The Traditional Catholic Liturgy

Adapted from The Liturgical Year by Abbot Gueranger

Feast of Ss. Simon and Jude, Apostles – October 28

Apostle St. SimonInstead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee (Gradual of the Feast from Ps. 44: 17). Thus does the Church, disowned by Israel, extol in Her chants the apostolic fruitfulness which resides in Her till the end of time. Now, as St. Paul more than once repeats, especially in the Epistle of the Feast, this supernatural generation of the saints is nothing else but the mystical reproduction of the Son of God, Who grows up in each of the elect from infancy to the measure of the perfect man (Gal. 4: 19 and the Epistle of the Feast—Eph. 4).

However meager in details be the history of these glorious Apostles, we learn from their brief lesson how amply they contributed to this great work of generating sons of God. Without any repose, and even to the shedding of their blood, they edified the Body of Christ; and the grateful Church thus prays to Our Lord today: "O God, Who by means of Thy Blessed Apostles Simon and Jude hast granted us to come to the knowledge of Thy Name; grant that we may celebrate their eternal glory by making progress in virtues, and improve by this celebration" (Collect of the Feast).

St. Simon is represented in art with a saw, the instrument of his martyrdom. The carpenter's square of St. Jude points him out as an architect of the house of God (and as a blood relative of the carpenter, St. Joseph. He is also pictured holding an image of Jesus—known as the "Holy Mandylion" of Edessa. The ancient historian Eusebius tells us that Agbar, the King of Edessa, had sent a messenger to Our Lord Jesus Christ begging Him to come and heal him of a serious ailment. Our Lord gave the reply that He would send someone later to assist the king. After the Ascension St. Jude brought a cloth bearing an image of Jesus to Agbar, by which he was healed and converted. Some modern historians believe the Mandylion to be identical with the Shroud of Turin). St. Paul called himself by this name ("builder" or "architect"—1 Cor. 3: 10); and St. Jude, by his Catholic Epistle, has also a special right to be reckoned among Our Lord's principal workmen. But the Apostle had another nobility, far surpassing all earthly titles: being nephew, by his father Cleophas or Alpheus, to St. Joseph, and legal cousin to the Man-God, St. Jude was one of those called by their compatriots the brethren of the Carpenter's Son (according to the most common opinion, these "brethren" were St. Jude, St. James the Less—Apostle and first Bishop of Jerusalem, a certain Joseph less known, and St. Simeon, second Bishop of Jerusalem, all sons of Cleophas and Our Lady's step-sister, who is called in the Gospel of St. John "Mary of Cleophas").

We may gather from St. John's Gospel another precious detail concerning St. Jude. In the admirable discourse at the close of the Last Supper, Our Lord said: "He that loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." Then St. Jude asked Him: "Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world?" And he received from Jesus this reply: "If anyone love Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My words. And the word which you have heard is not mine, but the Father’s who sent Me" (John 14: 21-24).

Ecclesiastical history informs us that, towards the end of his reign and when the persecution he had raised was at its height, Domitian caused to be brought to him from the East two grandsons of the Apostle St. Jude. He had some misgivings with regard to these descendants of David's royal line; for they represented the family of Christ Himself, Whom His disciples declared to be King of the whole world. Domitian was able to assure himself that these two humble Jews could in no way endanger the Empire; and that if they attributed to Christ sovereign power, it was a power not to be visibly exercised till the end of the world. The simple and courageous language of these two men made such an impression on the Emperor, that, according to the historian Hegesippus from whom Eusebius borrowed the narrative, he gave orders for the persecution to be suspended.

Apostle St. JudeWe have only to add to the brief lesson for the Feast of the Apostles, that the Churches of St. Peter in Rome and Saint-Sernin in Toulouse dispute the honor of possessing the greater part of their holy relics:

St. Simon, surnamed the Chanaanite and the zealot; and St. Thaddeus, the writer of one of the Catholic Epistles, who is also called in the Gospel Jude the brother of James, preached the Gospel, the former in Egypt, the latter in Mesopotamia. They rejoined each other in Persia, where they begot numerous children to Jesus Christ, and spread the Faith among the barbarous inhabitants of that vast region. By their teaching and miracles, and finally by a glorious martyrdom, they both rendered great honor to the Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ.

I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go and bring forth fruit, and your fruit should remain (John 15: 16). These words were addressed by the Man-God to you, Ss. Simon and Jude, as well as to all the Twelve, as the Church reminds us in the office of Matins. And yet, what remains now of the fruit of your labors in Egypt, in Mesopotamia, in Persia? Can Our Lord and His Church be mistaken in their words, or in their appreciations? Certainly not; and proof sufficient is that above the region of the senses, and beyond the domain of history, the power infused into the Twelve Apostles subsists through all ages, and is active in every supernatural birth that develops the Mystical Body of Our Lord and increases the Church. We, more truly than Tobias, are the children of Saints (Tob. 2: 18); we are no longer strangers, but the family of God, His house built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, united by Jesus, the chief Corner-stone (Eph. 2: 19-20). All thanks be to you two Holy Apostles, who in labor and sufferings procured us this blessing; maintain in us the titles and the rights of this precious adoption.

Great evils surround us: is there any hope left to the world? The confidence of thy devout clients proclaims thee, O St. Jude, the patron of desperate cases; and for thee, O St. Simon, this is surely the time to prove thyself a zealot—full of zeal. Deign, both of you, to hear the Church's prayers; and aid Her with all your apostolic might, to re-animate the Faith, to rekindle charity, and to save the world.

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