Christmas Gifts for Christian Children in Restricted Nations

Children from Christian families are often mistreated within their community and face great challenges because of their faith. In some countries, they are specifically targeted for persecution or forced conversion as a way of harming their parents’ ministry and witness. These children quickly learn the high cost of following Christ.

Each year The Voice of the Martyrs works through its network of field leaders around the world to reach the children of persecuted Christians with a special Christmas Care Pack. The contents, which are packed in school-type backpacks, are tailored to meet the unique needs of children in different regions. The backpacks include a variety of practical items for hygiene and education as well as a small toy. But the most important item in each Christmas Care Pack is a full-color, illustrated children’s Bible in the appropriate language. These Bibles are what the children cherish most, because at least 90 percent of children in restricted nations and hostile areas have never owned their own copy of God’s Word.

For only $30, you can ensure that a Christian child in a hostile or restricted nation will receive a Christmas Care Pack, including a Bible of his or her very own, this Christmas.

Voice of the Martyrs

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International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church Nov. 5, 2017

In observance of the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, The Voice of the Martyrs announces the release of the IDOP video Solitary Prayer, about VOM founder Richard Wurmbrand. This video features excerpts from the new Tortured for Christ movie, to be released in spring 2018.

As we pray for our persecuted Christian brothers and sisters, we must remember Jesus’ call to pray for the persecutors as well. We pray that persecuted Christians will have the grace and love to share the gospel with them and that they will come to know Christ.

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All Souls Day

jude all souls

November 2nd is All Souls Day, sometimes called the Day of the Dead. On this day, and during the month of November, the Church prays in a special way for the souls of the faithful departed, and individuals pray especially for those whom they have known and loved. The Holy Souls in purgatory died in the mercy of God, thus they are called “holy.” However, because they still had attachment to sin at the time of their death, they must undergo the spiritual purification of their souls before they are able to fully love God with their whole heart, mind, and soul for all eternity. As they are nevertheless part of the communion of saints, they depend upon us to help ease their suffering and quickly advance them through their purification so that they can join the saints in heaven. Those in purgatory cannot pray for themselves, this is why they are also called “poor.” They can no longer merit anything for themselves and rely entirely on living souls to pray and make sacrifices on their behalf.

Prayer for the Poor Souls in Purgatory

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon them. And may the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


 

Send a Prayer or Petition for All Souls Day - The National Shrine of Saint Jude

Feast of All Saints

On November 1st the Church celebrates all her holy ones in heaven, known and unknown, with the feast of All Saints. The solemnity originally began in the 4th century to commemorate all the Christian martyrs killed during those centuries of brutal persecution before Christianity was legalized. There were so many martyrs that a separate feast day could not be given to each one individually, yet, the Church did not want to leave any martyr without proper veneration. A common feast day developed and was usually celebrated in the Easter season. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III consecrated a chapel in St. Peter’s Basilica to all the saints and moved the feast day to November 1st. The feast of All Saints is a Holy Day of Obligation.

COLLECT PRAYER

Almighty ever-living God, by whose gift we venerate in one celebration the merits of all the Saints, bestow on us, we pray, through the prayers of so many intercessors, an abundance of the reconciliation with you for which we earnestly long. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

 

dominic all saints

saints souls

Feast of Sts. Simon and Jude, Apostles

St. Jude Thaddeus (1st c.) was a blood relative of Jesus Christ and one of his Twelve Apostles. He was known for his preaching, healing, exorcisms, and his appearance was said to have closely matched that of Jesus’. He is the patron of impossible causes, desperate situations, and hospitals. He also wrote the book of the Bible that bears his name. St. Simon the Zealot (1st c.) was also one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles, but one of the most obscure. He earned his name for being zealous for the honor of Jesus, showing a holy indignation towards those who claimed Christ with their lips while dishonoring him with their manner of life. After the Ascension of Jesus, towards the end of his life, it is believed that St. Simon joined St. Jude to preach the Gospel in Persia, where they were both martyred in 65 A.D. St. Simon the Zealot and St. Jude Thaddeus share a feast day on October 28th.

