I watch my older children, Alexander and Abby, play with their little brother, Andrew. Just this morning Andrew had speech therapy virtually (thanks, COVID) with his therapist's video call on my small phone. As I chased Andrew around the house, trying to keep him in the frame of the video call, Abby and Alexander interjected themselves into the play/speech therapy. As many of you know, Andrew has Down syndrome. As is true with any child, Andrew learns and develops best when he is taught by his siblings. I can instruct, but it's Alexander and Abby who inspire. It is in seeing Andrew respond to the call of his brother and sister that made me reflect and acknowledge another important sibling relationship- the brotherhood of St. Andrew and St. Peter.
Today is St. Andrew's Memorial. It is the day that we recognize St. Andrew in the Catholic church. My husband and I named our youngest child, Andrew Paul after St. Andrew and St. Paul. As such, today is Andrew's namesake day. Andrew was the first apostle. He was the one who first recognized Jesus and introduced his brother, Peter to Jesus of Nazareth. Andrew was a fishermen who left his fishing business to become an Apostle of Jesus and a "fisher of men."
Fr. Donald Haggerty wrote today's reflection for the Magnificat. In it, he says, "When Jesus saw Andrew and Peter at the Sea of Galilee, it was not their first encounter. The initial meeting took place by the Jordan River, an event recounted in Saint John's first chapter. There, Andrew heard the voice of Jesus ask him, "What are you looking for?" That question, we can assume, carved itself where his life might now take him. After Andrew introduced his brother to Jesus, the two went back to Galilee and their fishing. But not for long. Jesus' provocative question soon shifted to the clarity of an explicit summons. Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men. It was the answer finally to the great desire for God burning in the souls of these men. They dropped everything, not in a trance and daze, but seized with certitude, already inspired by the prospect of catching souls for God."
The time of Advent is a time of waiting in anticipation for the coming of God made man. In fact the word "Advent" means "coming" in Latin. Waiting requires patience. Having patience is hard. Having a child with Down syndrome requires loads of patience. But the joy that abounds from that load is beyond amazing and completely worth it.
In Andrew's speech therapy session this morning, his therapist reminded me to allow for the "pause." She was implying to say a word for Andrew, then pause and wait for Andrew to say it. This reminded me that we should allow for the "pause" in all things in life. I have to constantly remind myself to take time and pause to read and reflect on Sacred Scripture. As parents, we need to slow down, pause, and acknowledge the beauty in our children.
One of the ways to "pause" is to pray the St. Andrew Christmas Novena 15 times a day from today until Christmas. I usually say it 5 times each at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The prayer is simple and beautiful, it evokes an imagery of when Jesus was born at a meager stable in Bethlehem.
"Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires through the merits of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen."
Jesus called St. Andrew and St. Peter to follow Him. May we continually answer this call and follow Christ as we await the coming of the Son of God.