On December 7, 2021 His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon sent his greetings to Archpriest Daniel Andrejuk and the faithful of Saint Catherine’s Representation Parish in Moscow in honor of their patronal feast day.
In his letter, His Beatitude encouraged the faithful to look to the example of Saint Catherine the Great-Martyr for inspiration to the Christian life. “Although Saint Catherine was endowed with extraordinary gifts of beauty and intelligence,” he said, “she did not cling to these gifts, but offered them back to God, the Giver of every good gift (cf. James 1:17).” His Beatitude concluded his letter exhorting the faithful to “flee every sin and temptation and run toward embrace of the Father of all, the lover of mankind” through the intercessions of Saint Catherine and and strengthened by her prayers.
The Very Reverend Daniel Andrejuk
St. Catherine the Great Martyr Representation Church
Bolshaya Ordynka 60/2
Very Reverend Father Daniel and All the Beloved Faithful of Saint Catherine Parish,
Christ is in our midst!
With joy I extend my archpastoral greetings to you on your parish feast, the feast of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr.
What is a great martyr? Did Saint Catherine (and the other great martyrs recognized by the Church) suffer more torments for Christ than the other martyrs? No, all of the martyrs suffered tremendous mental and physical tortures—and, finally, death—for the sake of fidelity to the Gospel and for the greater glory of God. Saint Catherine is a great martyr, rather, because of the special resonance of her witness down through the ages, and because of her powerful intercession for the Christian people over the course of the centuries.
People of all times, and we among them, can draw great strength from Saint Catherine’s double renunciation and double offering to Christ. First, although Saint Catherine was endowed with extraordinary gifts of beauty and intelligence, she did not cling to these gifts, but offered them back to God, the Giver of every good gift (cf. James 1:17). She desired nothing other than to offer all her heart, all her soul, all her mind, and all her strength to Jesus Christ her Creator and Savior, the Bridegroom of the Church and of every Christian soul (cf. Mk 12:30). Second, when Saint Catherine was showered with blandishments by her captor, the Emperor Maximian, and promised many things if only she would repudiate Christianity, she put the emperor and all the so-called wisdom of the world to shame. She was ready to suffer and die rather than renounce her Redeemer. Thus, just as she accepted and offered back the true gifts of God, she rejected the false gifts of the world, death, and the devil.
As you celebrate the feast of this great martyr, dearly beloved faithful of Saint Catherine parish, be sure to ask her prayers for yourselves. Ask her to pray that you, too, be able to recognize, accept, and offer back the good gifts of God, and to reject the false gifts of this world. This creation was made good by God, but corrupted by human sin. Thus, even as we accept with joy the good things of this life, doing all to the glory of God, we must reject all that is evil—the temptations of power, lust, and greed, what Saint John the Theologian calls “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 Jn 2:16).
And so let us flee every sin and temptation and run toward the embrace of the Father of all, the Lover of mankind. Inspired by the witness of Saint Catherine the Great Martyr, and strengthened by her prayers, may we all commend ourselves, each other, and all our life unto Christ our God, the beloved Bridegroom of creation, sending up glory to Him, together with His Father who is from everlasting and His All-holy Spirit.
Assuring you of my prayers, and of the prayers of your fellow faithful in North America,
Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada
Photography credit OCA