St. Jude, popularly known as the patron saint of lost causes, is also known by the names Thaddeus, Jude of James, and Judas Thaddeus. He was one of the twelve apostles and is believed by many to be the son of Joseph and thus the brother of Jesus.
In spite of his many names, various accounts state that, due to his name being inadvertently confused with Judas Iscariot (who betrayed Jesus Christ to the authorities), many people would not pray to him for fear of invoking the spirit of the traitor. The Catholic Church encouraged the faithful to pray to St. Jude by denoting him as the saint who assisted people with seemingly lost causes. He is willing to help those facing incurable illness, prison sentences, homelessness, bankruptcy, divorce, and imminent death, showing his devotion to Jesus Christ in doing so.
I have no doubt that many of the prayers that go to St. Jude are from folks who are in dire circumstances. He hears the prayers of children living in cars, prisoners on death row, people holding their dying spouse. He helps the faithful — sometimes reversing situations, sometimes presenting alternative solutions, sometimes providing strength to endure the inevitable. But I cannot help but wonder if sometimes St. Jude stands with hand on hip and declares, “Really? You think that’s a lost cause?”
After several many months of unemployment and a job search that bore no fruit, I began a novena to St. Jude. As noted in earlier posts, searching for work and getting nowhere really tried my faith — along with my patience, good will, self-esteem, and finances. To further complicate matters, I had never before had such a problem finding work anywhere that I was living. I was doing everything that one does in a job search yet getting no results. Few noticed me and nobody wanted me. I felt as if I was cursed.
I began my novena and within days was contacted by agents and employers. I had three great interviews in a row. I landed some freelance work. I spoke with someone about setting up a side business. While I have not seen a paycheck yet, I have seen an improvement in my outlook. Most importantly, I have learned a valuable lesson.
Sometimes, we just need to take a break. It is good to be focused and dedicated, but you may need to be refreshed and redirected. The continual grind of the job search wore me down. I simply could not see any aspect of my life other than the fact that I did not have a job. Throwing up my hands and saying, “I give up!” gave me permission to stop trying to look on the bright side. I then got the greatest gift of this novena — the ability to view the whole situation with blinding clarity. Yes, I have screwed up many times in many ways all through my days, but this stint of unemployment was not a punishment handed down from God. It was simply a rough patch in my life. I also became very grateful for stuff in the background — my apartment is in a safe neighborhood, my car runs well, I don’t need to take medication, I can read and write. The focus on my misfortune fogged over my ability to see what bit of fortune I actually had.
Suddenly, it was as if someone pulled up all the shades. My blinders were removed and I felt foolish. I was no more a lost cause than a shopper who cannot find a pair of shoes in their size. I was burnt out from applying to jobs every day and facing disinterested interviewers and agents, but I wasn’t handicapped or homeless. There was canned beans and coffee in the cupboard and books to read on the shelf. I had obtained an education and skills. I had accomplished things in the past. I could stand up and move forward when the chance to do so came along. It just had not come quite yet.
St. Jude listened to me and sensed my disproportionate sense of failure. He blew away the cloud of despair following me around and showed me that I am not helpless or hopeless, but just tired of the treadmill and need to step off for a moment. When I did, everything came into view. More than anything, this novena showed me that I am not desperate and a lost cause, just dizzy and in need of a break.
I thank St. Jude for his sympathetic ear — it was just what I needed at the moment.