Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
APOLYTIKION (DISMISSAL) HYMN OF SAINT ANDREW
As first of all the Apostles to be called, O Andrew, brother of him (Peter) who was foremost, beseech the Master of all to grant the world peace and our souls great mercy.
KONTAKION in the Second Tone
Let us praise the namesake of bravery, the divinely eloquent and first to be called of the Disciples of Christ, the kinsman of Peter. As he called out to him in days of old, so now he calls to us, "Come, we have found Him for whom we yearned.
A HEART-FELT PRAYER TO THE LORD OUR GOD
[Saint Basil the Great]
O God in the highest heaven and Lord of mercy, we bless You, For You always do great and inscrutable things for us, things that are glorious and extraordinary and beyond numbering. You provide sleep for us to give us rest from our infirmities and from the many labors of our toilsome life. We thank You for not destroying us together with our sins, for while we were lying in sinful desperation, You showed Your Loving-kindness as usual and raised us up to glorify Your Kingdom. For this reason we beseech You unimaginable Goodness: Illumine the eyes of our understanding and raise our mind from the heavy sleep of indolence. Open our mouth and fill it with praises for You, that we may be able without distraction to sing and chant and confess to You, Who are the God glorified in all and by all-The Unbegotten Father, together with the Only-begotten Son and the All-Holy, Good and Life-Creating Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.
On November 30th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Preachers, Apostles, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Holy and All-praised Apostle Andrew the First-called; Saint Alexander, Bishop of Methymna on Lesvos; Saint Frumentius, Archbishop of Abyssinia; Saint Peter I and Samuel I, Catholicoses of Georgia; Saint Vakhtang Gorgasali, king of Georgia.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Apostles, Holy Archbishops and Bishops, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE LIFE AND SUFFERINGS OF THE HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW THE FIRST-CALLED
Whose Memory the Holy Church Celebrates on the 30th of November (Source: The Lives of the Holy Apostles, by Holy Apostles Convent Buena, Vista, Colorado)
The Holy Andrew, the First-Called Apostle of Christ, was the son of a Jew named Jonah and the brother of the holy pre-eminent Apostle Peter; he was a native of the Galilean town of Bethsaida. Disdaining the vanity of this world and preferring virginity to matrimony, he declined the enter into wedlock; and hearing that the Holy Forerunner John was preaching repentance by the Jordan, he left everything, went to him and became his disciple. When the Holy Forerunner, pointing to Jesus as He passed by, said: "Behold the Lamb of God!" (St. John 1:36), Saint Andrew, together with another disciple of the Forerunner (whom many consider to have been the Evangelist John), left the Forerunner and followed after Christ. He sought out his brother Simon Peter and said to him: "We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ" (v. 41), and brought him to Jesus. Afterwards, when he was fishing with 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" (St. Matthew 4:19), Andrew, immediately leaving his nets when he heard the Lord's summons, followed after Christ with his brother Peter (v. 20). Andrew is known as the First-called because he became a follower and disciple of Jesus Christ before any of the other apostles.
When, after the Lord's voluntary Passion and His Resurrection, the Holy Andrew, with the rest of the Apostles, received the Holy Spirit, Who descended on him in the form of a tongue of fire, and when the countries were divided among them, it fell on him by lot to spread the Gospel in Bithynia, the Propontis, Chalcedon, Byzantium, Thrace, Macedonia, all the way to the Black Sea and the River Danube, as well as in Thessaly, Hellas, Achaia, Amisus, Trapezus, Heraclea, and Amastris. Saint Andrew passed through these lands and cities, preaching the Christian Faith, and in each city he had to endure much affliction and pain; but, fortified by the Omnipotent help of God, he joyfully bore all such tribulations for Christ's sake.
In Amisus, a city of the Black Sea, and somewhat more than 76 miles from Sinope, the Apostle found many Jews who were benighted by spiritual ignorance and impiety. Yet, despite this, the people of Amisus took delight in showing hospitality. They would receive all foreign travelers into their city and homes, and would minister to them as they were able. Thus, when the Holy Apostle Andrew entered Amisus, he was taken in by a certain Jew. The Saint then gave thought to how he might convert such a multitude of people.
