ST. ANDREW, Apostle

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30 November

If we would do good to others, we must, like St. Andrew, keep close to the cross.

(modified) From 1894 Butlers Daily Lives of the Saints

ST. ANDREW was one of the fishermen of Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilei, and brother, perhaps elder brother, of St. Peter, and became a disciple of St. John Baptist. They are called by Jesus to become “fishers of men”

Andrew seemed always eager to bring others into notice:

  • when called himself by Christ on the banks of the Jordan, his first thought was to go in search of his brother, and he said, “We have found the Messias,” and he brought him to Jesus.
  • It was he again who, when Christ wished to feed the five thousand in the desert, pointed out the little lad with the five loaves and fishes.

St. Andrew went forth upon his mission to plant the Faith in Scythia and Greece, and at the end of years of toil to win a martyr’s crown. After suffering a cruel scourging at Patrae in Achaia (Greece), he was left, bound by cords, to die upon a cross.

When St. Andrew first caught sight of the gibbet on which he was to die, he greeted the precious wood with joy. “O good cross! “ he cried

“made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He Who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee.”

Two whole days the martyr remained hanging on this cross alive, preaching, with outstretched arms from this chair of truth, to all who came near, and entreating them not to hinder his passion.

Ancient text indicates that the cross Andrew was bound to was originally a typical Latin cross similar to the one the Christ was crucified on. Andrew argued that he was not worthy to hang on such a cross as the Lords. His cross was then tipped to form the Chi or X cross, now known as “Saint Andrews Cross.”

Aside

Saint Jude Thaddeus, by those sublime
privileges with which you were adorned in your
lifetime, namely, your relationship with Our Lord
Jesus Christ according to the flesh, and your
vocation to be an Apostle, and by that glory
which now is yours in Heaven as the reward of
your apostolic labors and your martyrdom, obtain
for me from the Giver of every good and perfect
gift all the graces of which I stand in need:

(Mention your request here)

May I treasure up in my heart the divinely
inspired doctrines that you have given us in your
Epistle: to build my edifice of holiness upon our
most holy faith, by praying for the grace of the
Holy Spirit- to keep myself in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of Jesus Christ unto eternal
fife; to strive by all means to help those who go astray.
May I thus praise the glory and majesty, the
dominion and power of Him Who is able to keep
me without sin and to present me spotless with
great joy at the coming of our Divine Savior, the
Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

from Big C Catholics

Aside

Mathew was used to assessing a person’s worth and he could determine their value, he was a taxman. Then Jesus said follow me, and that taxman did. In doing so, he began a new system of appraisal. People were no longer valued in terms of income, or status. All people are precious in the eyes of God, this is Jesus’s reminder to his followers. This is the reminder to the tax collector that once valued people according to earnings; Matthews’s valuation turned from the earthly to the heavenly. Through his discipleship he learned the true value of mankind. That’s something to think of on his feast-day. How often are people thought of as precious in the eyes of God today? How many are valued instead on their wealth, or their intelligence, or their profession, or their heritage. How often do people forget that all people are precious in the eyes of God? So often when people think of Saint Matthew they become focused on Matthew the sinner because that is how he was perceived in his day. How many forget that Matthew himself once valued people incorrectly, according to a materialistic scale. How many forget that he drastically changed his approach once he became a disciple of the LORD. How many are willing to take the same leap of faith that Matthew did, and realize that all people are precious in the eyes of God.

The feast of the apostle Matthew

21 September 2017

Feast of (doubting) Saint Thomas.

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How many consider that Thomas’s absence was part of a divine plan? Thomas’s absence from originally seeing the risen LORD separates him from the group. His questions are a contrast to the disciple’s testament, Thomas questions both the LORD and His Apostles. Thomas challenges a cult mentality by introducing doubt and reason, and by demanding proof. By way of the doubt and the questions and the demands, Thomas proclaims both the LORD has truly risen, and My LORD and my GOD. With his doubts Thomas declares the presence of the Easter Christ. Thomas proclaims a Christ of the resurrection.

But Thomas said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

An Easter Christ is the Christ that as revealed to Saint Paul, and Paul also was known for his doubting Christ. Paul was the persecutor of Christians who encountered the Easter Christ in the road to Damascus. That encounter was after the Ascension. Peter also had his doubts about the LORD, his were famously acknowledged by the crowing of a rooster at the crucifixion. Interesting how the LORD revealed Himself at the transfiguration with the inner group of disciples. That is Peter’s experience, an experience that is challenged by the crucifixion. Then there is Thomas, also one who walked with Christ. Finally Paul, who persecutes the followers of Christ. All three are challenged, yet all three proclaim Christ as truly risen, and Christ as LORD. With questioning minds they make their declaration.

Thomas’s doubt bridges that Christ of the Transfiguration and the Easter Christ. Thomas did walk with Christ as a disciple, and then proclaim the Christ of Easter. The same with Peter. For Paul a Christ after the resurrection. For us? Ours is a Christ of the resurrection, an Easter Christ. And our doubts, do we have them? Are we any less human than the other three? Thomas’s doubts serve a purpose, as does any inquisitive mind. Ours is a God given ability to question, to ponder the LORD.

When Jesus encounters Thomas’s doubts and questions the Lord does not chastise or condemn him. Jesus asks that Thomas seek the answers to his questions. He says to place his hands into the wounds of Christ. Jesus has Thomas explore the risen LORD. The doubts are a natural part of the human experience. Thomas needed to see and touch Jesus to believe, and he does so. He declares Christ truly risen. Jesus also tells that it is better that those who do not see believe. Not to see, and yet believe is go have faith. Both are important, naturally seeking and being guided simply by faith. For certain I can probe this planet and see the works of Christ. I can also follow Christ in faith when I am blinded by darkness. Perhaps it is the first, the questioning, that feeds and strengthens the second that is faith. (Faith & Reason)

John, the beloved disciple

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Many of the icons of Saint John show him with a chalice, and frequently that chalice has a snake emerging from it. The imagery relates to a tale that the evangelist drank from a chalice poisoned by a snake yet was unharmed due to the blessing he gave that potion before drinking it.

The chalice is an important part of this apostles imagery, but I think only partially because of that story. It was John who was with Jesus at the agony of the garden when he said let this cup pass from me, but not my will but thy be done. John was one of the inner circle, witnessing the transfiguration. He stood at the foot of the cross with Mary when Jesus said behold your mother and behold your son. As that chalice held the suffering of Christ that John witnessed at the garden, he also held that vision of the transfiguration. He was in charge of protecting Mary, and of receiving her guidance and wisdom. Mary is that model of the Church, and the one who carried the Christ. Hers was the faith that proclaimed the greatness of the Lord at the incarnation, and the one who maintained that faith throughout Jesus ministry. Hers was the message of Gods joy, and when Jesus said behold your Mother; that joy was placed in charge of John. In a way that chalice that is associated with John is not simply the poisoned cup, but is also that cup of Christ’s suffering, and of the Joy signified through wine.
It is the chalice that contains the messages of Mary, as mother of the Church. It is a symbol, of apostolic succession as the priesthood, and can rightly be looked at as a combined symbol of the ministry Christ’s Church. Johns symbol, that chalice reminds one of that saints ministry role in the Church as a guardian of knowledge, and as teacher. In the Christmas narrative, Jesus is told of being laid in a manger. Later in the story, he will take wine and pour it in a chalice  and say this is my blood. That is the chalice that John holds. The Christmas narrative tells of the birth of Christ, Johns story reminds us of the reason. The manger held the body, and the chalice holds the blood.

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