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The Intercession of the Saints
October 28th Readings Reflection: Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, both of whom were among Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. St. Simon is not Simon Peter, the first Pope, but rather Simon “the Zealot.” Because of this name, it is commonly believed that St. Simon belonged to the Jewish Zealot group before his conversion to Christianity. It is believed that St. Simon was martyred by having his hands sawed off.
St. Jude is the more well-known of these two Apostles, due to his being the patron saint of impossible causes. St. Jude is not the same Apostle as Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Our Lord for thirty pieces of silver. St. Jude was a relative of Jesus, most likely a cousin, and he wrote the epistle that bears his name. St. Jude was ultimately martyred for the Faith, most likely with an axe.
Since St. Jude is well-known for being the patron saint of impossible causes, it seems fitting to briefly mention the Church’s belief in seeking the intercession of saints. When we pray to the saints, we are not worshipping them but simply asking them to pray to God on our behalf, just as we ask our friends and family here on earth to pray for us. In the Epistle of St. James, the Apostle encouraged us to “pray for one another,…[f]or the continual prayer of a just man availeth much” (Jas 5:16 DRB). The saints belong to what is called the Church Triumphant; they have reached their heavenly reward and are now experiencing an eternity of beatitude. We, the pilgrims on earth still striving toward our eternal home, are called the Church Militant. The members of the Church Militant can and do pray for each other; it is a spiritual work of mercy to pray for others. Likewise, the members of the Church Triumphant pray for us as our heavenly friends and intercessors.
In his First Epistle to Timothy, St. Paul asked “that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men” (1 Tim 2:1). He then immediately connected this intercessory prayer with Christ’s role as our “one [M]ediator of God and men” (1 Tim 2:2). This is because we are the adopted children of God (see Gal 4:5), “a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood” (1 Pt 2:9).1 We are born into this universal priesthood at our Baptisms. While the universal priesthood of Baptism differs from the priesthood of Holy Orders, which gives ordained men the power to act in persona Christi, the universal priesthood enables us to pray for the needs and salvation of ourselves and others.
Thus, when we say that St. Jude is the patron saint of impossible causes, we are gratefully acknowledging the efficacy of his prayers to God on our behalf. There is no “magic formula” in praying to the saints; while each saint usually has a specific patronage with which he is associated, all of the saints in Heaven—even those that have not been canonized—are more than willing and able to pray to God for us. Like with all prayers, God answers these in accordance with His Will. The answering of prayers is not magic, but rather an extension of God’s infinite love, mercy, and wisdom.
On this Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, may we seek their heavenly intercession for all our needs, particularly those that seem impossible, trusting that God will answer our prayers in accordance with His holy Will.
Jason Evert, “How to Defend the Intercession of the Saints,” at Catholic Answers, 1 November 2000, at www.catholic.com.