St. Andrew could well be called the thoughtful Apostle. Judging by the accounts of him in the Gospels, he seems to have been especially tuned in to the people and events around him. Remember? Upon first meeting Jesus on the banks of the Jordan, his first thought was to run and find his brother, Peter, and drag him back to introduce him to the Messiah. It was Andrew who called Our Lord's attention to the boy with the loaves and fishes that ended up feeding 5,000 hungry followers in the desert.
After the death and resurrection of Christ, having received the grace of Pentecost, Andrew traveled, preaching and converting thousands through Scythia and Greece, then, after many years, won the martyr's crown in 60 A.D., following his Master to the cross in Achaia. His death by crucifixion (on an "X" shaped cross) was of the more common sort, though -- long and agonizing, not shortened by the Sabbath. Brave and faithful to the end, St. Andrew lingered for two long days -- and as he died he continued to preach to the people gathered near him; in his agony, his final thoughts were of other souls that he might still save. His charity was a deeply ingrained habit of life that he practiced to the moment of his death.
So, Saint Andrew. You can't help but like the man he seemed to be: spontaneous, loving, thoughtful, loyal, faithful, humble, courageous... But, how is it that the Church, in her wisdom chose this apostle for one of the very first meditations of the Advent season? I'm sure there are many reasons, and I expect The Liturgical Year would be an obvious place to find out for sure, but I've been pondering, myself, on the life of St. Andrew today, and this is what I've learned from this great Apostle:
This is what the Advent season is all about; preparing for the coming of the Savior, finding our way to Him, and bringing everyone with us that we possibly can -- just as St. Andrew did.
As we go about our extra busy lives this Advent season, we can pray to St. Andrew to help us focus on what is truly important: to run first to Jesus, to start and end every endeavor with Him. We can ask St. Andrew to lend us his keen eyes to help us really pay attention to our loved ones, our neighbors, our friends -- the mailman, the kid delivering our pizza, the clerk at Walmart, everyone! -- and by our prayers, our patience, and our charity bring them to Jesus. And, we can ask St. Andrew, our willing guide, to accompany our souls on the journey through Advent, to pray for us, and to take us close to the manger in Bethlehem this Christmas!
Novena Prayer of St. Andrew
(to be recited 15x a day from the feast of St. Andrew until Christmas)
Blessed be the hour and the moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Blessed Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. At that hour, vouchsafe, O my God, to hear my prayer, and grant my petitions, through merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer. Amen.
* The traditional feast day for St. Andrew is Nov. 30th; because this date fell on the first Sunday of Advent, it is celebrated on Dec. 1st this year.