Patron Saint of Hope

StJudeMy first encounter with St. Jude came very shortly after my decision to enter the Catholic Church.  I was studying for the Alaska bar exam and as the exam dates drew nearer, I became more and more overwhelmed with the fear I was going to fail.  There was so much material to study, and Alaska is reputed to have the second most difficult bar exam in the nation, with California being the most difficult.  In fact, for any given exam (they offer it twice per year) one-quarter to one-third of the people who take the Alaska bar exam fail.

What would I do if I failed?  It would dramatically affect my job prospects, my ability to pay my bills.  Somehow I’d heard about St. Jude and how he helped with desperate situations.  For me, this was definitely a desperate situation.  So I asked St. Jude for his help every day until the exam was over.  I did my part – I studied and remained diligent with what I could do.  But then I had to trust God to help me focus on those things I needed to know for the exam and to bring them to my recollection.  And I begged St. Jude for his intercession.

It took nearly four months to get the results – they came in the month of October.  So joyful and thankful, I passed.  Since then, when things look bleak, when I recognize there are things beyond my reach (in other words, when I admit with humility I need help), one of the first saints I call on is still St. Jude.

My vocation to consecrated life has been one of those things.  Since my first visit to Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park, I felt at home.  I experienced a deep peace and joy, as if it was there I’d found what I’d been looking for my whole life and didn’t know it.  That same trip, I visited St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco, which is also home of the Shrine of St. Jude Thaddeus for the Western Dominican Province.  I prayed God would confirm my vocation and make way for me to enter, if that be His will.  I felt the weight of my student loans and knew without God’s help, they would make it impossible for me to enter religious life.  I lit a candle and asked for St. Jude’s intercession.  I have continued to ask St. Jude’s intercession ever since.  And every time I visit the Bay area, I make a stop by the Shrine, light a candle and say a prayer. 

St. Jude is often referred to as the patron saint of desperate situations, of hopeless causes.  But I truly believe there is no such thing as a hopeless cause.  With Jesus, there is always hope, and St. Jude reminds us of that.  Carrying the image of Christ, he reminds us of where our hope lies.  And St. Jude stands ready to intercede for us, that we would have our hope renewed and be open to the graces of God. 

To be sure, we must do the part God has given us.  Jesus tells us we must ask, seek, and knock if we are to receive the good gifts God has and wants to give us.  I had to do my part in studying for the bar exam and in looking for work.  I must continue to do my part in working and paying down my student loans as I am able.  I am blessed to have the opportunity to invite others to foster vocations like mine by supporting The Labouré Society.  But I also know my efforts are insufficient without the working of the Holy Spirit inspiring people to give their resources and time to help cultivate these vocations.  So today, on the feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, will you join me is asking for St. Jude’s intercession, that God would provide through His people, and my fellow aspirants and I would be free to enter formation, in accordance with His will?

St. Jude Thaddeus, pray for us.

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