calendar as an optional memorial.
3 posted on 11/25/2017 6:45:13 AM PST by CMRosary (Christus vincit! Christus regnat! Christus imperat!)
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To: CMRosary; TalBlack
St. Catherine of Alexandria — broken on the Consilium's wheel
As one who has spent many years of my life studying and teaching philosophy, I have always felt a special devotion to St. Catherine of Alexandria -- or at least, ever since I first learned of her existence and patronage.

Under November 25th, my old St. Andrew's Daily Missal confidently transmits to me the basic story of her life and death as it was accepted by all Christians for centuries:

St. Catherine was born at Alexandria and martyred under Maximinus Daia c. 310. Ancient accounts related that when she was eighteen years old, as well instructed in philosophy as in religion, the emperor gathered together a group of philosophers to persuade her to deny Christ and worship idols. But instead, she convinced them of their error and converted them to Christianity. She was scourged and bound to wheels on which knives were fixed, but the instrument of torture broke. Finally she was beheaded. This story was a great source of inspiration for medieval iconography in pictures of the saint. St. Catherine is honoured as patron of Christian philosophers, and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

Her collect in the traditional Roman Missal is a magnificent oration that refers to the miraculous translation of her body to the monastery of Mt. Sinai:

O God, who on the top of Mount Sinai didst give the law to Moses, and in wondrous wise by means of Thy holy angels didst place there the body of blessed Catherine, Thy virgin and martyr: grant that, through her merits and prayers, we may come to the true mountain which is Christ. Who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God world without end. Amen.

As we saw earlier this week in looking at the old collect for the Presentation, this prayer, too, is admirable for its inner harmony and density of content. It beautifully connects the holy mountain on which Moses was given the Law to the mountain which is Christ Himself, the very origin, meaning, and end of the Law. The famous Christian monastery (implied, as the resting place where Catherine's body was placed) then becomes a kind of middle term, linking our current condition of pilgrimage and discipleship with our future glory in heaven. The monastery, one might say, is the fulfillment of the old Law and the symbol of the new Law. Moreover, the collect bears witness to the intervention of angels in human affairs; it underlines the reality of miracles, which God performs through and on behalf of His saints; and it goes beyond the mention of Catherine's intercession to acknowledge those merits of hers that establish her as a helper in time of need. Lastly, it is always beneficial to be reminded -- today, more than ever -- that the Old Law had its origin in God "who didst give the law to Moses," and that, in its universal moral content, it remains binding on all mankind. (This includes the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, about which a number of our contemporaries seem to be having so many doubts.)

The traditional Roman Martyrology mentions the same miraculous event of the transferral of Catherine's relics to the Egyptian monastery:

The birthday of St. Catharine, virgin and martyr, under the emperor Maximinus. For the confession of the Christian faith, she was cast into prison at Alexandria, and afterwards endured a long scourging with whips garnished with metal, and finally ended her martyrdom by decapitation. Her body was miraculously conveyed by angels to Mount Sinai, where pious veneration is paid to it by a great concourse of Christians. 

In spite of the universal and centuries-old devotion to St. Catherine "by a great concourse of Christians" in both East and West, the liturgical reforms of the 1960s, restrained by no sense of piety, humility, cultural deference, or common sense, felt free to remove her feastday altogether from the general calendar. Not enough historical veracity, apparently, behind her story or even her existence -- leaving aside the problematic fact that St. Catherine is one of the saints who appeared to St. Joan of Arc and gave her counsel. The excision did not reach as far as the revised Martyrology, but needless to say, the new Martyrologium (not a well known text, since it exists only in Latin, as far as I know), carefully removes mention of historical context or miraculous details.

Nevertheless, this excision could not last under the reign of a Polish philosopher-poet, Karol Wojtyla, who (whatever his flaws may have been) appreciated the realm of reasoning as well as the role of culture and the fine arts. In 2002, the patroness of philosophers was quietly re-inserted into the Novus Ordo missal as an "optional memorial" on the same date as before, November 25. But, at least until Pope Leo XIV or Benedict XVII is elected Sovereign Pontiff, postconciliar restorationism has its limits. The collect printed for this optional memorial is a mere shadow of its former glory. We have moved from a unique prayer based in centuries of devotion to a generic prayer that might be applied to a couple of dozen episcopal or papal saints:

Almighty ever-living God, who gave Saint Catherine of Alexandria to your people as a Virgin and an invincible Martyr, grant that through her intercession we may be strengthened in faith and constancy and spend ourselves without reserve for the unity of the Church.

As I argued earlier this month concerning the collects of St. Albert the Great, there is almost nothing specific to Catherine in this new collect, as opposed to the old, which was custom-fitted like a tailor-made suit, or like any one of the dozens of unique Gothic cathedrals in France.

It has been said that "every error in theology begins with an error in philosophy"; or, that "bad theology is the fruit of bad philosophy." This has certainly been borne out again and again in the last half century. We see the same dynamic at work in the liturgical reform, too: its major decisions or tendencies are rooted in assumed and unexamined premises of nominalism, voluntarism, liberalism, rationalism, and naturalism. For this reason, it is perhaps a perfect picture of irony that St. Catherine of Alexandria, patroness of philosophers, was among the saints who suffered a kind of textual martyrdom at the hands of the Consilium and the executors of its legacy. 

May St. Catherine pray for us, and  obtain for us the grace to recover the traditional religion for which she herself suffered and died.

St. Catherine of Alexandria — broken on the Consilium's wheel

4 posted on 11/25/2017 6:33:08 PM PST by ebb tide (We have a rogue curia in Rome.)
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