Sunday, July 23, 2017

Novena in Honor of Saint Jude Thaddeus

Source link is here.

October 28

Glorious Saint Jude Thaddeus, by those sublime privileges with which you were adorned in your lifetime, namely, your relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh, and your vocation to be an Apostle, and by that glory which now is yours in heaven as the reward of your apostolic labors and your martyrdom, obtain for me from the Giver of every good and perfect gift all the graces of which I stand in need: (Mention your request).

May I treasure up in my heart the divinely inspired doctrines that you have given us in your Epistle: to build my edifice of holiness upon our most holy faith, by praying for the grace of the Holy Spirit; to keep myself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of Jesus Christ unto eternal life; to strive by all means to help those who go astray.

May I thus praise the glory and majesty, the dominion and power of Him who is able to keep me without sin and to present me spotless with great joy at the coming of our Divine Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Consecration to Saint Jude

Saint Jude, Apostle of Christ and glorious martyr, I desire to honor you with a special devotion. I choose you as my patron and protector. To you I entrust my soul and my body, all my spiritual and temporal interests, as well as those of my family. To you I consecrate my mind so that in all things it may be enlightened by faith; my heart so that you may keep it pure and fill it with love for Jesus and Mary; my will so that, like yours, it may always be one with the Will of God.

I beg you to help me to master my evil inclinations and temptations and to avoid all occasions of sin. Obtain for me the grace of never offending God, of fulfilling faithfully all the duties of my state of life, and of practicing all those virtues that are needful for my salvation.

Pray for me, my holy patron and helper, so that, being inspired by your example and assisted by your prayers, I may live a holy life, die a happy death, and attain to the glory of heaven, there to love and thank God forever. Amen.


O God, you made your Name known to us through the Apostles. By the intercession of Saint Jude, let your Church continue to grow with an increased number of believers. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Short Biography of St. Jude Thaddeus Patron Saint of Lost Causes and Desperate Cases

Source: A Short Biography of St. Jude Thaddeus Patron Saint of Lost Causes and Desperate Cases

Saint Jude is known as the patron of lost causes and desperate cases, and the patron saint of hospitals. Jude was one of Jesus’ twelve original apostles, though little specific information is known about his life. His lineage is documented as a direct relative of Jesus, a cousin. There are certainly many sources of shared personal history, for instance any reference in the New Testament to “the apostles” would presumably include him. Thus we can conclude he was in the boat, on the hillside, in Jerusalem, at the Last Supper, etc.

Saint Jude is actually a saint known by two names, Jude and/or Thaddeus. The name "Thaddeus" means sweetness and gentleness of character. He is not the traitor Judas Iscariot, and he faithfully followed Jesus until his crucifixion, and then later set out to evangelize.

October 28th is the Roman Catholic day of his feast. He is also venerated as a saint in the Anglican Church, Eastern Catholic Churches, Eastern Orthodox Church and the Coptic Christian Church.

Written history is not clear concerning Jude Thaddeus’ birth and early years, so modern knowledge is a by-product of legend. St. Jude was born in the northern region of Galilee which today is northern Israel. The town at the time was known as Paneas but the name was changed to Caesarea Philippi and today is named Banyas. His father was Clopas, brother of St. Joseph, and his mother Mary was a cousin of the Virgin Mary. This fact allows the conclusion that St. Jude was a contemporary of Jesus and most likely in roughly the same age group. He was a farmer by occupation and like most people in that time and that region probably bilingual, speaking Greek and Aramaic. St. Hegesippus, an historian of the early years of the church, tells of an incident involving two grandsons of St. Jude, so we know he was married and that he had at least one child. There are some biblical scholars that have stated St. Jude was the bridegroom at the Cana wedding, though this is not a proven fact.

St. Jude who was one of the first disciples to join Jesus and was his true believer through the Crucifixion and afterward, until his own death.

Who was St. Jude Saint Jude the Apostle

The apostles, Saint Jude Thaddeus and Apostle Bartholomew were the first to bring Christianity to the present day nation of Armenia.

St. Thomas, acting under divine guidance, dispatched St. Jude to the city of Edessa, Turkey to preach on the teachings of Jesus Christ. He also preached and taught in Turkey, Syria, Libya, Samaria, Judea and Palestine.

We know of one incident and one written document from St. Jude. Together, these two constitute the foundation of Christianity. St. Jude is the apostle at the Last Supper who asked Jesus why he chose to reveal himself only to his disciples. Jesus’ reply, "If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him."

There is one written document from this saint, The Letter of St. Jude. The importance and impact of this letter cannot be overstated, it is one of the seven letters of the Catholic faith. Using a direct no nonsense approach, he warns Christians against the unbelievers with clear charges such as licentiousness, perversion, sexual immorality, unnatural lust, slanderers of holy men, rejection of authority and denial of Jesus Christ.

St. Jude was murdered by an angry pagan mob in Beirut, Lebanon in 65 A.D.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Why is St. Jude the apostle the one to whom we pray in time of hopeless causes?

Source: Why is St. Jude the apostle the one to whom we pray in time of hopeless causes?

Before delving into the question at hand, let us first investigate what we know about St. Jude. Unfortunately, Sacred Scripture does not provide many details about the life of St. Jude.  Most importantly, he is listed as one of the twelve apostles called by our Lord, Jesus: “At daybreak, He called His disciples and selected twelve of them to be His apostles: Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter, and Andrew, his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who turned traitor” (Luke 6:13-16; confer also Acts 1:13).  In both the Gospel of St. Matthew (10:2-4) and Mark (3:16-19), the name “Judas” (i.e. Jude) does not appear in the list of the apostles, but rather the name “Thaddaeus.”; some speculate that Thaddaeus was used to distinguish Jude from the betrayer Judas Iscariot.  (Please note too that “Judas” is the Greek form for the English “Jude.”) Nevertheless, both names, Jude and Thaddaeus, refer to the same person, and oftentimes one will hear St. Jude Thaddaeus.  Our liturgical tradition also reflects this point: The Latin text of Eucharistic Prayer I in the Mass uses the name Thaddaeus, while the English text uses the word Jude in the listing of the apostles.

Traditionally, St. Jude was the author of “The Epistle of Jude,” found in the New Testament.  Some scholars in recent times have disputed whether the Apostle St. Jude was in fact the author Jude of this letter.  Rather the plunge into all of those arguments, let’s recount briefly the traditional evidence supporting St. Jude as the author.  The Muratorian Fragment (c. AD 155) provides one of the earliest listings of those writings which could be read at Mass because they were of apostolic authorship and free of heresy or error.  These works would later be included in the canon of the New Testament.  The Muratorian fragment lists The Epistle of Jude as one of those accepted writings, thereby attesting to the authorship of the Apostle St. Jude.

However to accept this point stirs up another question: Why then does the author of the epistle identify himself as the “brother of James” (Jude 1), referring to the Apostle, St. James the Lesser?  In the listing of the Twelve Apostles cited above, Jude is identified as “the son of James,” and St. James the Lesser is identified as “the son of Alphaeus.”  The problem lies in the translation from the Greek text of the gospel into English.  Returning to the original Greek text of the Gospel of St. Luke, one does not find the word son either in reference to “James son of Alphaeus” or “Judas son of James”; rather, the literal translation would be “James of Alphaeus,” and “Judas of James.”  (The same is true of the Latin Vulgate text.)  So what are the actual relationships?

