Bulletin Letter – 6/9/24

June 8-9, 2024

Dear Parishioners,

After receiving some helpful feedback regarding my letter a few weeks ago on not holding hands during the Our Father at Mass, I want to take a moment to offer a quick note of clarification.  Please know that my intention was not to accuse anyone of being disrespectful during Mass, and I was not trying to make any sort of indictment on anyone in general or in particular.  My intention was simply to offer an honest answer to those who inquired.  As with most questions, if a few were asking, I assumed that there were likely more wondering about the same question.  Thank you to those who reached out to me on that!

While I am on the topic of frequently asked questions, there is another question that many priests receive, especially in the Spring and Summer months; it came to mind in the last few weeks when someone asked me about it.  A few times I have had a thought to write about it here in the bulletin, but have always forgotten.  That topic is, of course, the practice of burying a statue of St. Joseph as an alleged means of selling a home.  This question gets asked with some frequency, often by those who have had their house for sale for longer than hoped for, and are becoming nervous that it might not pan out as they had hoped.

As I respond to those who inquire about this practice, I always begin by recognizing that it is normal to be anxious about the sale of a house- I would venture to say that most people are nervous about one thing or another when it comes to selling one’s home.  I also understand why there is a lot of confusion on this topic.  When you do a few Google searches on burying a St. Joseph statue, you will find many different discussion threads from various websites, and these threads are filled with individuals testifying that they are certain that they were able to sell their house because they buried a St. Joseph statue.  Other websites go even further and tell unauthenticated stories purporting that St. Theresa of Avila buried St. Joseph medals on a property that she wanted to buy for building a convent, that St. André Bessette did the same on the location he wanted to purchase for the building of a shrine, and that St. Frances Xavier Cabrini did the same on the location that she wanted build an elite boys’ school.

However, in those same Google searches, one will also find Catholic writers who advise against the cultural custom of burying a St. Joseph statue.  As such, it is definitely understandable that people are confused on this issue.  So, where does the Church stand on this?  Is it a practice that should be done?

While one will not find any official Church document on the specific practice of burying a St. Joseph statue, the practice itself falls under the category of superstition, and therefore should not be done.  The basis for my saying this is found in paragraph 2111 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “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.”  To put it another way, burying a statue of St. Joseph has no plausible connection with the power of St. Joseph’s intercession for the selling of one’s home, and to conflate the two is dangerous because then we confuse the intercession of the saints with getting what we wish simply because we performed some external action.

That being said, asking St. Joseph to pray for the eventual sale of one’s home is certainly a praiseworthy practice.  After all, finding housing and protection for Jesus and Mary was one St. Joseph’s responsibilities as the earthly head of the Holy Family!  As I mentioned above regarding the Our Father during Mass, I am in no way trying to indict anyone who has done this in the past!  My intention is simply to offer an answer to those who have asked, and to those who might presently (or in the future) be considering the practice.  I hope this helps as an explanation.  If you are in the process of selling your house, then hang in there; St. Joseph, pray for us!


Fr. Ammanniti