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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Burying Statues

It is an old tradition (with a small "t") that burying a statue of St. Joseph in the yard of a house that is for sale will make it sell more quickly. It's based on the medieval practice of "torturing the saints" - doing cruel things to the image of a saint in order to "force" the saint to help you. Story after story to this effect has gone around parishes and the Internet for decades.

I'm here to break the chain.

When we were preparing to move to Texas, we contacted a realtor to handle the sale of our house in Peoria.

When she came in, she said, "This is a very nice house."
"Yes," I replied, "How's the housing market?"
"I really like the built-in bookshelves," she replied.
"Yes," I answered, "How's the housing market?"

There was a pause.

"Houses are selling well in certain parts of town," she said.
"Is this neighborhood one of those parts?" I asked.

There was a pause.

"Well.... you may have noticed several houses in your neighborhood for sale over the last year..." the words started tumbling out in a rush, "Well, no realtor in the city has sold a house in your neighborhood for over a year."

Veronica looked at me. I looked at the realtor, and looked back at Veronica.
"St. Joseph," she said.
I nodded.
The realtor laughed and said, "Oh, burying a statue, are you?"

Veronica and I shook our head and said in unison "NO!"
"I'm Catholic, which means I'm not superstitious. That's just foolishness," I answered.
"We pray a novena to St. Joseph," added my wife. "He'll take care of us."
"And we don't have to torture his statue." I finished helpfully. "A whole chain of events has come together far too quickly and efficiently to be anything but a God-plan. God wants us in Texas. Everything points to it. He'll take care of this. And St. Joseph is the man through whom He will do it."

So, we cleaned, we painted, we got some friends to help us plant new flowers, we spruced up the front garden and we prayed our novena.
After two weeks of hard work, we were finished.
We put the house on the market.

It was under contract in eight days.


But there was one fly in the ointment.

The buyer wanted a radon test of the air in the basement.

We had absolutely no reason to think it would pass the test.
The house was built in 1923, with little airflow in the basement, there was every reason to think the radon concentration in the basement would be higher than 4.0, which is the radon concentration in the ambient air outside the house.

We needed a rating of 4.0 or under in order to avoid over a thousand dollars in remediation work.

Again, we asked St. Joseph for help.

The radon test came in at 3.9.

Our statue of St. Joseph is in Plano with us and remains unburied.
It shall always remain so.

If you are selling your house, engage in the second oldest prayer tradition in Christendom (the Our Father being the oldest). Start a novena. Ask St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers and households, to pray for you.

And don't torture his statue.

If you send this post to everyone you know and something nice will happen, and I can even tell you what that "something nice" will be.

A few of the people who receive it will remember that they are Catholics and they will stop acting like superstitious pagans.


Patrick said...

I question how superstitious this really is. Much like keeping your hands folded in prayer, this physical act can be taken to remind you of what you're doing. I'd rather have someone bury a statue to remind them that they are counting on a saint to help them than to wallow in useless desperation. Though it does remind me of an older woman I knew who used to pray, "St. Joseph, if you don't answer this petition, I'll go to St. Jude." She said this petition worked for her every time.

Robin L. in TX said...

I can't agree with Patrick. Burying a statue on its head is not reminding them that they are asking a saint to intercede on their behalf to allow them to do God's will. Leaving the statue on a family altar and praying a novena to that saint asking his intercession IS.

In Christ's peace and joy,

Robin L. in TX

Catholic Fire said...

We prayed a novena to St. Joseph for the sale of our home, but it wasn't until we prayed to Our Lady of Gualalupe (a photo of her image) that we got our house sold.

Congratulations on your new position!

God bless you,

Bill said...

We've found that it's impossible to finish a novena to St Joseph before he intercedes and gits-r-done. Fastest response so far: friends were adopting a baby, birth mother changed her mind. My wife fired up a novena to St Joseph, an hour later the girl changed her mind and the remainder of the novena was prayed in thanksgiving.

I don't check in often enough - I didn't realize you'd moved to Texas!