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May 31, 2005

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» Joseph the Realtor from Papa Familias
Jimmy Akin blogs a question from a reader about burying a St. Joseph statue upside down in your yard to sell your house. Yes indeed, this is a superstitious practice, and not something I condone (although I heartily recommend asking... [Read More]

» Joseph the Realtor from Papa Familias
Jimmy Akin blogs a question from a reader about burying a St. Joseph statue upside down in your yard to sell your house. Yes indeed, this is a superstitious practice, and not something I condone (although I heartily recommend asking... [Read More]

Comments

Jean

Finally!

When I moved to Southern Michigan, I ran into all sorts of people (not just Catholics) who bury Joseph statues. I thought they were a bunch of nutburgers, but was assured by plenty of practicing Catholics that this was practice was similar to a novena.

Then again, one of my Christian friends bought me a Santería candle (with each saint assigned a pagan title in Spanish), thinking that I'd like to light it while reciting the rosary.

You can add to the superstitious practices the following:

1. Putting a statue of St. Anthony (or another saint) upside down in a glass of water, setting it on a sill for nine days and shaking it while saying a prayer every sunrise. (Like the burial of the Joseph statue, the idea seems to be that the saint will respond favorably to the torture-in-effigy.)

2. St. Jude the Extortionist novenas. These are similar to regular novenas to St. Jude, but you usually see them in the classified section of the newspaper, with a disclaimer at the bottom that "Publication MUST be promised or this prayer won't work".

iClaudius

Unfortunately, I've seen "Catholic" bookstores that sell biodegradable St Joseph statues manufactured for just this purpose. Ugh.

Susan

Haven't heard about "biodegradable" St. Joseph's statues, but I was told once that you couldn't LEAVE poor St. Joseph behind in the ground! If you did indeed sell your house, you were supposed to dig him back up and put him in a "place of honor" in your new home. Double ugh.

Suzanne

I must admit that I have, indeed, buried a statue of St. Joseph in my backyard. All the traditional Catholics around here assure me that it is not for superstition but an act of faith that when one asks St. Joseph's intercession that his prayers on our behalf will be successful. Our house has been on the market for over a year. I think the answer to the prayers is "No."

Eric Giunta

Jimmy, I fear that your Protestant background has coloured your response to this person's inqury. This practice is not necessarily superstitous, if by it the worshipper is simply intending to visibly manifest his prayer to Saint Joseph.

The nuances of devotions like these don't necessarily have to be grounded in rationality. The fact that this is traiditonal suffices.

Mia Storm

While I think such things can be easily abused, I think physical actions in association with prayer reflect the Catholic incarnational worldview.

For example, we kneel in prayer to show reverence and to involve our bodies in the prayer along with our spirits. But a non-Christian could just as easily presume that kneeling to pray is superstitious. It could be superstitious if someone thought that he "must" kneel to obtain an answer to his prayer, but kneeling doesn't have to be superstitious.

If someone uses a "St. Joseph Kit" prayerfully, as a physical supplement to prayer or as a physical way of praying, it does not seem that such an action would necessarily be superstitious.

Paul

>> This practice is not necessarily superstitous, if by it the worshipper is simply intending to visibly manifest his prayer to Saint Joseph.

On the act alone, I judge that it is most probably a superstitious act. I would ask this person if they feared the consequences of burying the statue right-side up. What would happen? If there is a hesitency....

Jimmy Akin

Eric: You need to be careful in the kind of attributions you make regarding others' backgrounds. I understand the temptation on the part of some to ascribe anything you disagree with that a convert says to his prior religious background, but this is a very dangerous and unreliable thing to do.

It also won't win you friends as nobody likes having their motives psychologically deconstructed as a way of ignoring the arguments they've made.

In my particular case, I have now been a devout, intellectually-engaged Catholic for longer than I was a devout Protestant--and, frankly, I've probably been one for longer than you have given your age (unless you were reading the Summa Theologiae regularly at seven years old).

I know that there are apologists (not all of whom are converts) who do theology in an overly Protestant manner, but I have made a conscious study of assimilating the Catholic way of doing things and the great majority of people who meet and speak with me and read my writings have no idea that I'm a convert unless I tell them.

I have no problem with individuals wanting to act out a prayer to St. Joseph, but the way being proposed isn't the way to do it. If you want to act out a prayer to St. Joseph in an authentically Catholic manner, light a candle in front of his statue or place his statue in front of your home where prospective buyers can see it. Don't bury it upside down in the dirt.

The latter practice is a manifestation of Catholic-themed folk supertition, not authentic Catholic spirituality--as the numerous cradle Catholic priests who have complained to me about the practice could attest, many of whom are set-upon by parishioners asking them to bless the statues for this purpose.

