St Andrew

Apostle and Patron of Scotland and Russia (entered heaven sometime in the first century)

Dear Andy,

Relax.  All that interior turbulence you are torturing yourself with is unnecessary; it certainly doesn’t come from the Holy Spirit (so you can guess which spirit it does come from).  It’s clear God is whispering in your soul, and, I agree, the objective signs seem to indicate that he has a special vocation in store for you. And if he does, he will guide you along the path to discover it.  What you need to do is focus on Him, on knowing Him and loving Him and imitating Him, not on “figuring out” a detailed agenda for the rest of your life. Take a lesson from today’s saint, the “Protoclet” as the Eastern Church calls him, the “first called.”

Although we don’t know much about St Andrew, what we do know is quite significant.  He and John the Evangelist were Jesus’ first disciples. They spent the afternoon with him on that fateful day when Jesus made his appearance near the river where John the Baptizer was splashing and plunging.  That afternoon changed their lives. They knew immediately that Jesus was no ordinary Rabbi, and the very next day they returned to him, and they began following him.

That first encounter deserves a closer look.  It’s where I think you’ll find some light for your current predicament.  Andrew and John had heard of Christ from their mentor, St John the Baptist.  They heeded the Baptist’s recommendation (not right away, mind you; they had to be cajoled a couple of times before they dared to venture out of their comfort zones) and walked after Jesus as he passed by.  They didn’t say anything at first, probably because they didn’t know what to say. But they followed after him. Something was drawing them to him. They knew in their hearts that they had to get closer to him, somehow.  At that moment our Lord stopped walking, turned around, looked them straight in the eye (try to imagine what that look was like – Harsh? Cold?… I doubt it; it must have been so deep and so full of sincere interest, kindness, burning and knowing love…), and asked: “What are you looking for?”  Now, isn’t that the most basic question? Isn’t that the question you are wrestling with now as you discern your vocation? What ARE you looking for, what do you want down in the deepest corner of your heart? Do you really know? Andrew and John knew, or at least they intuited it. They had glimpsed the Lord, and they wanted a better, longer look.  They wanted to get to know him more, and so they said, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” “Come,” he said, “and see.” So they did. They spent the rest of the day with him. And the next day they introduced their friends to him, and the remarkable adventure of their lives began.

You too have had a glimpse of Jesus, a glimpse that has drawn you towards him and given rise to a desire to know him better, to follow him, somehow, more than in an ordinary way.  So you just need to do what Andrew did: spend more time with him. The Gospels and the Eucharist should be your guides, prayer, and reflection your vehicle. He’ll take care of the rest, just as he did for Andrew and John.

[Of course, after Christ’s resurrection and ascension, it was his brother Peter who led the other Apostles in the spread of the Church.  At that point, history loses track of St Andrew, although most sources indicate that his missionary activity took him to Greece, where he was crucified on a cross shaped like an “X.”  Other legends say he preached in Russia, but that is highly unlikely. Still, others tell of a heavenly vision that inspired one missionary to transfer some of his relics to Scotland. In any case, his body is now interred in the Cathedral of Amalfi, near Naples, Italy – it was removed from Constantinople after the Fourth Crusade.  Lovely town, Amalfi, right on the Mediterranean Sea. If you ever get a chance to go there, take it – you’ll have no regrets.]

Your loving uncle, Eddy

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