Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Catholic Barter: looking for crucifixes

As I get closer and closer to being able to finally hang stuff on my renovated walls, I find that I am in need of things to hang. I have pictures and religious art ready to go but find there is a dearth of... crucifixes. I prefer to have one in every room but it seems that almost all of the ones we own are either broken irreparably or missing (given away, perhaps?).

Once upon a time, we had too many crucifixes and kept our "spares" in a cardboard box. Eventually, that supply dwindled. One was knocked off a shelf by a curtain on a windy day. Another was taken to bed with a frightened toddler and dropped onto the floor in the night. The little San Damiano cross that hung in our tiny bathroom was ruined by flood water shortly after we moved in to this home. Stuff happens. Now, we have more rooms and fewer crucifixes... and I'm on the lookout for replacements.

I counted our needy rooms and have discovered that we need 8 or 9 crucifixes of various sizes. Yes, even the utility room, basement, garage and bathrooms count. Just a small sign of His great love will do. A reminder that He is why we breathe and work and wash and laugh and sleep... and of our hearts' desire to have Him at our side always.

Eight or nine crucifixes. Well, I know that's not in our budget so I thought second-hand would be a nice option. The trouble is that any used crucifix that is being sold has likely been blessed at some point. Since buying blessed items is a no-no, I have a challenge ahead of me. If ebay uses the word "vintage" when describing a Catholic item, odds are it's been blessed!

There is a Catholic shop in our area that has a special room reserved for Holy Barter. That is the room where previously owned Catholic articles (even blessed ones) find new life and new homes. A customer can choose a blessed rosary to take home (for example) without purchasing it in one of two ways: by bartering for it or by making a donation to the missionary work of the store in amount of their choice and placing it in the basket next to the register. It's a wonderful idea and works beautifully. We have discovered a number of household treasures and gifts that way.

After making some excellent secular online trades on Swapmamas, it occurred to me that the Catholic mamas of the world could definitely benefit from such a system. There is a Catholic group on that specific site but none of the members are active. I think it would be a lovely way to share and swap the blessed items from our homes with others who will treasure them. And not just blessed items, but books, CD's, clothing, holy card collections, kid stuff... and whatever else would be profitable for our homes to give and receive.

It's just an idea... because I know that some of you have extra crucifixes in a closet or box somewhere that are ready to see the light of day. :)


  1. Sounds like a great idea--Catholic Barter.

    I've also struggled with purchasing (possibly blessed) religious items from thrift stores. I've erred on the side of purchasing the item to save it from a land fill or sacrilegious use. I just assumed that this was an extraordinary situation that warranted an exception. I will definitively be seeking direction from my Pastor regarding this matter.

    Ad Jesum per Mariam,

  2. I had no idea that buying/selling blessed items was a no-no. Hard to believe that I've spent my whole life Catholic and seem to learn something new about the faith every day!

    Good luck finding the perfect items for your home.

  3. According to Canon 1190, one is "absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics".
    Blessed objects are another matter. The blessing is not "sold" along with the object. So if you buy a blessed crucifix, you must have it blessed again.
    I found this on the Catholic Answers forums.

  4. Andrea- interesting. The selling of holy items (which is called simony) includes sacramentals and not just relics... and a blessed object is considered a sacramental. You mention Canon 1190 which forbids the selling of relics but it doesn't discuss sacramentals. I think I'm going to have to bother some good priest about
    Thanks so much for your comment!

  5. Melody - I hope you'll post when you've talked to a couple of priests about this as I'm curious to know what they have to say.
    In the meantime, what I've further found is that simony more frequent refers to the buying/selling of spiritual things, such as sacraments. But it can refer to the selling of sacramentals.
    From New Advent on simony: "It is thus unlawful to exchange ecclesiastical benefices by private authority, to accept any payment whatever for holy oils, to sell blessed rosaries or crucifixes. Such objects lose, if sold, all the indulgences previously attached to them (S. Cong. Of Indulg., 12 July, 1847)."
    Interestingly, it doesn't say anything about buying blessed objects. I like JOYfilled Family's comment about erring on the side of purchasing them to save them from sacrilegious use. For the intent in purchasing them is not to obtain blessings or indulgences.
    Just more food for thought.

  6. Andrea- It's on my to-do list! lol. My to-do list is long... but I'll get there :)


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