Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Apostle St. Jude (as well as St. Simon). The biographical information on St. Jude is scarce. We know that he was selected as one of the Twelve by Jesus. Tradition holds that he preached the Good News throughout the Middle East. He was martyred around 65 A.D. in Beirut in the Roman Province of Syria. At some point after his martyrdom, St. Jude’s remains were moved to the crypt beneath St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
St. Jude is known as the patron saint of desperate or hopeless causes. This devotion and title began shortly after his martyrdom when many people reported powerful intercessions from him after visiting his remains. He was given the title ‘The Saint for the Hopeless and Despaired’ by many. St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Bernard reported visions from God in which He told them to accept St. Jude as the patron saint of the impossible. This tradition continues to this day.
St. Jude is a saint many Catholics are familiar with to some extent. He is commonly depicted in Catholic art and when a difficult situation arises many people seek St. Jude’s intercession. St. Jude Children’s Hospital is a prime example of seeking his great intercession for children desperately ill with cancer and other terminal illnesses. I have heard his name mentioned in prayer more than once as I pray at our local abortion clinic with 40 Days for Life.
Desperate and difficult situations are a part of the human experience. In times of great trial, we often need friends to show us the way, to guide us, and help us. The Communion of Saints is filled with men and women who are examples to us of how to live, but also in how to reach out in times of need. They are friends cheering us on as we persevere on the path to holiness.
There are people suffering difficult situations right in this moment, reading these words. People who are sick, dying, lonely, jobless, struggling with mental illness, impoverished, hungry, and grieving. There are people who are desperate, discouraged, and without hope. There is no end to human suffering on this side of eternity and suffering takes a wide variety of forms. St. Jude stands waiting for us to befriend him so that he may intercede before the throne of God on our behalf. St. Jude points us to God in hope.
Catholic.org lists prayers often used in seeking intercession from St. Jude. These prayers can be used to deepen our friendship with St. Jude and to seek his intercession in those areas of our lives that seem desperate, hopeless, or painful. The first prayer is the most common:
O most holy apostle, Saint Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honoureth and invoketh thee universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, and of things almost despaired of. Pray for me, who am so miserable. Make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded to thee, to bring visible and speedy help where help was almost despaired of. Come to mine assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolation and succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly (here make your request) and that I may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favour, to always honour thee as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to thee. Amen.
Another prayer they suggest invokes the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Jude. This is fitting in times of sorrow and suffering. Through suffering we are drawn into the Sacred Heart, and through his intercession, St. Jude can journey with us deeper into communion with Our Lord.
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, glorified, loved and preserved now and forever. Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on us, Saint Jude worker of Miracles, pray for us, Saint Jude helper and keeper of the hopeless, pray for us, Thank you Saint Jude.
Novenas are also invaluable in seeking intercession and the St. Jude Novena is no exception. The St. Jude Novena prayer is:
O Holy St Jude!
Apostle and Martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, near kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor for all who invoke thee, special patron in time of need; to thee I have recourse from the depth of my heart, and humbly beg thee, to whom God hath given such great power, to come to my assistance; help me now in my urgent need and grant my earnest petition. I will never forget thy graces and the favors thou dost obtain for me and I will do my utmost to spread devotion to thee. Amen.
It is oftentimes in periods of suffering when we enter deeper into ourselves and the Paschal Mystery. As God prunes and purifies us we are brought into conformity with Him. Holiness is frequently achieved or deepened through suffering. This is something we desire to avoid. No human being likes to suffer, but Christ tells us that the Cross is the way to Him. We must carry our Cross. We do not do it alone, however. Not only does Christ walk beside us, but He gives us guides and friends for the journey. We only have to reach out to them. St. Jude is one of those friends. He is waiting to intercede on our behalf in charity. What is it you need today that will bring you strength for the journey? What seemingly hopeless cause requires St. Jude’s intercession? Ask for his intercession and pray that you may persevere as God leads you towards profounder communion with Him. St. Jude, ora pro nobis.