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Our family’s devotion to Our Lady of Perpetual Accommodation long predates our reception into the Catholic Church. After moving to England, for example, with two children and some of our earthly belongings and bridges burned behind us and no place to live, and subsequently landing in the best flat in Cambridge, we took ourselves on pilgrimage to the Anglican shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, to say thank you.

But it was not until we were Catholic that we discovered the extent to which Her Most Chaste Spouse was in on the housing thing.

I was introduced by a choir friend to the “solemn tradition” of burying a statue of Saint Joseph head-down in the front yard of a house for sale. This friend had been trying for some months to sell his house, and after the failure of one sale, he had been persuaded to add the solemn burial of Saint Joseph to the arsenal of prayers he had already deployed on this particular front. From the day he buried the statue, the phone sat silent, the information sheets affixed to the For Sale sign yellowed and curled, and his realtor all but disappeared from the planet.

After three weeks of this, my friend dug up the statue. Immediately — maybe not as he was walking into the house, brushing the dirt from his hands, but almost — the phone rang. It was the realtor. The sale closed that month. End of limited anecdotal evidence suggesting that perhaps saints do not always like being treated like part of a celestial erector set: insert statue A into slot B to achieve result C.

This is why, when we ourselves had a house to sell last year, and our realtor suggested we try burying Saint Joseph, we hesitated. I can’t remember whether we said no definitively, but we certainly didn’t say do it right now. As this house sits a six-hundred-mile stone’s throw from where we live now, I can’t say for sure whether any holes have been dug in the yard or not, and I’m not sure I really want to know.

So you’ll understand that I can’t offer any testimony either way regarding the efficacy of the whole interred-Saint-Joseph
thing. All I can say is what we all already know about the real-estate market in these times. As of weekend before last, our house had been on the market for a year. Last Thursday, after weeks of people trickling by to see the house in a spirit of obvious tepidity (“Interior: Fair. Exterior: Fair. Likely to Write an Offer? Maybe”), the phone rang. It was the realtor, calling to tell us that a guy had materialized out of more or less nowhere with a cash offer. If I haven’t just jinxed the deal by writing about it, we close this Thursday. End of more limited anecdotal evidence suggesting absolutely nothing but gratitude where gratitude is always ultimately due.

Do I know whether a Saint Joseph statue had anything to do with any of this? Nope, I don’t. No guarantees from me, one way or the other. But if you want one, you can get one here.

My husband, on the other hand, recommends this thirty-day novena. Apparently he finished it last Wednesday.

Moral: God hears prayers of just.

Moral, Jr.: A thousand years are as a day, and vice versa, and so on. Repeat to yourself the old joke which ends with the man asking God for a penny, and God replying, “In a minute.”

How shall I rate the St. Joseph statue? I don’t know that it works, but I don’t know that it doesn’t. I’m not convinced it’s blasphemous, but I’m not convinced it’s not, either . . .

[Rating: 50/100]

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