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Honoring St. Andrew the First Called

The Apostle Andrew is a beloved family patron. My grandfather was named Andrew, after his uncle who happened also to be his godfather. He, in turn, named my father Andrew and then, years later, my little brother was named after him as well. My brother Andy died in childhood and had therefore had no chance to pass along such a wonderful name. I thought it a would be a fitting tribute to name my own son after him, and all those men in my family who were also named after the apostle, making my son the fifth generation in a line of Andrews in the Wardach-Drozdik-Kimak family. We will definitely be celebrating his feast this November 30; (get ready for some fast-friendly treats, Grandpa!).

In our Eastern Church we often refer to St. Andrew as the 'First Called" This is because when St. John the Forerunner pointed out to his followers that Jesus was the Christ, Andrew, along with John the Theologian, left him immediately and began to follow Jesus instead.  Later, Andrew would be so inspired that he would introduce his own brother, Peter, to Jesus. These two brothers who had been fishermen on the Sea of Galilee would become leaders of the Church; Peter of the west, and Andrew of the east.  

After the ascension, when Christ directed the disciples to go forth and make disciples of all nations, Andrew journeyed through Asia Minor, along the Danube and Dnieper rivers, to what would eventually become the city of Kiev in Ukraine.  He prophetically declared to those who were travelling with him, that God would set up many churches upon the hills of the city which would be built there.  Before traveling on, he blessed the hills and erected a cross there.

Next he visited the Slavic villages in Novgorod, and continued on to what would become Byzantium in Turkey.  There, he established the first Byzantine church, appointing St. Stachys as its Bishop.  Along the way, St. Andrew worked many miracles, converted many to Christ, and supplied these new congregations with churches.  His mission ended in 62 AD, in the city of Patra, where he had succeeded in performing spectacular miracles and converting nearly all of the city to Christ.  A certain prefect named Aegeatos was an outspoken opponent to Christianity, and the primary target for St. Andrew's preaching.  With Christian love and compassion, the saint constantly appealed to the prefect, urging him to consider giving his life to Christ.  When Aegeatos could withstand no more, he ordered that St. Andrew be crucified.  To his surprise, Andrew accepted his fate with joy, willingly going to the place of execution and placing himself upon his X-shaped cross.  Enraged by this, Aegeatos ordered that he not be nailed, but rather only tied to the cross to lengthen his sufferings.  For two days the saint preached happily from the cross to his Christian congregation who gathered there to support him.  Fearing a riot would ensue, Aegeatos ordered him to be released, only to find that St. Andrew refused!  He prayed aloud to Christ that he be allowed to die like He had done.  When soldiers approached him to loosen his bonds, a brilliant light paralyzed and repelled them, and when it subsided half-an-hour later, they found that Andrew was dead.  The governor's own wife, Maximilla, who was one of those cured by St. Andrew, took possession of the body, burying it lovingly with honor.  His relics are maintained in Constantinople, Rome and Moscow.   

In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, there is an account of St. Andrew introducing a young boy to Jesus who wanted to share his five loaves of bread and two fish with the hungry crowd of 5,000 who had gathered to hear Jesus preach.  We can take some loaves and fishes of our own and make ourselves some tuna sandwiches for lunch today.  While we eat them, we can remember how this little boy, who wanted to offer his gifts to Jesus, went through St. Andrew to do it.  

We can also utilize the intercession of our family patron in this way, and ask him to intercede for us. We can talk about how brave he was to travel so far to convert souls to Christ who may have never heard of Him were it not for St. Andrew's efforts. We can also marvel at how he was so willing to suffer death rather than deny Christ and talk about his X-shaped cross. Let's make some special loaves of bread today (fast-friendly ones!) which carry the mark of our friend, St. Andrew.

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