hey jude


Yesterday I spoke for some time with a film producer in Los Angeles who wants to do a short documentary about our work. I explained to her that it doesn’t matter whether the kids we serve are innocent or guilty, nor whether their cases can be easily adjudicated. In the cases of especially hopeless or desperate situations, at the very least we can hold out hope and give young people the consolation that they are not in their dilemmas alone. Sometimes there is little we can do, we can never deliver instant solutions… but in a few cases, we have made a big difference in kids’ lives. As more parricides serve out their lengthy sentences, there will be a place waiting for them when they’re released, where they can live and work in an unforgiving world.

After I hung up the phone, I began to think about St. Jude, the patron saint of desperate and hopeless cases, and I began to research Jude in search of some pearl of wisdom I’d overlooked. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but I found one of significance.

But first, a little background of basic facts about Jude.

St. Jude was one of Christ’s original 12 apostles. He is also known as Thaddeus or Thaddaeus—said to be a surname for the name Labbaeus which means “heart” or “courageous.” He is said to have written the book of Jude, which some religious scholars say contains some of the finest expressions of praise to God in the New Testament. He is thought to have been martyred in Beirut around 65 AD. His images often include a club or axe, symbolizing the way he died. Jude’s images often show a flame above his head, referring to the Pentecost, where he and the other apostles are said to have received the Holy Spirit. His feast day is October 28.

Jude became associated with desperate situations because of a letter he wrote to the churches of the East, in which he says that the faithful must keep going even in harsh or difficult circumstances. The personal ad sections of some newspapers occasionally include messages from people calling on St. Jude for help in times of need, or thanking him for his support and guidance. Some people choose to carry the image of St. Jude on a medal or as a pendant on a necklace to provide comfort.

In 1955, entertainer Danny Thomas and a group of businessmen named a research hospital in Memphis TN after St. Jude to treat the most hopeless childhood diseases, primarily cancer, entirely free of charge.

St. Jude is often confused with Judas Iscariot—another of the original 12 apostles, but the one who betrayed Christ—and this is the key to the interesting fact I found. Apparently, because of the confusion between “Jude” and “Judas,” some believers thought that neither was listening to prayers about their troubles. So they figured “what the hell”—they were desperate after all—and they began directing their prayers to St. Jude to get through the perceived clutter. Thereafter, because life is so daunting to so many people, Jude became one of the most popular patron saints out there.

I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of desperate requests. Somehow word is getting out there and an increasing number of juvenile parricides are contacting me out of the blue. I’m not always able to help—and the important thing is to never give up hope—but so far I haven’t turned anyone down.



Groove of the Day

Listen to The Beatles performing “Hey Jude”


Weather Report

77° and Clear to Partly Cloudy



4 Responses to “hey jude”

  1. 1 Frank Manning
    September 29, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    As an ex-Catholic I remember praying to St. Jude on many difficult occasions. Today I find the cult of the saints a bizarre idiosyncrasy of the Catholic Church. But somehow it’s still comforting. I like when I see my still devout cousins posting novenas and other specialized appeals to a variety of saints on social media.

    Thought you might be interested in an update on the boy I wrote about in May in Kids’ Prison. He’s a parricide, 14 years old. He’s serving 5 years in juvenile rehab for manslaughter after shooting his abusive father. I had written about how difficult it was to work with him. How he stubbornly refused to do his treatment work, would not cooperate with staff, maintained very high walls even with me, his mentor. We’ve made great progress in the past few months. After a half-hearted suicide attempt, an above-and-beyond engagement by his counselor, and some very long and draining sessions with me, we made several substantial breakthroughs. He’s so different now, very much his real self—a nice kid with a wicked sense of humor. He’s been haunted by night terrors about his crime, and is struggling with the ambivalent feelings he still has for his dad. His counselor and I pushed and nagged and harassed the administration to authorize specialized PTSD therapy for him. He’ll be starting EMDR therapy next Monday.

  2. September 30, 2016 at 12:49 am

    I just hope that this post is not in reference to what is scheduled in Kosciusko County, next month, and that you do not consider Paul Henry’s case to come under St. Jude’s intercession.

  3. 3 Willow54
    September 30, 2016 at 4:18 am

    Hans, I guess many people will have Paul Henry’s case on their minds right now, not least because it is tremendously difficult to call where it might go. I have trawled just about every media outlet there is for any indication as to how things could play out, but there is nothing. Nobody seems to be talking about it except us!

    The only thing we have to go on is Colt’s recent sentence review, and we all know how that turned out. If there is a saint up there somewhere watching over Paul Henry, now is the time to work some magic.

    • September 30, 2016 at 9:30 am

      In writing this post, I was thinking more about being asked to throw a life-line for new cases, rather than something from the past. No one knows for sure what the outcome will be at the end of October regarding Paul Henry’s case, but it is hopeful that the court did not dismiss a sentence reduction out-of-hand on the same day, as with Colt’s request. Please be patient and remain hopeful.

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