The “James” referred to in the Letter of Jude is St. James the Lesser (not the brother of St. John), who was a cousin of Jesus (Matthew 13:55, noting brother used as an all-encompassing term for any male blood relation).  Since in the listing of the Apostles in the Gospels of St. Matthew and Mark, the name Thaddaeus follows immediately that of “James, of Alphaeus,” the traditional conclusion is that Thaddaeus and James are related.  Thaddaeus remember is the other name for St. Jude.  Therefore, the author of the epistle is the same Jude who is the brother of James the Lesser.  For good reason then, the Douay Rheims Bible correctly translated the listing in Luke 6:13-16 as follows: “James, the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who is called Zelotes, and Jude, the brother of James.”   Another reason St. Jude identified himself as “the brother of James” at the beginning of his epistle may be because the Apostle St. James the Lesser was the well-known Bishop of Jerusalem; therefore, the relationship attests to the apostolic authorship of the epistle and dispels any confusion with Judas Iscariot.

Now that the reader probably knows more than he ever wanted to about why St. Jude is the Apostle, the brother of St. James the Less, the cousin of Jesus, and the author of the New Testament Epistle of Jude, we can continue with answering the question.

St. Jude does have one recorded spoken verse in the Gospel of St. John.  At the Last Supper, he asked Jesus, “Lord, why is it that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” (John 14:22).  Our Lord then spoke of how anyone who loves Him will be true to His word, in turn His Heavenly Father will love him, and together they will send the Holy Spirit.

The Epistle of Jude is similar to the Second Epistle of Peter.  Some scholars date the letter to about AD 70.  St. Jude encourages the community to “fight hard for the faith,” and warns against false teachers.  He challenges the early faithful: “Grow strong in your holy faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit.  Persevere in God’s love, and welcome the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ which leads to life eternal.  Correct those are confused; the others you must rescue, snatching them from the fire” (v. 20-22).

There is a tradition which holds that after the resurrection, St. Jude Thaddaeus retrieved our Lord’s burial cloth, which many believe to be the Shroud of Turin.  He eventually brought it to Edessa in present day Turkey. From there, he traveled into the area of Armenia.  The Armenian Rite traces its origins to St. Jude Thaddaeus.

St. Jude then preached the gospel in Mesopotamia where he was joined by St. Simon.  From there, they did missionary work in Persia, where they suffered martyrdom.  St. Jude was beaten to death with a club; St. Simon was sawed into pieces.  Their feast day is October 28th.

So why is St. Jude Thaddaeus the patron saint of desperate causes?  The traditional reason is rather simple: When one hears the name Judas (Latin and Greek) or even Jude (English), one immediately thinks of Judas Iscariot who betrayed our Lord.  Therefore, a person had to be desperate to invoke his name.  Being so seldom invoked and reverenced, St. Jude is ready and waiting to hear the prayers of those who call upon him.  Ironically, he is probably the Apostle who is invoked the most in prayer, and the most memorialized in churches with statues or other artwork.

A prayer distributed by the National Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago reads as follows:

“Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of hopeless cases, of things almost despaired of.  Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone.  Make us I implore you, of that particular privilege given to you, to bring visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of.  Come to my assistance in this great need that I may receive the consolation and help of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulation, and sufferings, particularly (state request) and that I may praise God with you and all the elect forever.  I promise, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, to always honor you as my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you.  Amen.”

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Who is St. Jude?

Source link:

“But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” (Jude 20-21)

St. Jude is the Patron Saint of Hope and impossible causes and one of Jesus’ original twelve Apostles. He preached the Gospel with great passion, often in the most difficult circumstances. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he made profound differences in people’s lives as he offered them the Word of God.

The Gospel tells us that St. Jude was a brother of St. James the Less, also one of the Apostles. They are described in the Gospel of Matthew as the “brethren” of Jesus, probably cousins.

St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand. This recalls one of his miracles during his work spreading the Word of God. King Abagar of Edessa asked Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abagar’s great faith, Jesus pressed His face on a cloth, leaving the image of His face on it. He gave the cloth to St. Jude, who took the image to Abagar and cured him.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, St. Jude traveled throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, and Persia with St. Simon preaching and building up the foundations of the early Church. St. Jude died a martyr’s death for his unwavering faith. His body was later brought to Rome and placed in a crypt under St. Peter's Basilica.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Danny's Promise

As a follow-on to last Sunday's post, the following is taken from the website of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital (Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A.), entitled Danny's Promise. This week, I'd like to continue exploring Danny Thomas' prayers to St. Jude and, ultimately, his pledge to this saint. Click here to read the original information.

"More than 70 years ago, Danny Thomas, then a struggling young entertainer with a baby on the way, visited a Detroit church and was so moved during the Mass, he placed his last $7 in the collection box. When he realized what he’d done, Danny Thomas prayed for a way to pay the looming hospital bills. The next day, he was offered a small part that would pay 10 times the amount he’d given to the church. Danny Thomas had experienced the power of prayer.

Two years later, Danny Thomas had achieved moderate acting success in Detroit, but he was struggling to take his career to the next level. Once again, he turned to the church. Praying to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, Danny Thomas asked the saint to “help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.”

His career took a turn for the better, and soon he moved his family to Chicago to pursue career offers. A few years later, at another turning point in his life, Danny Thomas visited a church and remembered his pledge to St. Jude. Again he prayed to St. Jude and repeated his pledge to build a shrine to the saint if he would show him the way.

In the years that followed, Danny Thomas’ career flourished through films and television, and he became an internationally known entertainer. He remembered his pledge to build a shrine to St. Jude.

In the early 1950s, Danny Thomas began discussing with friends what concrete form his vow might take. Gradually, the idea of a children’s hospital, possibly in Memphis, Tenn., took shape. In 1955, Danny Thomas and a group of Memphis businessmen who had agreed to help support his dream seized on the idea of creating a unique research hospital devoted to curing catastrophic diseases in children. More than just a treatment facility, this would be a research center for the children of the world.

Danny Thomas started raising money for his vision of St. Jude in the early 1950s. By 1955, the local business leaders who had joined his cause began area fundraising efforts, supplementing Danny Thomas’ benefit shows that brought scores of major entertainment stars to Memphis. Often accompanied by his wife, Rose Marie, Danny Thomas crisscrossed the United States by car talking about his dream and raising funds at meetings and benefits. The pace was so hectic that Danny Thomas and his wife once visited 28 cities in 32 days. Although Danny Thomas and his friends raised the money to build the hospital, they now faced the daunting task of funding its annual operation.

To solve this problem, Danny Thomas turned to his fellow Americans of Arabic-speaking heritage. Believing deeply that these Americans should, as a group, thank the United States for the gifts of freedom given their parents, Danny Thomas also felt the support of St. Jude would be a noble way of honoring his immigrant forefathers who had come to America.