Putting St. Joseph statues in your fridge when you home doesn't sell so that he'll get cold and be more motivated to find you a buyer is similarly superstitious.

This is not to say that God cannot look upon the supertitiously offered prayers of individuals and grant them or that he can't recognize and approve of the authentic spiritual impulse embedded in a matrix of superstition, but neither does it mean that burying a St. Joseph statue upside down in the dirt to sell a home isn't superstitious.

It just is. And you don't have to be a convert to see that.

Mia Storm

"On the act alone, I judge that it is most probably a superstitious act."

With all due respect, it is not your place to judge another person by his actions. After all, many Protestants judge Catholics to be idolaters merely because Catholics kneel in front of statues.

"I would ask this person if they feared the consequences of burying the statue right-side up. What would happen? If there is a hesitency...."

Perhaps instead you might ask him why he is engaging in this custom. If he says he is doing so as a prayer to St. Joseph, perhaps you ought to accept that and, out of charity, figure that he simply prays in a different manner than you do.

I do not intend to be argumentative here, but if we are going to ask non-Catholics not to be too hasty in judging Catholic actions that mystify them, then we should also be willing to extend that same charity to our fellow Catholics.

Eileen R

This practice is not necessarily superstitous, if by it the worshipper is simply intending to visibly manifest his prayer to Saint Joseph.

Visibly? By planting him upside down in the dirt?

Some of those responding here would seem to feel that there is no such thing as superstition.

ukok

Why upside down? and how desperate do you have to be to sell your house that you go dig a hole in your garden... stick in it an upturned statue of St. Joseph, cover him with dirt,walk away.. and then hope he intercedes for you...it smells like superstition to me.

I'd have to have been smoking some seriously wacky baccy to do something like that...and I'm not unused to doing strange things either.

God Bless.

p.s. I'm just a convert whose intentions are good...please don't let me be misunderstood...

hippo354

When we put our house on the market a few years back someone gave us the St. Joseph Kit, but I couldn't bring myself to bury the statue because I couldn't make it out to be anything but superstitious. I couldn't see how it would honor St. Joseph more to be buried than to stand on our icon shelf with a candle burning while we prayed the novena, so that's what we did.


Sean Gallagher

Last year, my family was having difficulty selling our home and so we started a novena to St. Joseph that we had planned would conclude on March 19, the saint's primary feast.

On March 17, we had some folks look at the house. On March 18, they made an offer. And on March 19 we were able to arrive at a mutally agreed offer.

I'm morally certain that our prayers and those of St. Joseph were indeed answered in the way that we had hoped.

Ed Peters

Utter superstition. And that's the nicest thing I can say about it.

Eric Giunta

Jimmy:

"I have no problem with individuals wanting to act out a prayer to St. Joseph, but the way being proposed isn't the way to do it."

Saying it does not make it so, even if it is your blog.

Jimmy Akin

Eric: Quoting your partner in dialogue's conclusion or overall assessment and ignoring the reasons he has advanced for it (see original post) fail to show that he is operating in an ipse dixit fashion.

Insinuations that he has in some sense appealed to his authority as blogmaster, when in fact he has not done this, also fail to advance the merits of one's case.

Eric Giunta

The problem, Jimmy, is that you haven't advanced any reason for your labeling this pious custom superstitious, other than the fact that you say there's no point in doing it. Burying a statue of Saint Joseph as a way of visibly manifesting your devotion is simply not superstitious, in and of itself.

Gene Branaman

The whole thing reeks of folks being forced to say "The Scottish Play" rather than "MacBeth" & requirements that the offender leave the dressing room, turn 'round 3 times (to the right, never the left), & spit to avoid the *bad luck* incurred in the utterance of of the actual name of Bill's play. It's happened to me. I've seen it in all its irrational glorious action. Silly stuff. Superstitious silly stuff. Better to pray a novena with a candle lit - which is fully supported by Tradition, with a big T. Leave off burying poor St Joe. The real power is in the prayerfull intercession of a great saint of Christ's Church!

What would Jesus think of folks burying His earthly father, by whom He was taught so much? Not much, I'm thinkin'.

LawfulGood

Jimmy vs. Eric is like a sandblaster vs. soda cracker

Joshua

Apparently my college (Thomas Aquinas in Santa Paula) is superstitious:

"By May, the Commons was completed and Most Reverend Thaddeus Shubsda, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles (and later, Bishop of Monterey), presided over ceremonies to dedicate the new building under the patronage of St. Joseph. (The tribute to St. Joseph was one of thanksgiving; Dr. McArthur had invoked the saint's intercession for the acquisition of the property, even burying a St. Joseph medal on the grounds during one of his early visits.)"

