I have a particular devotion to St. Andrew, the Apostle. Being the brother of Peter, he often gets overlooked. This resonates with those who often humbly serve behind the scenes, seemingly unappreciated but crucial to spreading the Gospel message. That being said, St. Andrew was the very first disciple called by Our Lord, and he even had a hand in convincing his brother, St. Peter, to follow Jesus (John 1:40). He also pointed out the boy who had five loaves and two fish that Jesus multiplied in order to feed the 5,000 (John 6:8). He was the conduit for the Greeks who wanted to meet Jesus (John 12:21). Although his ministry was more behind the scenes, he played an important role in bringing others to Christ.
The feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30) marks the beginning of a new liturgical year, with the start of Advent beginning the Sunday closest to his feast day. The most popular tradition surrounding St. Andrew’s feast day is to begin the St. Andrew Christmas novena on that day.
Unlike a traditional novena, the St. Andrew novena is to be prayed throughout Advent. Pious tradition has it that if you pray the St. Andrew novena fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew until Christmas Eve, you will obtain what you were praying for.
I recently explained the tradition surrounding the St. Andrew Christmas Novena to some co-workers.
“Well I prayed it last year and I still haven’t received my request,” I joked with my co-workers.
I said it in jest but it got me thinking. St. Paul writes, “Hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? Now if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience” (Romans 8: 24–25).
Sometimes we feel like St. Andrew. We feel like we just keep serving behind the scenes, quietly praying for what we desire, seemingly unheard.
But He hears us. He sees us. He calls us, as He did St. Andrew.
Having not received my request, I could’ve lost hope.
Having not “received his reward,” St. Andrew could’ve lost hope.
But he didn’t. I didn’t. I won’t.
This first week of Advent, we remember hope. We are reminded that Jesus is coming. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:12-13).
In sending His incarnate Son, God kept His promise to His people. They waited and they hoped. And they did not Hope in vain.
How do we know? I often read the following passage as a reminder:
“When God made a promise to Abraham because he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and multiply you.’ And thus Abraham, having patiently endured, obtained the promise. Human beings, of course, swear by someone greater than themselves, and an oath given as confirmation puts an end to all dispute. In the same way, when God desired to show even more clearly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it by an oath, so that through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 6:13-20).
We have this hope. He desires to show us the unchangeable character of His purpose. I’m sure St. Andrew knew this. Let us remember it as we wait in joyful hope this Advent.
By: Elizabeth Clyons, Communications Associate for the Diocese of Bridgeport