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jude simon 2

COLLECT PRAYER

O God, who by the blessed Apostles have brought us to acknowledge your name, graciously grant, through the intercession of Saints Simon and Jude, that the Church may constantly grow by increase of the peoples who believe in you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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Screenshot-2017-10-27 Send Your Prayer to St Jude

St. Jude Thaddeus: Patron Saint of Hope

by Fr. John M. Lozano, CMF

St. Jude—one of the Twelve Apostles—is a mysterious figure in many ways. He moves in and out of the Gospel story as a quiet background figure—almost as if he were deliberately seeking to submerge his own personality in that of Christ rather than draw any attention to himself.

As a cousin of Jesus, Jude must have been born and raised very near the Lord. They both lived in or about Nazareth (Mark 6:3). Although we do not know which of them was born first, they must have been about the same age. Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and His people (Luke 2:52). His humanity unfolded in the inner light that led him to an immense love and respect for his heavenly Father. Jude must have been a witness to this perfectly human growth of Jesus.

Disciple and Friend of Jesus

When Jesus was about 30 years old and ready for His public ministry, He went off to Judea and was baptized by John. Shortly afterward He returned to Galilee to begin His itinerant ministry. He proclaimed the coming of the reign of God—God’s decisive intervention in human history to save all people—and called people to conversion in order to receive God’s gracious offer. It was a liberating message which stressed, in a way quite different from John’s fiery preaching, the revelation of God’s mercy. Jesus declared the forgiveness of sins and healed multitudes of sick people. Truly the grace of God was becoming visible in their midst.

Jesus soon began looking for fellow workers in this task of proclaiming God’s love. Jude became one of His disciples. From this time on, Jude was before all else Jesus’ disciple. Jude learned a great deal from Jesus about the mercy and providence of the heavenly Father, about generosity, about love of neighbor, and especially about love for sinners, the outcast, and the sick. With Jesus, he traveled the dusty roads of Galilee and the surrounding country. This was his period of formation for the apostleship.

Jude now became, more deeply than ever before, a friend of Jesus. Mark tells us that Jesus called the Twelve Apostles “that they might be with Him” (Mark 3:14). There was a deep bond of communion between Jesus and these men who shared His work and His weariness and looked forward with faith and hope toward the reign of divine grace. Mark says that on one occasion Jesus stated that His real family was made up of people like His disciples—the men and women who were doing God’s will—who accepted His message that the Father wills to save us (Mark 3:3435). Jude had moved on from being a relative of Jesus according to the flesh and had become His brother in the Spirit.

The Letter of Jude

Among the New Testament writing inspired by the Holy Spirit to be the nourishment and norm of our faith is a letter attributed to “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” It is addressed to “those who have been called by God; who have found love in God the Father, and have been guarded safely in Jesus Christ”—in other words, to all Christians (Jude 1:1). In the Bible, this letter is the next-to-last book in the New Testament and comes directly after all the other Epistles and before the book of Revelation. It is a short book, consisting of a single chapter made up of 25 verses. Rather than an Epistle, it is really an exhortation to stand firm in the faith of Christ against those who would distort or deny that faith.

The letter goes on to call the faithful to lead a fully Christian life characterized by the following elements: 1) holding to the faith as the foundation of all, and 2) praying in the Spirit. Here Jude touches on something deeply felt in the first Christian communities and a matter on which Paul insisted: Prayer is always the work of the Spirit, who dwells in our hearts. Christians pray in the Spirit whenever they allow themselves to be shaped and led by the Spirit of the Lord. The Letter of Jude certainly reveals a great love of God and a tender devotion toward Jesus Christ our Lord.

Personal Devotion to a Saint

The heart of devotion to the saints is imitation. Merely to attempt to use the power of the saints to intercede for us without any change in our own lives is opposed to the whole idea of venerating the saints. One of the main reasons why the Church encourages devotion to the saints is that we may more closely imitate their virtues.

By recalling the life of St. Jude, we remember the faith and devotion to Christ he revealed in his untiring ministry and in his trials. Should we be put to the test or tempted, our devotion to St. Jude will give us strength and will quickly lead us to turn to him for assistance. There is every reason to believe that our prayer will be heard.

To give depth and breadth to our devotion to St. Jude, we must take time in the quiet of our heart to attempt to build up a real and living picture of the saint in our minds. He was a human being, first of all. He had the advantage of actual companionship with Christ, but this did not make him less human. And we, too, are privileged to have a real companionship with Jesus ourselves in faith, prayer, the celebration of the Eucharist, and in the service of the poor and the suffering, with whom Jesus identifies himself.

