Burying a St. Joseph Statue
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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