Hagiography and Meditations
The Life of St Andrew - Apostle
ST. ANDREW was a native of Bethsaida, a town in Galilee, upon the banks of the lake of Genesareth. He was the son of Jonas or John a fisherman of that town, and brother to Simon Peter, but whether elder or vounger the holy scriptures have not acquainted us. They had afterwards a house at Capharnaum, where Jesus lodged when he preached in that city. It is no small proof of the piety and good inclinations of St. Andrew, that when St. John Baptist began to preach penance in the desert, he was not content with going to hear him as others did, but became his disciple, passed much of his time in hearing his instructions, and studied punctually to practise all his lessons and copy his example; but he often returned home to his fishing trade. He was with his master when St. John Baptist seeing Jesus pass by the day after he had been baptized by him, said: Behold the Lamb of God. Andrew, by the ardor and purity of his desires, and his fidelity in every religious practice, deserved to be so far enlightened as to comprehend this mysterious saying, and, without delay, he and another disciple of the Baptist went after Jesus, who drew them secretly by the invisible bands of his grace, and saw them with the eyes of his spirit before he beheld them with his corporal eyes. Turning back as he walked, and seeing them follow him, he said, What seek ye? They said, they desired to know where he dwelt: and he bade them come and see. There remained but two hours of that day, which they spent with him, and according to several fathers, the whole night following. “O how happy a day, how happy a night did they pass!” cries out St. Austin. “Who will tell us what things they then learned from the mouth of their Saviour. Let us build ourselves a dwelling for him in our hearts, to which he may come, and where he may converse with us” For this happiness is enjoyed by a soul which opens her affections to God, and receives the rays of his divine light in heavenly contemplation. The joy and comfort which St. Andrew felt in that conversation are not to be expressed by words. By it he clearly learned that Jesus was the Messias and the Redeemer of the world, and resolved from that moment to follow him: he was the first of his disciples, and therefore is styled by the Greeks the Protoclet or First Called.
Andrew, who loved affectionately his brother Simon, called afterwards Peter, could not rest till he had imparted to him the infinite treasure which he had discovered, and brought him to Christ, that he might also know him. Simon was no sooner come to Jesus, but the Saviour of the world admitted him as a disciple, and gave him the name of Peter. The brothers carried one day with him to hear his divine doctrine and the next day returned home again. From this time they became Jesus’s disciples, not constantly attending upon him, as they afterwards did, but hearing him frequently, as their business would permit, and returning to their trade and family affairs again Jesus, in order to prove the truth of his divine doctrine by his works wrought his first miracle at the marriage at Cana in Galilee, and was pleased that these two brothers should be present at it with his holy mother. Jesus, going up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, stayed some days in Juda and baptized in the Jordan. Peter and Andrew also baptized by his authority, and in his name. Our Saviour being come back into Lower Galilee in autumn, and meeting one day Peter and Andrew fishing in the lake, before the end of the same year, he called them to a constant attendance upon the ministry of the gospel, saying, that he would make them fishers of men. Whereupon, they immediately left their nets to follow him, and never went from him again. The year following the Son of God formed the college of his apostles, in which our two brothers are named by the evangelists at the head of the rest. Not long after, Jesus went down to Capharnaum, and lodged at the house of Peter and Andrew, and, at the request of them both, cured Peter’s wife’s mother of a fever, by taking her by the hand, and rebuking the fever, by which it left her. When Christ would not send away the multitude of five thousand persons who had followed him into the desert, till they were refreshed with some food, St. Philip said two hundred pennyworth of bread would not suffice. But Andrew seemed to express a stronger faith, saying, there was a boy who had five barley loaves and two small fishes: which, indeed, were nothing among so many: but Christ could, if he pleased, exert his power, seeing he was greater than Eliseus who, with twenty loaves, fed a hundred men. When Christ was at Bethania, at the house of Lazarus, a little before his Sacred Passion, certain Greeks who came to worship God at the festival, addressed themselves to Philip, begging him to introduce them to Jesus. Philip did not undertake to do it alone; but spoke to St. Andrew, and they both together spoke to their divine master, and procured these strangers that happiness. This shows the great credit St. Andrew had with Christ; on which account St. Bede calls him the Introductor to Christ, and says he had this honor, because he brought St. Peter to him. Christ having foretold the destruction of the temple, Peter, John, James, and Andrew, asked him privately when that should come to pass, that they might forewarn their brethren to escape the danger.
