St. Andrew, Apostle
The holy Apostle, St. Andrew, born at Bethsaida, in Galilee, was a brother of St. Peter, and at first a disciple of St. John the Baptist. He was the first of the Apostles who had the happiness of knowing Christ, the true Messiah; for, one day, when Andrew and another disciple were standing with their master on the banks of the Jordan, St. John, pointing to Jesus, who was approaching, said: “Behold the Lamb of God!” No sooner had Andrew heard these words, than he and the other disciple followed Christ, and remained with Him that day.
On the following day, meeting his brother, Simon, afterward called Peter, he said to him: “We have found the Messiah,” and brought him to Christ. Not long after this, when Andrew and Peter were casting their nets into the Sea of Galilee, Christ called them, and said: “Come after Me, and I will make you to become fishers of men!” Immediately leaving their nets, they followed Him. From that moment, Andrew left the Lord no more, except at the time when He was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane, by the Jews, when he fled like the other disciples.
He was present when Christ, after His resurrection, appeared to His disciples; when He ascended into heaven in their presence, and when He sent the Holy Ghost from heaven upon them. When the Apostles separated, and went into the different countries of the world, to preach the Gospel of Christ to all nations, Andrew travelled into Scythia, Thrace, Galatia and other Pagan countries, where he converted many thousands by his sermons, and by the miracles he performed. At last he came to Patrae, the capital of Achaia, in Greece, and there, too, preached, with apostolic freedom, the Word of the Lord, and approved it by many miracles, which induced a great number of the inhabitants to embrace Christianity. Egeas, the governor, resisted him with all his might, and endeavored to defend idolatry. The holy Apostle, however, reproved him fearlessly, and said: “You desire that this people should recognize you as their judge; why, then, do you refuse to recognize Christ, the true God, as the Judge of all mankind; and why do you refuse to turn your heart from idolatry?”
“Be silent!” replied Egeas, “and speak not to me of your Christ. Was he not nailed by the Jews to a cross? How then can he be a true God? How can I worship him as God?” Andrew endeavored to explain the great mystery of the Redemption of the human race, and to show how Christ had, voluntarily, and for love of man, died the ignominious death of the cross; but, Egeas would not listen, and, interrupting him, commanded him immediately to sacrifice to the gods, or to prepare himself for a most cruel martyrdom. Andrew replied: “I offer daily, on the Altar, to the Almighty, who is the only true God, not the flesh of oxen, nor the blood of goats, but an unspotted Lamb, which, when the entire multitude of the faithful have partaken of its flesh, remains entire and living.” The governor, full of wrath, ordered Andrew to be cast into a dungeon; but the people, who loved the Saint as a father, rose against the governor, and ran in crowds to the dungeon, determined to set the prisoner free. But the Apostle besought them to be quiet, and not seek to prevent him from receiving the crown of martyrdom, which he had so long desired.
The following day, St. Andrew was brought before the governor, who offered him the greatest honors, if he would consent to sacrifice to the gods; but threatened him with the most cruel torments, if he persisted in refusing. The Saint said fearlessly: “The honors you offer me have no value in my eyes, because they are temporal and pass away; the tortures you threaten me with, I despise, for the same reason; but you, O Egeas! have to fear torments which last for ever, if you do not abandon your idols, and recognize Jesus Christ for the true and only God, and worship Him as such.”
After these words, the Saint continued to preach to the governor, and to all present, of the crucified Lord, and of the happiness of all those who suffer for Him. Egeas, enraged at the Apostle’s fearlessness, ordered him to be most cruelly scourged, and then to be crucified, in order to make him resemble his God. This was meant by the governor in derision; but no manner of death could have been more welcome to St. Andrew. The cruel and unjust sentence was received with murmurs by the people, of whom some were heard saying aloud: “This man is just, and a friend of God: why must he be crucified?