The following morning, the Holy Apostle went to the synagogue of the Jews, where they asked him pointedly who he was, why he had come among them, and what was his preaching. The Holy Andrew, expounding upon the teachings of our Savior, and of Moses and of the Prophets, then demonstrated how Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the Prophets, and that He would come to save mankind. Then,--O the wonder!---the word of Christ, Who said: "I will make you fishers of men" (St. Matt. 4:19), was fulfilled. The Jews listened to the words and teaching of Christ's Apostle and straightaway repented, believed and were baptized, becoming Christian servants of our Lord. They brought to the Apostle all their sick, and he healed all of whatever disease afflicted them. Thus, the Holy Apostle became not only a physician of bodies, but one of souls as well. He erected a church in that place and ordained one of their number to the priesthood.
Saint Andrew did not simply pass through all the countries he visited, as the wind does, but stayed there and taught and endured many toils and afflictions for the Gospel.
At Sinopis, he taught the word of the gospel to the people, and was tested by many afflictions: they threw him on the ground, beat him, stretched his hands and legs, pierced and cut him, hit him with wood, threw stones at him, and left him alone far from the city; then they also cut his finger with a knife. But he immediately regained his full health by our Savior Jesus Christ. Leaving that place, they passed several towns and villages: Neoceasaria, Samosata, Alani, Abasgi, Zicchi, Vosporini and Chersonis.
His next center of activity was the city of Byzantium, where he performed many miracles and instructed many in the knowledge of God. Indeed the people of Byzantium not only embraced the light of the Truth, but even erected a magnificent church in honor of the All-Holy Theotokos (Mother of God). As bishop for them he consecrated Stachys, one of the Seventy Apostles, of whom Saint Paul made mention in his Epistle to the Romans (see Romans 16:9). He travelled next to Heraclea of Thrace, which is situated to the west of Byzantium; and there he converted many to the Orthodox Faith, and ordained Apelles bishop.
But Saint Andrew himself, undertaking apostolic labors and enduring pangs in the spreading of the Gospel of Christ, passed through Pontus, the seaboard of the Black Sea, Scythia, and the Chersonese. By God's Providence, he reached the River Dnieper in the land of Russia, and, halting upon the shore beneath the hills of Kiev, he lay down to rest. When he arose from sleep in the morning, he said to his disciples who had accompanied him: "Believe me: on these hills the grace of God will shine forth. There will be a great city here, and the Lord will raise many churches in this place and enlighten all of the Russian land with holy baptism". And ascending the hills, the Saint blessed them and set up a cross, prophesying that the people who dwelt there would receive the Faith from the apostolic see he had established in Byzantium.
Passing through the Russian cities which lay to the North, where Novgorod the Great now stands, he went on to visit Rome. Then he made his way to the Greek land of Epirus and eventually arrived in Thrace, firmly establishing the Christians in the Faith and ordaining bishops and leaders for them. Passing through many lands, he reached the Peloponnese, and, entering the Achaian city of Patras, he lodged with a certain respected man by the name of Sosius. He raised him up from his bed of sickness and afterwards converted the whole city of Patras to Christ.
At that time, Maximilla, the wife of the Proconsul Aegeates, fell prey to a grievous affliction of the eyes. Though she visited every doctor, yet she derived no benefit from their ministrations, and only succeeded in expending nearly all her wealth on their fees and treatments. As Maximilla drew closer to death, he grew so despondent that he began to consider suicide. One of his household, however, remembered the Apostle, for he had received healing at his hands before; and he hastened and besought his help for his master's wife. The Saint then came and placed his hand upon her, and her health was restored forthwith, and she rose from her couch.
When Aegeates beheld this miracle, he went and brought forth a great sum of money and laid it at the fee of the Saint. Kneeling, he begged the holy one to accept this offering in gratitude for the healing. But the Holy Apostle refused the money, desiring only the repentance of the people of Achaia and Patras, and he declined to accept any recompense. He said to Aegeates: "Our Teacher hath said: 'Freely ye have received, freely give' (St. Matt. 10:8), and taught him many other things before he departed.
The Holy Apostle Andrew not only healed Maximilla, wife of the governor of Patra, but also his brother Stratokles. The miracles accomplished by the Apostle and his fiery speech enlightened almost all the citizens of the city of Patras with the True Faith.
