Hope is offered in abundance at St. Jude Novena

I feel very blessed every year to be part of the Christmas Eve Prayer Service at Covenant House on North Rampart. This past Christmas Eve, some 50 homeless young people gathered to sing and pray as we celebrated Christ’s birth.
I shared with them that Jesus is our light. As long as we have a light, we never walk in darkness. Many of these youth walk in the darkness of rejection, fear and abandonment. After my sharing, I asked if any of them would share their reflection. One young man raised his hand. He shared that he had been trying to find a job but had no luck. His relationship with his mother was not good, and his girlfriend had just left him. He felt so rejected. That day he came back to Covenant House and put his head on a desk and began to cry. He cried out: “God, do you really love me?” When he looked up he saw the picture of Jesus on the wall and he thought, “I know you love me … give me hope.”
Hope is what we all look for each day in our life. This young man really gave the best reflection … Jesus is his and our hope.
For 70 years at St. Jude’s Shrine on North Rampart Street, there has been a novena to St. Jude, the saint of hopeless situations. The first novena began on Jan. 6, 1935, by then-pastor Father Jules Bornes, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate.
Today, 70 years later, this Novena of Hope is offered four times a year. No one is certain why St. Jude became the patron for hopeless cases.
Some feel that it was because he was identified with Judas Iscariot because of the similar name, Jude. Because of this confusion, he became known as the saint of the impossible.
Whatever the reason, St. Jude’s intercession has touched so many people who gather to prayer the novena prayers. The word “novena” comes from the number nine. The novena is nine days of prayer. I have often heard that the first novena began on Ascension Thursday. Jesus had told the Apostles to pray and await the coming of the Holy Spirit. It was then that they would have the power and grace to go forth and preach the Good News. Nine days after the Ascension, the Holy Spirit came and filled them with that power. That day was Pentecost – the birthday of the church.
As we pray during a Novena our real prayer is to obtain the grace, power and strength to deal with whatever we are asking the Lord to grant us – no matter how hopeless it seems.
The next novena to St. Jude takes place from Jan. 24 through Feb. 1. Each day there will be an instruction on the theme. Oblate Father Richard Sudlik will be our preacher and the theme is “The Beatitudes … Our Way to Happiness.” The novena prayers are said after each Mass.
As we celebrate 70 years of the novena to St. Jude, may we never lose hope. Like the young resident at Covenant House said: “I know God loves me – He gives me hope.”

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