November 29, 2017

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Saint Andrew

The Feast of Saint Andrew, one of the twelve apostles selected by Our Lord, is November 30th. Andrew has the distinction of introducing his brother Peter to Jesus, saying, "We have found the Messiah." Overshadowed henceforth by his brother, Andrew nevertheless appears again in the Gospels as introducing souls to Christ. After Pentecost, Andrew took up the apostolate on a much wider scale, and is said to have been martyred at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the form of an "X". This type of cross is known as a "St. Andrew's cross."

Andrew did not belong to the inner circle of the apostles, Peter, James and John, and the evangelists record nothing extraordinary concerning him [John 6:8]; but tradition extols his great love for the Cross and for the Savior. The Church distinguishes him in the Mass [his name occurs in the Canon and in the Libera since the time of Pope Saint Gregory I] as well as in the Divine Office.

The story of his martyrdom comes to us from popular piety. The pagan judge exhorted him to sacrifice to the gods. Andrew replied: "I sacrifice daily to almighty God, the one, true God. Not the flesh of oxen and the blood of goats, but the unspotted Lamb upon the altar. All the faithful partake of His flesh, yet the Lamb remains unharmed and living." Angered by this reply, King Aegeas commanded him to be thrown into prison. The people would have liberated him, but Andrew calmed the mob and persuaded them not to agitate for his release.

Early texts describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified. Yet a tradition developed that Andrew was crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be martyred on the same type of cross upon which the Lord had been crucified.

When Andrew was led to the place of martyrdom, on seeing the cross from a distance he cried: "O good Cross, so long desired and now set up for my longing soul I confident and rejoicing come to you; exultingly receive me, a disciple of Him who hung on you." According to one account, after being whipped severely by seven soldiers they tied his body to the cross with cords to prolong his agony. Once secured to the cross Andrew hung there for two whole days, unceasingly proclaiming the Good News of Christ to his tormentors until his holy death.

We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle St. Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so too may he be for us a constant intercessor before you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever. Amen. Holy Saint Andrew, disciple of Our Lord and Apostle of His Church, pray for us.

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