Honestly folk, where do we draw the line. It seems to me that this "custom" might be hyperbolic, but not necessarily superstitious. If one wished to dedicate some property to St. Joseph's patronage then it seems fitting to have some object of devotion to him "planted " there. The superstition would come in when one attributed benefits to the very act of leaving that object, or leaving it in a certain way, rather than the prayers and patronage itself.

Liam

When did this practice get elevated to "traditional" or "pious custom" in the US? It was virtually unheard of a generation ago.

Zippy

In the unlikely event that I become a saint, I promise to intercede on behalf of anyone who buries a statue of me upside-down and then retrieves it after success. I believe I would find it quite touching.

JoeyG

Just a couple observations.

Firstly, the connotation of the word "superstitious" might make it sound like a condemnation of a person, but it isn't. It's an evaluation of an act, but a person's motives might be pious enough in doing so. The thing is, if they believe that their action brings something about as, say, a sacramental, when the act itself is not efficatious, then what term other than supersitition could be applied?

The argument could be that the person does not believe that the act accomplishes anything, but does it anyway. My question would then be, then why do they do it at all? Especially when we have such great sacramentals and devotions extolled by the Church for use in such circumstances. Why not a 30-days prayer to Saint Joseph, or a simple novena? It's nothing I would get in a fist-fight over, but it's worth people reflecting upon and discerning why they have certain attachments to certain actions. Any "pious activity" should be examined and reflected upon to a degree.

Zippy

I appreciate interesting, personal devotions like the one in question. I expect the Saints find them every bit as touching as I find my daughter's drawings. This sort of devotion emphasizes that the Saints are real living people, not intercession machines with specific access protocols.

Jack

When things like this come up it is not hard to see how the tempers of the Reformation became so inflamed... (on both sides)

Eric Giunta

"Jimmy vs. Eric is like a sandblaster vs. soda cracker."

I'll be the first to agree with this. Jimmy's expertise on these matters far outweighs mine own. Still, I beg to differ with him on this particular issue.

Gene Branaman

"This sort of devotion emphasizes that the Saints are real living people, not intercession machines with specific access protocols."

But that's exactly how I see the burying of the St Joe statue, Zippy. Do this, plus this other thing, & St Joseph will sell your house! It's silly. Most folks I've heard speak of this practice are nowhere near as sincere as Eric & Sean are in their support of it. (And I do respect their sincerity.) But JoeyG has the right POV on this for me; the act of burying a statue requires no connection to anything that could be considered a pius, prayerful activity. When God cured the people who'd been bitten by the firey serpents in Number 21, Moses first prayed for the people & admitted they'd sinned. Frankly, I'd rather err on the side of sticking with the novena alone, that's where the real efficacy is anyway, right? Objects can be outward signs but it's the prayer, our faith, that connects us with God. One can still pray a rosary without a rosary & it's still as efficacious, isn't it? And does praying while kneeling before a statue make the prayer any more powerful?

Paragraph 2111 of the Chatechism says:

"Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition."

Trusting in a buried statue rather than God's providence seems to fit this description, to me. The CCC's glossary defines "superstition" in this way:

"The attribution of a kind of magical power to certain practices or objects, like charms or omens. Reliance on such power, rather than trust in God, constitutes an offence against the honor due to God alone, as required by the first commandment."

I'm not comdemning anyone who has used this practice before, just pointing out that those who have used it should recognize that God, in his infinite mercy, can choose to grant a rapid sale of a house to a pius individual if He so chooses, buried statue or no. But the act of burying a statue is not what caused the sale. Rather, it's one's trust in God's providence & mercy and prayerful intercession to St Joseph, or whomever, that helped bring about that end.

Matthew of Beauvais

Finally! I never felt comfortable with this practice, and I love popular piety. It's just one has to draw the line somewhere. It smacks too much of that circle of old ladies who used to put their statue of St. Anthony in the fridge when he 'let them down' at bingo.

Zippy

But that's exactly how I see the burying of the St Joe statue, Zippy. Do this, plus this other thing, & St Joseph will sell your house! It's silly.

Underneath this lies the problem with Jimmy's criticism, though: it isn't the act itself that is superstitious. The act is superstitious if it is thought to be efficacious in itself, as opposed to being a particular devotion to ask for the intercession of a particular saint. But that is true of any ordinary devotional act, such as praying before an icon: it can be superstitious depending upon disposition, but with the right disposition it has merit. Praying before an icon with the proper disposition is efficacious (in the same way that buying me a beer is efficacious in getting my favors).

It seems to me that condemning this practice as superstitious in itself, independent of the disposition of the practitioner, is a mild form of iconoclasm.

Zippy

See, when Jimmy says this:

"...the idea of burying a statue of him upside down has no plausible connection to any patronly interest he might have in housing."

he is speaking for Saint Joseph, who is a real, actual person who is living right now and interceding on behalf of the faithful right now. He is saying "Saint Joseph likes novenas and responds to them, but he doesn't appreciate this particular practice".

