A couple of years ago, my sister-in-law and her husband were trying to sell their house. It was before the downturn in the economy, but it still was going slow. Their realtor happened to be a Catholic family member. She suggested a St. Joseph statue and prayer. My brother-in-law was skeptical. He laughed and said, “Do I have to hold the number thirteen while I do it? Do a little hop? Why St. Joseph?”
I understand his skepticism. Christians should not be superstitious. The core reality of what our Catholic Mother-in-law (their realtor) was saying is far different from hocus pocus or superstition. It isn’t about a formula or raising the luck factor. It is about intercession. It is about faith. It is about trusting St. Joseph - that holy foster father of Our Lord and earthly provider and head of the Holy Family - to hear our petitions. In particular, we ask him to intercede in those areas that impact the family, and in turn he presents those concerns to his Son. It’s that simple.
But what about all the trappings? What about the things that seem superstitious or just plain ridiculous? Here’s what I know. Our Lord used the ridiculous many times; so I think I’ll suspend disbelief when it comes to Christ-centered faith and action.
Come here, Blind man, let me put some mud on your eyes.
Lepers, go dip seven time in the river.
Friends, drop your nets on the other side of the boat and see if you have more success with your fishing.
The Blessed Mother probably knew her Son performed miracles by way of odd and peculiar things. Perhaps that’s what prompted her to tell the disciples “to do whatever He tells you.” And what did He tell them? Let’s pour the water from this barrel into that one and then we’ll have wine.
It isn’t about superstition. It isn’t about looking ridiculous. Whatever we do, we do it in faith, with obedience.
And it usually begins with a simple petition. Lord, we’ve caught no fish. Mary, we’re out of wine. St. Joseph, I have a house I need to sell.
Pray for us.
(Five years ago, when my husband and I were having trouble selling our house, we petitioned St. Joseph. We didn't get a ton of money for our house, but it sold at a fair price precisely when we needed it to sell.)