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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Friday, August 07, 2009

My Cup Turneth Over

I'm not sure I'll ever catch up to the many questions I have awaiting an answer. Please do me a favor. If I've skipped your question and you are dying for an answer, please ask again and I'll do my best to meet your needs. Otherwise I'll be going back through the comments section to dig out the unanswered.

Today I have an old question and a newer question paired together because...well, you'll see:

Speaking of patron saints, we are trying to sell our house and, while I don't want to bury a statue, I thought I would look on line for a prayer to St Joseph for selling a house. The ones I found all refer to St Joseph being a carpenter and teaching his son the trade and that's why the real estate thing. I seem to recall reading that later translations make Joseph a stone cutter, not a carpenter but I guess that could still work. Anyway, one of the "prayers" tells St Joseph he will be "left in the dark and suffer as Jesus suffered" until the house is sold!! This is a prayer??? OMG! Any other ideas? :-)

I don't think you mean to say "OMG". I'm sure what you mean by this abbreviation is "over my grave" (as in "over my dead body"). We have a problem with some widely accepted abbreviations, although we do chalk them up to widely accepted cluelessness and not some type of 'war' on Christmas, Christians or values that we may not share.

But about St. Joseph...you are correct that modern historians think that St. Joseph's trade was actually that of a stonecutter and not a carpenter working with wood and building kitchen tables for people. In my St. Joseph holy cards that I collected as a child (holy cards are the baseball cards of Catholic children, anyway they used to be), St. Joseph was alway showing Jesus how to build a kitchen table.

And chairs. Or sometimes Mary was serving lunch to Jesus at the kitchen table that Joseph made (because why would they go to Ikea when they had St. Joseph right there?) while St. Joseph worked in the background.

I always imagined that the people in Jesus' neighborhood all sat at tables made by St. Joseph and played Chinese checkers in the evening. Chinese checkers was my favorite game. Sitting here today I can't even remember how you play Chinese checkers. I wonder if it still exists. Surely, it's called something else by now.

What were we talking about? Oh yes, St. Joseph and real estate sales. I've talked about this at length before. I know that there is some type of prayer that comes with the kit, although I've never actually opened one of the kits to read the prayer.

But why do we have to have a prayer written for us? Let's just have a chat with St. Joseph mano on mano.

Dear St. Joseph, Could you please ask Jesus to help us sell our house? You of all people should know how difficult when you have to move from one house to another. We need to sell our house to be able to afford the new house. You had to pick up and move without doing that in a time when you couldn't even go to an ATM. OMG! ("oh, my golly!) Will you please talk to Jesus about sending us the grace to get through these coming days and months of anxiety and upheaval. We know that moving is high on the list of things that cause anxiety, right up there with death and public speaking. Thank you very much!

That said, I'm not above burying a statue of St. Joseph for the reasons I've stated. Which brings me to my next question:
I overheard somebody say that when you lose something you should turn a cup upside down and pray to St Anthony. Ofcourse I have heard of praying to St Anthony for lost things, but I never heard of turning a cup upside down. I asked her what the significance of the cup was, but she did not know. Do you have any idea what it means? Have you ever heard of this custom? I am just curious. I know you are busy, but if you happen to know please let me know. I can't figure it out.

I searched the internet, saint books and polled very old people. I know lots and lots of very old people. No one has heard of the cup thing. That's not to say that there is no such thing as the cup thing. It could be a custom from some particular place.

We may forget why we do the things we do when we perform any type of ritual. Why put a bay leaf under the pillow? Or do anything with your socks? We can only guess.

I haven't a clue the significance of a cup where St. Anthony is concerned except to say that these rituals that go beyond saying a prayer to burying things and turning things upside down and sticking something under something are all about making you mindful in your intentions and prayers. While some people really get their bloomers in a bunch about these practices because they appear to have devolved into superstition, I don't have a problem with most of it unless the person performing the ritual believes that all he has to do is bury a statue, sleep on a bay leaf, wear a little piece of felt all time, etc. That is the definition of superstition.

I have one thought on the cup. What if, back in the day when you didn't go to Target for a new set of dishes every ten minutes, you just had your one cup from which you drink or even eat? (Back in the day, the average woman only had three dresses to wear; one for everyday, one to put on clean, and the Sunday dress. That's why underwear was invented.) When you turn that cup over, you are going to have to pray and search until that item is found, or go thirsty. That would make you very mindful, don't you think?

Happily, St. Anthony works fast, I have found.


Kathryn said...

Dear Sister, as always, brilliant blog. I have searched it and also buried myself in Wikipedia and still feel like my head is going to explode. In discussing married priests with a pal, they said that Eastern Rite Catholic priests can marry. While looking this up, I see that there are many different types of Eastern Rite Catholic religions which align themselves to Rome but don't follow Western or Roman Catholic rules necessarily. How is this possible? It's hard to discern what the differences are, other than getting married and blessing yourself the other way. TIA! (thanks in advance)

katy said...

Thanks for the answer, albeit delayed. I put the St Joseph statue under my pillow and made up my own prayer. The house sold in 22 days. Thanks.

Maureen said...

I won't hear a word against St Joseph. I bought a statue, and I buried it, but not in the ground because I was afraid I might forget where he was, or the neighbour's dog may dig him up; I wrapped him in layers and layers of plastic and put him upside down in the pot of geraniums by the front door.
Our house sold in two days, and for more than the asking price. So then I uncovered St Joseph and unwrapped him, and he is back in his box, ready to come to the new house in a week or two, when we move, and he is going to be put in a place of honour on the kitchen shelf!

