Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Leave Your Message to or Special Intention for St. Jude Thaddeus Here

Most holy Apostle, St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus,  the Church honors and invokes you universally, as the patron of difficult  cases, of things almost despaired of, Pray for me, I am so helpless and alone. 

Intercede with God for me that He 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, tribulations, and  sufferings, particularly -
(make your request here)

- and that I may praise  God with you and all the saints forever. I promise, O Blessed St. Jude, to be  ever mindful of this great favor granted me by God and to always honor you as  my special and powerful patron, and to gratefully encourage devotion to you. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

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.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

On this special day and throughout the year, open your heart and mind to the infant Jesus, whose birth we celebrate today. May God bless you.

Painting: Adoration of the Shepherds by Gerard van Honthorst (November 4, 1592 - April 27, 1656). Gerard van Honthorst, also known as Gerrit van Honthorst and in Italy as Gherardo delle Notti for his nighttime candlelit subjects, was a Dutch Golden Age painter of Utrecht.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Why do people pray to St. Jude?

Source link here.

Catholics have a long tradition of praying to the saints and this tradition has sometimes been misunderstood. With all Christians we keep the First Commandment and adore only the Most Blessed Trinity. Praying to the saints is not a substitute for praying to God, whom we acknowledge to be the source of everything.

We pray to the saints because they are our older sisters and brothers who have gone through what we ourselves are experiencing now. We ask them to remind God that it was by His grace that they triumphed over life’s difficulties and that we today need that same grace.

Even though we have a long tradition of praying to the saints (or more precisely asking the saints to pray to the Lord our God for us!), it is only in our own times that St. Jude has become a popular patron. Why? In the past, people sometimes confused St. Jude with Judas Iscariot, but people now realize they are alike in name only!

And people realized too that the story of St. Jude is very often like their own: people sometimes ignored and misunderstood – people struggling to accept their call to holiness and the offer of forgiveness – people finding it hard to believe that God is always faithful to his promises.

If any of those phrases describe you, welcome!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Meditation: St. Jude, Advocate of Difficult Cases

Excerpted from Fr. Richard O'Keefe, O.P.

St. Jude was not only a follower of Jesus but his friend as well. His close relationship to Jesus not only changed his life but also made him a powerful advocate on our behalf. From Jesus he learned about God's boundless compassion and infinite power. He learned not to doubt God's wisdom but confidently to trust divine mercy. Sometimes our suffering can make us forget, even despair of, God's love and provision for us. We ask, "Why has this happened to me? Where is the Lord when I need him?" We might even wonder whether He hears our prayer. We go to St. Jude because we believe that he is a man of faith and understands that nothing is impossible for God. From Jesus he would have learned this. He believed what Jesus had told him at the Last Supper: "If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it." (John 14:14) He heard Jesus say, "...with God everything is possible." (Mark 10:27). And, harkening to those words, we ourselves regain our balance; we find the strength to go on trusting in God's wisdom and mercy.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Flicker of hope is sold in Aisle 18

Written by E. J. Montini, a columnist at The Arizona Republic (Arizona, U.S.A.), on March 23, 2009 (source article link).

In the Albertson's grocery store near my home, the shelves on Aisle 18-B are neatly stocked with jars of salsa, bags of corn chips, spices, cans of beans, bags of flour, rows of spices, snack cakes, soda and hope.

The last item sells for $1.79.

In better times, a hearty meal would offer more sustenance than hope. But these days, with so many men and women losing their jobs, their health insurance and their homes, shoppers who are starved for mental and spiritual comfort find nourishment in several rows of 8-inch votive candles available in Aisle 18-B.

In just about every Catholic Church in Phoenix, there is an alcove or side altar where there is a bank of candles in glass containers. Often they are displayed in a series of small steps before a statue or icon.

In the church my family attended when I was a kid, these "vigil lights," as my mother called them, were in front of a statue of Mary the mother of Jesus. It was the one place in our church where I felt comfortable.

The enormous crucifix above the altar, with its bleeding, suffering Jesus, frightened me. As did the stained-glass images of saints that lined the upper reaches of the church. Their glass eyes seemed to focus on a young sinner no matter which pew he settled into.

One of the small comforts of my youthful churchgoing experience was the opportunity to light a candle. But it was not done casually. My mother would say that lighting a candle was a way of asking God for a little extra attention. It might be for ourselves or for someone we knew, someone sick, someone in need, someone in trouble. The candle represented a promise to put more prayerful devotion into this particular request. As long as the candle burned, the invocation was being repeated.

