Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS AND IS AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ. ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
OFFICE OF ORTHROS [MATINS]
THE SIXTH PRAYER
We thank you, Lord God of our Salvation, that You do everything to benefit our life, so that in everything we may look to You, the Savior and Benefactor of our souls. For in the course of the night You gave us rest, and now raised us up to stand in worship of Your precious Name. Wherefore we pray to You, Lord, give us both grace and strength that we may be found worthy to praise You with full understanding, and pray without ceasing, in fear and trembling working out our own salvation through the grace of Your Christ. Lord, remember also those who cry out to You in the night; hear them and show them mercy, and let invisible and warring enemies be crushed under their feet. For You are the Prince and Savior of our souls, and to You we offer glory: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.
On November 30th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honor and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy Apostle Andrew the First-Called.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 4:9-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 1:35-52
THE HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW THE FIRST-CALLED. Saint Andrew, the First-Called Apostle of Christ, was a native of the city of Bethsaida, the son of a Hebrew named Jonah and brother of the holy chief of the Apostles Peter. Disdaining the vanity of this world and preferring virginity to wedlock, he did not wish to marry, and having heard that the holy Forerunner and Baptist John was preaching repentance by the Jordan, he forsook all things and became his disciple. When his teacher pointed to Jesus as He passed by, saying, "Behold the Lamb of God," Andrew and another disciple, whom many believe to have been the Evangelist John left the Baptist and followed Christ. Saint Andrew knew from the books of the Prophets that Jesus was truly the long-awaited Messiah, so he hurried to find his brother Simon Peter, to whom he declared, "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ!" He then led Peter to Jesus. Afterwards, while he was fishing with Saint Peter off the shore of the Sea of Galilee and Jesus called to them, saying, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men," Saint Andrew dropped his nets and without delay obeyed the Lord's summons, following Christ together with his brother Peter. Thus Andrew is known as the First-Called because he became a follower of Jesus Christ before any of the other Apostles.
After the Lord's voluntary Passion and Resurrection, Saint Andrew, like the other Apostles, received the Holy Spirit, Who descended on him in the form of a tongue of fire. When the Apostles divided the countries of the earth among themselves, it fell to Saint Andrew to spread the Gospel in the lands of Bithynia and the Propontis, in Chalcedon, Byzantium, Thrace, Macedonia, and as far as the Black Sea and the Danube, as well as in Thessaly, Hellas, Achaia, Amisus, Trebizonda, Heraclea, and Amastris. Saint Andrew did not merely pass through these lands and cities; he underwent numerous afflictions in every place where he preached Christ. Strengthened by the Lord's all-powerful succor, he gladly endured every misfortune.
Especially great sufferings befell Saint Andrew in the city of Sinope. There the people cast him to the ground, bound him hand and foot, and dragged him about, beating him with switches and stoning him all the while. Although they severed his fingers and shattered his teeth, he was made completely whole by the grace of his Savior and Teacher. After leaving that city, Saint Andrew continued on his way to Neo-caesarea, Samosata, and the countries of the Alans, Abchasians, Zychians, and Bosporians. From there he sailed to Byzantium, where he was the first to preach Christ. He instructed many in the faith there, ordained presbyters, and consecrated as bishop Stachys, whom Saint Paul mentions in his Epistle to the Romans.
Then, returning to the apostolic labor of spreading the Gospel of Christ, Saint Andrew passed through Pontus, the lands bordering the Black Sea, Scythia, and the Chersonese. By God's providence he reached the river Dnieper in the land of Russia, and halting beneath the hills of Kiev, said to those with him, "Do you see these hills? Believe me: on them the grace of God will shine, and a mighty city will rise. God will cause many churches to be built here and will enlighten the future land of Russia with Holy Baptism." As he climbed the hills, the Saint blessed them, and he set up a cross, prophesying that the people who dwelt there would receive the faith from the apostolic see which he had established in Byzantium.
