Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Feast of Saint Jude the Apostle

Today we celebrate the feast of saint Jude

Saint Jude was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He is generally identified with Thaddeus, and is also variously called Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus , Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. He is sometimes identified with Jude, brother of Jesus, but is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, another disciple and later the betrayer of Jesus.

The Armenian Apostolic Church honours Thaddeus along with Saint Bartholomew as its patron saints. In the Roman Catholic Church he is the patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes.

Saint Jude's attribute is a club. He is also often shown in icons with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles. Occasionally he is represented holding an axe or halberd, as he was brought to death by one of these weapons. In some instances he may be shown with a scroll or a book (the Epistle of Jude) or holding a carpenter's rule

Jude is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, another disciple and later the betrayer of Jesus. Both "Jude" and "Judas" are translations of the name Ιούδας in the Greek original New Testament, which in turn is a Greek variant of Judah, a name which was common among Jews at the time.

"Jude of James" is only mentioned twice in the New Testament: in the lists of apostles in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13.

The name by which Luke calls the Apostle, "Jude of James" is ambiguous as to the relationship of Jude to this James. Though such a construction commonly denotes a relationship of father and son, it has been traditionally interpreted as "Jude, brother of James" (See King James Version), though Protestants (for instance, the New International Version translation) usually identify him as "Jude son of James".

The Gospel of John also once mentions a disciple called "Judas not Iscariot" (John 14:22). This is generally accepted to be the same person as the apostle Jude,[1] though some scholars see the identification as uncertain.[2]

In some Latin manuscripts of Matthew 10:3, he is called Judas the Zealot.

In the comparable apostle-lists of Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18, Jude is omitted, but there is a Thaddeus (or in some manuscripts of Matthew 10:3, "Lebbaeus who was surnamed Thaddaeus") listed in his place. This has led many Christians since early times to harmonize the lists by positing a "Jude Thaddeus", known by either name.

Many modern Biblical scholars reject this theory, holding that Jude and Thaddeus did not represent the same person.[3] Scholars have proposed alternate theories to explain the discrepancy: an unrecorded replacement of one for the other during the ministry of Jesus to apostacy or death;[3] the possibility that "twelve" was a symbolic number and an estimation;[4] or simply that the names were not recorded perfectly by the early church.[5]

However many conservative Christian writers argue that, because the name "Judas" was so tarnished by Judas Iscariot, it was natural for Mark and Matthew to refer to him by his alternate name.[6].

Thaddeus the apostle is generally seen as a different person from Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy Disciples.

Opinion is divided on whether Jude the apostle is the same as Jude, brother of Jesus, who is mentioned in Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55-57, and is the traditional author of the Epistle of Jude.[7]

Generally Catholics believe the two Judes are the same person,[8] while Protestants do not.[9]

Identifying the apostle Jude with the writer of the epistle is problematic, not least because in verse 17 there is a reference to "the apostles" implying the writer does not include himself.

Tradition holds that Saint Jude preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Idumaea, Syria, Mesopotamia and Libya. He is also said to have visited Beirut and Edessa, though the emissary of latter mission is also identified as Thaddeus of Edessa, one of the Seventy. Jude is reported as suffering martyrdom together with Simon the Zealot in Persia. The 14th century writer Nicephorus Callistus makes Jude the bridegroom at the wedding at Cana.

The legend reports that St. Jude was born into a Jewish family in Paneas, a town in Galilee later rebuilt by the Romans and renamed Caesarea Philippi. In all probability he spoke both Greek and Aramaic, like almost all of his contemporaries in that area, and was a farmer by trade. According to the legend, St. Jude was a son of Clopas and his wife Mary, a cousin of the Virgin Mary. Tradition has it that Jude's father, Clopas, was murdered because of his forthright and outspoken devotion to the risen Christ. After Mary's death, miracles were attributed to her intercession.

Though Saint Gregory the Illuminator is credited as the "Apostle to the Armenians", when he baptised King Tiridates III of Armenia in 301, converting the Armenians, the Apostles Jude and Bartholomew are traditionally believed to have been the first to bring Christianity to Armenia, and are therefore venerated as the patron saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Linked to this tradition is the Thaddeus Monastery.

