THREE MINUTES WITH THE SAINTS
St. Jude: The Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes
I was looking back through my lists here recently and was surprised to find that it has been exactly a year since I last did an installment of my “Three Minutes with the Saints” series. Because I enjoyed writing them and at least three of you seemed to enjoy reading them, I am ending that long hiatus today. But because it has been such a long layoff, there are a few things I should mention first.
Both my Protestant friends and my fellow Catholics get a lot of things wrong when it comes to the saints. First of all, we do not worship the saints; worship is reserved for God alone. We do, however, venerate the saints, much as you would honor any person of great note. My pastor thinks I come perilously close to worshiping Bruce Springsteen, but he’s a Franciscan and I think he leans more toward the Beatles anyway.
Second, we do not pray to the saints in the same way we pray to God; we pray to the saints in the sense of asking for their intercession. In other words, we are asking them to pray for us and with us, just like we would ask a friend or family member to pray for us. Finally, the saints are not holy good luck charms. Burying a statue of St. Joseph in your yard will not help you sell your house faster, no matter what your sweet Italian grandmother tells you.
That out of the way, let’s get to our saint for today, who is proof that you can overcome just about anything, including an unfortunate name. Consider for just a moment growing up in Germany today with the first name Adolph or in Russia with the last name Stalin (though that one seems to be making a comeback lately); life would be pretty difficult for you. Neither of those, however, even compares to having the name Judas.
This was a common name in first century Israel, and two of Jesus’ apostles were named Judas. One, of course, was Judas Iscariot, the most infamous traitor in human history. The other was the apostle we now refer to as Jude or Jude Thaddeus, the Thaddeus likely having been added later to distinguish him from the betrayer of Christ. St. Jude is our saint for today, for a very good reason.