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Burying a St. Joseph Statue

5/3/2008 - 04:16 PST

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By Cheryl Dickow

A dear Christian friend recently asked me, “Why do Catholics bury statues of St. Joseph?” Apparently my friend’s Catholic neighbor was putting his house up for sale and along with pounding in a “For Sale” sign in the front lawn, buried a statue. A St. Joseph statue, as my friend was soon to find out. And, in response to my friend’s inquiry as to why a Catholic would bury a statue of St. Joseph, was given the alarming response, “It’s good luck!” As you can imagine, this answer didn’t sit well with my Christian friend, and rightly so.

Good luck? Do we Catholics believe in luck, good, bad, or otherwise, in such a way that it is part of our faith? Of course we don’t. Or at least we shouldn’t. But are we giving that impression? Certainly there are the times when the case isn’t an impression so much as a misinterpretation of what we do. But a Catholic response that says, “It’s good luck!” isn’t a misinterpretation or even an impression. It is a downright violation of what the Catechism teaches on superstitions and thus very, very bad for the image of Catholics let alone the practitioner of such an act. And, really, I believe we all ought to care how we present ourselves and our living, vibrant faith to the world. So today I take umbrage with Catholics who bury statues and tell their curious Christian brethren that it is for “good luck.”

Sadly, too many Catholics today are being catechized by sources such as the secular news, popular magazines, outspoken “conservatives” who must certainly have it “right,” and, with greater impact, new age literature thinly veiled as Christianity. Dare I ask how many Catholics purchased Oprah’s latest recommendation or get their daily dose of faith from Joyce Meyer or Joel Osteen? I would be afraid to truly discover the answer to these questions. Isn’t our beloved Catechism, hundreds of Vatican documents and Papal encyclicals, and Sacred Scripture enough? Add to that the works of wonderful, completely unknown Catholic authors who are trying to bring their works of fiction and non-fiction to the marketplace but seemingly find little or no support from the Catholic populace at large. How can we be over a billion strong and not have the top five, even top ten, spots on the New York Times bestseller lists for fiction and non-fiction? We could be immersed in our faith, and by our sheer numbers be immersing the world at large, and yet we aren’t.

Sadly then, when our faith is developed through secular influences and we are indoctrinated in the ways of the world, we are sometimes prone to behavior that perpetuates the labels that outspoken anti-Catholics throw our way. How often are our dollars supporting ministries that are actually anti-Catholic in nature? Between our actions of misunderstanding (burying statues for good luck) and our purchases of books, tapes, and CD’s from sources outside of the Catholic Church, we are feeding the anti-Catholic machine. This isn’t being persecuted for His sake but being persecuted because we err in our ways. Sadly, even well-intentioned Catholics end up practicing their faith in a manner that is not grounded in the teachings of the Church and then add to this dilemma; thus we have a Catholic who buries a statue of St. Joseph and tell a curious neighbor, “It is for good luck.”

I believe it is important for Catholics to be cautious of presenting themselves as a superstitious lot making use of what outsiders call “amulets, spells, and incarnations.” For many there is an understanding of the difference between all these things and teachings of our faith that encourages us to use the intercession of angels and saints (like St. Joseph). And for many others there is a belief that we think we know enough about our faith to practice and preach it successfully. Maybe this second bunch is the most dangerous bunch and I believe we have all spent too much time in this category, often having just enough knowledge to be dangerous. And for still others the line of understanding has been blurred and many have crossed over into practicing our faith in such a way that onlookers might rightly call us “superstitious” or even “idolaters.” It is alarming the rate in which new-age books and teachings are making their way into our pews. Mix that with our Sacred Traditions and we have many Catholics practicing a morphed version of Catholicism.

This is undoubtedly why, in a recent interview with Catholic talk show host Teresa Tomeo, she had encouraged Catholics everywhere to know their faith better, more thoroughly. As she said, not through conversations with one another that have been influenced by the secular world’s presentation of the Catholic faith but by studying Church letters, reading Scripture along with the Catechism, and participating in studies that have been approved by at least one Church organization. These are only the tip of the iceberg in regards ...

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1 - 10 of 14 Comments

  1. Marilyn Albanese
    1 year ago

    I was disappointed in the article, because there was no mention of what the Scriptures have to say about this practice. Psalm 115, from Catholic On-line, is clear when it states:

    Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to your name give the glory, for your faithful love and your constancy!
    Why should the nations ask, 'Where is their God?'
    Our God is in heaven, he creates whatever he chooses.
    They have idols of silver and gold, made by human hands.
    These have mouths but say nothing, have eyes but see nothing,
    have ears but hear nothing, have noses but smell nothing.
    They have hands but cannot feel, have feet but cannot walk, no sound comes from their throats.
    Their makers will end up like them, and all who rely on them.
    House of Israel, rely on Yahweh; he is their help and their shield.
    House of Aaron, rely on Yahweh; he is their help and their shield.
    You who fear Yahweh, rely on Yahweh; he is their help and their shield.
    Yahweh will keep us in mind, he will bless, he will bless the House of Israel, he will bless the House of Aaron,
    he will bless those who fear Yahweh, small and great alike.
    May Yahweh add to your numbers, yours and your children's too!
    May you be blessed by Yahweh, who made heaven and earth.
    Heaven belongs to Yahweh, but earth he has given to the children of Adam.
    The dead cannot praise Yahweh, those who sink into silence,
    but we, the living, shall bless Yahweh, henceforth and for ever.

