The optional memorial of Saint Catherine of Alexandria may be observed on November 25th. She is a saint whose story I recount to my children and seasonally display her icon in our home. Sadly, the exact details of her life are not clear as her story has been embellished by legend. While not all would agree that I should regularly recount the story/legend of Saint Catherine to my children, it is not because of its confirmed historicity that I recount her story but because it introduces to my children when they are young fundamental truths concerning the human person and vocations (to Holy Orders, Matrimony and Religious Life).
The story of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, virgin and martyr, introduces a woman with a scholarly mind and philosophical orientation. When my children are young, they often focus on the miraculously breaking of the torture wheel, that she died because of her love for Jesus, or that angels moved her decapitated remains to a tomb on Mount Sinai. I hope my children also get out of this story, and they have, two truths. The first, the human person finds true fulfillment and perfect happiness in nothing, and no one, but God alone. “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2). The second truth, the possible Christian vocation paths are not about marriage and family life versus no marriage and no family. Every vocational path includes marital elements, and each fruitful vocation includes fatherhood or motherhood.
In the story of this saint, she gives herself to Christ as her bridegroom. This is what religious sisters/nuns do today. The story even includes a ring and the dismissal of earthly suitors for a mystical union. The story has introduced to my children the truth that the heart of each Christian vocation is nuptial. I hope and pray, with the intercession of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, that my children will hear God’s calling for them to be holy and to their particular vocation. Saint Catherine of Alexandria, pray for us.
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. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. - Mass Collect