For all of the time I've shopped at the Albertsons, the most popular votive candle featured a likeness of the Virgin of Guadalupe. In this part of the country, the primary market for such items is our large Latino population.

But lately other saints also have become popular. St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes, for instance. And St. Simon, who may have been St. Jude's partner but whose prayer, printed on his candle, makes him seem more like an enforcer than a saint.

It reads, in Spanish and in English:

"Oh powerful St. Simon, I humbly come to you. Let your spirit help me in all actions and in any dangerous circumstances. If it is love, you will hold the person I like. If it is a business, you will not allow it to fail because evil can not have more power than your spirit. If it is an enemy, you will defeat him. Oh, powerful St. Simon, I offer you your cigar, your tortilla, your drink and your candles if you help me with any dangerous circumstance I may encounter. For any debts that I cannot currently pay, let the judge be defeated and on my side upon invoking your name. I ask of you, in the name of the One you sold for thirty coins that were given to the needy to let everything be forgotten; and in this manner I want you to perform the miracles I request."

I asked John Tillotson, of the St. Jude Candle Co. in Houston which made the St. Simon candle, how his business is doing.

He told me, "With the economy the way it is, we're feeling the pinch as well as everyone else. But we can see in sales that people gravitate to those saints who speak to their situation. A lot of people are hurting and are seeking help."

Do the candles work? I asked.

He paused, then said, "I can tell you that they're a comfort to a lot of folks."

More than that. When lit, the candles prove that longing is tangible. That aspiration is real. That there is such a thing as a flicker of hope.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Saint Jude: A Friend in Hard Times

As a young boy, my mother taught me the prayer and novena to St. Jude and encouraged me to pray to him in both good and bad times. I hope you'll find this to be a very good read about St. Jude, most especially for children. Twelve-year old Michael Aquilina III wrote Saint Jude: A Friend in Hard Times in 2004 (published by Pauline Books & Media).

From the forward of the book by Dr. Scott Hahn, Founder, President and Chairman of the Board of The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology: "The first time Michael Aquilina III visited my home, he must have been nine years old. He came to play with my sons, Jeremiah and Joseph, but he detoured through my book-lined office. He looked up at the rows of towering shelves and turned to me without hesitation, saying: "You should write a book about Saint Jude." It wasn't a request; it was a statement. And he repeated it on several other visits.

As a father of six, I've learned to be open to the Holy Spirit speaking through the mouths of children. I knew, however, that a book on Saint Jude was not in my near future, as I was already under contract to write several other books. So I told Michael:"I think God has placed that wish in your heart so that you might write the book."

That was the last I heard of the Saint Jude book - until, years later, when I received Michael's finished manuscript in my mailbox, along with a gracious invitation to write some words of introduction. I'm pleased to comply.

Since I became a Catholic in 1986, I've had a great fondness for Saint Jude. Early in my studies, I discovered that I was born on Jude's feast day, October 28, in 1957. For that reason - and because I've always been a sort of "lost cause" - I believe this Apostle has watched over me with great care.

Like Michael Aquilina, I hope that many, many people will come to know Saint Jude's watchful care and his mighty prayer before the throne of God. The last book of the Bible, the Book of Revelation, shows us twice that Saint Jude holds a prominent place in heaven. God has blessed Jude as an Apostle, and so his name is on one of the twelve foundation stones of the heavenly Jerusalem (see Rev 21:18). As a martyr, too, Jude raises a powerful prayer, fully aware of what is happening in our lives on earth (see Rev 6:9-10). Even now, Saint Jude is very much with us, in that "great cloud of witnesses" (Heb 12:1), the communion of saints.

Michael Aquilina has written a book I could not have written, even though I am a teacher of theology. For every book of devotion is a special grace from God. My own books are God's gifts to me and my readers; this book is God's gift to Michael and his readers, among whom I am proud to be the first.

Read on, then, and walk the roads of life with Saint Jude. May the Apostle lead you without delay to share in the friendship and close family bond that he himself shared with Jesus."

From the blog of Maureen Wittmann, who wrote the following article on how a 12-year-old, home-schooled boy came to write and publish this book: "St. Jude: A Friend in Hard Times, recently released by Pauline Books and Media, is a gem. Illustrator Keith Neely’s artwork is beautiful enough to turn this children’s book into a coffee table book. However, you wouldn’t want to leave it on your table for too long, as it is a terrific read. The historical information is interesting and the storytelling engaging. I don’t think that there is an historical account so easily accessible for children anywhere. Additionally, author Michael Aquilina III was able to bring St. Jude to life for my family. I want the saints to be real for my children, not just pictures on prayer cards, and this book accomplishes that end very well.