After Christ’s resurrection and the descent of the Holy Ghost, St. Andrew preached the gospel in Scythia, as Origen testifies. Sophronius, who wrote soon after St. Jerom, and translated his catalogue of illustrious men, and some other works into Greek, adds Sogdiana and Colchis. Theodoret tells us, that he passed into Greece; St. Gregory Nazianzen mentions particularly Epirus, and St. Jerom Achaia. St. Paulinus says, this divine fisherman, preaching at Argos, put all the philosophers there to silence. St. Philastrius tells us, that he came out of Pontus into Greece, and that in his time people at Sinope were persuaded that they had his true picture, and the pulpit in which he had preached in that city. The Muscovites have long gloried that St. Andrew carried the gospel into their country as far as the mouth of the Borysthenes, and to the mountains where the city of Kiow now stands, and to the frontiers of Poland. If the ancients mean European Scythia, when they speak of the theatre of his labors, this authority is favorable to the pretensions of the Muscovites. The Greeks understand it of Scythia, beyond Sebastopolis in Colchis, and perhaps also of the European: for they say he planted the faith in Thrace, and particularly at Byzantium, afterwards called Constantinople. But of this we meet with no traces in antiquity. Several Calendars commemorate the feast of the chair of St. Andrew at Patr in Achaia. It is agreed that he laid down his life there for Christ. St. Paulinus says, that having taken many people in the nets of Christ, he confirmed the faith which he had preached by his blood at Patr. St. Sophronius, St. Gaudentius, and St. Austin assure us, that he was crucified: St. Peter Chrysologus says, on a tree: Pseudo-Hippolytus adds, on an olive-tree. In the hymn of pope Damasus it is barely mentioned that he was crucified. When the apostle saw his cross at a distance, he is said to have cried out; “Hail precious cross, that hast been consecrated by the body of my Lord, and adorned with his limbs as with rich jewels.—I come to thee exulting and glad; receive me with joy into thy arms. O good cross, that hast received beauty from our Lord’s limbs: I have ardently loved thee; long have I desired and sought thee: now thou art found by me, and art made ready for my longing soul: receive me into thy arms, taking me from among men, and present me to my master, that he who redeemed me on thee, may receive me by thee.” Upon these ardent breathings St. Bernard writes: “When he saw at a distance the cross prepared for him, his countenance did not change, nor did his blood freeze in his veins, not did his hair stand on end, nor did he lose his voice, nor did his body tremble, nor was his soul troubled, nor did his senses fail him, as it happens to human frailty: but the flame of charity which burned in his breast, cast forth sparks through his mouth.” The saint goes on, showing that fervor and love will make penance and labor sweet, seeing it can sweeten death itself, and, by the unction of the Holy Ghost, make even its torments desirable. The body of St. Andrew was translated from Patr to Constantinople in 357, together with those of St. Luke and St. Timothy, and deposited in the church of the apostles, which Constantine the Great had built a little before, St. Paulinus and St. Jerom mention miracles wrought on that occasion. The churches of Milan, Nola, Brescia, and some other places were, at the same time, enriched with small portions of these relics, as we are informed by St. Ambrose, St. Gaudentius, St. Paulinus, &c.
