Over the weekend, while Sister St. Aloysius finished up some Halloween costumes, I stumbled across an interesting take on St. Jude.
Sunday was the feast day of St. Jude and St. Simon, two of the apostles. We know almost nothing about either of them.
We don't worry too much about that in the Catholic church. We honor the saints and make up things about them based on what little we know. Don't get yourself worked into a lather because I said we make up things. We made up names for Mary's parents and for the Three Kings, for example.
Yes, these names come from what we call "Sacred Tradition", but the New Testament does not mention Mary's parents, let alone by name. And the New Testament doesn't really say how many wise men came to visit the Baby Jesus. It could have been 4. It could have been 14. So we certainly don't know their names.
I never worry about it. It's okay with me that we honor St. Anne. And St. Joachim. Certainly Mary HAD parents. Joachim and Anne? Fine with me.
Sister St. Aloysius has a special affinity to St. Anne at this time of year. St. Anne is the patron saint of seamstresses. But then, we have no idea if St. Anne ever sewed much of anything. I imagine everyone who lived in those days had to be handy with a needle. Anne couldn't run out to Macy's or Walmart for a new tunic.
But we don't even have "legends" about poor St. Jude. We believe his name was Judas Thaddeus and after Judas Iscariot went off the rails, Judas Thaddeus became Jude. Who can blame him? That's it. That's the extent of our knowledge.
So it has been my understanding that St. Jude became the patron saint of impossible causes because everyone figured that he was rather neglected, that very few people would think to pray for his intercession, and that would give him time to take on the really hard stuff.
Now, don't get your hair on fire about St. Jude having time in Heaven where there is no time. It's just the way people think. It doesn't make it deep theology. Or true.
I enjoyed reading about how little we know about St. Jude. Then this jumped out at me. A fresh take on why St. Jude is the patron saint of impossible causes! Try this one on for size!
The non story about St. Jude shows us that the impossible can happen, when a completely obscure man can become so wildly famous. Even non-saint-savvy folks are familiar with St. Jude, even though technically, there is nothing with which to be familiar.
Works for me either way!
St. Simon doesn't seem to have been similarly blessed. But then he didn't have Danny Thomas.