Danny Thomas’ request struck a responsive chord. In 1957, 100 representatives of the Arab-American community met in Chicago to form ALSAC® with a sole purpose of raising funds for the support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Since that time, with national headquarters in Memphis and regional offices throughout the United States, ALSAC has assumed full responsibility for all the hospital’s fundraising efforts, raising hundreds of millions annually through benefits and solicitation drives among Americans of all ethnic, religious and racial backgrounds. Today, ALSAC is the nation’s second largest health-care charity and is supported by the efforts of more than 1 million volunteers nationwide.

Through striking improvements in the care of pediatric leukemias and numerous forms of solid tumors, St. Jude – which now has a daily operating cost of nearly $1.3 million – has brought about improved health care for children all over the world.

From a promise of “Help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine” to the fulfillment of his dream, Danny Thomas lived to see his little hospital become an international beacon of hope for the catastrophically ill children of the world. The founder of St. Jude and ALSAC died on February 6, 1991, just two days after joining patients, parents and employees to celebrate the hospital’s 29th anniversary. He was laid to rest in a family crypt at the Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion on the grounds of the hospital. On July 12, 2000, his wife, Rose Marie, passed away and now lies with her beloved husband in the hospital’s Memorial Garden. Today, their children, Marlo, Terre and Tony, carry on their parents’ work and remain a driving force in fulfilling their father’s mission. Danny Thomas is gone, but his dream lives on."

Again, the following is taken from the hospital's website. Memorable Moments chronicles some of the important milestones and achievements throughout its history, from 1957 when the St. Jude story began, to present day; click here.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Article: LSU tackle Ciron Black playing for more than just a title in 2009

A story from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Danny Thomas' legacy and offering of thanks to St. Jude Thaddeus (see source link here), authored by Andy Staples of Inside College Football at

Tailback Charles Scott didn't decide whether to return for his senior season at LSU until he heard from the behemoth who paves his path to the end zone. "Of course, I was looking at if Ciron was leaving," Scott said in January. "If I'd have my big boy back."

Scott's big boy, LSU left tackle Ciron Black, has started 40 consecutive games at the sport's most physically demanding position in a conference that has produced the past three national champions. If he had chosen to go to the NFL, no one would have blinked. But Black felt he had more to accomplish. He wants to receive his degree in December. He wants a crack at a second national title. He wants to play one more season for Mikey.

Like so much in college football these days, the friendship between Black and Mikey Conger began with a post on an Internet message board.

Hey Michael, I recently saw your story and wanted to have the honor to write in your guest book. My name is Ciron Black. I am the left tackle for the LSU Tigers football team. I'm also number 70 and I saw you wearing that jersey number, that's a great number by the way :). You know some people see us as heroes because of how we play but the truth is people like yourself are the real heroes. I see all the small problems I face are nothing compared to the hardships that you may go through. God has a plan for all of us and for some reason he put it on my heart to write you tonight ... if it is at all possible I would love to talk to you. My number is xxx-xxx-xxxx anytime day or night if you need someone to talk to. Hang in there buddy and just know that anything is possible through Christ.

Your Friend,

Ciron Black

P.S. I would love to write your name on my wrist tape as I get ready to take the field on Jan. 7th for the national championship. Let me know if that is OK.

When Black, then a sophomore, posted that message on Mikey's page at in December 2007, 8-year-old Mikey lay in a bed at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis. A reaction to a chemotherapy treatment had rendered Mikey paralyzed, nearly blind and unable to speak. Doctors had told Mikey's mother, Laurina, to plan on at least another year at the hospital. Knowing Mikey was an LSU football fan -- his parents named him after Mike the Tiger -- some friends of the family sent messages to several LSU players to keep Mikey in their prayers. Black, the son of two ministers from Tyler, Texas, did more than pray. After reading about Mikey's battle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia on, he posted the above message to Mikey's guestbook.

Laurina remains convinced a desire to watch the BCS title game helped Mikey heal faster than anyone expected. "He knew that the LSU football team was getting ready to play that game," Laurina says. "That was a push. That was a real incentive for him to get well." So, too, was the care package that arrived from Baton Rouge. It contained the game ball Black had received for his role in the SEC championship game win against Tennessee, signed by the entire LSU team. "That's why we play the game," Black said. "For people like him."

Mikey watched the Tigers beat the Buckeyes from his hospital bed. In the third quarter, a Fox camera showed Black's left forearm wrapped in athletic tape with "Mikey" scrawled in marker. Later that month, Mikey went home. Not long after, Mikey met Black face-to-face. Though Mikey was confined to a wheelchair, he never let it dampen his spirits. "He never would let you know that he was hurting," Black says. "He always had a smile on his face."

When Mikey turned 9 last July, his parents took him to LSU to see the national championship crystal ball. Tipped off the Congers were visiting, Black and LSU coach Les Miles greeted the family with a birthday cake. Mikey, on his feet again, ran to Black and hugged him. The 314-pound lineman found himself wiping away tears. A few months later, Mikey and his father came to a game at Tiger Stadium. Black, in his third year as a starter, suddenly felt like a freshman playing his first game. "I don't think I've ever felt that nervous," Black says.

While the Congers celebrated a football season away from hospitals and chemo, the Tigers suffered on the field in a rebuilding season. Despite a wealth of talent, they went 8-5 (3-5 in the SEC). That wore on Black and his teammates, and it had more than a little to do with Black's decision to return. "We have a horrible taste in our mouths," Black said. "Last season, that's not us. That's not how we play. A lot of things went wrong. There's nobody to blame but ourselves."

Now Black returns to a team with a settled quarterback situation -- sophomore Jordan Jefferson has taken ownership of the starting job -- and an established back -- Scott ran for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2008 -- taking handoffs. John Chavis, who spent the past 14 years coordinating Tennessee's defense, has come to Baton Rouge to restore the Tigers' roar on that side of the ball.

Mikey, meanwhile, should get plenty of chances to watch Black play this season. Earlier this month, he visited St. Jude and his doctor declared his disease remains in remission. "I'm not done yet," Mikey boasted to his mother's delight. This fall, Mikey, who just turned 10, will enter third grade. Black, meanwhile, will continue to refine his game. If Black helps bring LSU another national title, he'd happily dedicate it to the boy who inspires him every day. "I love him," Black says. "I'll be friends with him until the day I die."

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Article: Danny Thomas Puts His Life and Work on Paper

When I started this blog, one of the first inspirations I drew upon was the story of Danny Thomas, who perhaps is considered the most recognized American devotee of St. Jude (mainly during the last half of the 20th century). This week, I would to follow-up two previous posts on Danny Thomas (here, and here) with another article on the entertainer and devotee (source link here).

Since its inception, this blog has drawn visitors and readers from more than 30 countries. My hope is to find and draw attention to the inspiration of and work by devotees of St. Jude from around the world, such as The School of St. Jude founded by Gemma Sisia (here).

"Blessed is he who knows why he was born."

Danny Thomas, 77 years and 1 day old, is sitting on a sofa at his midtown hotel comparing the comedians of today with the ones of his generation. "Most of the new comics have about six or seven great minutes," Mr. Thomas says. "After that, they have to garbage it up to be out there for maybe 20 minutes. In our day, you did an hour."

