Lives of Saints - Andrew, Fool-for-Christ-sake Christianity - Books
And if thy hand cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life maimed, rather than having thy two hands to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thy foot cause thee to stumble, cut it off: it is good for thee to enter into life halt, rather than having thy two feet to be cast into hell.                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.                And if thine eye cause thee to stumble, cast it out: it is good for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell;                where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.               
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Andrew, Fool-for-Christ-sake
   

A rich man named Theognostus, was serving as a bodyguard in Constantinople under the Emperor Leo the Great (886-912). Among his slaves there was Andrew, a Slav by birth. He was a calm and kindhearted young man. Theognostus liked him and took care of his education. Andrew frequented the church of God, studied the Scriptures diligently and liked to read the lives of Saints. Gradually the desire to devote himself totally to God grew stronger in him and following a sign from above he took upon himself a very difficult and unusual ascetic feat of fool-for-Christ, that is he started acting as if he was insane.

Acting insane, Andrew was brought to the Saint Anastasia church to be taken care of. Saint martyr Anastasia appeared to him in a dream and encouraged him to continue his ascetic feat. So Andrew was faking madness to the extent that he was regarded hopelessly insane and they drove him away from the territory of the church. After that Saint Andrew lived in the streets of the capital going around hungry and half-naked. Most people shunned him, some would mock and beat him up. Even the beggars to whom he gave his last coins would despise him. But Saint Andrew endured all his sufferings humbly and was praying for those who hurt him.

Yet, it was not always that Andrew pretended to be insane; talking to his spiritual father or to his disciple — a wealthy young man Epiphanus — Saint Andrew would remove the mask of folly, and then his holy wisdom and extraordinary spiritual beauty would be revealed. For the life of deepest humbleness and spiritual purity, God endowed Saint Andrew with the gifts of discernment and prophecy. Epiphanus learned a lot from his saint fool-for-Christ teacher who also predicted that with time Epiphanus would become an Archbishop and a famous preacher. The prophecy came true.

Once Saint Andrew, like the Supreme Apostle Paul, was taken to the third heaven and heard the unspoken words there that cannot be heard by people (1 Cor. 2:9). There he had the honor of seeing Lord Jesus Christ himself, angels and many Holy Saints, yet he was surprised not to see the Most Holy Virgin. He asked where She was and they told him that She went down to the world of many sufferings to help people and to console those in sorrow.

Some time later Saint Andrew was also blessed with the vision of Most Holy Theotokos in the Vlahern church of Constantinople. This significant event of Her appearance is commemorated during the feast of the Protection of Holy Theotokos. When Saint Andrew and Epiphanus were praying in church, all of a sudden the dome of the church seemed to be opened and Saint Andrew saw the Holy Virgin surrounded by many angels and Saints. She was praying and extending Her omophorion over those in prayer. "Do you see the Sovereign Lady of all?" — Andrew asked his disciple as if he could not believe his eyes. "I do, holy father and I am awed" — said Epiphanus.

Andrew, the fool-for-Christ, went into rest at the age of 66 in the year 936. His life was described by the presbyter of Saint Sofia church, who was a spiritual father to Saint Andrew and his disciple Epiphanus.

Troparion, Tone 4:
Thou didst choose foolishness for the sake of Christ/ and didst make the crafty one foolish./ Thou didst persevere with thy struggle in the midst of turmoil,/ and Christ has brought thee to paradise./ Intercede with Him, O Andrew for those who honor thee.

Another Troparion, Tone l:
For thy sake, O Christ, thy servant Andrew became a fool on earth./ He heard the Apostle Paul proclaiming,/ ‘We are fools for the sake of Christ’./ As we now honor his memory we pray thee to save our souls.

Kontakion, Tone 1:
Thou didst finish thy life in piety, O godly-minded Andrew,/ Thou wast a pure vessel of the Trinity and a companion of the Angels./ May peace and forgiveness be granted, through thine intercession,/ to those who honor thee.

Another Kontakion, Tone 4:
Of thine own free will thou didst become a Fool, O Andrew,/ and utterly hate the lures of this world./ Thou didst deaden carnal wisdom through hunger and thirst,/ through heat and bitter frost./ By never avoiding the hardships of weather thou didst purify thyself as gold in the furnace.

Source: http://www.fatheralexander.org

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