« הקודםהמשך »
ST. ANDREW, NOVEMBER 30.
Why does the Church celebrate the festival of St. Andrew at the beginning of Advent?
A. As St. Andrew was the first who found the Messiah,5 and the first who brought others to him, the Church, for his greater honour, commemorates him first in her anniversary course of holy days, placing his festival at the beginning of Advent, as the most proper to bring the news of our Saviour's coming
Q. Of what parentage and country was the apostle St. Andrew ?
A. St. Andrew was born at Bethsaida, a city of Galilee ; was son to Jonas, a fisherman of that town; and was brother to Simon Peter.
Q. How came our Saviour to choose his disciples out of Galilee?
A. Our Saviour chose his disciples out, of Galilee, because it was the chief scene of his ministry. Our Saviour was brought up at Nazareth, a city of Galilee ;' he began his solemn publication of the Gospel at Capernaum, the me. tropolis of Galilee; he preached all round the region of Galilee ;j he began his miracles at Cana, in Galilee ;k he was transfigured at mount Tabor, a mount of Galilee;' our Saviour's ordinary residence was in Galilee; and he appoints his disciples to come to see him in Galilee, when he was risen from the dead.m
Q. Was our Saviour's vouchsafing his principal abode to the province of Galilee, any testimony of his being the Messias?
A. The prophecy of Isaiah® plainly refers to Galilee, as the place where the Messiah should be born ; and to this purpose it is quoted by St. Matthew, when our Saviour made Capernaum the seat of his preaching. The people of Galilee, or of Zebulun and Naphtali, were carried into cape
g John i. 38, 39, &c.
Matt. iv. 13, 23, m Matt. xxvi. 32.
h John i. 44. i Luke i. 26; Matt. ii. 23.
tivity by the Assyrians :P to comfort them under this calamity, Isaiah assures them, that in recompence of the misery they suffered above the rest of their brethren, they should have the first and chief share of the presence and conversation of the Messiah who was to come.
Q. How came St. Andrew acquainted with our Saviour?
A. Being with John the Baptist one day as Jesus passed by, and hearing him say, that he was the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the world,4 St. Andrew follows our Saviour, upon this testimony, to the place of his abode; hearing his instructions, and improving his faith by conversing with him.
Q. What was the first effect of his faith in the Messiah?
A. St. Andrew went to his brother Simon, and imparted to him the joyful news, that he had found the desire of the world, the Christ who was promised by the prophets, and carried him immediately to Jesus, where, after a short stay, they returned again to their own houses, and exercised their calling.
Q. When did St. Andrew become our Saviour's disciple and constant attendant ?
A. St. Andrew became our Saviour's disciple and constant attendant about a year afterwards, when, being fully convinced of the greatness and divinity of our Saviour's person by the miraculous draught of fishes, our Saviour commanded him, with his brother Peter, to follow him, promising to make them fishers of men. They accordingly left all, and constantly attended our Saviour's person, and were afterwards called by him to the office and honour of the apostolate.
Q. How and where did St. Andrew suffer martyrdom?
A. After this blessed apostle had planted the Gospel in Scythia and the neighbouring countries, and by his indefatigable labours had converted many to the faith, he came at last to Patræ, in Achaia. By his boldness and zeal in proclaiming the Gospel, he enraged the proconsul of Achaia against him, who commanded him to be scourged, and then to be crucified; and that his death might be the more lingering, he was fastened to the cross, not with nails, but with cords. He endured martyrdom with the greatest cheerful
p 2 Kings xv, 29. 9 John i. 36, 37. r John i.41. • Matt. iv. 19.
* The cross was in the form of the letter X; and this cross is bence Known by the name of St. Andrew's crocs.
ness and triumph, joyfully saluting the cross on which he was to suffer as soon as he came in sight of it, and continuing to instruct and exhort the people, even under the agonies of a lingering death.
Q. What may we learn from the observation of this festival?
A. The readiness with which St. Andrew forsook all to follow Christ, should excite us to forsake all sinful pursuits and pleasures, and to follow that blessed Saviour, whose service leads to present peace and everlasting enjoyment. The zeal which St. Andrew discovered in imparting to his brother Simon the joyful news that he had found the Messiah, and the boldness and activity with which he proclaimed the Gospel, should teach us earnestly to endeavour to make all our relations, friends, and dependents, followers of the blessed Jesus, and to embrace every opportunity of inculcating the necessity and importance of religion, and the happiness which attends it. The patience and cheerfulness which he discovered under his sufferings and persecutions, should teach us to bear affliction and persecution with a patient and resolute mind, entirely resigned to the will of God, and even rejoicing when we are accounted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus.
