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Friday, November 30, 2007

A double celebration

Today we celebrate, not only the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, but also the 30th aniversary of the final profession of Rev. Fr Michael Mary, C.SS.R. We ask St. Andrew to look with kindness upon Father, and to obtain many graces for him, as well as for Scotland, whose principal patron he is. The following account of his life is taken from the lessons of the Roman Breviary for matins.

The Apostle Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a town of Galilee, and was the brother of Peter. He was a disciple of John the Baptist, and heard him say of Christ, “Behold the Lamb of God”, whereupon he immediately followed Jesus, bringing his brother also with him. Some while after, they were both fishing in the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Christ going by, called them both, before any other of the apostles, with the words “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. They made no delay, but left their nets and followed Him. After the death and resurrection of Christ, Andrew was allotted Scythia (The Pontic-Caspian steppe: Kazakhstan, southern Russia and eastern Ukraine. The northern Caucasus area, including Azerbaijan, and Georgia. Sarmatia, Ukraine, Belarus, Poland up to Oceanus Sarmaticus known also as Baltic. Southern Ukraine with the lower Danube river area and Bulgaria, also known as Scythia Minor) as the province of his preaching and after labouring there, he went through Epirus (southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania) and Thrace (The historical boundaries of Thrace have varied. Ancient Thrace included present-day Bulgaria, European Turkey, northeastern Greece and parts of eastern Serbia and eastern Republic of Macedonia. Its boundaries were between the Danube River to the north and the Aegean Sea to the south, to the east - the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara and on the west to the Vardar and Great Morava rivers. The Roman province of Thrace was somewhat smaller, having the same eastern maritime limits and being bounded on the north by the Balkan Mountains; the Roman province extended west only to the Mesta River), where he turned vast mutitudes to Christ by his teaching a mirachles. Finaly he went to Patras is Achaia (Peloponnese in southern Greece and bordered on the north by the provinces of Epirus and Macedonia), and there also he bought many to the knowledge of Gospel truth. Ægeas the Pro-consul resisted the preaching of the Gospel, and the Apostle freely rebuked him, bidding him know that while he held himself a judge of his fellow men, he was himself hindered by devils from knowing Christ our God, the Judge of all. Then Ægeas being angry answered him “Boast no more of this thy Christ. He spake words even such as thine, but they availed Him not, and He was crucified by the Jews.” Whereto Andrew bodly answered that Christ had given Himself up to die for man’s salvation; but the Pro-consul blasphemously interupted him, and bade him look to himself and sacrifice to the gods. Then said Andrew, “We have a altar whereon day by day I offer up to God, the Almighty, the One and the True, not the flesh of bulls, nor the blood of goats, but the Lamb without spot, and when all they that believe have eaten of the flesh thereof, the Lamb that was slain abideth whole and liveth.” Then Ægeas being filled with wrath, bound the Apostle in prison. Now the people would have delivered him, but he himself calmed the multitued, and earnistly besought the mutitude not to take away from him the crown of martyrdom, for which he longed and which was now drawing near. Some short while after he was brought before the judgement seat, where he extolled the mystery of the cross and rebuked Ægeas for his ungodliness. Then Ægeas could bare whith him no longer, but commanded him to be crucified in imitation of Christ. Andrew then was led to the place of martyrdom, and as soon as he came in sight of the cross, he cried out, “O precious cross, which the members of my Lord have made so goodly, how long have I desired thee! How warmly have I loved thee! How constantly have I sought thee! And now that thou art come to me, how is my soul drawn to thee! Welcome me from among men, and join me again to my Master, that as by thee He redeemed me, so by thee also He may take me unto Himself.” So he was fastened to the cross, whereon he hung living for two days, during which time, he ceased not to preach the faith of Christ, and finaly passed in to the presence of HimThe likeness of Whose death he had loved so well. All the above particulars of his last sufferings were written by the Priests and Deacons of Achaia, who bear witness to them of their own knowledge. Under the Emperor Constantine, the bones of the Apostle were first taken to Constantinople, whence they were afterwards (by the Crusaders, A.D. 1210) brought to Amalfi. His head was carried to Rome, where it is kept in the Basilica of St. Peter.

We also remember with heartfelt thanks the meeting that took place 20 years ago on the Feast of St Francis Xavier, 3rd December, between Archbishop Lefebvre and Fr Michael Mary during which the Archbishop encouraged father to begin the foundation of the Transalpine Redemptorists. This followed by a meeting with Cardinal Gagnon, Apostolic Visitator at the time, who encouraged father also to make a foundation, clearly indicated God's Holy Will and there was no option but to obey. Te Deum laudamus.

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