ST. ANDREW, Apostle


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.”

St. Andrew Dung-Lac and companions


Here is an older post from 2014. Some background of these saints from another post is here


One of the things that is so memorable about Andrew Dung-Lac is that he was born a poor pagan Vietnamese. His catechesis was coupled with food and shelter, and then baptism. He was not born into Christianity, and the country he lived in was not historically Christian, and he was ethnically Vietnamese. Why do these points interest me? To start, Andrew became a priest, and taught catechism. That was a step up from the impoverished life he was born into, but does not begin to explain this person’s character. Andrews’s character and spirituality come out after the first time he went through imprisonment and persecution for his Christian faith. That persecution was under the emperor’s directive, and was wide spread; though Andrew was able at first to gain freedom with the support of his congregation. This is the part where this priest’s character and spirituality are revealed. After that persecution the priest changed his name, modified his location, and continued his mission. After imprisonment, how easy would it have been for him to simply remove his collar and blend in amongst his countrymen? He was ethnically Vietnamese, so blending in would have been easy. The persecutions going on in that country were among the most brutal in history, yet he did not remove his clerical collar, and to me that speaks volumes about the extent the Holy Spirit descended onto that priest. At his baptism he was initiated into the faith with water, at his first persecution was proof positive that he had received that Spirit. As he continued preaching and baptizing people into the faith, those persecutions continued and they were directed at Christians with unspeakable brutality. Andrew continued with his mission until he was beheaded for the faith at the age of forty-four. His story contains examples of the three types of baptism, that one of water, of the spirit, and by blood. The brutality towards Christians in that country at that time were horrendous. Andrews’s story is easy to tell because it is a brief biographical sketch of a single person. There were one hundred and seventeen martyrs, and each had their own unique story, though I am certain they all had that desire to live and die for their faith and preach the gospel of Christ. It was that faith that defined them, not their ethnicity or social standing. They were European and Vietnamese, Priests, Religious, and Lay people: all placing their faith in Christ. Their story of faith is remarkable and unforgettable.


Saint Cecilia, patron of music


Recycled from 2014

Today is the memorial of Saint Cecilia, an early Roman saint, virgin, and martyr of the Church. Briefly Cecilia was a vowed virgin who was married and wished to keep her virginity. She told her husband of an angel which he asked to see, and to which she replied he needed to be baptized. He did see that angel who spoke to him and gave him red roses and white lilies, as a reward for Cecilia’s love of chastity. Her husband Valerian then had his brother converted to the faith. When the prefect, Almachius, heard of the conversions he ordered them imprisoned and put to death. Cecilia’s tomb was found in 822 and her body incorrupt was transferred to a church bearing her name. The sculptor Stefano Maderno carved a sculpture of that body precisely as it was found when the cypress coffin was opened. It now adorns her tomb.

Saint Cecilia is the patron saint of composers, music, musicians, musical instrument makers, poets, and singers. She is the patron of a few others, but these are the ones of interest to me. I think about her and music especially concerning liturgical music. I think of her as I think of a small debate goes on about that sacred music, and I think about the saint and those listed that she is the patron of. One of the arguments that is taking place regards the types of musical instruments fitting for liturgy. There are those that embrace the organ as the instrument of the church, and they feel that this instrument has a special place in the churches. I cannot argue that the pipe organ is strongly associated with liturgical music, but the limiting the instrumentation of the Church to that solitary instrument leaves me a bit divided. It is a grand instrument of the Church, and much sacred music has been composed for it.

 Saint Cecilia though would have never heard music from that instrument, the organ occurs in history probably 1000 years after her death. That is the part that leaves me divided. Cecilia is frequently pictured holding a lyre, and that instrument is related to the harp, and then the violin and guitar. Lyres and tambourines were instruments of the Old Testament. Plainsong and Chant were the foundation of early Christian music. The organ actually occurred late in the Churches musical history. I think of Saint Cecilia too when I think of continents that have no equivalent to that Church organ, but instead have their own assortment of musical instruments. I wonder, what is the traditional music for the Ethiopian Orthodox Church? What are the musical instrument traditions of those devout Catholics in places like Korea, China, India, and the South Pacific?

When thinking of that patron saint of music, and instrument makers I do think of the roles of sacred and secular music, and I do think of how music should be applied to the liturgy. I also think of how it is misapplied. I wonder why it is that the popular styles of Church music are not played before and after the liturgy, and why plainsong and chant have diminished during the liturgy, and why the pipe organ fell out of favor for a time. I also wonder why the concertina, and the violin, and the renaissance recorders are used little during Mass, and why the folk guitar is so popular.

oud_frontI add the picture of the oud because it is the ancient instrument of the Middle East that eventually became the L’Oud, and then the Lute, and then the guitar. According to legend the instrument was invented by Lamech, the sixth grandson of Adam. String instruments have a long history in Middle Eastern cultures and religions. Ouds, harps of varying kinds, percussion instruments (doumbek), cymbals, tambourines, and wind instruments such as the Moroccan Oboe all play a part in religious celebrations. Arguably they are the original instruments of the Church. Some might have a spittle flecked nutty, but this is the modern guitars ancestry in the Church. For the lyrics, and style of the contemporary, that’s another story. 

