Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Prayer to St Jude

By special request. This is for A who is enduring many difficult trials at present.

Oh glorious apostle St. Jude, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, the name of the traitor who delivered thy beloved Master into the hands of His enemies has caused thee to be forgotten by many, but the Church honours and invokes thee universally as the patron of hopeless cases--of things despaired of. Pray for me who am so miserable; make use, I implore thee, of that particular privilege accorded thee of bringing visible and speedy help where help is almost despaired of. Come to my assistance in this great need, that I may receive the consolations and succour of heaven in all my necessities, tribulations and sufferings, particularly (mention your request), and that I may bless God with thee and all the elect throughout eternity. I promise thee, O blessed St. Jude, to be ever mindful of this great favour, and I will never cease to honour thee as my special and powerful patron, and to do all in my power to encourage devotion to thee. Amen

Famously St Jude is the patron saint of lost causes, he is also patron saint of Armenia, the Chicago Police Department and hospitals.

This is the website of the National Shrine of St Jude on Chicago's South Side.

From the St Jude Novena site:

The tradition of devotion to St. Jude goes beyond a simple Bible story; in fact, it is a reflection of the ability of ordinary people to call upon their powerful faith to triumph over seemingly impossible odds in their daily lives.

Legend has it that St. Jude was born into a Jewish family in Paneas, a town in the Galilee portion of ancient Palestine, the same region that Jesus grew up in. He probably spoke Greek and Aramaic, like many of his contemporaries in that area, and he was a farmer (as many of his family were) by trade.

Jude was described by St. Matthew (13:55) as being one of the "brethren" of Jesus, probably meaning a cousin since the Hebrew word for "brethren" indicates a blood relationship. His mother, Mary, was referred to as a cousin of Jesus' mother Mary, while his father, Cleophas, was the brother of St. Joseph.

Jude had several brothers, including St. James, who was another of the original Apostles. His own first name, "Jude", means giver of joy, while "Thaddeus", another name he was called, means generous and kind.

He was later married, had at least one child, and there are references to his grandchildren living as late as 95 A.D.

Jude was then called to be one of Jesus 12 Apostles, and began preaching the Good News of Jesus to Jews throughout Galilee, Samaria, and Judea.

St. Jude went to Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) around 37 A.D., and became a leader of the Church of The East that St. Thomas established there. For a fascinating account of St. Jude's influence in that region, read my article The St. Jude- Iraq Connection.

St. Jude was a true internationalist, traveling throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, Turkey, and Persia with St. Simon, preaching and converting many people to Christianity. He was credited with helping the early creation of the Armenian church, and other places beyond the borders of the Roman Empire.

Around the year 60 A.D., St. Jude wrote a Gospel letter to recent Christian converts in Eastern churches who were under persecution. In it, he warned them against the pseudo-teachers of the day who were spreading false ideas about the early Christian faith. He encouraged them to persevere in the face of the harsh, difficult circumstances they were in, just as their forefathers had done before them. He exhorted them to keep their faith and to stay in the love of God as they had been taught. His inspirational support of these early believers led to him becoming the patron saint of desperate cases.

He is believed to have been martyred in Persia or Syria around 65 A.D. The axe or club that he is often shown holding in pictures symbolizes the way in which he was killed. Truly, he paid the ultimate price for his faith. After his death his body was brought back to Rome and was placed in a crypt beneath St. Peter's Basilica, which people visit to this day.

St. Jude is traditionally depicted carrying the image of Jesus in his hand or close to his chest. This idea comes from a Biblical story in which King Abgar of Edessa (a city located in what is now southeast Turkey) asked Jesus to cure him of leprosy and sent an artist to bring him a drawing of Jesus. Impressed with Abgar's great faith, Jesus pressed his face into a cloth and gave it to St. Jude to take to Abgar. Upon seeing Jesus' image, The King was cured and he converted to Christianity along with most of the people under his rule. This cloth is believed to be the famous Shroud of Jesus which is currently on display in Turin, Italy.

St. Jude is often shown in paintings with a flame around his head. This represents his presence at Pentecost, when he received the Holy Spirit with the other apostles.In the Middle Ages, St. Bernard of Clairvaux (France) was a renowned devotee of St. Jude, as was St. Bridget of Sweden who, in a vision, was encouraged by Jesus to turn to St. Jude with faith and confidence. He told her that, in accordance with Jude's surname, Thaddeus (which means generous, courageous, and kind), "he will show himself to be the most willing to give you help." Devotion to St. Jude began again in earnest in the 1800's, starting in Italy and Spain, spreading to South America, and finally to the U.S. (originally in the Chicago area) in the 1920's. Novena prayers to St. Jude helped people, especially newly-arrived immigrants from Europe, deal with the pressures caused by the Great Depression, Second World War, and the changing workplace and family life.

