Who Was St. Jude?
Judas Thaddeus is often known in Greek as simply “Thaddeus” because this is the name used in the Gospels according to St. Matthew and St. Mark. When translators were putting the books of the Bible into English, they sought to distant this Apostle we call “Jude” from the betrayer of Jesus: “Judas.” He is also the brother of St. James the Less, who was an Apostle.
St. Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Catholics generally hold that he is the same Jude who wrote the Epistle of Jude which is part of the New Testament. This letter warns chiefly against the sin of apostasy which is the repudiation of the Catholic Faith. He urges those who read the letter to defend the sacred Deposit of Faith. St. Jude warns of the state of those who fall into unbelief and remain there.
Where Did St. Jude Go?
Traditionally, it was held that St. Jude preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Judea, Samaria, Idumeaea, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya. It is also held that the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew were the first to bring Christianity to Armenia. They are still celebrated as the patrons of the Armenian Catholic Church.
St. Jude is often pictured with a flame over his head which is representative of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He is also seen holding a carpenter’s ruler or is depicted with the Epistle of Jude. It is likely that St. Jude was martyred by an axe in Armenia or in Beirut. His body was then taken to Rome and his remains are under the main altar of St. Joseph in St. Peter’s Basilica in a tomb he shares with the Apostle Simon the Zealot.
Why is St. Jude the Patron of Desperate Situations and Hopeless Causes?
St. Jude is known as the Patron of Desperate Situations, Hopeless Causes, the Despaired, and the Hopeless. The pious would come to the grave of St. Jude to pray and many incredible miracles took place and were attributed to St. Jude’s powerful intercession. Later in the history of the Church, St. Bridget of Sweden and St. Bernard of Clairvaux were given visions by God to call on St. Jude as the “Patron Saint of the Impossible.”
The Tough Situations in Which We Find Ourselves
The Catholic Church is in a tough position today for many reasons.
In many dioceses throughout the world, the essential nature of the Mass has been shadowed by the prioritization of arguably draconian lockdown measures. It is without doubt an obligation of each person to do their due diligence in fighting the coronavirus and safeguarding the health and well-being of those most vulnerable. However, almost a year later, there are many local Churches which continue to not have public Masses or who have not adapted in a way to offer Masses with common sense safeguards. To me, this is an Impossible Cause. What is a faithful Catholic to do when the Mass is the source and summit of the Christian life, but they are being barred entry by the local ordinary?
The world over, there is still much work to be done on accountability related to child abuse and young adult abuse, especially by the clergy. Trust in the Church in our society is significantly low. The instrumental means of sharing the Gospel, the means of the Sacraments, and the sacrament of salvation to the world have dramatically lessened credibility. How are we to share the Gospel effectively in spite of this lack of trust?
The Church in some parts of the world, especially in China, is being horribly persecuted. The Communist controlled church in China approves the selection of party-loyal bishops. The worst part of this situation is the Vatican complicity in this situation. The first agreement selling out the Church in China was orchestrated by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the newest arrangement is not a better situation. Each day, faithful Chinese Catholics meet with orthodox and faithful priests “underground” to offer Mass and preach the true Gospel boldly in secret. They reject the National Chinese Church as the mechanism of Communist propaganda that it is. How do faithful Catholics operate in places like China when it seems that the Vatican is actively working against the best interest of the Gospel and the Church?
The Institute for the Works of Religion, also known as the Vatican Bank, is charged with prudentially using the funds of the Vatican to do good works, promote the Gospel, and promote the apostolic works of the Catholic Church. In the 1980’s, the Vatican Bank was caught up in a staggering money laundering scheme, secretly funding violent criminal organizations, unbeknownst to the Pope, of course. At recently as 2010, the Bank of Italy discovered that the Vatican Bank was moving millions of euros between global commercial banks, which is money laundering. In 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that the Vatican had illegally exploited a loophole and needed to pay back about 4 billion euros in back-taxes. This corruption is inherently human and exists wherever human beings are. There are few, if any, dioceses in the world that are free of any corruption. What is a faithful Catholic to do when portions of their tithes go to less-than-legitimate operations and funds?
Why We Need St. Jude Now?
Each of the aforementioned scandals are desperate situations separately. But what happens when we are leaving each of these scandals at the same time? And, of course, there are many other seemingly hopeless or impossible causes that I could mention. St. Jude reminds us to trust in the Lord and to recognize that nothing is impossible with Him (cf. Lk. 1:37). We can bring our petitions, however big or small, to St. Jude knowing that our God is a God of miracles.
In the midst of public Masses being suspended, we can still have a deep longing and love for the Lord, especially present in the Blessed Sacrament. With the abuse scandals, we can be grateful for the gift of the priesthood; we can lift up our priests, the vast majority of whom are good, holy men. With the Chinese Church, we can lift up our brothers and sisters who are so deeply persecuted in prayer and exert any political or social pressure we are able through advocacy. With the Vatican Bank scandal, we can pray for greater accountability, transparency, and the rooting out of corruption. But, at the same time, we must continue to tithe and place our money in sacred trust. Once we have given our gift, it is no longer our own. God allows the rain to fall on the just and the unjust (cf. Mt. 5:45) and so we trust that He also brings a good out of any situation (cf. Rom. 8:28).
We need St. Jude’s intercession. We must accept him as the Patron Saint of the Impossible and offer him our needs, trusting in God and His goodness.