Symbol of his martyrdomAccording to the Armenian tradition, Saint Jude suffered martyrdom about AD 65 in Beirut, Lebanon together with the apostle Simon the Zealot, with whom he is usually connected. Their acts and martyrdom were recorded in an Acts of Simon and Jude that was among the collection of passions and legends traditionally associated with the legendary Abdias, bishop of Babylon, and said to have been translated into Latin by his disciple Tropaeus Africanus, according to the Golden Legend account of the saints.[10][11] Saints Simon and Jude are venerated together in the Roman Catholic Church on October 28.

Sometime after his death, Saint Jude's body was brought from Beirut, Lebanon to Rome and placed in a crypt in St. Peter's Basilica which is visited by many devotees. According to popular tradition, the remains of St. Jude were preserved in an Armenian monastery on an island in the northern part of Issyk-Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan at least until mid-15th century. Later legend either denounce remains as being preserved there or moved to yet more desolate stronghold in the Pamir mountains. Recent discovery of the ruins of what could be that monastery may put an end to the dispute.[citation needed]

St Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest, betokening the legend of the Image of Edessa, recorded in apocryphal correspondence between Jesus and Abgarus which is reproduced in Eusebius' History Ecclesiastica, I, xiii. According to it, King Abgar of Edessa (a city located in what is now southeast Turkey) sent a letter to Jesus to cure him of an illness that afflicts him, and sent the envoy Hannan, the keeper of the archives, offering his own home city to Jesus as a safe dwelling place. The envoy painted a likeness of Jesus with choice paints, or impressed with Abgar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to Hannan to take to Abgar with his answer. Upon seeing Jesus' image, the king placed it with great honor in one of his palatial houses. After Christ had ascended to heaven, St. Jude was sent to King Abgar by the Apostle St. Thomas. The king was cured and astonished. He converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule. Additionally, St. Jude is often depicted with a flame above his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.

St Jude Thaddeus is invoked in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances, just as their forefathers had done before them. Therefore, he is the patron saint of desperate cases. (The epithet is also commonly rendered as "patron saint of lost causes".) However, there is another reckoning to this epithet. Many Christians have unfortunately reckoned him as Judas Iscariot and thus avoided veneration. Therefore he was also called the "Forgotten Saint". Because veneration was avoided, only people in the most desperate circumstances would call upon him.

The Order of Preachers (the Dominicans) began working in present day Armenia soon after their founding in 1216. There was a substantial devotion to St. Jude in this area at that time, by both Roman and Orthodox Catholics. This lasted until persecution drove Christians from the area in the 1700s. Devotion to Saint Jude began again in earnest in the 1800s, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the U.S. (starting in the area around Chicago) owing to the influence of the Claretians and the Dominicans in the 1920s. Novena prayers to St. Jude helped people, especially newly arrived immigrants from Europe, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression, World War II, and the changing workplace and family life.

Saint Jude is the patron saint of the Chicago Police Department and of Clube de Regatas do Flamengo (a popular football (soccer) team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). His other patronages include desperate situations and hospitals. One of his namesakes is St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, which has helped many children with terminal illnesses and their families since its founding in 1962. His feast day is October 28 (Roman Catholic Church and Lutheran Church) and June 19 (Eastern Orthodox Church). A common Roman Catholic prayer is:

“ Most holy 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 hath 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 to thee, 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 succor of Heaven in all my necessities, tribulations, and sufferings, particularly -- (Mention your request) and that I may praise God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise, O blessed 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. ”

An alternative prayer is :

“ Saint Jude, Hope of the Hopeless, Pray for me ”


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Saint Teresa of Jesus / Of Avila

Today is the feast of Saint Teresa of Jesus or Teresa of Avila. As there are quite a few Saints with the name Teresa it can be confusing. She is pictured wearing a Doctor's hat with a dove and holding a quill.

Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada was born in 1515 in Gotarrendura, Spain. Her paternal grandfather, Juan de Toledo, was a Jewish convert to Christianity and was condemned by the Spanish Inquisition for allegedly returning to the Jewish faith. Her father, Alonso Sánchez de Cepeda, bought a knighthood and successfully assimilated into Christian society. Teresa's mother, Beatriz, was especially keen to raise her daughter as a pious Christian. Teresa was fascinated by accounts of the lives of the saints, and ran away from home at age seven with her brother Rodrigo to find martyrdom among the Moors. Her uncle spoiled their plan as he was returning to the city and spotted the two outside the city walls.

