Today we celebrate the Feast of St. Andrew, the apostle who was martyred in Greece on an X-shaped cross. Coming as it does right before Advent, St. Andrew’s Day by tradition marks the end of the Church year.
We read in the Gospel at Mass today that after Christ called St. Peter and St. Andrew, the two “immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him” (Matt. 4:22).
Reading this passage, it struck me that we should ask ourselves today whether we are quite so docile as St. Andrew and St. Peter were that day on the shore.
I know I like to think that if I got a clear call from God, I would drop my nets on the spot too. But I often ask myself: would I even recognize the call?
I know like to think that, should that great moment of reckoning come one day when I’m called to make some heroic stand for faith or family, I would readily rise to the occasion. But would I recognize the moment before it passes?
More and more I’m learning that I can’t expect to follow God in the big things if I’m not following him in the little things, which is ho we build up heroic virtue. As the theologians tell us, one of the marks of heroic virtue is spontaneity, which means the tendency toward the good act is so engrained in your soul that you act almost without thinking. As the late spiritual theologian Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange wrote, “Heroic virtue is present when one practices all one’s duties with ease and spontaneity, even in particularly difficult circumstances.”
Besides some special grace, we will only be capable of making that supreme sacrifice if we’ve prepared ourselves by limitless small sacrifices along the way. Before the red martyrdom there was always first the white martyrdom.
As a priest once asked us: “How do you expect to be ready to die for the faith if you can’t even make your bed every morning?”