Presentation of Mary


Here is a recycled post from 5-years ago:

According to tradition the childless Joachim and Anne, received a message from an angel that they would have a child. In fulfilling a vow for the gift of their daughter, they brought the three year old Mary to the Jerusalem Temple so that she might be consecrated to God. Tradition tells that Mary remained in the Temple until twelve years of age, at which point she was assigned to Joseph as guardian. The tradition also says that she remained in the temple to be educated in her role as the mother of God. The presentation of Mary reemphasizes the holiness of Mary as Mother of God, an importance commemorated by the feast of the Immaculate Conception. This memorial of the Presentation of Mary celebrates Mary’s dedication to God from her infancy, through the Holy Spirit, who filled her with grace at her immaculate conception. Mary’s role as mother of God did not begin with the Nativity of Christ, it begins with her immaculate conception and was strengthened at her temple presentation. In presenting herself to God and accepting Gods plan for her, she was able to accept the annunciation and all that follows. In that she is the image of church, the new temple. Through the presentation she accepted and prepared for her role as Mother of God. In a sense this is the beginning of Mary’s Advent as presenting oneself before God is the first step to receiving the Christ of the Nativity. Advent begins in 16-days.

Saint Thérèse de Lisieux, or “the Little Flower of Jesus”


A briefest of biographies. Therese felt an early call to religious life. Although she had faced many challenges in her personal life, including frail health and emotional distress, at age of 15 she became a nun. Thérèse joined two of her older sisters in the cloistered Carmelite community of Lisieux, Normandy. After nine years as a Carmelite religious, she died of tuberculosis at the age of 24. Thérèse was a magnificent writer, and through that writing, she became one of the most popular saints of the twentieth century. Through Pope Pius XI she was beatified in 1923, She was canonized Saint by the Roman Catholic Church May 17, 1925.On 19 October 1997 Pope John Paul II declared her the thirty-third Doctor of the Church. Thérèse is the youngest of all Doctors of the Church, and one of three woman Doctors.

Thérèse lived a hidden life that is the lifestyle of Carmelite nuns. Even though she in her words ‘wanted to be unknown’ yet her writings made her one of the most well known and loved Saint. The saint had a way with words, prolific and poetic and wise well beyond her youthful years. Along with her autobiography she recorded letters, poems, religious plays, prayers and various notes. Through technology (she is a saint in the early technological age) her last conversations were recorded by her sister. By the photographs (a new art form) taken by her sister Céline, she was beloved worldwide.

Popular devotion to Thérèsè suffered from the sentimentality of her age, flowery and embellished kitsch, something that was in direct contrast to the true nature of this popular Saint. In her own words: “I only love simplicity. I have a horror of pretense”, and:” we should not say improbable things, or things we do not know (about Saints). We must see their (the saints) real, and not their imagined lives.” One should definitely become familiar with Thérèsè through her writings, and not through what has been written about her. Her writings are her story, and her devotion in her own words. Briefly her devotion to Jesus can be summed up in one word, Love. It is through love that she sought to serve her Lord. That was her mission in a single word. Love. In her own words:

“Charity gave me the key to my vocation. I understood that the Church being a body composed of different members, the most essential, the most noble of all the organs would not be wanting to her; I understood that the Church has a heart and that this heart is burning with love; that it is love alone which makes the members work, that if love were to die away apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, martyrs would refuse to shed their blood. I understood that love comprises all vocations, that love is everything, that it embraces all times and all places because it is eternal!”

The thing is, with a saint just as this, what is one to do one her festive day? She was a Carmelite, should someone seek their advice? She was a Carmelite, what was their charism? Carmelites are contemplative, so let’s contemplate something. The saint contemplated Love, Christian love, and that is a good beginning. Thérèse enjoyed leaving little signs of kindness. Carmelites are based in prayer, so say a prayer or seek out a prayer of Thérèse, she was a writer. Carmelites are based in community, make a community better. Discover a new community, one lived in faith. Participate in a community. Thérèse did. Carmelites serve, the third part of their charism. Contemplation, community, prayer, service. Therese was infirm, a hint. Celebrate those, in the spirit of the saint. But how does one learn that spirit? That’s easy, simple! Thérèse was a writer, her spirit lives in those writings. Celebrate her with a good read, read what she wrote. She is a doctor of the Church after all and in this age of technology her bibliography is widely available. Read her books, her story, and her prayers. The memory of this saint has been recorded, in her own words. If there is one saint that can be memorialized in a technological age, it is her.