Satan is a killer. Given the chance he will happily kill your marriage, your family, your relationships, your joy, and your faith: “He’s the enemy…avoid him at all costs” (James 4:7).
The world is experiencing a health pandemic. However, as Christians and Catholics, I feel that we are experiencing three pandemics simultaneously: COVID-19, anxiety, and porn.
Since February, the news has been saturated with updates about the Coronavirus. Consistent studies have shown that anxiety is on the rise in men and this anxiety often fuels a progressive spiral of addiction to pornography. Each on its own is devastating. But all three at once give the impression of hopelessness.
Thankfully we have Jesus, Mary, and Saint Joseph, but we also have other saints to intercede for us. And I cannot think of a better saint during these times of pandemic than Saint Jude Thaddeus. He is, after all, the patron saint of hopeless causes!
St. Bridget of Sweden said she was directed in a vision to pray with deep faith and confidence to St. Jude. She stated that Christ told her, “In accordance with his surname, Thaddeus, the amiable or loving, St. Jude will show himself most willing to help.” It is not without coincidence that I wrote this article on the Feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden.
The Coronavirus has created uncertainty and a level of nervousness that, coupled with civic unrest in the United States and other countries, allows negativity to flourish and evil to spread. We should be the models to whom our family and friends turn and seek inspiration and comfort.
In this nexus of uncertainty and anxiety, men continue to find emotional and physical release in porn: the silent killer of young men, husbands, and fathers. Pornography and I have a hate-hate relationship, and it’s my personal desire to stop its control over men. When I was younger I chose Jude as my confirmation name—not knowing how important he would become later in my life—and I smile at the subtle hand of God in my choice.
I was stalked by porn for twenty-years until a catastrophic personal event plunged me into a full-on addiction that I took seriously only after three years of intense use.
Now, let me share with you a novena that helped me throughout my recovery. Below is the prayer to be said to Saint Jude for nine consecutive days:
Apostle and Martyr, great in virtue and rich in miracles, near kinsman of Jesus Christ, faithful intercessor for all who invoke thee, special patron in time of need; to thee I have recourse from the depth of my heart, and humbly beg thee, to whom God hath given such great power, to come to my assistance; help me now in my urgent need and grant my earnest petition. I will never forget thy graces and the favors thou dost obtain for me and I will do my utmost to spread devotion to thee. Amen.
But there is more to Saint Jude and why I think he is the perfect saint for us to pray to, especially if we suffer from porn or some other sexual addiction. It’s important to remember that it may take weeks or months before a person begins to see an improvement in porn-related problems. And full recovery tends to occur after a couple of years of consistency. Still, the goal for everyone’s the same: to rediscover life before porn and to have freedom.
In the early 20th century, Saint Jude Thaddeus was relatively unknown to the general Catholic population in the United States. During the Great Depression and World War II, thousands of men, women, and children began reciting novenas and a devotion to the patron saint of hopeless causes spread throughout the country. Now in the early 21st century, we need Saint Jude more than ever. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to find images of this incredible saint. Paintings and images of St. Jude include a number of defining characteristics:
- Saint Jude holds a medallion. The medallion is an impression of Jesus, known as “The Image of Edessa.” The story is that King Abgar of Edessa (now part of Turkey) suffered from a serious illness. The King had heard of Jesus healing others and called for Jesus to heal him. Jesus pressed his face onto a piece of cloth and gave it to Saint Jude to present to King Abgar. Upon receiving the cloth King Abgar was healed.
- There is a flame above St. Jude’s head. “The Tongue of Flame” represents the Holy Spirit descending upon the saint. As it is written in Scripture, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” (Acts 2:3-4).
- Saint Jude wears green robes. Saint Jude is depicted wearing green because this color symbolizes hope and renewal. One can turn to St. Jude, our “Patron of Hope,” in difficult or seemingly hopeless times.
In battling these three pandemics, Saint Jude offers intercession to those suffering serious illness, offers the presence of the Holy Spirit, and readily gives us hope and renewal. For me, personally, I experienced success over my addiction to pornography by adding his novena along with my prayer devotion to Mary through the rosary and the Mary, Undoer of Knots novena. By praying the rosary and the novena to Saint Jude daily, they have been my “one-two punch” to Satan and all evil spirits.
Through this novena to Saint Jude, I learned to let go of my ego and submit to the true healing of God’s mercy. No more my will but God’s, as St. Paul writes, “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if [I] do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:15-20).
The success of my reboot, indeed my porn recovery, can in part be directly attributed to Saint Jude.
In closing, St. Jude remains one of the most popular and beloved saints, a trusted heavenly intercessor for all those seeking God’s assistance during times of family crisis, sickness, and trouble, especially when all hope seems lost. What a wonderful saint to pray to as we continue facing the tri-pandemics of COVID-19, anxiety, and porn!
Aaron Walter is a lifelong Catholic, former porn addict whose ministry, NewMenRising is dedicated to pornography addiction recovery. He is a coach, mentor, and accountability partner. Passionate about helping husbands kick their addiction and transform their life and relationships. Connect at aaronwaltercoaching.com.