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Saint Andrew the Apostle in Saint Mary’s Oratory, Wausau, WI

Deliver us, O Lord, we beseech thee, from all evils, past, present, and to come; and at the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God, with thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and with Andrew, and all the Saints, favourably grant peace in our days, that by the help of thine availing mercy we may ever both be free from sin and safe from all distress. 

One element of the Communion Rite in Divine Worship: The Missal that has been retained from the Anglican missal tradition is the embolism, the prayer immediately following the Lord’s Prayer, and as it is found also in the older form of the Roman Rite. This short prayer, traditionally said by the Priest as he takes the paten into his right hand to collect the consecrated Host, first making the sign of the cross over himself with what Arthur Couratin, the Anglican liturgical scholar and Principal of Saint Stephen’s House, Oxford, apparently liked to call “the flash of the paten”, stands out as somewhat peculiar to ears more familiar with the amended version found in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite but, today, also for the specific reason that, together with Our Lady and Saint Peter and Saint Paul, it mentions the apostle Saint Andrew, whose feast we keep.

Scholars of the sacred liturgy give a variety of reasons for the inclusion of Saint Andrew in this prayer. Adrian Fortescue writes that it is because the saint is “apparently as being from some points of view the next chief Apostle, the first called, Peter’s brother who brought him to our Lord.” This, of course, is found in the scriptures in Matthew 10: 2, and in Luke 6: 14. Josef Jungmann also takes this line, highlighting the particular prominence and significance of Saint Andrew amongst the Churches of the East. Jungmann says that the inclusion of the saint in the Roman Mass is “halfway in opposition to Byzantium, halfway as a gesture of concord.”

Jungmann also points somewhat tentatively to the writings of the German church-historian Hartmann Grisar. Grisar, as Jungmann describes, suggests that in the reforms of the Roman liturgy by Pope Saint Gregory the Great in the sixth century, Saint Andrew was added to this prayer by the saintly Pope who, before his election to the See of Rome, founded a monastery dedicated to Saint Andrew on the Caelian Hill and maintained a special devotion to him. Certainly there appear to be sources that pre-date the Gregorian reforms, yet show the name of Saint Andrew in this place, but there are also (according to Fortescue, at least) some manuscripts, even of the ancient so-called Gelasian Sacramentary, that omit it. Whatever the historical provenance, in our desire to enter more deeply into the mystery of the sacred liturgy, this suggestion deserves our consideration.

To begin, we should recall that the monastery of Saint Gregory the Great on the Caelian Hill in Rome is now known as San Gregorio Magno al Celio. The beautiful church, in the care of the Camaldolese since the sixteenth century and now also the home of the Missionaries of Charity in Rome, was not only the monastery founded by Pope Saint Gregory the Great, and for that reason took his name as its dedication around 1000 AD, but Saint Augustine (later “of Canterbury”) was also the Prior of the community there. Indeed, it was from here that Pope Gregory sent Augustine on his mission to England, where he “delivered to us inviolate the faith of the Holy Roman Church.”

Of course, on hearing the name of Saint Andrew in the liturgy we might naturally think of, and pray for, the unity of the Eastern Orthodox Churches with the See of Peter, for all the good reasons listed above. As Pope Benedict XVI said, “Simon Peter and Andrew were called together to become fishers of men”, and it is that unity of mission and purpose and action for which we must all pray. It might also be the case, however, that those of us in the personal ordinariates (particularly, but of course not exclusively), as we hear the name of Saint Andrew in this prayer—recited as it is by the Priest over the consecrated Host in a most intimate moment of the Eucharistic liturgy—recall the apostolic succession for which we have longed and which we have now obtained; a gift that flows directly to us from the “blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and […] Andrew”, through Pope Saint Gregory the Great, Saint Augustine of Canterbury, and down to our own time in the current successors of the apostles with whom we share, and with whom we continue, the same holy task of proclaiming Christ and living-out the joy of communion with him in his One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

The simple hearing of the name of Saint Andrew today and at each Mass—unfamiliar though it may be to some, yet not without reason—can summon our hearts and our minds in a brief but fervent prayer for the unity of the Church for which we all long and, further still, for the continuation of the mission entrusted to Saint Andrew by Christ himself, a mission lived out so well by Saint Gregory and Saint Augustine, who delivered that faith to our ancestors and who, in turn, now place it into our hands.

Please do not reproduce this text elsewhere without permission of the author.