St. Jude Thaddeus
St. Jude Thaddeus – Helper in Desperate Situations
On October 28, the Church remembers Saint Jude Thaddeus. Aside from St. Jude’s having been one of the twelve apostles, and a martyr, there is not a great amount of detail known of his life. However, he did preach tirelessly, convert many to Christianity, perform miracles, and pen the Epistle of Jude. Because his name is so close to that of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer, many early Christians did not pray to or remember him, confusing the two men. This led to his patronage of lost or desperate causes.
St. Jude, the Apostle
St. Jude Thaddeus is also called, by Luke, Judas, the son of James, and is the nephew of Mary and Joseph - and thus a relative of Jesus. The origin of the name of Thaddeus is not certain; it may be an abbreviation of a Greek name such as Teodoro or Teodoto or it may come from the Aramaic Tadda, meaning 'breast,' and suggesting 'magnanimous.'
He is best known for authoring a letter, not to a specific church or town, but to a wide, general audience; the letter is addressed “to them that are beloved in God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called.” The letter of St. Jude is brief and to-the-point, urging that Christians be on guard against those who would try to use God's grace to excuse and justify their own licentiousness, and corrupt those who would follow them with false, immoral, or divisive teachings.
Devotion to St. Jude
Devotion to St. Jude Thaddeus is popular and widespread in the Catholic Church. He is the patron of lost or seemingly hopeless causes, lost items or people, and other desperate situations. His patronage stems from two factors – that his similarity in name only to Judas Iscariot rendered him somewhat of a lost or forgotten saint to early Christians, and the tone of his letter, which stresses that the faithful must persevere in desperate situations and difficult circumstances.
Veneration of St. Jude was common by the 13th century, and even before that time St. Bernard, who lived in the 12th century, had a profound devotion to him and asked to be buried with a relic of St. Jude. St. Jude has obtained recovery for those stricken with apparently hopeless illness and grace for those who struggled to overcome evil habits. At least for the greater part of a millennium, devotion to St. Jude has been a deeply rooted tradition among the Catholic faithful. In these trying and seemingly desperate modern times, many Catholics like to wear a St. Jude medal constantly.
The Epistle of St. Jude
The Epistle of St. Jude is, as mentioned above, rather short but very profound and direct. In it, Jude addresses not simply one region or gathering of people but all Christian faithful. Certain errors had begun to spread among the Hebrew Christians and St. Jude sought to correct the errors by advising the Christians to be constantly on guard against false teaching and to live by and uphold the teachings of Jesus, as taught and preached by His Apostles. He also advised the faithful always to maintain and spread the Faith, and how to approach and speak with different types of non-believers in the quest to draw converts to Christianity.
In the face of immorality and the twisting of teachings to suit one's own wants in these modern times, a passion for following God, and the necessity to be on guard against false teachings, is as vital today as ever. The tireless ministry of St. Jude should be a model for us to maintain a constant, strong, and peaceful witness to the Faith.