In other words, he (Jimmy) is not treating Saint Joseph like a real person.

Zippy

I've expanded my comments on this into a blog entry.

Jon

I'm with Zippy on this one. It seems to me, though, that the judgment of whether it's superstitious has to do with how most people are using it and how it is advertized or recommended to people, thus allowing us to see the extent of the general attitude toward the act.

Once this measure has been taken, we will be able to make a general and prudential judgment as to whether it is an act that our culture treats superstitiously and therefore is to be avoided, or whether it is merely a pious custom that may be tolerated and recommended.

There are customs which are so ancient and venerable (e.g. candles, icons, holy water, etc) that we don't generally worry about their possible superstitious use, though they obviously can be used so; and there are also various customs which are more likely to be used so and which the church will sometimes tolerate but not particularly recommend.

Signs that make this practice smell bad to me:

1. Its recent origin. (cf Liam's comment)
2. People selling kits for it.
3. Recommendations like: "It can't fail."

Contra JoeyG. "Superstitious" is an evaluation of an act done by a person. The person's disposition is necessary to distinguishing whether the act is superstitious.

Definition of superstitious: when an act is done hoping to manipulate something technologically (and I'm using the word philosophically) when you know (either by authority or some other kind of knowledge) that that is not how things work.

Thus, eating red berries hoping to get rid of the measles is superstitious now (since we know that that's not how illness works) but wasn't 200 years ago (when we didn't know).

Also, we know that salt and water and candles and statues cannot manipulate the forces of nature and their use as an attempt to manipulate the spirit world is forbidden by God (probably because it either doesn't work or because it works only by the intercessions of demons). Therefore, if their use is confined to a devotional relationship with a saint, then they're fine. If their use has "technological" overtones, then they're superstitious.

Otherwise, we would have to define any attempt at technological manipulation that we subsequently come to realize is useless (like bleeding) as superstitious, which is unfair to the ignorant. (And likely to backfire, since how many acts we're doing now will come to be seen as "superstitious" in the future?)

Mike Koenecke

Speaking as a cradle Catholic: yes, it's superstition. Simple test: attempting to use the spiritual to gain benefits in the temporal is not religion, it's *magic*. Religion is using the temporal to gain the benefits of the spiritual.

People do *not* bury St. Joseph upside down as a sign of their devotion to St. Joseph; they do it because they think that particular *action* will bring a specific result. Magical thinking.

Lighting candles, kneeling before statues, and the like are (or should be) methods to assist in *spiritual* goals. If you light a candle to the Blessed Mother, then turn around three times and spit because someone said that's guaranteed to win you the lottery: that's superstition.

I am minded of a (doubtless apocryphal) anecdote about Neils Bohr, the famous physicist. A visitor noted that Bohr had a horseshoe nailed in the approved (ends up) fashion above his doorway, and expressed his surprise that Bohr would believe in such superstition. Bohr replied that he knew it was nonsense, but that "it is supposed to bring luck whether you believe in it or not."

A good friend of ours just buried a St. Joseph statue upside down in the backyard using the exact same reasoning.

Zippy

Simple test: attempting to use the spiritual to gain benefits in the temporal is not religion, it's *magic*.

As a cradle Catholic myself I empathize with the catechetical impediment that implies. But this is utter nonsense. Praying for a remission of cancer is not "superstition".

kevin

For years I have opposed this practice, however recently after some thought I came to the conculsion that like any sacramental one can use it as it ought to be used or in a way that is supersitious. So one may bury say a medal of St. Joseph (perhaps a statue --though not upside down) in a prayerful way --with the prayer and the hope of selling ones house--and it be good. Or one may do so in a superstitious way and think for instance that St. Joseph will not like being on his head and will help you --or something of the sort. Or that 'it works' like magic.

Sacramentals are meant to involve phyicality --but this can be in a good way 'making the sign of the cross with Holy Water' or a bad way 'drowning a statue of St. Joseph in Holy Water' until he sells your house!

Abuse does not prohibit correct use.

Though I must admit much use in this case is abuse.

Zippy

Sacramentals are meant to involve phyicality --but this can be in a good way 'making the sign of the cross with Holy Water' or a bad way 'drowning a statue of St. Joseph in Holy Water' until he sells your house!

I agree, and there is a further subtlety. The ladies who put the statue in the refrigerator ("freezing in effigy" I suppose) might indeed change their relationship to the saint thereby. If we perform an act which says "a pox on you, St. X" because we are angry with St. X, we may indeed distance ourself from St. X's intercessions.

Because saints are people too.

Kevin

Good point Zippy!

(though they (except at least Our Lady) do not yet have their bodies --yet)

Steve

"People do *not* bury St. Joseph upside down as a sign of their devotion to St. Joseph; they do it because they think that particular *action* will bring a specific result. Magical thinking."