He raises his left hand to his mouth, and gray smoke from the long cigar that is clenched between his fingers drifts over his not-quite-as-gray hair. He reaches up to adjust the black-rimmed eyeglasses that somewhat disguise his trademark large hook nose, a nose that three movie producers -- Jack Warner, Louis B. Mayer and Harry Cohn -- could not persuade him to change.

"The new comics' subject matter is not deep enough," Mr. Thomas continues. "They don't get to the core of the people. There's really no substance, no universality to what they're doing. There's no artistry there." He takes another puff. "They have one big problem. They have to start on top. They go on the talk shows or to the big comedy clubs and the first time out they must be scared to death. They have no place to stink. We did. Oh, did we stink!" An Autobiography

The tale of the days in which he stank, as well as the years in which he soared, is told in in Mr. Thomas's autobiography, "Make Room for Danny," which he wrote with Bill Davidson and which is being published by G. P. Putnam's Sons.

It is the story of Muzyad Yakhoob (his name was later changed to Amos Jacobs, and his friends still call him Jake), the son of Lebanese immigrants who was born in Deerfield, Mich., on Jan. 6, 1914, and grew up with his eight brothers and one sister largely in Toledo, Ohio. It is the story of a high-school dropout who went into show business with the dream of becoming a character actor. (It is a dream he still pursues; his daughter Marlo Thomas is working on a movie for the two of them to do together.) He was a character actor on radio, although one of his first radio jobs was making the sound of horses' hooves on a "Lone Ranger" show by beating his chest with two toilet plungers.

But he had a yen for comedy and after rough beginnings became a night-club star, with the encouragement and assistance of Abe Lastfogel, then the head of the William Morris Agency. He took the name Danny Thomas, combining the first names of two of his brothers, at the 5100 Club in Chicago in 1940.

Then came movies, followed by major success on television in the situation comedy "Make Room for Daddy," later known as "The Danny Thomas Show," which ran from 1953 to 1964 and is still seen in reruns. And he became a successful television producer, first with Sheldon Leonard and then with Aaron Spelling, creating such shows as "The Real McCoys," "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "The Mod Squad." No One-Liners

But through it all, he remained a comedian -- a special kind of comedian. Danny Thomas does not deliver one-liners. "My people are inherently storytellers," he explains. "When I was a kid, the entertainment was somebody from the old country or a big city who came and visited and told tales of where they came from. And my mother was very good at it. She could not read or write in any language, yet she would see silent movies and make up her own scenarios."

Of his comic tales, the one that is his signature is known as the Jack Story:

There's this traveling salesman who gets stuck one night on a lonely country road with a flat tire and no jack. So he starts walking toward a service station about a mile away, and as he walks, he talks to himself. "How much can he charge me for renting a jack?" he thinks. "One dollar, maybe two. But it's the middle of the night, so maybe there's an after-hours fee. Probably another five dollars. If he's anything like my brother-in-law, he'll figure I got no place else to go for the jack, so he's cornered the market and has me at his mercy. Ten dollars more."

He goes on walking and thinking, and the price and the anger keep rising. Finally, he gets to the service station and is greeted cheerfully by the owner: "What can I do for you, sir?" But the salesman will have none of it. "You got the nerve to talk to me, you robber," he says. "You can take your stinkin' jack and..."

Mr. Thomas laughs. "The story has the fundamentals of real comedy," he says. "Show me a man or a woman in trouble, and I'll show you a funny man or woman. People can relate to it. They have all been in situations where they suffered anticipation and slow burn, and those are two great commodities in comedy." A Vow Fulfilled

Through the years Mr. Thomas has been known for his deep religious faith. (Bob Hope's one-liner on the subject is that his friend Danny is so religious the highway patrol stops him for having stained-glass windows in his car.) The classic tale about Mr. Thomas is that early in his career, when things were not going well and after his wife, the former Rose Marie Cassaniti, had urged him to leave show business, he prayed to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of the hopeless, impossible and difficult cases, asking the saint to set him on the right path. He vowed that if the saint did so he would build him a shrine. To this day, Mr. Thomas says, he believes in the saint, and still has conversations with him.

"After that, everything happened to me so quickly that it had to be more than a coincidence," he says. "I never prayed for fame and fortune. I wasn't trying to do anything but make a living. I was hoping that the radio producers would have more faith in my ability to play character roles. All I wanted was to get a house in the country, buy a station wagon, raise my kids."

The shrine he built, with the help of many other people, turned out to be the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. And, he says, there is no doubt in his mind that the hospital is his most important accomplishment.

"There's no question of it," he says proudly. "That's my epitaph. It's right on the cornerstone: Danny Thomas, founder."

He still spends much of his time raising money for the hospital. "We raised $92 million last year," he says, "and spent only 22 cents on the dollar to raise it."

It is, he is convinced, the reason he was born. A while back, he had a family coat of arms designed, with a family motto. "The motto is 'Blessed is he who knows why he was born,'" he says. "And I am blessed."

"I never prayed for fame and fortune," said Danny Thomas during an interview. "I wasn't trying to do anything but make a living."

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Article: Why Pray

Smile... The Future's On Its Way by C.J. Horn (link here)

Why Pray? A Perspective on Sovereignty

It had been just a few weeks since my father died with bone cancer. I was driving and rethinking my belief about prayer. Anyone who has watched cancer engulf a loved one, begged for God's healing, and lost in the face of death, knows why I was thinking about prayer.

My thoughts centered around the idea that if God is going to do what He wills anyway, why pray? As I was doing some mental "thumbing through" of the Bible, I remembered a time when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Jesus' response came to be known as the "Lord's prayer."
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Matthew 6:9-13

As I drove that day, I slowly went over the words I learned as a child. Probably the greatest and most lasting gift my dad gave me was the opportunity to memorize this simple and beautiful prayer. Through the words of the "Lord's Prayer," I found the answer to why one should pray, when God will do what He wants to anyway.


We approach the throne of God as members of the human race. We come to "our" Father, and we come personally, alone in our "closet" to the One who sees in secret and rewards men openly. In so doing, self must be replaced with a right perspective of how we stand among all men in the eyes of Him we petition and praise.

Do we feel too poor to pray? He says of us, "The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all" (Proverbs 22:2). Are we too burdened to pray? He says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Do we feel too sinful to pray? What was His response to the publican who prayed "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13)? God said he went down to his house justified. (Luke 18:14). Do we approach Him with pride? He says "There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10).

Are we so overcome with grief or despair that we no longer are sure what to pray for, only that God is the answer to our pain? "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Romans 8:26).

The one who created us in His image, saw man's sin in the Garden of Eden, and paid the price of the blood of the Son of God, invites us to approach Him as the loving Father, our Father.

Beyond our approaching him as a brother to all humanity, we enter His throne room as a joint heir with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:17). No sinner, though humble-- no beggar, though needy--no one, even at the depth of despair, is able to come unless he stands on the ground purchased by the blood of the only begotten Son of God. Out of the depths of unimaginable love came His sacrifice for us. His death for sins crossed a gulf that no man could repair. He did it all and called us His "friends" (John 15:13-15). And we call Jesus' Father, our Father. In this perspective, prayer begins.