When the city of Constantinople was taken by the French, cardinal Peter of Capua brought the relies of St. Andrew thence into Italy in 1210, and deposited them in the cathedral of Amalphi, where they still remain. Thomas the Despot, when the Turks had made themselves masters of Constantinople, going from Greece into Italy, and carrying with him the head of St. Andrew, presented it to pope Plus II. in the year 1461, who allotted him a monastery for his dwelling, with a competent revenue, as is related by George Phranza, the last of the Byzantine historians, who wrote in four books the history of the Greek emperors after the Latins had lost Constantinople, with a curious account of the siege and plunder of that city by the Turks, in which tragical scene he had a great share, being Protovestiarinus, one of the chief officers in the emperor’s court and army. It is the common opinion that the cross of St. Andrew was in the form of the letter X, styled a cross decussate, composed of two pieces of number crossing each other obliquely in the middle. That
such crosses were sometimes used is certain: yet no clear proofs are produced as to the form of St. Andrew’s cross. It is mentioned in the records of the duchy of Burgundy, that the cross of St. Andrew was brought out of Achara, and placed in the nunnery of Weaune near Marseilles. It was thence removed into the abbey of St. Victor in Marseilles, before the year 1250, and is still shown there. A part thereof, enclosed in a silver case gilt, was carried to Brussels by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy and Brabant, who, in honor of it, instituted the Knights of the Golden Fleece, who, for the badge of their order, wear a figure of this cross, called St. Andrew’s cross, or the cross of Burgundy.* The Scots honor St. Andrew as principal patron of their country, and their historians tell us, that a certain abbot called Regulus, brought thither from Patr, in 369, or rather from Constantinople some years later, certain relics of this apostle which he reposited in a church which he built in his honor, with a monastery called Abernethy, where now the city of St. Andrew’s stands. Usher proves that many pilgrims resorted to this church from foreign countries, and that the Scottish monks of that place were the first who were called Culdees. Hungus, king of the Picts, soon after the year 800, in thanksgiving for a great victory which he had gained over the Northumbrians, gave to this church the tenth part of all the land of his dominions. Kenneth II., king of the Scots, having overcome the Picts, and entirely extinguished their kingdom in North Britain in 845, repaired and richly endowed the church of St. Regulus or Rueil, in which the arm of St. Andrew was reverently kept.† The Muscovites say he preached the faith among them, and honor him as the principal titular saint of their empire. Peter the Great instituted under his name the first and most noble order of knighthood, or of the blue riband: leaving the project of a second order of St. Alexander Newski, or of the red riband, to be carried into execution by his widow.
St. Andrew, by conversing with Christ, extinguished in his breast ali earthly passions and desires, and attained to the happiness of his pure divine love. We often say to ourselves, that we also desire to purchase holy love, the most valuable of all treasures, and the summit of dignity and happiness. But these desires are fruitless and mere mockery, unless we earnestly set about the means. In the first place, we must be at the expense (if that can be called an expense, which is the first step to true liberty and happiness) of laying a deep foundation of humility, meekness, and self-denial. We must first with the apostle leave all things; that is to say, we must sincerely and in spirit forsake the world, (though we live in it,) and must also renounce and die to ourselves before we can be admitted to the familiar converse of our Redeemer and God, or before he receives us to his chaste spiritual embraces, and opens to us the treasure of his choicest graces. This preparation and disposition of soul, it must be our constant care always to improve; for, in the same proportion that the world and self love are banished from our hearts, shall we advance in divine love. But this great virtue, the queen, the form, and the soul of all perfect virtue, is learned, exercised, and improved, by conversing much with God in holy meditation, reading, and assiduous fervent prayer and recollection; also by its external acts, in all manner of good works, especially those of fraternal charity and spiritual mercy.
Summary of the Morrow’s Meditation.
We will consider St. Andrew: First, as a fervent disciple of the cross; Second, as an eloquent preacher of the cross; Third, as a martyr of the cross. Our resolution shall be: First, cheerfully to accept all the crosses which Providence offers us; Second, to crucify ourselves by mortifying our own will through obedience, our temper by the practice of gentleness, our curiosity and our sensuality by privation. Our spiritual nosegay shall be the words of St. Andrew: "O good cross ! May He who has redeemed me through thee receive me through thee.”
Meditation for the Morning.
Let us adore Our Lord calling St. Andrew to the apostolate before all the other apostles, before St. Peter himself, whom this apostle had the happiness to bring to Jesus (John i. 42). Let us thank the Saviour for this predilection, and let us congratulate St. Andrew for having so promptly and generously replied to the divine appeal, so that he was at once the disciple, the preacher, and the martyr of the cross.