I am reminded of this passage in Acts...

"So extraordinary were the mighty deeds God accomplished at the hands of Paul that when face cloths or aprons that touched his skin were applied to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them."

God often uses ordinary objects to accomplish the extraordinary. Is using a buried St. Joseph statue superstitious? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I think we could make similar arguments about cures by touching cloths and aprons though.

Press

I challenged someone about this practice and they wanted me to tell them how it is different from wearing a scapular with its promise of salvation for those who wear it. Any ideas out there?

Marshall

Actually, the tradition of this custom is not pious.

It comes from the deprecation of saints. This is where you dishonor a relic or image of a saint UNTIL the saint gets something done for you. It's a superstitious emergency act to get a saint to work so that he or she won't be dishonored.

Superstitious through and through.

Anonymous

Zippy,

You wrote: "I promise to intercede on behalf of anyone who buries a statue of me upside-down"

I am quite sure that there are any number of people who would be happy to bury you upside down. No need to wait for the casting of a statue. ;-)

Shibboleth

It all comes down to your intentions of the Bronze Serpent in my eyes. If you are doing it because you think that the act itself will produce results – well then it is superstition. If you are doing it, for lack of better word, as an ascetical or adaphoria practice to assist in your asking for the assistance of the Saint then it is just as viable in my eyes as lighting a candle.

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

I read somewhere that this practice allegedly started with St. Teresa of Avila. She and her nuns brought a big, heavy statue of St. Joseph with them while lookign for a piece of land to buy. When they found some suitable land, they decided to leave the statue there while they negotiated with the owner, but didn't want it stolen while they were gone. So they buried it (right side up, evidently), went and bought the land, then promptly dug it up to display in their new convent.

I'm not sure whether that story is true, or whether that was the beginning of the practice in question (it may very well be of recent origin).

I can see how a person might be able to do this as an act of faith, not magic. Yet I'm still not 100% convinced it's a good idea. As an erstwhile apologist, I've often heard anti-Catholics attack the Church over her alleged "doctrine" of burying statues of St. Joseph!

Yes, you and I know it's not a doctrine, but some anti-Catholics don't seem to understand (or don't want to understand) the difference between Church doctrine and a popular practice. They harp on this statue-burying practice because they consider it rock-solid proof that the Catholic Church is semi-pagan and superstitious.

I remember one anti-Catholic Evangelical in particular who claimed that, when he wanted to sell his house, someone told him that a sure-fire way to sell his house would be to bury one statue of St. Joseph in each corner of the property (four statues in all!). The Evangelical was thoroughly appalled, and complained about this to me on many occasions - even after I had answered him a few times.

Hence my dislike of the practice.

In Jesu et Maria,

Zippy

It's a superstitious emergency act to get a saint to work so that he or she won't be dishonored.

If I were a saint I would probably find that cute, and be happy that at least I was being taken seriously as an actual person. Being what I am though I am doing an identity trace on anonymous to see if I can have him buried upside-down... ;-)

I have no problem with people who think the practice is inadvisable for various reasons, not least of which would be if its origins were as suggested by Marshall above. I have no problem with deprecating the practice, in other words; although it has had at least one good effect in producing this very discussion. And I am attracted to any practice that treats the saints as human beings because we believe in the communion of saints enough to say so in the creed at every Mass, a belief that is itself very much deprecated by both modern and protestant cultures.

This practice may be inadvisable (or advisable!) for various prudential reasons, in other words, but is not necessarily a superstitious practice.

Sue

There's a good article on the custom, giving the full history of its connection with St Teresa of Avila, here:
http://www.kensmen.com/catholic/stjoestatue.html

I always remember the comment of Fr Bryan Houghton, that the problem with our times is not superstition - believing beyond what is of faith - but infrastition - believing too little.

Um...real estate agent here...

Reality check time...

From what I've seen, this practice plain ol' doesn't work. I've heard of it over the years, but I've never seen any indication that the practice enhances the likelihood of a quick or problem-free sale.

What I can tell you is that clean, cared-for houses with modern bathrooms and kitchens and well-tended, clutter-free yards sell quickly and at a good price. And they ain't kidding when they tell you location is everything.

You can dicker 'til the cows come home whether this is superstitious behavior or genuine holiness, but whatever it is, it ain't what's gonna get your house sold.

Just so ya know...

Zippy

Reality check time...

During the first part of my career many years ago I made a living making and interpreting measurements. Unless you have isolated this variable in a rigorous study you can't say whether it has an effect or not. In fact introducing a bunch of other variables is the opposite of what you want to do when you are checking the impact of a particular input. In order to measure the impact (if any) of this practice you would have to normalize for other variables, not demonstrate that other variables also have an effect.