Earth is not heaven. That may sound too obvious for words. And yet, how often have we murmured and complained because someone did not act in a "Christian manner," or things did not go as planned. Or when the worse happens, such as the death of a loved one. It just doesn't seem fair. That is when it is good to remember, earth is not heaven. Earth has been corrupted by sin. "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12). That is what earth is like.

Does God live apart from it all, untouched by our problems? Never. Jesus Christ is the "great high priest," in Hebrews 4 "that is passed into the heavens." Of Him it is said,
"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Does Jesus, the One who intercedes for us at God's Heavenly throne, understand what we are going through? He understands to a depth that we shall never know, for He resisted every temptation and suffered for every sin. We live our lives narrowed by looking too long at those things that concern only us, and naturally we place some of that personality on to God Himself. He is not as limited in His perspective as we. He resides in Heaven, but He has borne the pain of earth.

The agony of my father's leaving would have been too great to bear had I not known where he was going. Jesus was merciful to those who have been touched by grief in that He included God the Father's permanent residence address(Heaven) in the "Lord's Prayer."

"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3).


In addition to heaven being the eternal home for those we love, it is the highest court where all matters will someday be decided justly. "For surely there is an end; and thine expectation shall not be cut off" (Proverbs 23:18). "... for there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; and hid, that shall not be known" (Matthew 10:26).

There is no one who has had more of a reason to doubt that God was in control than the Apostle Paul: He said,

"...We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2 Corinthians 4:8-10).

Fixing our hearts in prayer to our Father in heaven reminds us that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways (Isaiah 55:8). Even though we cannot understand why things happen, we have the assurance that "He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer" (Psalm 102:17), so we can say "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him" (Psalm 62:5).


We come as children in prayer, addressing our Father who is in Heaven. Is He a father like any other? No, His name is hallowed. "Hallowed" is most often translated "sanctify" or "sanctified" in the New Testament, which means set apart or dedicated to God. In our prayer, it points out the fact that God's Name is the name that is "above every name" (Phil 2:9), not only set apart, but set above, for He is the "Most High, the possessor of heaven and earth" (Genesis 14:22).

When God met with Moses at the burning bush, Moses doubted his ability to convince the children of Israel that God had chosen him. Moses feared the people would ask him the name of the God who had spoken to him. God told Moses to tell them that "I AM hath sent me unto you" (Exodus 3:13,14). "I AM" and "LORD" in the Old Testament (Yahweh or Jehovah) mean essentially the same thing, the self-existent, eternal One. Although God is the creator of time, He exists apart from it. In order to communicate with mankind, He described himself as I AM. One of the reasons his name is hallowed is that only the one true God can reign eternally in every moment of everyone's days.


God's name is set apart because it is the name of the God who is like none other. When King David transferred power to his son, Solomon, he prayed for him. That prayer is recorded in Psalm 72. David ended his prayer praising the name of God:
"His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things. And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen" (Psalm 72:17-19).

Jesus taught that no man had seen the father at any time (John 1:18), but He revealed to us what the Father is like. In fact He said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). When Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus, he said His name shall be called "Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God , The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).


Our God's name is wonderful, or full of wonder. Moses song at the Red Sea was full of praise: "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?" (Exodus 15:11). This song came after the deliverance from Pharaoh's Army. The children of Israel would be delivered time and time again by their mighty God.

The greatest deliverance of all, of course, came when Christ Himself was "delivered...up for us all" (Romans 8:32) as a sin offering on our behalf. It is no wonder that the Son of God is called "Wonderful."


His name is also "Counselor." Perhaps a simple illustration will shed some light on the Biblical concept of "counselor."

If an employer made the announcement he would give away $100 bonus checks at noon in the conference room, it could be said he purposed on that day to give away $100 bonus checks. The employer's counsel would be to come to the conference room at noon to get the bonus check. If he is a truthful employer, he will be at the appointed place and give away the $100 checks. In this particular matter, the employer's purpose and his counsel are inexorably linked together, and his counsel is true because what is about to happen depends solely on his doing it.

"Counsel" is also used to describe the help of a professional, as in the case of "retaining counsel" for a legal matter or seeing a "counselor" in regard to a personal matter. In both of these cases, the basic reason the counselor is sought out is for his or her expertise in a given field. A counselor has a thorough knowledge of the subject at hand.

Our all-knowing Counselor is divine, as are His purposes. Isaiah 55:8 teaches,
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD." This may sound like He is unwilling to share His thoughts with us, but this is not the case at all. One primary reason His thinking is so vastly different from ours is because when He thinks something, it is as good as done. His purposes cannot be frustrated. That's why his "counsel" is invaluable. What He counsels is what is happening all around us. In fact, Ephesians 1:11 teaches that He works "all things after the counsel of His own will." In Jeremiah 29:11, God says "I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." His thoughts are His purposes, and this is what will happen, without fail.

No one is God's counselor, but His ways are perfect (Romans 11:34; Psalm 18:30). He is eminently qualified as Counselor because He knows everything about you and me:
"Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether" (Psalm 139:2-4).

He shares that counsel with mankind through the written word and the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. We should give heed to the words of this counselor:

I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see (Revelation 3:18).
This is the counsel of our Lord. It is the counsel to obtain the eternal riches of salvation, the white raiment of righteousness, and the anointing of sin blinded eyes, that see Jesus as He really is.


The word "mighty" means powerful, or warrior. It is translated in scripture as mighty man, mighty one, champion, etc. Only the mighty God could triumph over the grave: "The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his love, He will joy over thee with singing" (Zephaniah 3:17).

He is "the great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is His name, great in counsel, and mighty in work:" (Jeremiah 32:18). He is a God that stands alone without need of anyone and beyond the influence of power or bribery: "For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward" (Deuteronomy 10:17).


All Hebrew letters have a numerical value. The Hebrew word for "Father" is assigned number one (#01) in the Hebrew language. It's numerical placement could serve as a reminder that all things proceed from the Father. This is true of the Holy Spirit: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me" (John 15:26).

Jesus name was to be called "The Everlasting Father" which is a remarkable commentary on the interdependence and relationship within the Trinity. John taught that the "Word," Jesus Christ was "in the beginning with God" (John 1:2). He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending" (Revelation 1:8).

Unlike an earthly father, the everlasting Father can never die. He is never too busy or too tired at the end of a long day. He is never impatient; He always has time for us. Everlasting is also translated "world without end," and there is no end to the love our heavenly father has for all His children. "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him" (Psalm 103:13). "Pitieth" means to have compassion on; and His "compassions fail not" (Lamentations 3:22). It is extremely important to remember this fact when we pray. God is able to do what He wills, but His will is always compassionate toward his children.


