Oct 28 – Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles
St. Simon was an apostle called the Cananean or Zealot because of his zeal for the Jewish law. He was not from Cana, nor a member of the Zealot party. Like all the Apostles, he was a convert, and was trained by St. Peter the Apostle. He evangelised in Egypt and Mesopotamia, though there are traditions of him being in several other locations. Several places claim to have been the site of his martyrdom – Abyssinians claim he was crucified in Samaria; Lipsius says he was sawn in half at Suanir, Persia; Moses of Chorene writes that he was martyred at Weriosphora in Iberia.
- Patron Saint Index
St. Jude Thaddeus was the son of Cleopas, who died a martyr, and Mary who stood at the foot of the Cross and who anointed Christ’s body after death. He was the brother of St. James the Lesser, and nephew of Mary and Joseph. He was the blood relative of Jesus Christ, and was reported to look a lot like him. He may have been a fisherman, and was an apostle.
He was the writer of a canonical letter. He preached in Syria, Mesopotamia, and Persia with St. Simon. He was a healer and an exorcist, and could exorcise pagan idols, which caused the demons to flee and the statues to crumble. He was beaten to death with a club, then beheaded post-mortem in 1st century Persia.
His patronage of lost or impossible causes traditionally derives from confusion by many early Christians between Jude and Judas; not understanding the difference between the names, they never prayed for Jude’s help, and devotion to him became something of a lost cause.
- Patron Saint Index
Jesus went out into the hills to pray…
“For prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God…” — St Teresa of Avila
We all desire to have that special friendship or relationship with the Lord. But do we make time to pray or to say ‘hello’ to God? We often make excuses or justify why we don’t have enough time to pray. But I believe that there’s all that is — excuses; I know — I have made many of those excuses myself.
We can spend hours scrolling through our social media channels, be it Facebook, Instagram and even TikTok. Yet, when we have been invited to pray the rosary with a community or to reflect on the daily scriptures, we suddenly realise that we must scrub the insides of the kitchen sink right at that moment. Why is it so difficult to set aside some time, everyday, and spend it with our Lord? The Lord who created us in His image and likeness, gives us life and blesses us every day.
Some of us lament that we don’t have a personal relationship with God; but are we doing anything that helps to build the foundations of that relationship? As we create bonds with our loved ones by communicating with them and getting to know them better, shouldn’t we also spend the time to know more about God? I know I want to, but I am easily discouraged and fall into the bad habit of just speaking and speaking and not listening. Ironically, this is a behavior that I dislike, especially in meetings when there is someone that just CANNOT. STOP. TALKING.
In my growing up years, I have had the blessings of having very prayerful role models around me. I spent a lot of that time at my maternal grandparents. My grandmother was a very strong, independent woman. She juggled cooking for all of us, taking care of the grandchildren and the home. But a memory that remains etched in my mind is of her sitting at the kitchen table, praying the rosary every morning. That practice was also passed down to my mum, who, up to today, still prays the rosary every morning. So, as they say, “Monkey see, Monkey do”, I also have a devotion to the rosary, although I don’t pray it as often as I should. I am very blessed to have been accepted into a Zoom rosary community at St Francis Xavier parish, where we gather to pray a community rosary every Mon, Wed and Sat. I must say that this has helped me tremendously, praying with this community of prayer warriors.
Prayer is so important, that even our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, often went off by himself to pray and to spend time with His Father. And it is written in the Gospels that he went off by himself to pray on many occasions. This was often before a major undertaking — the 40 days in the desert, or to recharge – when the disciples came back after being sent. For strength – during His agony in the garden of Gethsemane, and before making important decisions – selecting the 12 apostles, including Sts Simon and Jude, whose feast we commemorate today. These 12 apostles were specially chosen to undertake the great commission – to make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. (Matt 28:16-20).
So, we should follow our Lord’s example and lift up to our Heavenly Father, our apprehensions, our indecisiveness, our requests. In fact, just this morning during my run, I was reflecting on The Lord’s prayer and this line “Your will be done” just stuck with me during the entire hour. So regardless of what we pray for, our attitude needs to be one of humility and acceptance as it is not what we want to do but what The Lord wants us to do for the glory of His name.
Recently, I have had periods of dryness in my prayer life and I know that it’s increasingly difficult to spend time with God. I felt that I needed a recharge and had the prompting to to spend some time away in a retreat. By the grace of God, I managed to get a slot at the Montfort Retreat Centre this weekend. And it is so timely, as I may have to make some decisions as well. Not quite as monumental as selecting the 12 Apostles, but important ones none the less. And I thank God for giving me the opportunity to just distance myself from the normal hustle and bustle of daily living and spend time with Him.
The Montfort Centre is very near to the Bukit Timah and Chestnut nature reserves. So, I am really looking forward to following Our Lord’s example of heading out to the hills this weekend — to pray.
“Pray, hope and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” — Padre Pio
(Today’s OXYGEN by Calvin Wee)
Prayer: Father in Heaven, we pray for the strength and the perseverance to continually come to You in prayer. Whether we are joyful, grieving or worrying, we know that You are always there, listening and that if we are still enough, we will hear Your voice and experience your comfort. In Jesus’ name, we pray.
Thanksgiving: Thank you heavenly Father, for your apostles who were sent into the world, making disciples. It is through them that we have the gift of our faith and of prayer, thus giving us the opportunity to know you, to love you and to serve you, through Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.