And I am pretty sure that hasn't been done here, although you can correct me if I am wrong.

Jon

Evaluating a practice like this based on whether it "works" or not is what causes a practice like this to be superstitious. If we perform the act because it "works", statistically, then we've stopped treating St. Joseph like a person and started manipulating him (trying to, anyway) like a natural force. Bogus.

"I don't know what good it will do. I only know it's a thing that's done." This is the only justification for practices like this.

Zippy

Evaluating a practice like this based on whether it "works" or not is what causes a practice like this to be superstitious.

I agree completely. I was responding specifically to the claim that the practice does not correlate to home sales, but whether it correlates or not is independent of whether it is superstitious or not.

Zippy

I don't agree with this though:

"I don't know what good it will do. I only know it's a thing that's done." This is the only justification for practices like this.

That seems to imply that burying a statue of St Joseph in this manner is an arbitrary act.

It would be better put as "I don't know for sure if St. Joseph will like and respond to this practice. Some people say he has in the past; they may be right or wrong, but even if they are right it may have fallen out of favor with the Saint. But I love St. Joseph and I believe in the efficacy of his intercession, so I choose to do this particular thing."

That would, I think, be a non-superstitious justification: not necessarily a particularly good one, mind you, but certainly a non-superstitious one.

Tragic Christian

My first encounter with the St. Joseph statue business was when two friends were trying to sell their house -- and their last names were Levy and Goldberg.

But, as an alternate to the St. Therese version, the practice also stems from a story about my wife's many-times-removed cousin, Bl. Brother Andre Bessette that you can read here:
http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/sainta65.htm

Suzanne

"What I can tell you is that clean, cared-for houses with modern bathrooms and kitchens and well-tended, clutter-free yards sell quickly and at a good price. And they ain't kidding when they tell you location is everything."

The Realtors in my town are perplexed that my house won't sell. We are the second owners of a 1934 bungalow style home that we have remodeled. The price couldn't be lower--we will lose money if and when we sell it. Every time we show it even though I have four children, I make sure that it is immaculate and I light candles, pipe in some music, and make sure that the decor is in pristine condition. We have had about 10 offers on it and every one fell through for some reason or another. We have had another 100 love it, but didn't make an offer. I know that God knows what he is doing, even though I can't imagine why he wants us to stay put.

Burying St. Joseph certainly didn't work to sell this home--but my devotion to him grew!

Jon

I don't agree with this though:

"I don't know what good it will do. I only know it's a thing that's done." This is the only justification for practices like this.

Yeah, it was a Hilaire Belloc quote that doesn't pertain wholely, but which I thought was speaking to the issue at hand, which is that we don't make any claim that the act is efficacious in itself, but is instead something people commonly have been told is something they can do to show devotion to St Joseph.

I agree, Zippy, that your statement is a more full description of the case.

Cheryl

Hi, Jimmy.

Found your website while searching through Yahoo. Found your readers' comments about burying a statue of St.Joseph interesting. If one wants to consider such actions an aspect of magical thinking, then I would have to add that God Himself is the ultimate among magical thinkers. After all, a great many people have a difficult time accepting God's invitation to any one of us to believe the fact that torturing and crucifying a man on a cross could forgive our sins and purchase our passage into a heavenly realm we would not otherwise have access to. I would add an old saying that for those who already believe, no proof is necessary, and for those who will not believe, no proof is possible.

Nice to meet you.

Cheryl

Hi, Jimmy.

Found your website while searching through Yahoo. Found your readers' comments about burying a statue of St.Joseph interesting. If one wants to consider such actions an aspect of magical thinking, then I would have to add that God Himself is the ultimate among magical thinkers. After all, a great many people have a difficult time accepting God's invitation to any one of us to believe the fact that torturing and crucifying a man on a cross could forgive our sins and purchase our passage into a heavenly realm we would not otherwise have access to. I would add an old saying that for those who already believe, no proof is necessary, and for those who will not believe, no proof is possible.

Nice to meet you.

Jack

Cheryl,

The forgiveness of sins offered by the Sacrifice of Calvary is communicated by Divine Revelation in the sacred Scriptures.

Burying a $3 statuette of St. Joseph to sell a house is an old wives' tale.

Big difference.

Faith is not belief in "magic", it is submission to Truth.