“Andrew, addressing the people again, begged them not to deprive him of what he looked upon as an inestimable happiness. When he was led to the place of execution, and saw the cross on which he was to die, he cried out joyfully: “O precious cross, which I have so long desired, so truly loved, so ceaselessly sought; at last I find thee prepared to receive me. Take me away from the world, and unite me again with my Lord, that He who has redeemed me on thee, may again receive me by thee.” Thus cried the Saint from afar; but when he reached the cross, he embraced and kissed it, and gave himself willingly to the executioners, who bound him to it. No sooner had the cross been raised, than it served as a pulpit to the holy Apostle, and he exhorted the Christians to remain firm in their holy faith, and the heathens to convert themselves to the only true God. He explained the nothingness of the idols, and the truth of the Christian religion. For two days he lived and preached, hanging on the cross. The people began again to murmur against the governor, and desired to have the Saint taken down from the cross; but the holy martyr desired to be permitted to die upon it, as he esteemed death a priceless grace.
On the third day, when the people seemed determined to rescue him by force, he called to his Savior : ” Do not permit, O Lord, that Thy servant, who, according to his own wish, hangs on the cross, be taken down from it; but do Thou take me from it to Thee, O my beloved Master, Jesus Christ, whom I have confessed and always loved, and whom, still confessing, I long to see. Take, O Lord Jesus, my spirit to Thee. I ardently desire to be united with Thee.” During this prayer, a bright light streamed from heaven, and rested upon the Saint, whilst he breathed his last. The martyrdom of St. Andrew happened in the year of Our Lord 62, or, according to others, in 70. His holy body was transported to Constantinople in the time of Constantine the Great; but was afterwards brought to Rome, where it has its resting-place in the Church of St. Peter.
I. Impress two memorable sayings of the holy Apostle deep into your heart. The first is: ” I sacrifice daily to Almighty God, &c.” This is a glorious proof to you that the Apostles performed the holy Sacrifice of Mass; for to this alone can the words of St. Andrew have reference. Conclude, therefore, from this, that it is false for the heretics to say that the first Christians knew nothing of Mass. Did not St. Andrew live during the first years of Christianity? Be not confused by the lies of the heretics; but believe that Christ instituted the holy Sacrifice of the Mass at His Last Supper.
The second memorable saying of the Apostle is: “The honors you offer me have no value in my eyes, because they are temporal and pass away; your tortures I despise for the same reason.” Consider it well. All temporal honors, all joys, pass away quickly. How foolish is it, therefore, to love them immoderately, and to forfeit for them the eternal honors, riches and joys! No pain or trial on this earth lasts for ever; but those which await the sinner in the other world, are endless. Should we not, therefore, do and suffer here so as to escape torments hereafter?
II. St. Andrew manifested great joy on beholding the cross that had been prepared for him; he greeted it warmly, and embraced it lovingly. He wished not to be released from it, but prayed to be allowed to die on it. You are not bound to a cross of wood like St. Andrew, but the All-Wise sometimes lays a cross of suffering upon you, because He wishes to prepare you for heaven. How do you regard your cross? How do you carry it? I fear to ask you how you greeted, embraced and kissed it. Perhaps you have carried it, as Simon of Cyrene carried the Cross of the Lord, because you were forced, and could not help yourself. You have suffered only because you were obliged. You suffer murmuring and complainingly, and perhaps even endeavor to free yourself from your cross by improper means. Oh! how differently did St. Andrew act. He esteemed himself happy, because he could die on the cross like his Savior, and because he had heard, from the lips of Christ, that the way of the Cross is the surest road to eternal life. You know all this; but you do not think seriously enough of it.
In future, keep these truths before your eyes: first, the way of the Cross is the way to heaven; secondly, Christ died on the Cross for love of me. Whoever rightly considers these two points, will in his sufferings, not give way to resentment, murmurs or complaints, but will bear them if not cheerfully, at least patiently. Hence St. Paul admonishes us, saying: “For, think diligently upon him that endured such opposition from sinners against himself, that you be not wearied, fainting in your minds (Heb. xii.).”
Lives of the Saints: Compiled from Authentic Sources with a Practical Instruction on the Life of Each Saint, for Every Day in the Year by Rev. F. X. Weninger. Permissu Superiorum. New York: P. O’Shea, Publisher, 67 Barclay Street and 42 Park Place. 1876.