14 November 2007
In the cupboard
I have St. Joseph in my cupboard. He's been there since we bought our house. I didn't really notice St. Joseph when we first moved in since it was a rough time. My father-in-law had had a stroke, and long-story-short, my parents-in-law were planning to move in with us. Between the time we made the offer on the house and the time we closed, I found out that my father was terminally ill with cancer and we brought him "home" too to our new house to take care of him in his last days.
In between taking care of my dad and father-in-law, I unpacked boxes. That was when I found St. Joseph tucked tightly into the corner of the hutch in my dining room. I was too busy to think much about it, but pulled him out of the corner so he at least had a view through the glass. It wasn't until after my father had passed away and I really got a chance to focus on the unpacking when I realized the people we bought the house from had put St. Joseph there, hoping he would help them sell the house.
I had heard about people buying St. Joseph statues or figurines and nefariously burying poor St. Joseph upside down in their yard. There are kits, like in the picture above, that give secretly coded instructions on when and where to bury him depending on the price you want for your house, how many bedrooms are in the house, the time of year, how soon you want to sell, the type of soil you have, etc.
I'm kidding...I think.
According to one website, the practice of doing this started with St. Teresa of Avila:
The tradition of burying St. Joseph in the earth began hundreds of years ago during the time when St.Teresa of Avila was opening Carmelite Convents throughout Europe. Taking only the bare necessities and their statue of St. Joseph, her nuns would set out in search of land or buildings suitable for a new convent. St. Teresa of Avila always encouraged her nuns to pray to St. Joseph.
It is believed that, on one particular search, the nuns found a piece of property perfect for their needs. Having no money, the nuns immediately started to petition St. Joseph for the funds needed to buy the property. In the meantime, having no place to stay, the nuns decided to bury their statue of St. Joseph on the property so he would not get stolen or broken.
After the nuns prayed to St. Joseph, someone purchased the land and built them a convent. When it was finished, the sisters dug up the statue and built a beautiful shrine inside in honor of St. Joseph.
Of course, it says this should all be done tactfully, with "the emphasis properly placed on our belief in the communion of the Saints and our desire to do all things according to the will of God."
Ahem. I certainly don't have a problem asking St. Joseph to intercede in the sale of a home and the kits claim it is all part of a prayerful devotion, but burying him upside down with requirements placed on where and when, seems to fall into the superstitious realm. A weird realm, anyway. Supposedly, you bury him upside down because it offends him and it's not the proper honor or respect he deserves, so to help reclaim his dignity, St. Joseph assists you in quickly selling your house so you will go and dig him up and end his embarrassment.
Doesn't sound like a good idea to me. If I were St. Joseph and you did this to me, I can't say I'd be too eager to help you. I might even create some mischief, but then I'm no saint.
The people that owned our home may have bought this homeselling kit (since this is the exact plastic St. Joseph that's in my cupboard), but at least they didn't bury St. Joseph in the yard. I've fondly left St. Joseph in the cupboard as kind of the patron of our home. I don't know what he thinks about the dark accommodations in the cupboard corner. I just hope he has a sense of humor.