Another of the names by which God is known is "Prince of Peace." Something calm or tranquil comes to mind whenever one thinks of peace. Paul taught that Jesus "is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14), because we have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1).
In order to understand this type of peace, one must look at Jesus' prayer in John 17. He prayed about being "one" (same word as at peace) with the Father (John 17:21). "That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 17:21). Jesus did not come to send peace, "but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). If the price of peace is a denial of Christ, then a "sword" it must be. But He did come to make peace between God and man. There was a great gulf fixed between God and man when Adam sinned. Nothing could bridge this gulf but the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13). Because of Christ, we can now be one with God through Him.

This lesson in peace gives insight into maintaining a peaceful spirit. In any circumstance, we can remain in a spirit of agreement and oneness with our Lord that His will is perfect and He works everything out for our good and His glory. This will keep us from striving to understand "why me?" in the midst of adversity. Our focus and thought in all things can be "No matter what happens to me, I rest assured that God loves me. He proved it at Calvary." This is true peace authored by the Prince of Peace

Thy Kingdom Come

Why would God teach us to pray that His kingdom is to come? This makes it clear that we are praying for a future date and it is forward looking prayer that keeps hope alive! What does he tell us about his kingdom? He told the parable of the tares and the wheat to tell us about His kingdom (Matthew 13:24-30). As in the parable of the sower and the seed (Matthew 12), there is nothing wrong with the seed, it is the good seed of the Word of God. But the enemy of men's souls, the devil, sows his seeds as well. In this parable, a "tare" is a weedy grass that grows alongside the wheat. It's difference from the wheat is easily seen when the two have reached maturity side by side. The wheat bows its head laden with its fruit, the tare does not bow.
The word "tare" is also used to identify an empty counterbalance in weights and measures. Job said, "But He knoweth the way that I take: when He hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). Our place in the kingdom is to be concerned about our own inner "weight," whether we are pure gold or empty inside.

Jesus taught another parable about His kingdom. It was of the "ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom" (Matthew 25:1-13). The five "foolish virgins" were as empty as the tares are. While outward appearances may be deceiving, the inner heart that seeks God will someday be manifest. The kingdom is likened also to a net (Matthew 13:47), which "gathered of every kind" but only the good were gathered into the vessel, the bad were cast away.

Also included in the parables of the kingdom are those which describe the seeming insignificance of its promise of influence to a worldly eye. The "kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed...which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof" (Matthew 13:31-32).

The plant here described was very different from that which is known among us. It was several years before it bore fruit, and became properly a tree. Mustard, with us, is an annual plant; it is always small, and is properly an herb. The Hebrew writers speak of the mustard-tree as one on which they could climb. The seeds of this tree were remarkably small; so that they, with the great size of the plant, were an apt illustration of the progress of the church, and of the nature of faith.
This seeming insignificance that leads to complete permeation of the world is also shown in the parable of the leaven: "The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened" (Matthew 13:33).

When a Christian prays, "Thy kingdom come," he must keep in mind that the Lord's kingdom may never appear that it has the ascendancy in this world. It is like the leaven or the grain of mustard seed. To man's eye, the size is insignificant and weak. It is not how big the grains are, it is the power that is carried within the grain that makes the difference.

Value of the Kingdom

Other parables teach the value of this kingdom.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field" (Matthew 13:44).

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it" (Matthew 13: 45,46).

The kingdom of God is such that it could be said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul, or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Mark 8:36). This same truth is found in Psalms 49:7: "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him." No matter what treasure we may accumulate on earth, it cannot compare to the treasure of knowing Christ and being a partaker of His kingdom. And for those who seek salvation, there is no help but of God: "For He shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper" (Psalm 72:12).

Thy Kingdom=God's Kingdom

Jesus also made it clear who sets the rules for entrance into the kingdom. He said, "For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyard" (Matthew 20:1). This is the story of the laborers who worked all day for the same price as those who were hired toward the end of the day. This is a true picture of salvation. The penny can represent the fact that there is only one thing received in God's kingdom by all who labor there, that is salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. And the fact that some worked all day and some only a little while points out the fact that this "penny" is not measured by work on the part of the recipient.

These things were hard to understand for the minds of the Jewish nation, dulled by their corruption of God's laws. The law was meant to be the "schoolmaster, to bring us unto Christ" (Galatians 3:24), not some way of measuring how worthy we are of Christ's salvation, or to use as a tool for controlling the masses. God set the standard for the relationship man and God. He says there are those that are last which shall be first, and there are "first which shall be last" (Luke 13:30). It is not our place to decide where or how long we should labor. It is enough to pray for the culmination of all things, even as John prayed, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev. 22:20).


This is a hard statement because it is the recognition of total release to God. It is good it comes in the midst of the prayer. It follows the establishment of who God is, what His character is like, and what His kingdom really is. It is then one can pray "Thy will be done." Even then, it takes courage to pray this prayer. But we can never hope to ask more of God than His own Son did. And it was His Son, headed to Calvary's cross, who prayed "Not my will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42).

On Earth As It Is In Heaven

Again, Jesus teaches us to look up and to look forward in our prayer. We are to pray for God's will on earth, while thinking of what His will accomplishes in Heaven. It is there that Christ is seated at the right hand of God, where He "ever liveth to make intercession" for us (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus presence in heaven assures our care on earth. His prayer on our behalf recorded in John 17 tells us about the heart of Jesus:
"O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them" (John 17:25,26).

When we pray that God's will be done on earth, as it is in heaven, we also enter into worshipful praise. John tells us in Revelation there is an unceasing chorus of praise around God's throne.

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about Him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come" (Revelation 4:8).

Give Us This Day our Daily Bread

Three requests are included in the Lord's Prayer, and they are requests for "us," never for "me." The first is a prayer for "daily bread." It is the phrasing of the request that is noteworthy. The prayer is a daily prayer at the beginning of the day.
King David prayed "My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up" (Psalm 5:3). Jeremiah taught, "It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22,23). It is necessary to seek God's provision daily.

The Psalmist understood this as he prayed, "Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily" (Psalms 86:3). "Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High" (Psalm 56:2). The Lord is the source of abundant provision: "Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation" (Psalms 68:19).

"Daily Bread" is, of course, the only part of this prayer that deals with practical necessities. Bread is meant to be those things we need, as in Matthew 6:31,32 "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?...For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." In this passage recorded by Matthew, Jesus warned us to not worry about tomorrow. "Tomorrow shall take thought for the things of itself" (Matthew 6:34). The Creator gives us permission to leave our troubles, future and past, in His capable hands. To carry a future fraught with uncertainty and worry and a past filled with regret is too large a burden for His child, so He tells us to pray just for "daily bread."

Forgive ... As We Forgive

The publican (a hated tax gatherer) in Luke 18 who was "justified," prayed for God's mercy. Without the mercy and compassion of God, there is no forgiveness. Forgiveness is that free gift extended to one who cannot and does not merit the gift. It is the essence of salvation. Jesus Christ paid sin's debt by shedding his own life blood, but it is the forgiveness of God that applied that blood to lost mankind. We sinned against God and He has made provision to forgive every sin. Every day we fall short and need to ask God's forgiveness. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "Trespassed" or "debts" translates literally as "to fall near" (just short of the mark). It is the wisdom of God that forces us to seek His mercy while facing our own attitude toward those who have offended us. Psalm 18:25 teaches "With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful."

