Feast Day: October 28th | Patronage: Simon: Curriers, Woodcutters, Tanners; Jude: Desperate Causes| Iconography: Simon: Saw of Martyrdom; Fish, Boat, or Oar (because he was a fisherman); Jude: Club of Martyrdom, Holding Image of Jesus (of Edessa), Carpenter’s Rule, or Scroll/Book from his writing the Epistle of St. Jude.
St. John Henry Newman helpfully sketches what we know of these two great Apostles:
And hence we draw an important lesson for ourselves, which, however obvious, is continually forgotten by us in the actual business of life; viz. to do our duty without aiming at the world’s praise. Mankind knows nothing of St. Simon’s and St. Jude’s deeds and sufferings, though these were great; yet there is One who “knows their works, and labour, and patience, … and how they bore … and for His Name’s sake laboured, and fainted not.” [Revelation 2:3] Their deeds are blotted out from history, but not from the Lamb’s book of life; for “blessed are they who die in Him, … that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” [Revelation 14:13]– St. John Henry Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons, Volume 8, “Sermon 12, Vanity of Human Glory.”
Newman goes onto describe how these men, in fervently proclaiming the Gospel getting little or no earthly praise, remind all of us Christians to eradicate vanity from our hearts. The great (at this time still Anglican) preacher notes that it is sensible and proper to seek respect from those who know and love us. Friends and family, who know what we’re about, who have seen our virtue and received our generosity, can rightly honor us for those qualities. There is nothing wrong with receiving a true compliment. Someone who loves you should rightly acknowledge where God’s grace has made you good. True humility acknowledges one’s qualities and talents, and Who gave those gifts to us.
However, to crave the admiration of the wider world – a intermittent acquaintance, a superficial friend, one of a thousand Facebook contacts, or just the public eye in general – is to rest our hearts on shaky foundations, to build our houses on sand. We find ourselves flustered and busy, scrambling every which way to get a bit of praise to keep us going, and, worse than that, we have subtly abandoned our Christian confidence that God sees us, knows everything of who we are, and will never cease to love us. Pulling out our phone during an empty moment, popping between apps to see if anybody has engaged with us, isn’t just a distraction, it’s corroding our relationship with God. Newman calls us out:
This love of indiscriminate praise, then, is an odious, superfluous, wanton sin, and we should put it away with a manly hatred, as something irrational and degrading. Shall man, born for high ends, the servant and son of God, the redeemed of Christ, the heir of immortality, go out of his way to have his mere name praised by a vast populace, or by various people, of whom he knows nothing, and most of whom (if he saw them) he would himself be the first to condemn? It is odious; yet young persons of high minds and vigorous powers, are especially liable to be led captive by this snare of the devil.
What has this to do with Ss. Simon and Jude? Well, we know these men had to give up those places where they sought worldly recognition – Simon would no longer find honor amongst the Zealots, Jude accepts being a “servant of Jesus Christ” [Jude 1:1] rather than leaning on his relatedness to Our Lord – but this is also vividly portrayed for us in their final resting place. Both are buried together under the central altar in the left (South) transept of St. Peter’s Basilica, and, until 1814 there was a lovely painting (by Agostino Ciampelli) depicting these two saints above their altar. However, in that year as mosaics replaced paintings throughout the basilica, Guido Reni’s “Crucifixion of Saint Peter” was moved from the sacristy out to their altar. Then, since 1961, because of Pope John XXIII’s tender love for St. Joseph, a mosaic instead of St. Joseph holding Jesus sits above their bones.
I suspect each of these saints is not particularly bothered by any of this. Each of them have truly found all the praise and glory they need from their Heavenly Father.
– Fr. Dominic has recently discovered an simple way to wage war against vanity: keep holy the sabbath. When I instead use Sunday to catch up on little tasks or pack quiet moments with empty entertainment, I haven’t done anything wrong, I just looked for delight in things that won’t last. It’s like trying to make a meal out of cotton candy. It will satisfy me! My rule: Only do things that give God glory, and/or are truly restful on Sunday. Nothing else. And … the battle is real!
(Read the rest of Newman’s Sermon here!)