Apostle Jude by Sir Anthony van Dyck
Have you ever given your word to a saint?
Well, this is me keeping a promise to St. Jude!
Here’s the backstory: all through our making process, we follow strict procedures to ensure our finished candles are safe. The first step is doing quality control on every single jar we use. Since the jars become candles that you then light on fire, the integrity of the glass is incredibly important! Michael can attest that sometimes I can be overly cautious, but when it comes to the safety of our customers, I don’t compromise. at. all.
But right as we hit “candle season” and orders started to pick up after the summer, I noticed some visual differences in our latest shipment of jars, such as some streaks or tiny dimples. They were probably just fine, but for my own peace of mind, I needed the manufacturer to check the things I had questions on and confirm they were good to use.
While I was waiting to hear about that, our quality control process went from about 20 seconds per jar to 5-10 minutes per jar as I scrutinized every new thing I was seeing in the glass. Plus I went from passing about almost every jar to passing less than 50%, because so many of the jars had these small visual differences and I had to set them aside until I heard back.
So now I was spending hours upon hours just checking jars, with relatively few usable jars at the end of all that time and effort. And that meant I was very limited in the number of candles I could make, which meant we couldn’t fulfill orders quickly, and everything just kept getting further and further behind.
In the meantime, I was going back and forth with the manufacturer, trying to speak to the right person and get a straight answer. This went on for weeks - checking jars at a snail’s pace while trying to work my way through levels of bureaucracy.
I was having a hard time sleeping at night and a harder time focusing during the day. My mind kept swirling with what was happening plus all the even worse things that could come next. Can you relate?
Two things helped me during this time.
First: continually reminding myself that if you have time to worry, you have time to pray. Surrendering something to God doesn't seem to be a one-and-done for me, but rather an ongoing process (you might even say a battle). Yes, in this given moment, I can surrender and give this to God. But then two seconds later, the fear restarts and again I'm faced with saying either "my will be done" or "thy will be done." It is a choice, though, and choosing “thy will be done” this time builds virtue and makes it easier to do so again.
The second thing that helped: having a specific prayer to turn to, one that is both short and memorized, so I could say it anytime, over and over and over if necessary. Having this prayer gave me a mental and emotional alternative to the worthless worry, and helped me try to keep my heart open to God's timing.
My go-to prayer here? It was to St. Jude.
While we don't know a lot about Jude, we do know he was Jesus' cousin and one of the 12 apostles. In Scripture he's referred to as Jude, Judas, or Thaddeus (and sometimes as Tad, if you're a fellow "Cotton Patch Gospel" fan).
In Hebrew, his name is Judah, which comes from the words "praise" and "to thank." Since he is honored as the patron saint of impossible causes, that's quite appropriate!
Here's my favorite prayer to St. Jude, which is short and easy to memorize:
O holy St. Jude, great in grace and rich in miracles, faithful intercessor of all who invoke your patronage in time of need, I come before you, seeking your special aid before the throne of Almighty God. Help me in my present and urgent petition. [State petition.] In gratitude, I promise to make your name known, so that others may invoke your heavenly assistance, to the glory of God and for the good of souls. Amen.
Did you notice that in this prayer you promise St. Jude that if he helps you, you’ll let others know? So that’s why I’m sharing the jar debacle of 2022 with you, because he did indeed help and I want to witness to his intercession and God’s goodness.
Yep, that’s right - thankfully, and I would say miraculously, all has been resolved, and in the best way possible! After back and forth over email with the manufacturer, finally I just overnighted a bunch of jars to the Quality Director for the Americas (!), and he personally inspected each one. And he provided a letter of guarantee that the changes I was seeing were simply cosmetic and every single one of our jars is completely safe to use for candlemaking.
Our jars are made right here in the US by a company that also makes jars for really big candle brands, and they know what they’re doing. Turns out, there’s tons of testing that they do on every single batch, which complies with international safety standards. The silver lining of all this is knowing just how well made our jars are and that everything is good.
Thanks be to God, and St. Jude!
Something I love about God is how, in his love and humility, he gives us the saints to be our help and intercessors. God is glorified precisely in allowing his creation - the saints, you, and me - to play a real role in salvation. In this situation, God and St. Jude both came to my "rescue." God is that generous!
I know it can seem strange to "pray" to the saints - really, "pray" just means to ask. And of course we ask our friends, families, and others for help all the time. What a great gift that we have our family in heaven - the Church Triumphant - who can help us, too!