Having traveled through many other lands, he reached the Peloponnesus, and entering the city of Patras, a city of Achaia, lodged with an honorable man named Sosius, whom he raised up from his bed of sickness. As a result of this miracle, Saint Andrew succeeded in converting the entire city of Patras to Christ in a short time. The holy Apostle also restored the health of Mamimillia, wife of the Proconsul Aegeates. After her healing, she also came to believe in Christ. Likewise, the wise Stratocles, the Proconsul's brother, and many others were healed when the Apostle laid his hands on them. Because of this, Aegeates became very angry, seized the holy Apostle, and commanded that he be crucified.
The Proconsul Aegeates was on his way to the city of Patras, intending to compel those who believed in Christ to sacrifice to idols. Before reaching the city, however, he was met by Saint Andrew, who said to him, 'It would behoove you, a judge of men, to come to know Him Who is your Judge and dwells in heaven. Acknowledge the true God and worship Him, turning away from the false divinities you now adore!'
'The emperors of Rome,' said Saint Andrew, 'do not understand what was clearly demonstrated by the Son of God, Who came to the earth to save mankind: that the idols are not gods but the abodes of unclean demons, enemies of the race of man, which teach men to anger God and cause Him to turn away from them. When God turns from men in anger, the demons lead them astray and enslave them. Finally, their souls issue forth naked from their bodies, possessed of nothing more but their own sins.'
"The Jews nailed your Jesus to the Cross because He was a preacher of fables,' scoffed Aegeates.
'Saint Andrew replied, 'O, if only you could understand the mystery of the Cross and comprehend that it was out of love for us that the Creator of the human race endured voluntary crucifixion! He knew beforehand when He would suffer and prophesied that He would rise on the third day. At His last supper with us, He announced His betrayal, plainly foretold what would befall Him, and went unconstrained to the place where he was delivered into the hands of the Jews.'
'If you believe with your whole heart,' said Saint Andrew to Aegeates, you will come to understand this mystery, but if you do not believe, you will never understand it.'
'Aegeates then became very angry and ordered that St. Andrew be imprisoned, Saint Andrew passed the entire night teaching the people. The next morning, the Proconsul Aegeates sat on his judgment seat and ordered that Saint Andrew be brought before him. He said to the Apostle, 'Do you agree to cease your foolish preaching of Christ, that you may enjoy the present life with us? It is utter insanity to surrender yourself to torture and fire voluntarily.'
Answered the Saint, 'I would much prefer to see you believe in Christ and reject the idols. This would bring me true joy! It was Christ that sent me to this land, and I have gained many people for Him here.'
Aegeates commanded that the Saint be stretched out and beaten. Saint Andrew's floggers were divided into groups of three, each of which thrashed him seven times. After this the Saint was returned to the judge, who urged him, 'Listen to me, Andrew, and do not let your blood be shed uselessly! If you refuse to obey me, I will have you crucified.'
Saint Andrew answered, 'I am the slave of the Cross of Jesus Christ. I do not fear death by crucifixion, but desire it! Yet even after you have tried my endurance, you can escape eternal torment by believing in Christ. I grieve more over your perdition than over my sufferings, for my tribulations will end in a day, or two days at most, but your sufferings will not cease in a day, or two days at most, but your sufferings will not cease even after a thousand years. Therefore, do not kindle for yourself everlasting fire or add to the torments that await you.'
Enraged, Aegeates ordered that Saint Andrew be crucified. He did not wish the Apostle to die quickly, but as slowly and painfully as possible, so he had his hands and feet tied to the cross rather than nailed to it.
As the servants of the persecutor led the Saint to the place of execution, the people cried out, 'How has this righteous man, the friend of God, sinned? Why is he to be crucified?'
