Nov 25 – Memorial for St. Catherine of Alexandria, virgin, martyr
St. Catherine (d. 305) was a noble who was learned in science and oratory. After receiving a vision, she converted to Christianity. At the age of 18, during the persecution of Maximus, she offered to debate the pagan philosophers. Many were converted by her arguments, and immediately martyred. Maximus had her scourged and imprisoned.
The empress and the leader of Maximus’ army were amazed by the stories and went to see Catherine in prison. They converted and were martyred. Maximus ordered her broken on the wheel, but when she touched it, the wheel was destroyed. She was then beheaded, and her body whisked away by angels.
Catherine was immensely popular during the Middle Ages, and there were many chapels and churches devoted to her throughout western Europe. She was reported as one of the divine advisors to St. Joan of Arc. Her reputation for learning and wisdom led to her patronage of libraries, librarians, teachers, archivists, and anyone associated with wisdom or teaching. Her debating skill and persuasive language has led to her patronage of lawyers. And her torture on the wheel has led to those who work with them asking for her intercession. She is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.
While there may well have been a noble, educated, virginal lady who swayed pagans with her rhetoric during the persecutions, the accretion of legend, romance and poetry has long since buried the real Catherine.
The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints invoked with special confidence because they have proven themselves efficacious helpers in adversity and difficulties. Though each has a separate feast or memorial day, the group was collectively venerated on Aug 8, until the feast was dropped and suppressed in the 1969 reform of the calendar.
They are invoked as a group because of the Black Plague which devastated Europe from 1346-1349. Among its symptoms were the tongue turning black, a parched throat, violent headache, fever, and boils on the abdomen. It attacked without warning, robbed its victims of reason, and killed within a few hours; many died without the last Sacraments. Brigands roamed the roads, people suspect of contagion were attacked, animals died, people starved, whole villages vanished into the grave, social order and family ties broke down, and the disease appeared incurable. The pious turned to Heaven, begging the intervention of the saints, praying to be spared or cured. This group devotion began in Germany, and the tradition has remained strong there.
– Patron Saint Index
“Who would not revere and praise your name, O Lord? You alone are holy, and all the pagans will come and adore you for the many acts of justice you have shown.”
The fundamental truth is that there is only one God who created and controls everything; and the knowledge of everything lies in His dictation. But human nature relies on a lot of assumptions, doubts and unfaithfulness. Every day is new and comes with knowledge limitations, this is the way God has placed the openings into knowledge. This is the reason we keep learning and, when we forget something, memory space is created to take in further information. Again we cannot see tomorrow, that is another limitation; and yet we accumulate illusions, worries, distractions, distortions and visionless invocations that provoke challenges against God’s will.
God distributes protections according to His will and desire; it is not based on calculations or knowledge of man. What God desires is reliability and not questions about his godliness or contests among men in their quests for His patronage. Fear of God is the beacon of divine protection, for God dictates the workings of protection; it is neither by might nor by richness.
The lessons from the impacts, spread and deaths caused by coronavirus (or COVID-19) this year, 2020, has shown that when humanity is on divine trial, protection does not come from human knowledge, national sophistication, political or scientific deliveries. The world is still in reflective mood following the coronavirus pandemic. At the onset, Africa and the third world nations were the projected pity hub nations expected to be consumed in the inferno of disaster — they are the poor nations lacking in medical care and attention. As at 6 November, thirteen  vulnerable African nations, namely: Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan, Mali, Gambia, Uganda, Somalia, Congo, Niger, Guinea, Gabon and Benin accounted for 8,385 deaths; whereas the four  industrialized nations of USA, UK, Italy and France accounted for 368,390 deaths. This is an overwhelming departure from predictions and shows that God chooses those to protect and when to do that, His actions manifest His might.
(Today’s Oxygen by Julius Otusorochukwu Dike, KSJI, JP)
Prayer: Our Father and Lord, protect this world and her nations from this deadly coronavirus that continues to plunge the world into disaster, for we have seen that your might is overwhelming. You have taught us that knowledge rests with you. We believe and ask for your mercy; we pray for your protection, Father, Amen.
Thanksgiving: Our Father and Lord, we are grateful and thank you for granting us your mercy and forgiveness. We count on you for you have continued to guide and protect us. We thank you, our father. Amen.
What an insight. Thank you for your reflection.