Culture of Life
ST. JOSEPH WORKS ABOVE GROUND
Selling your home? Don’t bury St. Joseph — venerate him
BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN
April 30-May 6, 2006 Issue | Posted 5/1/06 at 10:00 AM
The foster father of the Son of God was a hard-working man — an industrious and dedicated carpenter, to be precise.
We remember this aspect of his
life on May 1, feast of
But his builder’s skills and diligent work ethic are not the main reasons many people turn to him as a patron of real estate. They’re hoping he will sell their houses quickly.
“He’s a logical patron for finding
a home or helping someone else find your home,” explains Father Joseph Linck, director of the office of divine worship for the
Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn. He points out that God called
To be sure, seeking
These generally consist of a small
plastic statue of the saint with a set of instructions. Bury
Is this the way to treat Jesus’ foster father?
“Don’t hold the saints hostage!”
says EWTN’s Jesuit Father Mitch Pacwa.
“That’s the basic underlying issue. Pray to
Lonny and Linda Hofer, who had to
relocate from one part of
But first, says Linda, they began
a novena to
At their new home, they got a pleasant surprise.
“When we moved here, my son found
this little statue of
Missionary Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father William McSweeney, director of St. Joseph the Worker Shrine in Lowell, Mass., is uncomfortable with burying the statues, yet appreciates and admires the faith some people put in the saint via the problematic practice.
“I don’t want to do anything that is opposed to that [faith],” says Father McSweeney. “Most people’s intentions are good.” Best of all, he has an opportunity to gently set things straight when they ask or tell him about the burying.
When and where did it become de rigeur to
Father Linck traces the first of two iffy influences to misdirected piety in the Middle Ages, when some folks’ devotional fervor went well beyond the bonds of what the Church actually endorsed.
“It was actually thought that, if you did something to an image of someone, you did it to the person represented,” says Father Linck. At some point people got the idea that the saints could be threatened with various punishments if they didn’t perform certain intercessions. It wasn’t the common understanding but, yes, such silliness happened.
“An image of the saints is meant to be venerated,” reminds Father Linck, who finds devotion to the saints wonderful and encourages balanced piety. “But you can’t say you’re venerating an image of the saint if you’re burying him in the ground.”
kit” is also a misinterpretation of a legitimate 16th-century practice of St.
The practice of sanctifying the ground with a religious medal, so as to place the site under the protection or patronage of a saint, is very different from expecting a cause-and-effect response from the handling of a talisman or a lucky charm.
“The important thing in all this,” he adds, “is prayer.”
It’s a route Stephen Carter
recently took. He didn’t even consider burying
Contemplating job changes and his
responsibilities uprooting his wife and family to a
Within that week, he changed jobs smoothly; before the realtor listed the their house, somebody surprisingly knocked on their door to ask if they wanted to sell it; and the Carters immediately knew the house they inspected in Woodbury, Minn., was for them.
“We looked out the bedroom window,” says Carter, “and there was a statue of Mary with her hands stretched toward our new home.”
In Plain Sight
Linda Hofer tells about her sister
Carolle Weber and her husband moving to
“She had a deep devotion to
says homesellers should invoke
“Pray daily to
The American family has never been under such strain as it is right now, Father Linck points out.
Joseph Pronechen writes from
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