Thursday, 6 November 2014

Thoughts from our Chaplain - Feast of Saint Jude

It is now a week since the Feast of Saint Jude, and at the Shrine we are more or less back to normal. This was my first Feast weekend since I came here in August, and I was very nervous about the whole thing.  What would happen if there was chaos and everything that could go wrong went wrong? However, I should not have worried, as I was to experience something quite special during the Feast.

At about 8.30 on Saturday morning, we gathered and made the final preparations for the day, which included lighting all the 700+ candles that had been pre-ordered to be burnt over the feast days. Hardly had we finished this, and the first pilgrim groups started to arrive. A few cars; followed by a mini bus; followed by coaches, and soon the Shrine, church and ground were full of pilgrims coming to pay their respects to Saint Jude, asking for intercessions through their petitions.

Threading my way through the Carmel Hall and talking to people as I went, I was suddenly made aware of the importance of Saint Jude in people's lives. It is very easy to think and talk about the devotion people have for a particular saint and to dismiss it as meeting a particular psychological need or some sort of lack of theological maturity. Spend time at a pilgrimage site such as the National Shrine of Saint Jude during such celebrations, and you will see the fallacy of such an attitude. Bringing our needs to Saint Jude is an expression of one of the oldest traditions in the Church; that of intercession to God. It has nothing to do with 'worshipping' the particular saint, but a recognition of the intercession of that saint.

Saint Jude travelled with Jesus and the rest of the disciples, and heard first-hand the teachings of our Lord. He heard Jesus insist that the law was part of the compassionate love of God, which was expressed so deeply in His covenant with His people. This teaching of Good News Saint Jude made his life's work and passed it on to those he met. Confident in this we turn to Jude and ask him to intercede for us out of and through this intimate relationship he has to his kinsman Jesus.

Over this weekend I saw countless examples of this confidence in Saint Jude, and listened to the stories of prayers. This is what I take with me as I reflect on the Feast weekend.

May Saint Jude continue to intercede for all of us with our living God.

In Carmel, 

Fr Michael Manning, O.Carm.