When she was young her father had her sent away to Convent of the Incarnation of the Carmelites outside Avila.[4] In the cloister, she suffered greatly from illness. Early in her sickness, she experienced periods of religious ecstasy through the use of the devotional book "Abecedario espiritual," commonly known as the "third" or the "spiritual alphabet" (published in six parts from 1537-1554). This work, following the example of similar writings of medieval mystics, consisted of directions for examinations of conscience and for spiritual self-concentration and inner contemplation (known in mystical nomenclature as oratio recollectionis or oratio mentalis). She also employed other mystical ascetic works such as the Tractatus de oratione et meditatione of Saint Peter of Alcantara, and perhaps many of those upon which Saint Ignatius of Loyola based his Spiritual Exercises and perhaps even the Spiritual Exercises itself.

Ecstasy of St Teresa in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, by Italian baroque artist Gianlorenzo BerniniShe claimed that during her illness she rose from the lowest stage, "recollection", to the "devotions of peace" or even to the "devotions of union", which was one of perfect ecstasy. During this final stage, she said she frequently experienced a rich "blessing of tears." As the Catholic distinction between mortal and venial sin became clear upon her, she says she came to understand the awful terror of sin and the inherent nature of original sin. She also became conscious of her own natural impotence in confronting sin, and the necessity of absolute subjection to God.

Teresa is also known as "Mother Teresa"

Around 1556, various friends suggested that her newfound knowledge was diabolical, not divine. She began to inflict various tortures and mortification of the flesh upon herself. But her confessor, Francis Borgia, reassured her of the divine inspiration of her thoughts. On St. Peter's Day in 1559, Teresa became firmly convinced that Jesus Christ was present to her in bodily form, though invisible. These visions of Jesus Christ lasted almost uninterrupted for more than two years. In another vision, a Seraph drove the fiery point of a golden lance repeatedly through her heart, causing an ineffable spiritual-bodily pain. The memory of this episode served as an inspiration throughout the rest of her life, and which motivated her life-long imitation of the life and suffering of Jesus, epitomized in the motto usually associated with her: "Lord, either let me suffer or let me die." This last vision was the inspiration for one of Bernini's most famous works, the Ecstasy of St Theresa at Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome.

The incentive to give outward practical expression to her inward motive was inspired in Teresa by Peter of Alcantara. Incidentally, he became acquainted with her as Founder early in 1560, and became her spiritual guide and counselor. She now resolved to found a reformed Carmelite convent, correcting the laxity which she had found in the Cloister of the Incarnation and others. Guimara de Ulloa, a woman of wealth and a friend, supplied the funds.

The absolute poverty of the new monastery, established in 1562 and named St. Joseph's, at first excited a scandal among the citizens and authorities of Ávila, and the little house with its chapel was in peril of suppression; but powerful patrons, including the bishop himself, as well as the impression of well-secured subsistence and prosperity, turned animosity into applause.

In March 1563, when Teresa moved to the new cloister, she received the papal sanction to her prime principle of absolute poverty and renunciation of property, which she proceeded to formulate into a "Constitution". Her plan was the revival of the earlier, stricter rules, supplemented by new regulations such as the three disciplines of ceremonial flagellation prescribed for the divine service every week, and the discalceation of the nun. For the first five years, Teresa remained in pious seclusion, engaged in writing.

Church window at the Convent of St Teresa.In 1567, she received a patent from the Carmelite general, Rubeo de Ravenna, to establish new houses of her order, and in this effort and later visitations she made long journeys through nearly all the provinces of Spain. Of these she gives a description in her "Libro de las Fundaciones." Between the years 1567 and 1571, reform convents were established at Medina del Campo, Malagon, Valladolid, Toledo, Pastrana, Salamanca, and Alba de Tormes.

As part of her original patent, St Teresa was given permission to set up two houses for men who wished to adopt the reforms; to this end she convinced John of the Cross and Anthony of Jesus to help with this. They founded the first convent of Discalced Carmelite Brethren in November 1568 at Duruello. Another friend, Geronimo Grecian, Carmelite visitator of the older observance of Andalusia and apostolic commissioner, and later provincial of the Teresian reforms, gave her powerful support in founding convents at Segovia (1571), Vegas de Segura (1574), Seville (1575), and Caravaca de la Cruz (Murcia, 1576), while the deeply mystical John, by his power as teacher and preacher, promoted the inner life of the movement.