In addition, Jude’s long years of trial and dedication followed the Ascension of our Lord, when the Saint of Hope was living in the midst of a society often more openly secular than our own. The temptations he faced were not paper temptations that he miraculously overcame.

This means that especially during a novena to a particular saint—during the nine days of special prayers and devotions in which we seek a special favor through the saint’s intercession of our Lord—we must make a special effort to imitate the saint’s outstanding virtues. A novena is not just a quick means of attempting to gain a particular favor; it is a period of special devotion to a saint and a time set aside to attempt to make the saint’s major virtues a part of our own spiritual life through practice. Viewed in this light, novenas can play an important part in our spiritual development.

Modern Devotion to St. Jude

The first important manifestation of widespread public veneration of St. Jude in the western hemisphere took place in 1911 in Chile. There the Claretian Missionaries, founded by St. Anthony Claret in Spain less than a century before, built a large shrine to the Apostle, a shrine which still attracts many petitioners even today. And from this shrine in Chile, devotion has spread to all the South American countries.

In the United States, a shrine to St. Jude also was established by the Claretian Missionaries in Chicago in 1929. This is the National Shrine of St. Jude, and was the first major shrine dedicated to him in this country.

Once again the apostolic zeal of St. Jude is being felt in the world 20 centuries later. He is many things to many people. Not only those in great need of hope or with desperate causes find solace and strength through his intercession on their behalf with our Lord. He is also a patron for all those in the 21st century who are attempting to imitate his commitment and energy in preaching the word of God under difficult circumstances. He is equally a patron of missionaries in difficult fields and of lay people trying to teach by their word and their lives in a secular society. And to all, he is a model of Christ’s disciples.

As a friend of our Redeemer, he is our friend. And if we desire the friendship of Christ, we shall find St. Jude an eager intercessor, anxious to help prepare us for a closer union with our Savior, a union of will which will begin here on earth and find its ultimate fulfillment in eternity. St. Jude, pray for us!

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Screenshot-2017-10-27 Send Your Prayer to St Jude

St. Anthony Mary Claret

St. Anthony Mary Claret (1807–1870) was born in Spain, the fifth of eleven children, the same year Napoleon invaded the country. He took up his father’s trade of weaving before entering the priesthood. He served as a parish priest with a missionary’s zeal for the salvation of souls. He often preached multiple sermons in a single day, traveled to preach parish missions and retreats for the clergy, and heard confessions for hours on end. His labors were rewarded by many people returning to a fervent practice of the Catholic faith, especially as a result of his meek and gentle manner. He was made Archbishop of Santiago and sent to Cuba from 1849-1857. His great reforms of the neglected diocese, both ecclesiastically and socially, were so sweeping and effective that his life was threatened. He was recalled back to Spain as confessor to the queen, where his tireless and fruitful priestly work continued. To increase his apostolic efforts he founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, known today as the Claretians. He also founded a major Catholic publisher in Spain, and wrote or published hundreds of books. He was so opposed in his efforts that he was severely persecuted and eventually exiled to Paris, along with the Spanish queen, by revolutionary enemies of religion. He took part in the First Vatican Council, his wisdom and sanctity being evident to all, before suffering a stroke and dying in exile in France. During his life St. Anthony Marie Claret had the gift of prophesy and reading of consciences, in addition to performing many miracles. A resplendent light was also observed to shine from his face as he offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. His feast day is October 24th.

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[the national shrine of st. jude – a claretian initiative]


History of the Claretians and the National Shrine of St. Jude

Claretian Fr. James Tort founded the National Shrine of St. Jude in 1929 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Chicago. Fr. Tort was pastor of the parish and had been sent there by the Claretians to organize the construction of the church for a parish in need of hope and support. Many of his parishioners were laborers in the nearby steel mills, which were drastically cutting back their work forces in the late 1920s.

Fr. Tort had a strong devotion to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hope and hopeless or difficult causes, who was relatively unknown to the general Catholic population at that time. Night after night, however, he asked St. Jude for his intercession to help the workers of the parish. In an effort to lift the spirits of his parishioners, Fr. Tort began regular devotions to St. Jude, including the first Solemn Novena which was held on February 17, 1929.