Saint Andrew entreated the crowd not to hinder his suffering, and went to meet his end gladly, teaching the people without interruption. He caught sight of his cross from some distance away and cried out in a loud voice, 'Hail, O cross, sanctified by the flesh of Christ and adorned by His members as with pearls! Until the Lord was crucified upon thee, thou wast a thing abhorrent to men, but now they love thee and clasp thee with yearning, since the faithful know that thou art a token of great joy and that a rich reward is prepared for those who endure thee...'
After saying this, Saint Andrew removed his clothing and gave it to his tormentors. Having bound his hands and feet to the cross with cords, they lifted him up. About twenty thousand people stood watching, among whom was Stratocles, Aegeates's brother. He cried out with the others, 'This holy man suffers unjustly!' But Saint Andrew continued to strengthen those who believed in Christ and exhorted them to endure every transitory affliction, teaching them that no suffering can be compared with the reward earned by it.
On the second day of Saint Andrew's crucifixion, the crowd went to Aegeates' house and cried, 'Remove our good, kind, meek, and wise teacher from the cross! Such a holy and honorable man does not deserve to suffer! Though he has been hanging on the cross for two days, he still does not cease to teach the truth!'
The servants could not succeed in untying the Saint. One after another, they tried to loose him, but were unable, because their hands at once became numb. Meanwhile, Saint Andrew cried with a loud voice, 'O Lord Jesus Christ, do not permit me to be taken down from the cross upon which I have been suspended for Thy Name's sake! Receive me, O my Teacher, Whom I love, Whom I know, Whom I confess, Whom I long to see, through Whom I have become what I am! O Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit in peace, for the time has come for me to go to Thee, Whom I so wish to behold! Receive me, O good Teacher, and do not allow me to be taken down from the cross until Thou has accepted my spirit!' As Saint Andrew spoke, a light resembling lightning flashed upon him from heaven in the sight of all. So brilliantly did it shine around him that the corruptible eye of man could not bear to gaze upon him. The heavenly light continued to shine for about half hour, and when it vanished, the spirit of the Apostle departed and went to stand in the Light of the Lord.
Maximillia, the chaste, holy, and noble wife of the Proconsul, who had come to believe in Christ, learned that Saint Andrew had departed unto the Lord. She took down his holy body from the cross with great reverence, and anointing it with costly ointments, placed it in her own tomb.
Aegeates became possessed by a demon and he perished in torment in the middle of the city. When his brother Stratocles, who believed in Christ, learned of this, he had Aegeates buried but would take none of his possessions, saying, 'O my Lord Jesus Christ, permit me not to touch any of my brother's treasures, lest I be defiled by the vain possessions of him who dared to slay Thine Apostle!'
These things took place on the last day of the month of November, in the city of Patras in Achaia, where, even till the present day, many blessings are bestowed on the people through the prayers of the Apostle.
Thus concludes the account of the passion of the holy Apostle Andrew written by the presbyters and deacons of Achaia. Many years later, the holy relics of the holy Apostle Andrew were translated to Constantinople by the martyr Aretmius, at the behest of the Emperor Constantine the Great. They were placed together with the holy relics of Saint Luke the Evangelist and Saint Timothy, the disciple of the holy Apostle Paul, in the most splendid church of the Holy Apostles, beneath the sacred table of oblation.
Through the prayers of Thine holy Apostle Andrew, O Christ Our God, confirm Thy faithful in Orthodoxy, and save us! Amen.
FOR YOUR PERSONAL REFLECTION AND CONTEMPLATION:
"To those who are just beginning to long for holiness the path of virtue seems very rough and forbidding. It appears like this not because it really is difficult, but because our human nature from the womb is accustomed to the wide roads of sensual pleasure. But those who have travelled more than half its length find the path of virtue smooth and easy. For when a bad habit has been subjected to a good one through the energy of grace it is destroyed along with the remembrance of mindless pleasures; and thereafter the soul gladly journeys on all the ways of virtue". [Saint Diadochos of Photiki]
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God