30 November ~ Feast of St. Andrew the First Called

Today the Christian world celebrates the Feast of St. Andrew the First Called of the Apostles. This is an interesting feast day for me since it brings two parts of my life together. St. Andrew is, of course, the patron of Scotland but he is also the patron of Romania.
Biblical accounts of St. Andrew have him being the first one that Jesus called to follow him. We learn that he then went off to his brother, St. Peter, and told Peter that he had found the messiah and to come and see for himself. Well we know the rest of the story. At the end of his life, St. Andrew was crucified on an “X” shaped Cross in the City of Patras on the Northern coast of the Peloponnese. Legend has it that St. Andrew asked to be crucified on the Saltire rather than the Latin cross because he did not deem himself worthy to be crucified the same way as Jesus had been.
The Official Position of the Romanian Orthodox Church is that St. Andrew came to the area around the Black Sea and converted the Daco-Romanians. Because of this St. Andrew has been called the Enlightener of the Romanians and remains one of the patrons of Romania.
Far more famous than his relationship to Romania or any other place is the St. Andrew’s patronage of Scotland. I find it interesting that this is the patronage that is far more well-known and he actually never set foot in Scotland!
The legend is that in 832 AD, Oengus II led the Pictish army against the Angels. The night before the battle he prayed that if granted victory in the battle he would name St. Andrew as the patron of Scotland. In the morning the clouds formed and “X” shape which emboldened Oengus and he was victorious in the battle and won the day. Oengus kept his word and proclaimed St. Andrew the Patron and Protector of Scotland. The Scottish flag depicts the white “X” against a blue background in honor of the vision of that day. The Scottish flag is commonly known as the Saltier.
St. Andrew’s connection with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, (664 AD) when the Celtic Church felt that Columba had been “outranked” by Peter and that Peter’s brother would make a higher ranking patron. The 1320 Declaration of Arbroath cites Scotland’s conversion to Christianity by Andrew, “the first to be an Apostle”.
Last night we served the Vespers service in honor of St. Andrew. I placed the icon in the center of the church on the icon stand covered with a tartan cloth in honor of his patronage of Scotland. During the vespers we chanted the following hymns in his honor:
O all-wise Andrew,
when the all-holy Word became incarnate,
bringing life and salvation to all the earth,
you hearkened to the voice of the Forerunner
and were the first to follow Him.
You were offered to Him as the first fruits of the human race.
You revealed Him to Peter, your brother.
Pray that He may enlighten and save our souls!
Leaving behind your fishnets, O Apostle Andrew,
you caught men with the net of your preaching.
Throwing to us the bait of righteousness,
you delivered all nations from the depths of error.
Apostle Andrew, brother of Peter the primate,
all-glorious and never-failing intercessor,
may the celebration of your memory enlighten all who dwell in darkness!
Let us praise Andrew, the preacher of the faith and servant of the Word,
for he has drawn men out of the abyss,
fishing with the Cross instead of a rod;
lowering a powerful line,
he leads souls up from the deception of the Enemy,
offering them to God as an acceptable gift.
O faithful, let us praise him, with the choir of the disciples of Christ,
that he may intercede with Him,
to have mercy on us on the Day of Judgment!
Having found the First of things desired,
Who in compassion was clothed with our nature,
O Godly-wise Andrew,
you were united in ardent desire with your brother.
You cried out: “Come, let us find Him Whom the Prophets preached in the Spirit!”
Let us enchant both soul and mind with His beauties,
that, being illumined by His brightness,
we may banish the night of delusion and the darkness of ignorance,
as we bless Christ, who bestows on the world great mercy!
Your preaching gives light to godless nations,
glorious vessel of the ruler of the sea.
Your wisdom calms the stormy waves.
You are the salt of the earth, seasoning us with incorruption,
silencing the ravings of clever orators.
By his prayers, deliver us from the proud ones of the earth, O Lord,
grant purity to our hearts and salvation to our souls!
We honor you in songs, Apostle Andrew,
brother of Peter and disciple of Christ,
fisherman and fisher of men;
you shaped all dogmas with the wisdom of Christ.
As fish are lured into a net,
so you caught transgressors with the bait of truth.
Through his prayers, O Christ, grant us peace and great mercy!
Andrew, first-called of the Apostles,
and brother of the foremost disciple,
entreat the Master of all
to grant peace to the world,
and to our souls great mercy!
Holy St. Andrew Pray for Us!

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