Nan said...


Married men may be ordained priests in the Eastern Rite, but Priests can't get married. Their Bishops can't be married either so are always Priest-Monks.

There are over 20 Sui Juris Catholic Churches which came about for different reasons; for example, for 400 years the Maronite church was isolated geographically and had no idea that there were others out there who belonged to Peter's Church but officially they were never out of Communion with Rome (difficult to be out of Communion when you don't know the other guy is out there). In some ways they seem like Latin Rite Catholics, partly due to similarities in development, partly due to latinizations later imposed. If you go to their liturgy, it will seem a bit off due to those differences. Plus, they use some Aramaic.

Most of the Eastern Churches have Orthodox counterparts and for whatever reason, part of a given group aligned with Rome at some time, after having developed separately for some time. Reasons vary by group and may be political or religious.

In becoming in Communion with Rome, a church doesn't give up its own rite; Byzantine Catholics still follow the Byzantine Rite, just like Greek or Russian Orthodox do. What they have to do is to agree on things such as the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome (classic example) and other points of doctrine. They must adhere to the theological concepts but aren't required to express them in the same way.

I have only visited a Ruthenian Church and a Maronite Church so have no direct knowledge of the other churches; there is also a Ukrainian Church where I am. I would expect that outside of a very large city, it would be unusual to have more than a couple of types of Eastern Catholic churches and that will depend on immigration patterns.

You would almost have to look at the actual rite of each church to see differences, but that would only show differences in liturgy. There will also be differences in tradition, both based on what the church itself has decided (such as dietary restrictions going far beyond not eating meat on Friday as the Ruthenians have far stricter fasts)but traditions that are related to ancestral homelands and may vary due to area of origin.

Claudia said...

About 20 years ago my husband lost his job and we needed to move from NJ to PA, where both our families lived.

We listed the property in March and did not have one offer. We really needed to sell this house and move. I heard about the statue of St. Joseph and the procedure for his burial in order to sell the house. St.Joseph was purchased, buried and the proper prayer was said. Daily, I might add.

One week later someone viewed the house and put in an offer. It was sold and we were out of NJ to get on with our lives.

All I can say is that it worked, coincidence??? I will never know. After the move our lives my husband went back to school and our lives were back on track.

katy said...

My OMG only means "oh my goodness", which I do say a lot. Now we are trying to buy a house. After reaching agreement with the seller on price and paying our earnest money we were informed by the real estate agent that it is a short sale. These sales can take months, which we don't have, since we are moving across the country and needed a clean deal as we have to be out of the house we just sold. I was thinking of St Jude for hopeless cases but with all the people who have real suffering in their lives my problem seems unworthy of bothering St Jude. Couldn't hurt to ask, I guess.

Anonymous said...

I love you and your blog. <3 Muchos lols.

Just wanted to add, OMG can also mean 'oh my gosh'. I guess when it's abbreviated, only Heaven knows if we're irreverent or not.

Paul M said...

Remember, Jesus grew up in a Jewish neighborhood. The men played poker and the ladies played Mah Jong.


Anonymous said...

You could always write, "OMGosh" or "OMGoodness" and maybe (maybe) some people will wise up and stop using His name so casually. It's what my 16-y-o decided to do. I was proud of her for her witness.

Laura said...

Thank you Sister for taking the time to try and answer my question about St Anthony and the cup. I always enjoy reading your blog and have learned so much from you. I often get a good chuckle out of your posts too. Keep blogging!

patrice said...

I don't really know about St. Anthony and the cup, but a very good priest, who is also Italian, faces St. Anthony's statue to the wall if St. Anthony fails to find something for him right away. I always thought this was funny. I don't do it myself,becauser I don't have a St. Anthony statue, but I do tell St. Anthony that he will face the wall in my imagination until the object turns up. It works, too.

Kristin said...

@ Katy: Don't ever feel that your problems are "unworthy of bothering St. Jude"!!! He is my patron and if he has the patience to pray so fervently for my trivial problems, then I can't imagine him thinking of anyone's prayers as unworthy of his attention! His intercession is so powerful, it amazes me constantly.

And St. Anthony... often it seems that I barely open my mouth to ask him for help finding something, and there it is! In my experience, he works much faster if you address him and thank him in Italian. :)

Saint Jude, Saint Anthony, and Saint Joseph -- pray for us!

Jane said...

My parents had their house on the market for six months and it didn't sell. So they took it off the market, and then a year later tried again to sell it. They had an offer, and it fell through. Then my mother bought a small statue of St. Joseph and buried him in the yard in a spot she would remember. The house sold a week later. She dug up the St. Joseph statue and took it with them to the new house. St. Joseph is so good with real estate! (And many other things--he is also the patron saint of the dying.)

Anonymous said...

I have had my house on the market for 2 yrs. I bought and buried a St Joseph Statue (following all directions in the package he came in) about a year and a half ago. St Joseph has not helped at all. We had also done this with a townhouse we had over 30 yrs ago. St Joe did not help with the sale of either house.

So now what? Any suggestions? I am ready to dig him up and smash him to bits.

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CurlyGirl said...

I was searching the meaning of the cup also in relation to St Anthony and lost things. My "old school" Italian grandmother used to do this and I swear it works for me. I'm not sure why the cup works with the prayer but I will keep up te practice!