Few pagans remained at Patra, but among them was the Prefect of the city, Aegeates. The Apostle Andrew repeatedly turned to him with the words of the Gospel. But even the miracles of the Apostle did not convince Aegeates. The Holy Apostle with love and humility appealed to his soul, striving to reveal to him the Christian mystery of life eternal, through the wonderworking power of the Holy Cross of the Lord. The angry Aegeates gave orders to crucify the Apostle. The pagan thought he might undo Saint Andrew's preaching if he were to put him to death on the cross.
Saint Andrew the First-Called accepted the decision of the Prefect with joy and with prayer to the Lord, and went willingly to the place of execution. In order to prolong the suffering of the Saint, Aegeates gave orders not to nail the Saint's hands and feet, but to tie them to the cross; and thus they crucified him head-down and suspended him. The cross had the shape of the letter X, which had been set up in the "mouth of the sea of Ammoudias" ["χείλος της θαλάσσιας αμμουδιάς" begins with the Greek letter X. Note that other accounts hold that Saint Andrew asked to be nailed on an X-shaped cross, out of his feelings of unworthiness to suffer in the same way as Christ (the same sentiments that led to his brother, St. Peter the Apostle, being crucified upside down). On the cross, which was made from olive wood, the hands and feet of the Apostle were tied and not nailed. For two days the Apostle taught the citizens who gathered about. The people, in listening to him, with all their souls pitied him and tried to take Saint Andrew down from the cross. Fearing a riot of the people, Aegeates gave orders to stop the execution. But the Holy Apostle began to pray that the Lord would grant him death on the cross. Just as the soldiers tried to take hold of the Apostle Andrew, they lost control of their hands. The crucified Apostle, having given glory to God, said: "Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit." Then a blazing ray of divine light illumined the cross and the holy Martyr crucified upon it. When the light faded, the Holy Apostle Andrew had already given up his holy soul to the Lord. It was 62 A.D. Maximilla, the wife of the prefect, had the body of the Saint taken down from the cross, and buried him with honor.
From the sea, the beautiful sea of Galilee, the Lord called the great Fisherman to follow Him to become a Disciple and a fisher of men. Somewhere else near the sea, the sea of historic city of Patras, again Christ called His Disciple, the Apostle Andreas, after hard work of sowing His word, to reach our heavenly homeland, to receive the incorruptible crown of righteousness. The Apostle left his world at the age of 80.
Christians of Achaia deeply mourned his death. The pain was still greater, when the Proconsul Aegeatis refused to surrender the holy relic for burial. But God worked things according to His Providence. On the same day the Saint died, Aegeates went crazy and committed suicide. "The death of sinners is evil." The Christians with their Bishop Stratoklis, the first bishop of Patras, then received the Sacred Relic and they buried it with great honor. Later, when the throne of Byzantium was ascended by Constatius, who was the son of Constantine the Great, part of the sacred relics were transferred from the city of Patras to Constantinople and enshrined in the church of the Holy Apostles "inside the Holy Altar" beside the holy relics of the Holy Evangelist Luke and Saint Paul's disciple Saint Timothy.
The holy Skull of the First-Called Apostle seems to have remained in the city of Patras. But when the Turks were to enslave the city in 1460, then Thomas Paleologos, brother of the last emperor Constantine Paleologos and last Master of Moria, took the holy relic and moved it to Italy. There it was placed in the church of Saint Peter in Rome, where it remained until 1964. On September 26th of that year, a delegation from Pope Paul transferred it from Rome to the church of Saint Andrew of Patras.
"We have found the Messiah" the First-Called Apostle Andrew cries out also to us. Christ was and is the Only Savior and Redeemer of mankind. Thus you will also know Him, if you come to know your Author of Life and Lord and if you place His will and laws as the guide of your life. Yes! If you put the Holy will and His Commandments as the guide and companion in your life.
The new church of the city of Patras, in a Byzantine style, was founded in 1908 by King George the I, and it was consecrated in 1974 by Metropolitan Nicodemus. The church of Saint Andrew of Patras is the largest church in the Balkans, and it can fit inside a total of 5,500 faithful.
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Holy Epistle Lesson: I Corinthians 4:9-16
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 1:35-52
FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"Let us follow our Good Master; let us shun worldly desires; let us shun the world of deceit and its temporal ruler; let us give ourselves in purity to our Make; let us honor our image; let us respect our call and change our lives". (Saint Gregory the Theologian)
With agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God