Saint Jude and Friendship - part 2
by Dr Johan Bergström-Allen, TOC
(Part 1, here)
Friends with ourselves
Jesus said that we should love God, and “your neighbour as yourself”. The psychologist Carl Jung said that the problem with the world is precisely that we don’t love ourselves, and so we don’t love our neighbours. We shouldn’t be proud, vain, or selfish, but we should have a proper and healthy love for ourselves. God loves us with an infinite love, and who are we to say that God has got it wrong?! We are made in God’s image, and enjoy the dignity of the children of God. Yes, we are all sinners, but we are loved and forgiven sinners. Jesus gave everything – even his own life – to show us that there is nothing God will not give us. Nothing can separate us from the love and friendship of God.
Tender-hearted God, friend of friends, it is often so easy for me to be hard on myself. Instead of hearing you say, “You are my child, I love you”, I pay attention to that nagging voice which says, “You’re worthless, no one loves you.” But I know, deep down in my heart, that you DO love me, and that I am precious in your sight. Help me to have a healthy love of myself, from which I will be better able to love those around me. Through Jesus Christ our Lord and friend. Amen. Saint Jude, my friend, pray for me.
When friendships hurt
Wonderful as friendship is, there are times when we hurt others, or are let down by others, even the closest of friends. At these moments it can be hard to forgive ourselves, or other people. Even Saint Jude and his fellow apostles failed to be a friend to Jesus when Our Lord was arrested and put on trial. Yet Jesus never closed the door on friendship, never reproached his disciples for their lack of faith. Instead, when Jesus ascended to his Father and ours, he promised to send the Holy Spirit to be our advocate, to plead our cause as a friend.
Holy Spirit of God, you are present wherever there is friendship and love. Help me to grow in friendship with you, with others, and with myself. Heal those relationships where friendship and trust have broken down. Help me to forgive those whose have hurt me, and to extend the hand of friendship to those I find it hard to get on with. Speak, act, and love in me and through me. Amen. Saint Jude, friend of sinners, pray for me.
Friendship in Carmel
The Carmelites established the National Shrine of Saint Jude because many friends of the Order wrote to Faversham asking for prayer cards of the Apostle. The Shrine founder, Father Elias Lynch, recognised that many people saw Saint Jude as their friend, especially in difficult and desperate situations.
As a Carmelite, Father Elias was rooted in a spirituality that deeply treasures the idea of friendship. Many Carmelite saints have spoken of their relationship with God, and with others, in terms of friendship. Saint Teresa of Avila called Jesus her “closest friend”, and wrote to her fellow Carmelite nuns that “all must be friends with each other, love each other, be fond of each other, and help each other”. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux described God as a friend she could have complete confidence in.
God our Father and our friend, we thank you for the friendship we have in the communion of saints. The Apostles, the Saints of Carmel, and all your holy people are friends whose intercession and example we can trust in. May your love shine out through the Carmelites, and through the whole Church, so that all may be drawn to friendship with you. Amen. Saint Jude, model of friendship, pray for us.
Friendship with strangers
One of the mysteries of friendship is how love can bind people together, even when they’ve never met. Friends of Saint Jude support the Carmelites through their donations and their prayers, and this benefits the Order not only in Britain but throughout the world. There are countless people and projects in some of the most financially-deprived parts of our world who have experienced the friendship of God through the material and spiritual support of Saint Jude’s friends. In his new encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (Brothers and Sisters All) Pope Francis reminds us that Christians must nurture a sense of fraternity and solidarity with everyone. For the Christian no one is really a stranger, just a friend who has yet to be met.
Lord Jesus, you teach us the true meeting of friendship. Help us to welcome strangers as friends, and to know that the whole world is connected by our common humanity. May a spirit of friendship overcome all attitudes that marginalise people because of their colour, religion, ideas, gender, race, education, culture, ability, or identity. You have reached out in friendship to us; may we respond generously by reaching out to others, especially those who suffer from poverty, discrimination, sickness, or neglect. Amen. Saint Jude, friend to one and all, pray for us.