The amazing thing about all this is that Michael wrote St. Jude: A Friend in Need when he was just twelve-years old. It all started when Michael, at the ripe old age of seven, became fascinated with computers and read their manuals just for fun. One day, Michael had a computer problem that he could not fix himself. Nor could he find a solution in his beloved computer manuals. So he prayed for St. Jude’s help. In no time, the computer problem was resolved and Michael found a new friend in St. Jude, patron of desperate causes.

Michael then decided that family friend, and Catholic author, Scott Hahn needed to write a book about St. Jude and he kept his desire no secret. Whenever Michael would visit the Hahn home, he made a point to tell Dr. Hahn “You should write a book about St. Jude.” Dr. Hahn, open to the Holy Spirit working through a child, considered the idea but was already committed to several other book projects. Finally, he told Michael, “I think that God has placed that wish on your heart so that you might write the book.”

It wasn’t long after that Michael’s grandmother suffered a stroke. Michael and his father stayed with her for a week to help out. With a simple reminder from his father of Dr. Hahn’s words, Michael began writing his book during this out-of-town visit. In just one week he wrote the bulk of St. Jude, with the occasional writing tip from his father, Catholic author Mike Aquilina.

Now, not every child has a prominent author for a father or has the opportunity to hang out in the homes of other prominent authors. However, it was not these things that led to Michael’s writing of St. Jude. I submit that Michael has been able to achieve the extraordinary because he has parents who support and nourish his interests, from his fascination with computers to his love for St. Jude. Most importantly, he has parents who live the Church’s teaching of parents as primary educators.

“The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.” (CCC 2221)

As home educators, the Aquilinas have taken on the academic instruction of their six children firsthand. Most parents do not choose homeschooling, but that does not mean that they don’t have a significant influence on their children’s academic success. A parent’s attitude toward education can spell either academic success or failure, and creating an atmosphere of learning in the home can make all the difference in the world. The Aquilinas do this in ways that can be imitated by any parent. They let their children see them reading all of the time. They make time to read to their children. If you don’t like to read aloud, turn the tables and ask your child to read to you. In this way, you not only encourage learning, but also spend quality time with one another building bonds that will not easily break.

Also let your child see you write. Of course Michael sees his father writing all of the time as that is Mike’s fulltime job, but he also sees his mother Terri writing letters to friends, letters to the editor, and journal entries. In this way, the Aquilina children think that this is what people do and therefore they do it themselves. Writing skills can blossom when practiced outside of the classroom and applied to everyday activities. In order to achieve academic success, children need good writing skills. It is not enough to read, children need to be able to communicate the knowledge that they have accumulated onto the written page, especially if college is desired in their future. So write and write often.

One area that most of us do not think about is the worth of doing research. Let your children see you research a lot. Before you write that letter to the editor get on the Internet or go to the library to make sure that you have your facts straight. If the Aquilinas have a child ask a question that they cannot respond to honestly, they search for the answer. Pulling down your Bible, Catechism, or encyclopedia from your bookshelf will speak volumes to your child.

In preparing his book for publication, Michael had to do a lot of research. On more than one occasion, Michael’s editor at Pauline, Sr. Patricia Edward, had to ask Michael to give some background in Catholic doctrine, for example, on the intercession of the saints. Pauline also had scholars review the book who suggested that Michael be clearer in other areas. He had to point out where historians disagree on certain details of St. Jude’s life story. Had Michael’s parents not set a good example for him in doing their own research, Michael may not have been able to complete his book satisfactorily.

Just as children need to learn to communicate through writing, they need to learn to articulate their book knowledge through the spoken word. The Aquilinas suggest making many friends to cultivate the art of conversation. Invite your pastor, coworkers, and other interesting people to your dinner table. Go deep in conversation with your guests and include the children. Pray to your guardian angel and the guardian angels of your friends, and ask them to help guide your conversations and your correspondence. Let your conversations meander and don’t be afraid of silent moments.

Michael Aquilina III is very comfortable in the company of adults. I once saw him at a Catholic education conference where his father was a speaker. As his father answered questions, Michael was engaging in a conversation with several academics from a Catholic university and he did not look out of place at all. This has a lot to do with the fact that Michael and his siblings are always welcomed to listen in on their parent’s conversations.

