It's All Saint's Day 2011 and my thoughts have turned once again to the practice of burying St. Joseph statues upside down. Unbelievable as it may seem, an article on same subject was the most forwarded link in the Wall Street Journal four years ago today -- five rankings ahead of Google's new G-Phone!
Who would have guessed that one in four mortgages would be "underwater" four years later. Maybe that's part of the reason that some vendors are backing way from St. Joseph as a miracle cure (the metaphor the Wall Street Journal used four years ago), and repositioning the saint as someone who protects you from making bad real estate decisions:
“Some people perceive this as a good-luck charm; others see it as something much more divine,’’ said Phil Cates, founder of St. Joseph Statue LLC, which sells kits with 4-inch and 8-inch statues.
Ultimately, Cates said, “it’s about protecting people against bad real estate decisions. I think he’s more of a protector than a home-seller.’’
Others are making repeated disclaimers that burying a St. Joseph statue does not guarantee the quick sale of your home, but advocating the practice nonetheless because "It couldn't hurt."
Still others, including at least one Catholic publishing house, are offering St. Joseph as a model and source of fortitude and faith for millions of households facing foreclosure and financial difficulties. More than a decade ago, a similar impulse caused me to write an article entitled "Doing Justice to the Just Man."
If China is playing the lead roll in the bailing out business, do you think distressed home sellers would be wiser to bury Buddha statues upside down instead of St. Joseph? What about consulting witches and psychics? One in Greater Boston is reportedly performing an average of two house blessings a week -- and that was in May, not a Halloween prank.
Beyond misguided superstition is the wisdom and experience of "divine alchemy." Suffering can bring out virtues, human if not saintly, but financial difficulties can also cause one to become discouraged or embittered. If falling temperatures are causing you to give up on selling your home this year, maybe it's time to rescue St. Joseph statues before the ground freezes.
If you do, we'd be glad to exchange your statue for one of two books offered by Pauline Press -- think of it as a St. Joseph statue buyback program (limited to first 10 respondents):
If you're facing foreclosure, could participation in a prayer group -- online or off -- provide an emotional and spiritual safety net during the holidays? Advent is a season of waiting -- would connecting with others who are waiting for an opportunity to modify their loan or sell their home help you hold onto hope?