The congregation at Our Lady of Guadalupe showed such great response to the devotion to St. Jude that an overflow crowd attended services on the final night of a Solemn Novena that ended on the Feast of St. Jude, October 28, 1929. More than 1,000 people stood outside the church to hear the service. Word of the devotions to St. Jude gradually spread from that tiny corner of Chicago to other parts of the country. During the Great Depression and World War II, thousands attended novenas at the National Shrine, and the devotion to the Patron of Hope grew throughout the country.

To this day, the Claretians maintain the National Shrine of St. Jude, which receives petitions of need and gratitude from thousands of St. Jude devotees each year. These special intentions are delivered to the altar of St. Jude at the National Shrine, where the Claretians remember them in their Masses and prayers.


Danny Thomas and St. Jude

“Thomas began talking about his devotion to Saint Jude and how he believed the saint had helped lift him to prominence in his career. ‘It was like a miracle, the way it happened,’ he said. ‘You believe in miracles, don’t you?’”

Perhaps the most nationally recognized devotee of Saint Jude during the last half of the 20th century was Danny Thomas, once a little known nightclub entertainer who soared to countrywide popularity as the star of the television show “Make Room for Daddy” from 1953 to 1964.

Thomas never hid his attachment to Saint Jude, and origins of that devotion date back to the spring of 1940 when Thomas first heard of Saint Jude from a stagehand in Detroit. The stagehand told him his wife had made a seemingly miraculous recovery from cancer, and that recovery, he insisted, came through his prayers to Saint Jude.

At the time, Thomas was struggling to make a go of it in show business. He had done some radio and nightclub work, having gone to Detroit from Toledo, Ohio, where he had grown up in a large family and had changed his name from Muzyad Amos Yakhoob to Amos Jacobs. He was averaging about $45 a week, and when his wife, Rose Marie, delivered the first of their three children, he knew he needed help. So, remembering the stagehand’s profession of faith, he began making short prayers to Saint Jude, asking for the saint’s intercession “to show me my way in life.” He prayed for strength to succeed in his profession and promised he would “do something big” in Jude’s name if he managed to gain a measure of economic security.

Before long he traveled to Chicago, where he landed a $50-a-week job doing radio commercials. Shortly thereafter, talent agent Leo Salkin booked him into the 5100 Club on the city’s north side for $75 a week. At that juncture, he again changed his name from Amos Jacobs to Danny Thomas. He soon became a nightclub sensation, earning $500 a week and drawing customers from all over the city to listen to his outrageously funny stories, which he told in different dialects while deftly skewering human vanity and stupidity. And, although he had his audience laughing uproariously, he never resorted to using vulgar language.

His lengthy night shows on Saturdays ran far into the morning hours, and when he was finished, he went to 6 a.m. Mass at St. Clement Church on his way home. It was at the church one day that he noticed a leaflet on a pew. He read the leaflet and learned about a solemn novena to Saint Jude that was then held four times every year at the National Shrine of St. Jude at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on the far southeast side of Chicago. It was the first he knew that St. Jude’s home was in Chicago. In reading about the Shrine he realized, in the midst of his newly-found professional success, he had completely forgotten his earlier prayers and promises to Saint Jude. While renewing his devotion to the “forgotten apostle,” he planned on somehow showing the church appreciation for his prayers being answered.

Thomas’ life changed dramatically again a few weeks after that. His agent persuaded him to take his comedy routine to New York City, where he was booked into the Club Martinique. From that point on, he moved into the entertainment world’s big time. After USO tours in both Europe and the Pacific, Thomas was engaged to perform at New York’s Roxy Theater at $3,750 a week. He later performed in the most popular nightclubs from coast to coast, broke into movies, playing in “I’ll See You in My Dreams” and “The Jazz Singer” and finally, starting in 1953, he achieved his greatest fame through his starring role in the long-running television comedy series “Make Room for Daddy.”

Thomas’ “big gift” to St. Jude included devotion through the National Shrine of St. Jude and the Claretians in Chicago, and ultimately the world-famous St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Thomas died in California of a heart attack at age 78 in 1991.