2018 Update: I’m still not sure if this is something we should be doing. Comment with your thoughts.
Call it the remnants of my Protestant aversion to anything that appears remotely superstitious, but the whole idea of burying a St Joseph statue smacks of voodoo, hoodoo, Santeria, or other superstitious traditions, whispered about in the dark.
Of course, it’s fine to have St Joseph Statues on your home altar or in other parts of your house.
Why Would One Bury a St Joseph Statue in the Ground?
According to pious tradition, when one is seeking to sell his home, one should bury a St Joseph statue upside down, on the property, because it is said he will work harder to leave the ground so that he can have a comfortable home to live in.
Is St Joseph actually held captive in your backyard?
Where does this s belief come from?
“Some say that this tradition goes back from what is called the “degradation of the saints”. At that time the tradition was that you threatened the saints by burying them and with that saying to the saints. “I will keep you with your head down in the dirt until you sell my house for me”. Source.
Even though no one threatens St Joseph anymore, the tradition of burying the statues has stuck.
What Does the Church Say About the Use of Sacramentals in this Way
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that:
2110: The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion. Superstition 2111: 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.
The Baltimore Catechism
The Baltimore Catechism discusses how a person may sin by using a sacramental.
“A. Persons may sin in using Sacramentals by using them in a way or for a purpose prohibited by the Church; also by believing that the use of Sacramentals will save us in spite of our sinful lives. We must remember that Sacramentals can aid us only through the blessing the Church gives them and through the good dispositions they excite in us. They have, therefore, no power in themselves, and to put too much confidence in their use leads to superstition.”
But, But… How is Burying a St Joseph Statue Different from Wearing a St Benedict Medal to Ward Off Evil?
Praying for the intercession of a Saint and wearing a medal to remind us to pray is fine.
However, if you attribute any sort of power to the medal, then that is being superstitious.
The idea of forcing St Joseph to intercede in the sale of the house, is frankly so ludicrous, it is embarrassing.
This sort of thing doesn’t make Catholics look good at all.
Have you ever buried a St Joseph statue to sell your house?
Do you think it’s horribly, embarrassingly superstitious or not?