November 30-Holy Apostle Saint Andrew the First-Called

My 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.

THE THIRTIETH DAY OF THE MONTH OF NOVEMBER THE LABORS AND PASSION OF THE HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW THE FIRST-CALLED [Our Patron Saint]

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 Apostle 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 by the River 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" (St. John, ch. 1), Andrew and another disciple, whom many believe to have been the Evangelist John (who wrote these things in his Gospel), left the Baptist and followed Christ. 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 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, ch. 4), 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 Holy 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, Trebizond, 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 Bosparians. From there he sailed to Byzantium, where he was the first to preach Christ. He instructed many in the faith there, ordained Presbyters (Priests), and consecrated as bishop Stachys, whom Saint Paul mentions in his Epistle (Letter) 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.

After passing through towns in the north, in the region where Novgorod the Great now stands, Saint Andrew continued on to Rome and Epirus. Then he returned to Thrace where he confirmed the Christians in the faith, appointing bishops and teachers for them. Having traveled through many other lands, he reached the Peloponnesus, and entering 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 Maximillia, 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 Holy Apostle laid his hands on them. Because of this, Aegeates became very angry, seized the Holy Apostle, and commanded that he be crucified. Concerning these things the Presbyters (Priests) and Deacons of the land of Achaia wrote the following:

"We, the Presbyters and Deacons of the Church of Achaia, write to all churches of the East, West, South, and North to tell of the Passion of the Holy Apostle Andrew, which we beheld with our own eyes. Peace be unto you and to all who believe in the One God, perfect in Trinity: the True, Unbegotten Father; the True Begotten Son; and the True Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father and rests in the Son! This is the faith we were taught by the Holy Apostle Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus Christ, whose suffering we beheld and wish to relate, as much as we are able.

"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! I approach thee boldly and gladly; do thou accept me with joy, for I am the disciple of Him Who was suspended upon thee! O good cross, made beautiful and glorious by the limbs of the Lord which were affixed to thee, long have I desired thee and loved thee ardently! Long have I sought for thee, and now I have found thee, the desire of my heart. Take me from among men and convey me to my Teacher and Redeemer!'

"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' 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.

As Saint Andrew was praying, 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 an hour, and when it vanished, the spirit of the Holy 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 sacred body from the cross with great reverence, and anointing it with costly ointments, placed it in her own tomb.

"These things took place on the last day of the Month of November, in the city of Patras in Achaia, Greece, where, even till the present day, many blessings are bestowed on the people through the prayers of the Holy Apostle Andrew. The fear of God came upon everyone living in the city, and there was no one there who did not believe in Christ, Who desires to save all men and lead them to the knowledge of the truth (I Timothy, ch. 2). Unto Him be glory unto the ages of ages. Amen."

Thus concludes the account of the Passion of the Holy Apostle Andrew written by the Presbyters and Deacons of Achaia.

Many years later, the relics of the Holy Apostle Andrew were translated to Constantinople by the Holy Martyr Artemius, at the behest of the Emperor Constantine the Great. They were placed together with the remains 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 Prothesis (Oblation).

Through the prayers of Thine Apostle, O Christ God, confirm Thy faithful in Orthodoxy, and save us! Amen.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn in the Fourth Mode

As first of 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 Hymn in the Second Mode

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."

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DIVINE SERVICES FOR NOVEMBER 30TH

Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George