The Apostle Peter asked, "Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, until seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21,22). Forgiving our brother is not about our relationship with that particular brother. It is all about our relationship with God, for He has said, "Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Many times we think that if we forgive someone, we will open ourselves up to being hurt time and time again. There is potential danger in that. The mystery is that when we are merciful toward our brother, it permeates our attitude toward our own lives. We feel confident in our approach to God. A greater tragedy than being hurt by the same person twice would be to approach God and feel unwelcome because we carried with us a bitter and unforgiving spirit.

Even in the face of my father's death, I could see the mercy of God at work in that relationship. In the last months of my father's life, I finally came to grips with the fact that many of the expectations I held for him were unfair. In my own way, I had to "forgive" him for not being perfect. It was necessary for me to be merciful to him and love him as he was. The last personal thing my father said to me was, "Don't worry about it." He spoke it tenderly to me. He knew there were many ways in which I had failed to show genuine patient Christian love to him. This was his way of telling me I was forgiven for everything, real or imagined. He died less than 24 hours later. In this life there is nothing more damaging to a relationship than a lack of mercy and there is nothing sweeter than that tender mercy and forgiveness extended without reproach.

Salvation is Deliverance

The third request in this model prayer is a plea not to be led into "temptation," but to be delivered "from evil." James teaches that God cannot be tempted with evil, neither does He tempt any man (James 1:13). For this reason, we know it is not necessary to ask God not to tempt us. The meaning of this prayer can be found by keeping it phrased with the second part of the sentence, "But deliver us from evil."
Jesus "gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world" (Galatians 1:4). If one studies the word "temptation," it can also be translated "test" or "tribulation." Jesus is the one who delivered us from evil when He took all mankind's trials and tribulations on Himself at Calvary. He was tempted in all points on our behalf, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15).

He then is the One who went "into temptation," in order to deliver us from evil. Asking to be saved from "temptation" in this model prayer is defined by the reality of being "delivered from evil." This part of the Lord's prayer rehearses the truth of salvation. It is, in fact, the believers privilege to be led, not into temptation, but by "still waters" (Psalm 23:2). The "leading" in Psalm 23 is a gentle guiding to a resting place. And the resting place described by "still waters" is the "rest" of the people of God from their own efforts to earn salvation (Psalm 95:11). As Paul said in his final letter to Timothy: "And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (2 Timothy 4:18).

This prayer ends with a crescendo of adoration and praise. After thinking through all that God is and all that He has done and will do, it is no wonder the believer cries, "For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever, and ever, Amen." The believer has come to a point of understanding the position of the One who has invited him into fellowship through prayer.

When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, He said they shouldn't think that they would be heard because their words were fancy or plentiful. God would be much like anyone else if He could be wooed or bribed with flattery. And, in addition to that, what good would it do to pray to someone who was not all powerful? Matthew 6:8 tells us the "Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him." Perhaps more than anything else, the Lord's Model Prayer is establishing truth in the mind of the believer. Prayer may be more about a rehearsal of what God is really like than a shopping list. It is a time for talking through the hard things with the only One in our life we can be absolutely sure of. It is a time of forgetting present trouble and circumstances and getting a renewed assurance that someone really cares about us.
Too often we tell children to pray for some special thing they desire, or we ask someone to pray for something we want or some decision we have to make. It is as if prayer needs a problem to generate itself. That should not be the case.

It is in the constant exercise of prayer, as it was taught to be in Matthew 6, that we work through all things, as in that living communication with the LIVING GOD, we find our will adjust to His own. Prayer is the living, breathing discovery of who God is and what He intends to do.

It is no longer then a question of why pray, because God will do what He wants to anyway. Rather, prayer is an invitation, even a challenge, extended to all believers. The truth is we must pray because God is going to do what He wills, and He has invited us to share in the eternal life that He has authored.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Prayers to St. Jude, saint of the impossible

Source link here.

Prayer used at the Shrine
Most Holy Apostle, St. Jude Thaddeus, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered your beloved Master into the hands of his enemies has caused you to be forgotten by many. But the Church honors you, and I invoke you as the special advocate of those who are in trouble and almost without hope. Help me to realize that through our faith we triumph over life's difficulties by the power of Jesus who loved us and gave his life for us. Come to my assistance that I may receive the consolation and succor of heaven in all my needs, trials, and sufferings, particularly (here make your request) and that I may praise God with you and all the saints forever.

St. Jude, apostle of the Word of God, pray for us.
St. Jude, follower of the Son of God, pray for us.
St. Jude, preacher of the love of God, pray for us.
St. Jude, intercessor before God, pray for us.
St. Jude, friend of all in need, pray for us.
St. Jude, pray for us, and for all who invoke your aid.

A private prayer to St. Jude

Gracious God, your Son Jesus Christ gave us the confidence to call you Father. We believe you care for us. We believe also in the communion of saints. With confidence we ask St. Jude, patron of difficult cases, to pray with us, for our special intentions....

Thank you, God, for hearing our prayer. Amen.

Additional prayers to Saint Jude Thaddeus, Apostle
Dear Jesus, I want to follow you, I want to be your disciple. But I know my weakness and my need of help. May the example of Saint Jude, the forgotten saint, inspire me. May the intercession of Saint Jude, saint of the impossible, help me. By the prayers of all the saints, may I obtain the grace to surrender completely to your love for me. Amen.

God, the Apostle, Saint Jude Thaddeus, was a faithful servant and friend of our Lord Jesus Christ. Your Church honors him and invokes his intercession universally as the patron of those in difficulty who have found no other help. Grant that through St. Jude's intercessions, we may know your will for us, have the strength to do it, and enjoy the consolations of your Holy Spirit. Heavenly Father, may Saint Jude intercede for us in all our necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly (here make your needs known). With him and with all the saints may we praise you with your Son and the Holy Spirit forever. Amen.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sermon: St. Jude Thaddeus: A Crucible of Hope and Our Patron Saint

A sermon by Pastor Karen Siegfriedt of St. Jude the Apostle Episcopal Church, Cupertino, California, U.S.A., given October 25, 1998 (source link here)

Were it not for hope, the heart would break.

A Sri Lankan steel fitter injures his back. He is filled with hope. Learning of a little shrine dedicated to St. Jude in the mountains of his country, he hires people to carry him there, and soon he can go back to work.

Boris, a three year old canine boxer, vanishes on Christmas Eve while being shipped aboard a Delta jet from Florida to New York. His owner, was at the point of giving up all hope But he continued on. He carried out a devotion to St. Jude for several weeks. Six weeks later, the frightened dog was traced to an abandoned house.

In 1964, a navy chaplain was sent to Vietnam with 6000 marines. He lost his faith and was filled with doubt and unbelief. For two months he experienced darkness and emptiness. In a faint yet glimmer of hope, he prayed to St. Jude, came out of his "dark night of the soul", and regained his faith. The chaplain's name is Cardinal John O'Connor, leader of New York's 2.5 million Catholics.

