MESSAGE TO ST JUDE THADDEUS DEVOTEES
Dear devotees of St Jude Thaddeus,
As I begin my assignment as the new director of St Jude apostolate, permit me to greet you all and encourage your praiseworthy devotion to the saints. Quickly hear how meritorious and consistent your act of devotion to St Jude Thaddeus is following the Christian practice of seeking the intercession of the saints. In his classical work, (Summa Theologiae, III, Q 72), St Thomas Aquinas aptly answers three questions that clarify the rationale of devotion to and intercession of the saints. Here are the three questions:
- Do the saints have knowledge of our prayers? In other words, can they hear us? What about?
- Should we beseech the saints to pray for us? In other words, should they intercede for us? Why?
- Are the prayers the saints pour forth for us always granted? In other words, do they really intercede for us? How?
To the first question, Aquinas teaches us that, YES, the saints can hear our prayers because, on the one hand, as their soul sees God, they are consequently cognizant of what happens in our regards since every creature appears foreshortened to the Creator’s light. In other words, since the saints enjoy the beatific vision, they see and hear us in the light of the Creator; on the other hand, Aquinas says that seeing and hearing us is requisite for the saints to be truly God’s co-operators as they assist the needy for their salvation. And so, it is evident that the saints know in God’s Word the vows, the devotion, the prayers of those who have recourse to their assistance.
To the second question, Aquinas teaches us that, YES, the saints should intercede for us. And there are three reasons why they should:
1) Quoting St Jerome (Ep. Contra Vigilant.), “If the apostles and martyrs while yet in the body can pray for others, while they are still solicitous for themselves, how much more can they do so when the crown, the victory, the triumph is already theirs!” Both in the Old and New Testaments of the Scriptures, there are records of intercession of saints: Job 5:1; 2 Maccabees 15:14-15; Romans 15:30). Since the saints who are in heaven are more acceptable to God than those who are on the way, much more, therefore, should we ask the saints in heaven to help us by their prayers to God;
2) The order of the Divine law and universal order require that the pilgrim people on earth should receive Divine goodness and be brought back to God by the saints in heaven, who are nearest to God and who are between us and God. This is consistent with the common custom of the Church which asks for the prayers of the saints in the Litany;
3) Devotion to the saints hinders tediousness and monotony in prayers. Intercession of the saints is not on account of any defect or incapacity of knowledge or power in God. Rather, God works by means of second causes for the perfection of the order of the universe, whereby, God bestows beyond the goodness proper to the saints to the faculty of causing goodness in others. Again, since it is granted to some saints to exercise their patronage in certain special cases, for instance to Saint Anthony against the fire of hell and St Jude Thaddeus for hopeless cases, devotion facilitates our supplications and impetrations.
To the third question, Aquinas also answers in the affirmative that the saints actually do intercede and get answer to our prayers. Quoting Gregory (Moral. Xvii), Aquinas teaches that the intercession of the saints always aligns to the supreme will of God. The saints and angels will nothing except what they see to be in the Divine will, and what God wills always prevails (Proverbs 19: 21). In other words, seeking the intercession of the saints is as good as seeking God’s will.
On another note, I formally greet you all, devotees of St Jude Thaddeus. Splendid is your act of devotion, especially to St Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of hopeless causes. Traditionally, for the reason of the recourse to the favorable opposite of praying to Christ’s betrayer, Judas Iscariot (because of their similar names), your ardent devotion to St Jude Thaddeus is most fitting. Your petition to God through St Jude Thaddeus for his special patronage in hopeless cases, is as good as seeking the supreme will of God for your situation. 2023 is a remarkable your for Nigeria in particular as a leadership transition year. Nigeria needs leadership out of her current economic quagmire, social malady and frightening insecurity. Ultimately, we locate peace in God’s will through the intercession of the saints. Our annual six novenas schedule already began. The 2023 General Theme is – THE LORD IS THE SHIELD FOR THOSE WHO TAKE REFUGE IN HIM, thanks to former director, Fr Christopher Nnamani, OP. And as usual, the first novena of the year is in honor of Mary Mother of God. From the first day of January to the ninth day, our Novena preacher, Rev Fr. Paschal Chinedu Ugwu, OP, led us in this nine days devotional prayer under the theme: Behold I Make All Things New. Our invocation of the special intercession of St Jude Thaddeus for God’s supreme will shall be our saving grace as we exercise our franchise for a free, fare, credible, transparent and peaceful election and transition unto a new Nigeria beginning from 25th February.
Fr Dominic Mbomson, OP