Yesterday I spoke for some time with a film producer in Los Angeles who wants to do a short documentary about our work. I explained to her that it doesn’t matter whether the kids we serve are innocent or guilty, nor whether their cases can be easily adjudicated. In the cases of especially hopeless or desperate situations, at the very least we can hold out hope and give young people the consolation that they are not in their dilemmas alone. Sometimes there is little we can do, we can never deliver instant solutions… but in a few cases, we have made a big difference in kids’ lives. As more parricides serve out their lengthy sentences, there will be a place waiting for them when they’re released, where they can live and work in an unforgiving world.
After I hung up the phone, I began to think about St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate and hopeless cases, and I began to research Jude in search of some pearl of wisdom I’d overlooked. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I found one of significance.
But first, a little background of basic facts about Jude.
St. Jude was one of Christ’s original 12 apostles. He is also known as Thaddeus or Thaddaeus—said to be a surname for the name Labbaeus which means “heart” or “courageous.” He is said to have written the book of Jude, which some religious scholars say contains some of the finest expressions of praise to God in the New Testament. He is thought to have been martyred in Beirut around 65 AD. His images often include a club or axe, symbolizing the way he died. Jude’s images often show a flame above his head, referring to the Pentecost, where he and the other apostles are said to have received the Holy Spirit. His feast day is October 28.
Jude became associated with desperate situations because of a letter he wrote to the churches of the East, in which he says that the faithful must keep going even in harsh or difficult circumstances. The personal ad sections of some newspapers occasionally include messages from people calling on St. Jude for help in times of need, or thanking him for his support and guidance. Some people choose to carry the image of St. Jude on a medal or as a pendant on a necklace to provide comfort.
In 1955, entertainer Danny Thomas and a group of businessmen named a research hospital in Memphis TN after St. Jude to treat the most hopeless childhood diseases, primarily cancer, entirely free of charge.
St. Jude is often confused with Judas Iscariot—another of the original 12 apostles, but the one who betrayed Christ—and this is the key to the interesting fact I found. Apparently, because of the confusion between “Jude” and “Judas,” some believers thought that neither was listening to prayers about their troubles. So they figured “what the hell”—they were desperate after all—and they began directing their prayers to St. Jude to get through the perceived clutter. Thereafter, because life is so daunting to so many people, Jude became one of the most popular patron saints out there.
I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of desperate requests. Somehow word is getting out there and an increasing number of juvenile parricides are contacting me out of the blue. I’m not always able to help—and the important thing is to never give up hope—but so far I haven’t turned anyone down.
Groove of the Day
77° and Clear to Partly Cloudy