Q. With what temper of mind ought good men to suffer for the cause of religion ?
A. When good men are called to suffer for the cause of religion, they should sustain their sufferings with firmness, that they may not grow faint and weary ; with meekness, that they may not grow angry and bitter against their persecutors; with charity, that they may overcome evil with good; with trust in God's providence, that they may be supported under their sufferings by his grace, and delivered in his good time; with joy and thankfulness, inasmuch as, by suffering, they are conformed to Christ their Maker, and when his glory shall be revealed, they shall be made glad with exceeding joy.
t 1 Pet. iv, 13.
ST. THOMAS, DECEMBER 21.
Q. WHY does the Church celebrate the festival of St. Thomas immediately before the Nativity?
A. St. Thomas, though at first unbelieving, was at length convinced of our Lord's resurrection by the greatest possible evidence; and this evidence the Church recommends as a fit preparative to our Lord's nativity, to incline us to believe with St. Thomas, that the Jesus whose birth we are to commemorate, is the very Christ, or, in the words of St. Thomas, our Lord and our God.
Q. Of what country and kindred was the apostle St. Thomas ?
4. St. Thomas, whose surname was Didymus, was a Jew, and probably a Galilean; and it is very likely he was brought up a fisherman.u
Q. After he was called to be an apostle, what proof did he give of his willingness to adhere to our Saviour ?
A. When the rest of the apostles dissuaded our Saviour from returning into Judea, (whither he was resolved to go, to raise Lazarus from the dead,) lest the Jews should stone him, as they had before attempted, St. Thomas desires the apostles not to hinder Christ's journey thither;v Let us also Fo,
that we may die with him, w saith he; probably conclud. ing, that, instead of raising Lazarus from the dead, they themselves should be sent with him to their own graves.
Q. How did our Saviour treat the slowness of understanding which St. Thomas on a certain occasion evidenced ?
A. When our Saviour, a little before his cruel sufferings, was speaking to his disciples of the joys of heaven, and of his going to prepare a place for them, St. Thomas professed that he knew not whither he went, much less the way that led to it. Jesus, with the greatest mildness and gentleness, gave him the short but satisfactory answer, that he was the true living way, the person whom the Father had sent into the world to show men, by his doctrine and by his example,
u John xxi. 2, 3.
v John xi. 8, &c.
w John X. 16.
the paths of eternal life; and that they could not fail to reach heaven, if they did but keep to that way which he had prescribed.
Q. What may we learn from this conduct of our Saviour?
A. From this behaviour of our Saviour to Thomas we may learn, that where the mind is rightly disposed, we ought to bear with the heaviness of the understanding, and to endeavour, with gentleness and patience, to instruct and convince the ignorant and doubtful.
Q. What proof did St. Thomas require of our Saviour's resurrection ?
A. St. Thomas would not believe the resurrection of Christ but on the testimony of his own senses : for though the rest of the apostles assured him they had really seen their Master alive again, yet he professed, except he should see in his hands the print of the nails, and thrust his hand into his side, he would not believe.z
Q. How did our Saviour remove this infidelity of St. Thomas ?
A. Compassionating the weakness of St. Thomas, and willing to satisfy the doubts and scruples of a sincere though unbelieving man, our Saviour appeared to his disciples again, when St. Thomas was with them, and gave him the satisfaction which he desired. Being quickly convinced of his error, he acknowledged Christ to be his very Lord and Mas. ter, a God onnipotent, thus able to rescue himself from the powers of death.
Q. What reply did our Saviour make to this profession of St. Thomas's faith?
A. To this profession which St. Thomas made of his faith, our Saviour replied, that he did well to believe upon this testimony of his senses; but that it was a more noble and commendable act of faith, to acquiesce in a rational evidence, and to receive the doctrines and revelations of the Gospel upon such moral evidence of their truth, as should always satisfy every wise and reasonable man.
Q. What benefit resulted from this instance of unbelief in St. Thomas ?
A. This unbelief of St. Thomas serves to confirm our faith in our Saviour's resurrection, by proving, beyond all doubt or scruple, that the very same body of our Lord was raised, in which he suffered.