Paula

well, i live in california. California's real estate should be easy to sell.

after 2 weeks of not getting a contract my agent talked to me about the st joseph statue. I said sure I'd try it. So I buried him in the back yard. He stayed there for a month. My agent said I should be praying 3 times a day. So I prayed three times a day. then she says to put in the front yard. so, I put him in the front yard. i pray, my agent says keeps telling me to pray. I pray. I have come to determine that the st joseph statue is an excuse and a subsitute for a real estate agent working the listing. ie. ads, open houses etc. It has been 3 months, no contract but my agent acuses me of not praying enough. RIGHT what a bunch of CRap!! listing with an agent who is not willing to work the listing or refuses to do open houses is the reason why we have not sold the house. We have had over 35 people come through our home. Our agent does not even call the other agents to get feedback. This agent has cost us a ton of money. We had dropped the house in price 3 times to 60grand less. Today, my husband and I said screw her, we are putting this house back in the price range that other houses are at in our area. my house is beautiful and immaculately kept. the only thing wrong is our agent.
the st joseph statue is a myth and its is just a bunch of hocus pocus. Having a good agent is the anwer.

Fran

I am a real estate agent and have bought and planted the St Joseph statue when selling my own home and that of my daughters. Contracts came in on both homes after the statues were mindfully placed. One statue was in the ground and one was still in the listing agent's pocket as he spoke with the future buyer (the agent was intending to plant it that day)I also planted a statue for a fellow agent at her undesirable listing and three offers came in for that one listing within one week. I will recommend the St Joseph statue to all my future listings...coming soon I will have a website www.burystjoseph.com. I hope you will all visit with good intentions and buy a statue for yourself or your friends who need special help with selling:) fc

Jenn

I am a true believer in the power of St. Joseph. Let me tell you my story, and I think you will see just how strong his presence can be. My husband and I needed to sell our home and relocate to another state. We put it on the market and were told that Real Estate was booming, and we could sell our house for one hundred thousand more than we bought it for 4 months prior. It was a beautiful house on over an acre of property in a desirable area. We were excited to sell and believed that it would go quickly. We stocked the flyer box full of pamphlets showing photos of the house with descriptions, and we waited. Well, each day, upon getting home from work, the box would be empty or close to empty. We anxiously awaited a follow-up phone call from one of the takers, but received none. In the first 2 weeks that our home was on the market, 50 flyers were taken! We had an open house the second weekend that our home was on the market. Would you believe that not a single person (aside from our realtor) had shown up? We were thoroughly depressed. We thought that maybe some of the people that drove by and took a flyer were waiting for the open house to come by, but that was not the case.

By 3 weeks, not a single person had called or come to see the house. We began to feel very discouraged. Our realtor said that the market was slowing down, and that we needed to be patient. It felt very hard to be patient, and we began to look for answers.

My husband was on the telephone with his mother one night and told her how we were feeling. She suggested that we bury a statue of St. Joseph. Now, we are not religious people, and have not been to church since my son’s christening 5 years ago. But, I am a spiritual person and I believe that there is definitely a force in nature that surrounds us. Some people refer to this force as God, and I believe that this is fitting. Upon hearing this, I immediately went on line and ordered a St. Joseph statue and kit. That night, I researched and read testimonials of hundreds of people that buried this statue, and it had worked for everyone of them. I stayed up for 4 hours reading about this. I felt confident that St. Joseph would work for us, too.

We received our statue a few days later, the day before our 2nd open house. We went outside on a sunny morning to plant the statue. My husband dug the hole, making sure that it was exactly 12 inches deep, and we even got our 4 year old involved with his own shovel. The three of us said the prayer together and huddled around to plant St. Joseph facing our home, and facing the North, the direction that we wanted to locate to, in front of the For Sale sign. As soon as the last piece of soil was placed on top of the hole, my husband grabbed my hand and said “I hope this works”. I opened my mouth to reply, and was suddenly covered by rain! It began to pour on us, and we ran to take cover in our house! As soon as we got into the house, and before we closed the door, it stopped. Just as abruptly as it began, it ceased. We knew this was a sign that St., Joseph wanted us to trust in him and have faith.
What followed brought us hope. At the open house that day, three families came. All 3 were interested, but 2 said that they could not afford it. A third said that their mother was the one paying for it, and they were in love with our home, but they would need to talk to her. In the days that followed, that couple never called back, but many more people came to take flyers, and some very interesting things happened.
Let me add that in the meantime, I ordered a second statue of St. Joseph. I began to worry (very silly of me) but I read in so many places that you are supposed to bury St. Joseph facing the street, not the house. I was nervous that I did something wrong, and this would be bad karma. So when my second statue arrived, I buried this one facing the street. I figured that 2 prayers were better than one, and it couldn’t hurt.
So, as I mentioned, 3 interesting things happened after planting our statues.
1) My husband mentioned to someone at work that he was selling his house. A coworker said that his brother was looking to relocate to our area, and our house would suit him perfectly because it had a guest house, and he needed that for his college-bound son. He asked that we e-mail pictures of the house to his brother, and we did. We felt that this could be it.
2) Two days after the statue was buried, my husband fell sick at work. His boss sent him home early, and my husband hit the couch as soon as he walked in the house. About 30 minutes later, he felt almost a hundred percent better, and that is when he heard the doorbell ring. He thought that he had imagined it, because who would ring our doorbell in the middle of the day? When he heard it again, he answered it. It was a realtor that said she had been calling all day to try to preview our home for a client that lived out of state. She asked if my husband would show her around. He complied, and she loved the house. She said that she would be contacting her client and she was sure that they would love the house as well.
3) Our realtor called us the next day, and told us that a couple that wanted to buy our house when it was on the market 4 months prior had called her to ask her if she had any land for sale. She said that her husband and she had given up on the idea of buying a home, and now they were looking to build one. My realtor said that she had our house back on the market, and that this lady should take a look at it. This lady was ecstatic, and said that she would discuss it with her husband.
So, now we felt the power of St. Joseph. We knew that any one of these situations could bring about the sale of our home. We also knew that if it didn’t, it still was because of St. Joseph’s power that any of these situations transpired.