If the children interject more than their parents desire, you would never know it. To sit in the Aquilina living room is to be surrounded by lively conversation with everyone participating. Children are never talked down to or asked to shush.

The art of conversation and the development of the intellect are also encouraged by the fact that the Aquilinas limit television viewing almost to the point of extinction. Yes, there are good programs on television, but even good television can be abused. It is much easier to encourage reading, writing, researching, and conversation, if your home is void of television noise. Besides, too much television makes for passive children with high needs for sensory stimulation and that is the death of the intellect.

Education in the faith by the parents should begin in the child’s earliest years. This already happens when family members help one another to grow in faith by the witness of a Christian life in keeping with the Gospel. (CCC 2226)

While it is important to “teach” our children religion, most of what they learn is through modeling. We can sing the praises of Mother Church all day long, but if we ourselves do not truly love God and His Church then we cannot expect our children to love them.

When Terri Aquilina prays her rosary, her children naturally join her. When she attends Mass, goes to confession, prays before meals, her children want to participate with her. If parents show an interest in something then children, particularly young children, will also show an interest. Conversely, children will not find value in things that parents don’t care to do themselves.

Now as children grow older and they begin to question their religion, parents need to be prepared with answers. Prayerfully, your children are receiving a good education in religion through their parish school, CCD, or homeschool program, but that is not enough. Children, teens in particular, are sure to eventually ask: Why do we have to attend CCD? Or go to Mass? Or pray the family rosary? They need to hear from their parents why these things are important to them as Catholics.

Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the “first heralds” for their children. (CCC 2225)

Don’t be afraid to be a herald of the Faith to your children. Speak of God not only on Sunday, but everyday. In a society where we have separation of church and state, we sometimes forget that it is okay to speak of God in normal conversation. Sometimes we even forget that it is okay to have a religious opinion in the public square. You can be a herald of the Faith simply by voicing your opinion as a Catholic when neighbor or family member makes a statement that is contrary to your beliefs. Doing this, in a charitable manner of course, will teach your children the importance of faith matters.

For example, the Aquilina children know intrinsically the Church’s stance on human life. This is because they have a mother who will not hesitate to picket the local Planned Parenthood office or write a letter to the editor. They have a father who will not hesitate to speak up when the topic comes up in conversation with a friend. It is in this way that the children absorb Church teaching in a very natural way.

When I asked Michael, now fourteen-years old, if he found himself adopting his parent’s values, he answered quite simple, “Usually.” Yes, children have free will and they are sure to develop their own opinions and values, but the foundation upon which those values are built largely depends on the involvement, or lack of involvement, of parents.

Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents. (CCC 2227)

Michael has always enjoyed hanging around his father’s home office. Once, when Michael was about eight-years old, his father Mike was working as a newspaper reporter and he was interviewing a rather famous sociologist of religion who was an agnostic. The man told Mike, in the course of the interview, that he would very much like to have faith, but he couldn’t quite bring himself there. Michael was sitting in the room, reading. After Mike got off the phone, he asked Michael to pray for the man’s conversion. Michael asked if the man prayed for faith. His father told him that he didn’t know and as a journalist he didn’t think it was his place to ask that question. Michael told him it was his Christian obligation to do so. So Mike contacted the man again. If we parents do our best to take on the role of primary educator, we will find ourselves in turn learning from our children, and sometimes in ways that we never imagined.

Parents have a grave responsibility to give good example to their children. By knowing how to acknowledge their own failings to their children, parents will be better able to guide and correct them. (CCC 2223)

As parents we all fail, sometimes daily. The Aquilinas are no exception; Mike and Terri are the first to admit that. It is an incredible responsibility to raise godly children, but we have a saint in our midst to help us when things seem hopeless. In his epistle, the second to last book in the Bible, St. Jude reminds us that we should persevere in harsh and difficult situations. Do not hesitate to seek St. Jude’s intercession. He sat with our Lord at the Last Supper, he performed miracles in the name of Jesus, he spread the Faith throughout the world as one of the first Christian missionaries, and he wants to help us persevere in our God-given roles as parents.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraphs 2221 to 2231) expresses in beautiful terms the teaching of parents as primary educators of their children. It tells us that we are responsible for the formation of our children’s souls in addition to their intellect. It is through the application of this teaching that the biographer of St. Jude was nurtured."

You can order the book from This blog receives no commission from a purchase of the book through the previous link.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

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 in 2008; click here.