Sunday, August 13, 2017

About St. Jude

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The tradition of devotion to St. Jude goes beyond a simple Bible story; in fact, it is a reflection of the ability of ordinary people to call upon their powerful faith to triumph over seemingly impossible odds in their daily lives.

Legend has it that St. Jude was born into a Jewish family in  Paneas, a town in the Galilee portion of ancient Palestine, the same region that Jesus grew up in. He probably spoke Greek and Aramaic, like many of his contemporaries in that area, and he was a farmer (as many of his family were) by trade.

Jude was described by St. Matthew (13:55) as being one of the "brethren" of Jesus, probably meaning a cousin since the Hebrew word for "brethren" indicates a blood relationship. His mother, Mary, was referred to as a cousin of Jesus' mother Mary, while his father, Cleophas, was the brother of St. Joseph.

Jude had several brothers, including St. James, who was another of the original Apostles. His own first name, "Jude", means giver of joy, while "Thaddeus",  another name he was called, means generous and kind.

He was later married, had at least one child, and there are references to his grandchildren living as late as 95 A.D.

Jude was then called to be one of Jesus 12 Apostles, and began preaching the Good News of Jesus to Jews throughout Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

St. Jude went to Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) around 37 A.D., and became a leader of the Church of The East that St. Thomas established there.  For a fascinating account of St. Jude's influence in that region, read my article The St. Jude- Iraq Connection.

St. Jude was a true internationalist, traveling throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, Turkey, and Persia with St. Simon, preaching and converting many people to Christianity.  He was credited with helping the early creation of the Armenian church, and other places beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.

Around the year 60 A.D., St. Jude wrote a Gospel letter to recent Christian converts in Eastern churches who were under persecution.  In it, he warned them against the pseudo-teachers of the day who were spreading false ideas about the early Christian faith.   He encouraged them to persevere in the face of the harsh, difficult circumstances they were in, just as their forefathers had done before them. He exhorted them to keep their faith and to stay in the love of God as they had been taught. His inspirational support of these early believers led to him becoming the patron saint of desperate cases.

He is believed to have been martyred in Persia or Syria around 65 A.D. The axe or club that he is often shown holding in pictures symbolizes the way in which he was killed. Truly, he paid the ultimate price for his faith.  After his death his body was brought back to Rome and was placed in a crypt beneath St. Peter's Basilica, which people visit to this day

St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest. This idea comes from a Biblical story in which King Abgar of Edessa (a city located in what is now southeast Turkey) asked Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abgar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to St. Jude to take to Abgar. Upon seeing Jesus' image, The King was cured and he converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule. This cloth is believed to be the famous Shroud of Jesus which is currently on display in Turin, Italy.

St. Jude is often shown in paintings with a flame around his head.  This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.

In the Middle Ages, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (France) was a renowned devotee of St. Jude, as was St. Bridget of Sweden who, in a vision, was encouraged by Jesus to turn to St. Jude with faith and confidence. He told her that, in accordance with Jude's surname, Thaddeus (which means generous, courageous, and kind), "he will show himself to be the most willing to give you help."

Devotion to St. Jude began again in earnest in the 1800's, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the U.S. (originally in the Chicago area) in the 1920's.  Novena prayers to St. Jude helped people, especially newly-arrived immigrants from Europe, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression, Second World War, and the changing workplace and family life.

Why has devotion to St. Jude continued to grow to the present day?

In spite of (or possibly because of) all the advances human society has made, human beings find themselves under incredible stress and have difficulty coping at one time or another.  Increasingly, people are finding that technology and other man-made innovations are unable to provide comfort and hope when it is truly needed, so millions of people around the world turn to St. Jude when they feel the most helpless and alone. St. Jude has proven to be a true friend and a beacon of hope to those who call on him--always willing to help and seek help no matter how desperate the need. And in today's tumultuous times, we need him more than ever.  We celebrate his feast day on October 28.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Prayer to St. Jude

[Source link is here]

Are you faced with a desperate situation? The prayers to St. Jude (pictured at left) printed below help remind us that nothing is impossible with God, even help when you’re at your wit’s end. Considering that thanksgiving notes appear in newspapers to this patron saint of desperate cases, praying to him must have some effect!