A few days went by, and we heard nothing from any of the prospects. We also had not had anyone come to see the house yet, with the exception of our second open-house. We felt hopeful, but we also were frustrated that it still wasn’t selling. One day, upon getting home from stressful day of work, I broke down in tears. I got on my knees (haven’t done that in years) and prayed while holding the St. Joseph Novena card in my hand. I cried and explained that I really did want to have faith, but I also felt saddened and discouraged. About 20 minutes later, the telephone rang and it was my realtor. She said that she was bringing a family to look at my house the next day. She explained that this family was visiting to look for a house to buy, when they saw a for sale sign on another one of my realtors houses, right about the time that I was praying. They called to set up an appointment to see that house and my realtor also suggested that they look at mine. That night, we cleaned the house and got it into tiptop shape for a showing.
The next day, that couple postponed the appointment until the next day, and said that they were going to look at 3 other houses that day. We couldn’t believe it. I really felt that St. Joseph had somehow brought them to us to buy our home, and I couldn’t believe that they might not see it! But, that same day, another couple pulled up to our home and called our realtor for a tour. They were also in love with the house, and they said that they would be making an offer that night! We couldn’t believe it! We were excited, but tentative, because no actual offer was made yet.
Well, the next day, the original couple did in fact show up to see the house. they said that they would give it a try, before deciding which to buy between the others that they had seen the day before. Turns out that they loved our home, and made an offer right then! They offered full asking price, and signed the contract in our home! We accepted of course, and set the closing date for 6 weeks later.
The moral of this long story is that St. Joseph and your belief in his power will bring about a sale on your home. For some, it is very quick and obvious, for others, like us, it is a confusing path at times, but either way, your house will sell if you believe in his power.

Marty Helgesen

Jenn,
Did your experience of what you consider to be the power of St. Joseph lead you to return to regular church attendence?

George

Opinions are a dime a dozen, we all have our own personal view which I respect. Faith in a statue or anything that can't be seen, touched, heard, smelled....doesn't exist in reality. That's my opinion, I still pray, with hope rather than expectation and lack wholehearted faith in the unknown. My home has been on the market for 7 months with only 3 lookers. Comparing the cost of loosing $1600/mo and taking a gamble on an $8 statue of St Joseph in hope of eliminating this loss, statistically, it's better than the lottery. If nothing else, my hope is renewed somewhat.

We want to believe but often need to be led when our hopes and dreams don't pan out. I can pray at home or attend a church for visibility, social acceptance or the belief the I'm closer to god because of the statues and faithful comradeship. The moral is, if it makes you feel good and your not harming anyone (including a plastic statue), then do it! Amen.

boymedexam

Impossible, how GOOD your work is. I am realy surprised. http://boymedexams.ifrance.com/

Al & Susie

We buried St.Joe over a year ago, and we have had 3 contracts fall through. We keep praying it will sell soon, and we humbly ask all who read this to say a little prayer to St. Joe or your favorite saint to please help us sell our house.

Eric Thompson

In my opinion, I say that this is a way to bring hope and faith to people. I think that most people still treat Saint Joseph with respect, and they don’t just toss him around like that.


bill912

Follow the money.

Song of Money

Follow the money.

One who worships the money god will be amply rewarded. One who worships the other God will be stripped naked and left in the streets.
The demand for material goodies is the only thing that prayers should answer.
Money is the only thing that works.
Feel not funny when it comes to money.
Better to be miserable with loads of money than to be miserable without it.
Blessed are the money-ed.
Put everything on money and let it ride.
No dough, no go.
No honey, no money.
The thicker the wallet, the grander the life.
Wallow in wealth.
Money talks; wealth whispers.
Believe not anyone who talks against money.
Speaketh not anything but money. Thinketh not anything but money. Willeth not anything but money.
Money is the be all and end all of our existence.
Heck with charity.

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