Monday, August 25, 2008

David Broder - Does he have a point?

All he did was articulate third camp politics, right?

The burning question of whether it is right for Matgamna to launch a nuclear strike on the breakaway region of Chrisfordski is being discussed here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

"We cannot stand idly by"

US flies aid into Georgia. Terribly reassuring.

We all know whose side we're on

when the Russian bear flexes its muscles, ok?

Plucky little Georgia ... ancient culture er ... epic poetry er Shota Rustaveli and all that ... Knight in the panthers skin ... legendary Georgian feasts, er, the Tamada ... khachapuri and vino ... Kakutsa Cholokashvili ... Nina Ananiashvili ... er did I mention the vino? ... er er ...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Comrade Posh Spice

New pensions black hole

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Alexander Isayevich Solzhenitsyn 1918-2008


One of the paradoxes of Stalinism was that its brutal, oppressive evil had the effect of transforming ordinary people into heroic characters. Alexander Solzhenitsyn was one of them. In 1945 just as the war was ending he was convicted of anti-Soviet crimes whence began his long odyssey in a succession of Soviet prisons and labour camps. These experiences saw the one time ardent member of the CPSU lose his faith in Marxism and find a new identity; that of the dissident, the fierce internal opponent of the Soviet regime. His chosen weapon was the pen, which he wielded to great effect producing such masterpieces of Gulag Literature as A day in the life of Ivan Denisovich and The Gulag Archipelago which saw him awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970.

Solzhenitsyn was far from an uncritical admirer of the West, however, which he saw as shallow and obsessed with fashionable fripperies. He was to be similarly disappointed with the glitzy vulgarity of post-Soviet Russia, taking refuge in a mystical Russia more imagined than remembered. He opposed Ukrainian and Byelorussian independence because, he declared "we are all descended of the same Kievan Rus". Russia, for him was synonymous with Orthodoxy. Hence his opposition to the evangelical efforts of both Catholics and Protestants. Nonetheless it would be a mistake to dismiss him as a mere reactionary. His thundering condemnation of totalitarian oppression was too impassioned, too intellectually serious for that.

In his later years he explored the history of Russian Jewish relations in "Two Hundred Years Together" which led to accusations of anti-Semitism. The reaction was understandable if a little simplistic. On the one hand he claimed that the lives of Jewish inmates in the camps he was imprisoned in were "softer" than those of others, on the other hand he rejected the notion that the ethnic composition of the Cheka determined its actions or that the Russian Revolutions of '05 and '17 were Jewish conspiracies. Russian Jews were both perpetrators and victims of revolutionary violence he said, adding that all the nation's ethnic groups shared the blame for the Soviet regime's horrors.
He wasn't the most morally upstanding Soviet dissident, that honour goes to the impossibly saintly Andrei Sakharov. Neither was he the best exponent of the Gulag Literature genre; for my money Bukharin's widow, Anna Larina and Evgenia Ginzburg wrote superior works. And in his failure to adapt to post Soviet Russia, to understand that the human spirit needs gaiety and ephemera as much as it does the weightier kind of spiritual improving he seemed like a man out of time. He was a figure of Dostoyevskian proportions whose flawed, complex and brilliant nature mirrored that of his country; Russia, it is said, is great at culture but awful at civilisation. But he was also a man of stern courage who was unyielding in his opposition to barbarism. That was his remarkable achievement and enduring legacy.

From the Preface to The Gulag Archipelago

In 1949 some friends and I came upon a noteworthy news item in Nature, a magazine of the Academy of Sciences. It reported in tiny type that in the course of excavations on the Kolyma River a subterranean ice lens had been discovered which was actually a frozen stream - and in it were found frozen specimens of prehistoric fauna some tens of thousands of years old. Whether fish or salamander, these were preseved in so fresh a state, the scientific correspondent reported, that those present immediately broke open the ice encasing the specimens and devoured them with relish on the spot.
The magazine no doubt astonished its small audience with the news of how successfully the flesh of fish could be kept fresh in a frozen state. But few, indeed, among its readers were able to decipher the genuine and heroic meaning of this incautious report.
As for us, however - we understood instantly. We could picture the entrire scene right down to the smallest details: how those present broke up the ice in frenzied haste; how, flouting the higher claims of ichthyology and elbowing each other to be first, they tore off chunks of the prehistoric flesh and hauled them over to the bonfire to thaw them out and bolt them down.
We understood because we ourselves were the same kind of people as those present at that event. We, too were from that powerful tribe of Zeks, unique on the face of the earth, the only people who could devour prehistoric salamander with relish.