My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
THE LABORS AND PASSION OF THE HOLY APOSTLE ANDREW THE FIRST-CALLED (OUR PATRON AND PROTECTOR SAINT) [Part II]
"Aegeates answered, 'Are you Andrew, who razes the temples of the gods and teaches the people the sorcerous faith which has recently appeared and which the emperors of Rome have ordered destroyed?'
"The emperors of Rome," said 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 (dwelling places) 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 but their own sins.'
"The Jews nailed your Jesus to the Cross because He was a preacher of fables," scoffed Aegeates.
"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 Mystical (Last) Supper for 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..."
"...Speak of these things to those who wish to hear you!' Aegeates said to Saint Andrew had concluded. 'But if you do not sacrifice to the gods, I will have you beaten with staves and then crucified upon the cross which you so glorify..."
"...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...'
"...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 the hand 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 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 (20,000) 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.
"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.'
"Fearing the people Aegeates hastened to take Saint Andrew down; but when Saint Andrew saw the Proconsul with his servants, he said, 'Why have you come here, Aegeates? If you wish to believe in Christ, the doors of grace will be opened to you, as I promised. But if you have come only to remove me from the cross, know that I do not wish to be brought down alive. Already I behold and worship my King; already I stand before Him...
"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, Who I long to see, through Whom I have become what I am! O Lord Jesus Christ, receive my spirit in peace, for the time hath 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 hast 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 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 body from the cross with great reverence, and anointing it with costly ointments, placed it in her own tomb.
"Aegeates was furious with the people and considered how he might wreak vengeance on them, punishing those who had arisen against him openly. As for Maximillia, it was his intention to denounce her to the Emperor himself. While he was devising his plans, a demon suddenly possessed him, and he perished in torment in the middle of the city..."
"These things took place on the last day of the Month of November, in the city of Patas in Achaia, Greece, where, even till the present day, many blessings are bestowed on the people through the prayers of the Holy Apostle. The fear of God came upon everyone living in Christ, Who desired to save all men and to lead them to the knowledge of the Truth (I Timothy 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 holy 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 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 Apostle, O Christ God, confirm Thy faithful in Orthodoxy, and save us! Amen. (Source: The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints)
DIVINE SERVICES FOR THE FEAST OF SAINT ANDREW:
This evening the divine service of Great Vespers and Artoklasia at 7:00 p.m.
On Friday morning, November 30th:
Orthros (Matins) at 9:00 a.m.
Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" -- Saint John Chrysostomos
With agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God