St. Andrew, a Disciple of the Cross.
Hardly had this humble fisherman of Galilee heard Jesus Christ proclaim that whoever does not bear His cross and renounce himself cannot be His disciple, that happy are those who suffer, miserable those who enjoy, than he instantly frees himself from the false ideas of the world in regard to happiness and misery; henceforth he loves nothing but the cross; he thirsts and languishes with love for it. Jesus Christ announces to him the difficulties and labors of the apostolate prisons, persecutions, and death, What would have alarmed numerous others becomes for him an attraction and a charm. Later on, when the apostles share the world between them, he desires to have as his portion the two most barbarous
nations, Scythia and Thrace, where he hoped to meet with martyrdom ; and finding there nothing but recognition of his virtues, he passes over into Achaia and thence to Patras, where at last he meets with what he longs for. He is condemned to be crucified, and he is led without delay to the place of execution. When he perceives from afar the cross which is destined for him, joyous as a warrior who, after long combats, perceives the triumphal chariot. ‘‘Good cross,” he exclaims,‘cross the source of all good, cross so long desired, so passionately loved, so continually sought after, thou art at last granted to my longing desires! Holy cross, I salute thee! I come to thee full of confidence and hope! August cross, triumphant cross, empurpled with the blood of my Master, receive me within thine arms, in order to remit me into the hands of my Jesus, who has redeemed me through thee” (St. Andrew). How well such words as these reveal a fervent disciple of the cross, a disciple who has studied its lessons and enjoyed its doctrines! At what point have we arrived in regard to such sentiments? Do we, at any rate, love those little crosses of Providence of which life is full, and do we salute them as did St. Andrew, when he exclaimed: ‘‘O good cross ”
St. Andrew, a Preacher of the Cross.
St. Andrew raised upon the cross, and from there overlooking the multitude which had gathered together to see him crucified, considers himself as occupying the most beautiful pulpit in the world whence to evangelise the people. He believes that it is not possible to preach the cross better than from the cross itself, and Jesus crucified than by being crucified one’s self. He therefore raises his voice and speaks with force and dignity during two whole days; and the pulpit whence he speaks gives so much efficacy to his words, that many of his auditors who had come thither as infidels go away as Christians. Made fruitful by the blood of the apostle, the Church of Achaia becomes one of the most fervent and the most numerous of the infant Churches. It was because preaching always bears fruit when it has as its minister a man who is truly crucified, who places his happiness in suffering, his treasure in poverty, his repose in labor. The contrary will happen if the priest be one of those men who are lovers of themselves, who do not know how to bear restraint, and to suffer, to mortify, and renounce themselves.
St. Andrew, a Martyr of the Cross.
From the midst of the assembly, touched and converted, a cry goes forth to demand the deliverance of the holy apostle. A revolt is about to snatch him away from the fury of the proconsul who has condemned him. ‘‘O God!” exclaims
St. Andrew, ‘‘do not Thou permit me to be separated from my beloved cross.” He is heard and his prayer is granted ; the people yield with tears to the power of the Roman spears, and Andrew dies, according to his desire, upon his bed of honour, like a worthy lieutenant of the armies of Jesus Christ, like a perfect martyr, happy to render witness, by his death, to the cross of the Saviour, and thus teach men to love suffering and privation. Whata lesson for us! How far we are from fearing that our cross will be taken away from us, we who so greatly love situations in which we have nothing to suffer; who are always endeavouring to put away anything that is disagreeable, to obtain that which flatters, pleases, and amuses us; we whose whole life is nothing, so to say, but an habitual protest against the cross
of the Saviour!
Resolutions and spiritual nosegay as above.
The St. Andrew’s Christmas Novena
Traditionally recited 15 times daily repeatedly from the feast of St. Andrew (30 November) until Midnight Mass.
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment at which the Son of God was born of a most pure Virgin at a stable at midnight in Bethlehem in the piercing cold. At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, to hear my prayers and grant my desires.
(Mention your intentions here)
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother. Amen.