Hope: The one human emotion, the one virtue that keeps humankind afloat, diverting tragedy, healing the sick, comforting the desperate, deciding with some certainty that there is a way out. Hope is not the same thing as optimism. Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out. Hope is the lived out conviction that God?s power permeates the universe and that in the end, God's will, will be done

St. Jude is the symbol of hope; the patron saint of desperate causes. When you talk about Saint Jude, you talk about the world in despair because Jude is the last stop. That means, that when St. Jude becomes part of your devotional prayer life, you are reinforcing your desire to live and are refusing to be overcome by darkness. Who is this saint to whom more churches in the United States are dedicated than any other except for Mary? Who is this saint whose name is born by thousands of shrines and hospitals and to whom millions of petitions are addressed? What responsibility do we carry as a parish church which bears his name? This is the subject of today?s sermon as we celebrate the feast of St. Jude.

The name Jude, comes from the Hebrew word meaning, "I will praise the Lord." There is little description of Jude in the bible. Jude is listed in the gospel of Luke as the son of James and as being one of the twelve apostles. Jude is not the same person as Judas Iscariot, the disciple who betrayed Jesus. Now the gospels of Matthew and Mark do not list Jude as one of the twelve apostles but rather Thaddeus. Thus, it had been assumed that Jude's surname is Thaddeus and therefore our patron saint is named, Jude Thaddeus. Other than being listed as one of the twelve apostles, Jude is recorded as being at the last supper, and as praying in the upper room with the other apostles after Jesus' resurrection. Most biblical scholars would say that St. Jude the apostle is not the same person as the author of the epistle of Jude found in the Christian Scriptures. So, what is known about St. Jude comes from sources outside the bible. It is difficult to determine which written accounts of Jude are accurate and which are legend. Perhaps the most widely held account was recorded by the distinguished church historian, Eusebius, during the forth century. The story goes something like this.

King Abgar Ukkama, a brilliant and successful monarch of Mesopotamia was dying from a terrible physical disorder which no human power could heal. Having heard about Jesus' ability to heal, the King sent Jesus a letter, begging for relief from his disease. Jesus promised that he would send one of his disciples to cure the king's disease, and at the same time to bring salvation to him and his people. After Jesus' death and resurrection, Jude Thaddeus was sent to Edessa to heal the King. After examining the king's faith (in the healing power of Jesus), Jude laid his hands on the king and healed him of his infirmities. At daybreak, king Abgar instructed his citizens to assemble and to hear the preaching of the Good News by Jude Thaddeus. It was in this manner that the gospel was spread to that area of Northern Iran.

There is a thirteenth century manuscript in Armenia that describes Jude's death. This manuscript records that after having won favor from King Abgar with his miracles in Edessa, the apostle pressed eastward to Armenia to the court of King Sanatrouk, son of Abgar's sister. The apostle "arrived at the king's court to preach the good news of the kingdom of heaven, and there performed miracles and cured all kinds of sicknesses. Many believed his words and were baptized, including the king's daughter. Upon learning of this, king Sanatrouk grew wrathful and sent one of his princes to murder the apostle and his own daughter. Jude was forced to climb up to a ledge raised in the midst of rock. Stretching out his arms in prayer, Jude cried: "my Savior Jesus Christ, do not abandon my diocese, do not leave the people in the errors of idolatry, but illuminate them at the filling moment in the knowledge of your faith." Then the king's men murdered Jude with a sword and buried him in the midst of an overturned rock."

Are these events based on fact or fiction? Are the cures and acts of grace bestowed upon people who turn to St. Jude, miracles, or are they coincidences? We will never know the answer. However, this we do know. St. Jude is the symbol and crucible of hope for many Christians. Were it not for hope, the human heart would break. Hope is one of the great theological virtues. It is what keeps us going when darkness obscures the light. Hope is different from wishing. Wishing means to place before one's mind, a desired object or goal and waiting for a favorable outcome. But hope is remembering what God has already done in history and what God has promised to do in the future. Hope is the realization that the love of God has permanently affected humankind and that the whole creation will eventually be lifted up to God. "All things work together for good to them that love God."

As the second Christian millennium draws to a close, America is caught up in one of the most fervent religious revivals in its history. We see it in the zeal of the religious right, the passion of the New Age seekers, and the yearning of the hearts of those who are searching for meaning. Our nation has been most blest among nations. Our people have been seen as the best, brightest, richest, prettiest, smartest, and resiliently optimistic. Yet now, we are perhaps the most desperate, a depressed, self satisfied and spiritually empty people. We are now turning our spirits inward to explore the emptiness that no American military or political victory seems able to fill, or that no material gain or scientific milestone can dispel. We found out that a small, poverty stricken country in Southeast Asia could cripple our economic security, and thus have been brought face to face with our own vulnerability. The fitting recourse to this sense of loss of security must be hope, for without hope, desperation waits to fill the void.

So how do we increase our hope? When I hear this question, I like to look at a group of exemplar Christians who maintain an incredible sense of hope in the midst of poverty, chaos, corruption, and disease. This group is called the Sisters of Charity, a group of nuns who was founded by Mother Theresa. These sisters are able to pick up rat bitten, infected lepers off the dirty, noisy streets of Calcutta and show these discarded human beings, the love of God. These sisters do not get discouraged. They do not give up. They do not lose hope. Why? What is it that allows them to maintain a non-anxious presence, a presence of hope, in the midst of worldly darkness and despair? A lot of it has to do with their prayer life. Each day, they put aside an hour to practice devotional prayer. It is a simple, innocent approach to religion, where God and the communion of saints are called upon in intercessory and petitionary prayer; where God's saving acts in history are rehearsed over and over again so that they can remember God's faithfulness when there is no apparent evidence in the present moment. Devotional prayer is a means of placing one's mind, and heart, and soul, and hands into God's presence, and allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to permeate one's thoughts, words, and actions.

Now many Episcopalians scoff at devotional practices especially when it has to do with praying with and to the saints of our church. Most of us are at a different stage of faith than devotional practice. Our approach tends to be more intellectual. We would rather study the faith than pray it. We would rather be in control than abandon ourselves into the arms or God. However, I do notice that the people of St. Jude's light candles during Sunday worship. I notice that the people of St. Jude's offer prayers of petition each Sunday. Perhaps at a deep level we know that devotion to God and prayer has power to give us a the hope, without which the heart would break.

Now what does this mean for us, the people of St. Jude's in Cupertino,whose church bears the name of the Saint of desperate causes? Well there are a lot of desperate people out there who need to experience the light of Christ; who need to be coaxed out of despair and into hope. We need to provide a place where anyone can come and be reminded that God is intimately working in the world, even when there is no evidence in their lives.

Now this weekend, your vestry has come up with a vision for St. Jude's in Cupertino. They envision this place to become a spirit-filled church where every Sunday is like Easter Sunday. This means that we are present each Sunday at worship, that the pews are overflowing with joyful and spirit-filled people, raising their voices in song and prayer such that the presence of God can be felt even to the rafters. What an oasis of hope in Santa Clara County we could become! But we have work to do. We need to learn how to pray and to turn to a life of prayer, out of which hope rises up. "It is very important to cross the threshold of hope, and not to stop before it, but to let oneself be led." St. Jude, help us to cross that threshold of hope.