In 1576 a series of persecutions began on the part of the older observant Carmelite order against Teresa, her friends, and her reforms. Pursuant to a body of resolutions adopted at the general chapter at Piacenza, the "definitors" of the order forbade all further founding of convents. The general condemned her to voluntary retirement to one of her institutions. She obeyed and chose St. Joseph's at Toledo. Her friends and subordinates were subjected to greater trials.

Finally, after several years her pleadings by letter with King Philip II of Spain secured relief. As a result, in 1579, the processes before the Inquisition against her, Grecián, and others were dropped, and the extension of the reform was at least negatively permuted. A brief of Pope Gregory XIII allowed a special provincial for the younger branch of the discalceate nuns, and a royal rescript created a protective board of four assessors for the reform.

During the last three years of her life, Teresa founded convents at Villanueva de la Jara in northern Andalusia (1580), Palencia (1580), Soria (1581), Burgos, and at Granada (1582). In all seventeen convents, all but one founded by her, and as many men's cloisters were due to her reform activity of twenty years.

Her final illness overtook her on one of her journeys from Burgos to Alba de Tormes. She died in 1582, just as Catholic nations were making the switch from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar which required the removal of 10 days from the calendar. (In 1582 October 5-14 did not exist.) She died either before midnight of October 4 or early on the morning of October 15, which is celebrated as her feast day.

Forty years after her death, she was canonized, and her church reveres her as the "seraphic virgin." The Cortes exalted her to patroness of Spain in 1617, and the University of Salamanca previously conferred the title Doctor ecclesiae with a diploma. The title is Latin for Doctor of the Church, but is distinct from the honor of Doctor of the Church conferred posthumously by the Holy See, which she received in 1970, the first woman to be awarded it. The mysticism in her works exerted a formative influence upon many theologians of the following centuries, such as Francis of Sales, Fénelon, and the Port-Royalists.

"It is love alone that gives worth to all things." - St. Theresa of Avila The kernel of Teresa's mystical thought throughout all her writings is the ascent of the soul in four stages ("The Autobiography," Chs. 10-22):

The first, or "heart's devotion," is that of devout contemplation or concentration, the withdrawal of the soul from without and specially the devout observance of the passion of Christ and penitence.

The second is the "devotion of peace," in which at least the human will is lost in that of God by virtue of a charismatic, supernatural state given of God, while the other faculties, such as memory, reason, and imagination, are not yet secure from worldly distraction. While a partial distraction is due to outer performances such as repetition of prayers and writing down spiritual things, yet the prevailing state is one of quietude.

The "devotion of union" is not only a supernatural but an essentially ecstatic state. Here there is also an absorption of the reason in God, and only the memory and imagination are left to ramble. This state is characterized by a blissful peace, a sweet slumber of at least the higher soul faculties, a conscious rapture in the love of God.

The fourth is the "devotion of ecstasy or rapture," a passive state, in which the consciousness of being in the body disappears (2 Corinthians 12:2-3). Sense activity ceases; memory and imagination are also absorbed in God or intoxicated. Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain, alternating between a fearful fiery glow, a complete impotence and unconsciousness, and a spell of strangulation, intermitted sometimes by such an ecstatic flight that the body is literally lifted into space. This after half an hour is followed by a reactionary relaxation of a few hours in a swoon-like weakness, attended by a negation of all the faculties in the union with God. From this the subject awakens in tears; it is the climax of mystical experience, productive of the trance. (Indeed, St. Theresa herself was said to have been observed levitating during Mass on more than one occasion.)

Teresa is one of the foremost writers on mental prayer. Her definition was used in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "Mental prayer [oración mental] is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us."

Teresa's writings, produced for didactic purposes, stand among the most remarkable in the mystical literature of the Roman Catholic Church:

The "Autobiography," written before 1567, under the direction of her confessor, Fr Pedro Ibáñez;[5]
" El Camino de Perfección," written also before 1567, at the direction of her confessor;[6]
"El Castillo Interior," written in 1577;[7]
"Relaciones," an extension of the autobiography giving her inner and outer experiences in epistolary form.
Two smaller works are the "Conceptos del Amor" ("Concepts of Love") and "Exclamaciones." In addition, there are the "Las Cartas" (Saragossa, 1671), or her correspondence, of which there are 342 extant letters and 87 fragments of others. St Teresa's prose is marked by an unaffected grace, an ornate neatness, and charming power of expression, together placing her in the front rank of Spanish prose writers; and her rare poems ("Todas las poesías," Munster, 1854) are distinguished for tenderness of feeling and rhythm of thought