This prayer, courtesy of the Dominican Shrine of Saint Jude Dominican Friars, is wonderfully straightforward:

Most holy Apostle, Saint Jude Thaddeus, friend of Jesus, I place myself in your care at this difficult time. Help me know that I need not face my troubles alone. Please join me in my need, asking God to send me: consolation in my sorrow, courage in my fear, and healing in the midst of my suffering. Ask our loving Lord to fill me with the grace to accept whatever may lie ahead for me and my loved ones, and to strengthen my faith in God's healing powers. Thank you, Saint Jude Thaddeus, for the promise of hope you hold out to all who believe, and inspire me to give this gift of hope to others as it has been given to me.

V. Saint Jude, Apostle of Hope
R. Pray for us!

St. Jude was one of the twelve Apostles. Mark’s (3:18) and Matthew’s (10:3) gospels refer to him as Thaddeus (a surname meaning “amiable or “loving”), possibly in part to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot, our Lord’s betrayer! John’s gospel refers to him in the last supper as “Judas… not the Iscariot” (14:22).

The evangelist no doubt wanted to make sure that he would not be confused with the man Jesus Himself referred to as the “son of perdition” in John 17:11!

This prayer to St. Jude touches on that:

Oh glorious apostle St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies has caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honors and invokes thee universally as the patron of hopeless cases--of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable; make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded thee of bringing visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolations and succor of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly (mention your request), and that I may bless God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favor, and I will never cease to honor thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee. Amen

St. Jude is known as the brother of Saint James the Less. According to tradition, he wrote the epistle bearing his name in the New Testament as well, although this is not as certain.

In his letter he stressed having faith in apostolic teachings in the midst of heresies through fraternal charity, prayer, and loving obedience to God. According to the historian Eusebius he assisted in his brother St. Simeon’s election as Bishop of Jerusalem in 62 A.D.

St. Jude is said to have preached the gospel in such regions as Judea, Samaria, Libya, and Mesopotamia, before suffering martyrdom in Armenia, which was then part of Persia. According to one account, he is said to have cured the King of Edessa’s leprosy in Mesopotamia with an image of Jesus’s face that our Lord had pressed on a cloth.

The king was so impressed he converted to Christianity, along with much of his family and kingdom. Talk about a picture being worth a thousand words! St. Jude converted countless others to the faith as well.

He is often shown in drawings, like the one above, holding an image of Jesus in one hand and a club (a symbol of his martyrdom) in the other. Often the Holy Spirit is seen over his head as a tongue of fire (in remembrance of Pentecost when He came upon the apostles).

These two prayers to St. Jude, like the previous ones and some others listed here can be used as a novena (a prayer said for nine consecutive days).

O Holy St Jude!
Apostle and Martyr,
great in virtue and rich in miracles,
near kinsman of Jesus Christ,
faithful intercessor for all who invoke you,
special patron in time of need;
to you I have recourse from the depth of my heart,
and humbly beg you,
to whom God has given such great power,
to come to my assistance;
help me now in my urgent need and grant my earnest petition.
I will never forget thy graces and favors you obtain for me
and I will do my utmost to spread devotion to you. Amen.

St. Jude, pray for us and all who honor thee and invoke thy aid.
(Say 3 Our Father's, 3 Hail Mary’s, and 3 Glory Be’s after this.)

Note that in addition to saying a prayer to St. Jude, we can invoke his aid by offering Holy Masses and Communions in his honor. We can also engage in charitable works in his name.

As St. Leo once said “Prayer has the greatest efficacy to obtain favors from God when it is supported by works of mercy.” Don’t forget to help someone in need as part of your prayer to St. Jude.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Novena in Honor of Saint Jude Thaddeus

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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.

Prayer

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: http://www.shrineofstjude.org/site/PageServer?pagename=ssj_jude_life

“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 SI.com.

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 CaringBridge.org 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 CaringBridge.org, 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."