April 23, 2010

Backhanded Blessing

Yesterday someone was coming by to pick up one of those St. Joseph statues that you bury in your yard in order to obtain the grace of selling the house. The ladies in the office asked me to bless the statue, so I made up this blessing, which I pronounced without the hopeful homeowner present:

Gracious God,
we pray that through the intercession of St. Joseph
all who find in this statue an object of devotion
and a means to prayer
may be delivered from all burden of superstition.
We pray through Christ our Lord.

14 comments:

Ad Abolendam said...

Haha. Once, while digging in my front garden, I found one of those statues. Apparently, it must have worked because we bought the house roughly at the height of the housing bubble. :-( Nevertheless, I cleaned off poor St. Joseph, and he now sits unsullied on my bureau. Perhaps I will now obtain the grace to be a more snazzy dresser.

Qualis Rex said...

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That reminds me of the Rabbi's blessing in "Fiddler on the Roof"; "May the Lord bless and keep the Tzar...far away from us."

ben in denver said...

Doesn't this devotion have its origin in Bl. Andre Bisset's acquisition of the land in Montreal where St. Joseph's Oratory now sits?

When we were buying a home, we put a picture of what we wanted under our St. Joseph statue and prayed a litany.

Brother Charles said...

Ben: Yes, that is also my understanding. I only make fun because of the magical/superstitious practices with which this devotion has sometimes become associated. For example, it is sometimes performed here on behalf of someone else, i.e. a covert burial is made in someone else's yard, in the hopes that one's neighbors will move.

NC Sue said...

That's beautiful.
As a convert, sometimes I have difficulty sorting out the difference between the miraculous and the superstitious. Is it just me, or is the line sometimes a bit blurred?

Brother Charles said...

Yes, sometimes it can be blurry. To me the issue is control. If we are trying to control supernatural forces in order to get what we want or think we need, that's magic. If we are surrendering to God and the operation of his Spirit in our lives, that's religion.

Qualis Rex said...

NC to echo Father Cherles' comment, as a cradle Catholic the line is often blurrier than watching a polar bear cross a glacier in a snowstorm. My take is always keep your mind and heart open and available for a miracle. And always preface any petition with "God's will be done". And beware of any PROMISE that "X" will happen if you do "Y".

Father Charles posted awhile back about finding prayer cards that promised "good luck"/wealth/an end to static-cling etc if you pray it and pass it along to 5 people or whatever. Stuff and nonsense designed to prey on the weak minded. But as a convert, you already have a leg up, as you obviously used your brain to convert to Catholicism. So, I have confidence you will be able to disseminate your way through the nonsense.

Lee Gilbert said...

Once when I was living with the friars at Mayslake in Westomont, IL, they told me that years ago (in the 20's) the rich landowners in the area would go fox hunting and wanted the Franciscans to come over and bless their hounds. A friar compose a blessing for the hounds and for the poor foxes "who have not where to lay their heads."

Anonymous said...

I was unfamiliar with this practice,so I did a quick web search and discovered:
http://www.ecojoekits.com
You learn something new every (earth)day.

Brother Charles said...

See. Just my point. I'm all for eco-friendly devotion, but the site's use of "good luck charm" gets at what I'm saying...

Julia said...

Getting a statue of St Joseph, burying it upside down in your yard, and thinking that your house will be sold because of your actions = superstition

Getting a statue of St Joseph and praying and hoping for his intercession as you try to sell your house = just good pious sense

Qualis Rex said...

What's worse is it's an old (backward) Southern Italian tradition to turn the household saints upside-down until they give the requester what they are asking for.

That's one pre-Vatican II "custom" I'm glad went the way of the dodo. Sure wish the household saints would come back tho...

Lee Strong said...

Wonderful prayer!

When I worked at a Catholic newspaper I actually had someone ask me to write an article about how burying a St. Joseph statue could help sell a house. He seemed sincere - though I did wonder if he wasn't also selling statues!

Sharon said...

Most of the world seems to slavishly adopt American customs but the "burying St Joseph" superstition hasn't come to our shores - yet.


Sure wish the household saints would come back tho...

Qualis, just purchase a statue of your favourite saint and put it in your house and the household saints will have come back.