Poor St. Joseph. He's been buried every which way--upside-down, right-side-up, on his back, on his face, on his side, facing north, under the for-sale sign, etc.--as if a little hunk of plastic has any power over real estate.
Thirteen years ago I worked at a Catholic bookstore here in town, and at least once a day someone would come in looking for a miracle--no, they were looking for magic. I'm still a little disturbed at how many worried about how and where to bury the statue. I felt like a broken record: "It doesn't matter if you even bother to bury the statue. You can put it on your window sill. What matters most is that you pray. Pray and have faith. The statue is nothing more than a physical sign of your faith." One woman actually argued with me that there was power within the image itself. She stormed out in a huff after I called her superstitious.
It's incredible how many Christians--both Catholics and non-Catholics--rely on superstition. Non-Catholic Christians have their own little peccadilloes, but I'll stick with the Catholic end of it for right now. Despite beliefs to the contrary, power does not lie within any object or sacramental. A rosary is just a string of beads if it's not used for prayer. A medal is just a trinket if there is no faith in or love for what it represents. The power comes from the Lord, and in our love for Him and for one another. The item is a sign of this love, which is why the item is sacred. This is a very important distinction. Superstition stems from a poorly developed understanding of our world, the supernatural, and our place with regards to both. Superstition assumes that there is power in the object to ward of evil, or that mystery is contained in the object. Superstition, essentially, is idolatry.
I have a statue of St. Francis of Assisi in one of my gardens. There is no power in that statue. It doesn't ward off ghosts, demons, squirrels, stray cats or other scavengers; it doesn't make my flowers bloom better; it doesn't keep my dogs from pooping on the hostas or digging around the yard or destroying the lawn or trampling my daylilies. It doesn't protect my home from intruders. There is no magical power. It's not a conduit to another realm. It has no more power than does a photograph.
That's what it is. It's like a photograph of my great-grandparents. They died before I was born, but I love them. They never laid eyes on me, but they are with me. Does this photograph channel the spirits of my great grandparents? uh, no. The photograph is a physical sign of their love for their family, the family to which I was born, and my love and appreciation to them for this love. I honor them here in the physical world by keeping and displaying their photograph because that's where I exist.
It's the same with St. Francis in my garden. I specifically chose St. Francis because he specifically is a model for my life. He is in my garden as a sign of my faith--a specific kind of belief that I share with St. Francis; his image is saying that I love the person that St. Francis is and believe what he believed so much that I want a constant reminder of him here in the physical world.
Here it is in a nutshell. We are a physical AND spiritual expression of our God who loved us into being. That's what humanness is all about-a being with both a body and a spirit to choose to love our God in return. There is no magical power in any statue, or medal, or picture. The power lies in God's love. Rely on His love, and let these holy items be a physical sign of how much you love Him in return.