    We have a responsibility as Catholics and as Christians to know what the WORD says and then to apply it to our lives before we practice in idolatry. If idolatry works it is because it is a powerful force but not, according to this, from God. God is more powerful and able to bless us and to protect us according to His Word.

  2. anon
    4 years ago

    Folks, I think the thing to take from this article is that to believe in the intercessory power of a saint is fine and right with Catholic belief. It is the belief that something, anything, needs to be buried or otherwise ritualized is where the danger lies. That is a practice in superstition, and therefore directly opposed to our beliefs. I like the poster who said she put a statue in honor on her table and respectfully petitioned the saint to be present in her home and aid in the sale. Great idea.

  3. Gil
    4 years ago

    I am not Catholic but I find burying a statue of anyone is somewhat disrespectful. But,as crazy as burying a St. Joseph statue sounds it works. We sold our house in a couple of weeks after burying a statue.
    Before that no interest in the house at all. Just lookers no bites.
    The funny thing is that in a townhouse complex like ours there are many houses alike. One just like ours has been for sale for months now and for less money. It's still for sale. Strange !!!
    P.S. Please if you bury St. Joseph dig it up right after the sale and give it a place of importance.

  4. Kathryn
    4 years ago

    This article wasn't being "mean" to St. Joseph as one commenter wrote "be nice to St. Joseph". It was explaining that our Faith is NOT in superstition. I personally think it is sick than any Catholic who has a grip on their Faith would do such a thing as bury a statue of a saint or as some do BURY THE STATUE UPSIDE DOWN (they say that is the only way it works). This is so disrespectful to the saint and a disgrace to our Faith!
    But sadly, even parish priests will bless these little statues just for this purpose. (see link: http://www.sjosephcatholic.org) We should have more teaching of things like these from the pulpits. It's sins like these that are quite common amongst ignorant Catholics.

  5. Becky Miller
    4 years ago

    We buried our nativity St. Joseph in the flower bed 4 days ago after listing it in the MLS 6 days ago and we sold it that very day. This past Wednesday, 5-6-09!! The next day we received a back-up offer from another couple.
    This is my third time since March of 2000 that I buried St. Joe to sell my home.
    The first time was after the house was on the market for 3 months and as I was finishing burying it the realtor drove up, went in with the client and walked out saying she wanted the house AND the furniture!! We did not accept her low offer but 2 days later a 2nd offer came in higher ,we accepted it and on the 3rd day a 3rd back-up offer came in! Basically we had 3 people fighting over the house within 72 hours of the statue burial. In 2006 I again buried one I bought on-line and within 5 days a really good offer came in. I readily accepted it! This was in post katrina NOLA and we were competing against 77 other listings in my zip code.
    I totally believe in the intercessory powers of saints.

  6. Jean Stanowicki
    5 years ago

    I detest this idea that one has to bury St. Joseph in the ground in order for him to help. Even more appalling is that there are many people who bury him upside down. How disrespectful! I have been asked about the practice by many non-catholic friends and I always tell them that it is a totally unacceptable practice. Where on earth did this idea come from? I have even been in a couple of Catholic religious articles stores and have seen the kits for sale. (I think next time I will object to the proprietor.) St. Joseph is a wonderful saint - quiet, strong, loving, obedient, faithful. Perhaps you can tell that I dearly love St. Joseph. Seriously, all one needs to do is ask him for help! Just ask him! Don't bury him! This is a highly disrespectful practice that oozes superstition. PLEASE ASK ANYONE WHO DOES THIS TO STOP! Thank you.
    -JFTRS

  7. Sheep
    5 years ago

    I have prayed to St. Joseph the same day for my parents as they have gotten their house sold. About 45 mintues after I prayed to ST Joseph. Be nice to St, Joseph.

  8. mary dubois
    5 years ago

    i put a statue of st joseph from my manger set in plastic standing behind a bush and asked him to help sell my house. which happen with in two weeks. but also gave my daughter one when she went looking for a house. as he is a carpenter to check the house . i also lent my st joseph to a neighbor in this difficult times and she also was able to sell her house. quicker then others.but i am looking for st joseph oil for my son in law who was hurt and is still in pain. i did have oil from someone but through the years miss placed it. mary

  9. Laura
    5 years ago

    Sadly this is true. There's an epidemic where us catholics know little about our faith and fall into wrong practices while giving outsiders wrongful impressions about our faith.

  10. Dawn
    5 years ago

    First: I agree! But before I get onto the burying of a statue in the dirt...
    I double checked the location of this site- I am Catholic- a Convert, and a proud one at that. Oddly, as an agnostic, a protestant and even as a Universalist, I still thought that the Catholic Church was a Christian one.
    Am I wrong? I think not. In fact, the Catholic Church is THE Christian church!!!

    PLEASE don't refer to non- denominational friends/people or other denominational friends/people as Christian. It implies that we are not. That being said...
    the practice of bribing GOD/Jesus to help your house sell by burying HIS foster-dad in the yard is silly and such a sham. I mean shame. It goes right there with the email that swears if I pass it on I will receive a miracle and if I don't I will lose a loved one. GOD Bless


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