It is a common practice for Catholics to have objects blessed. Almost every week here at the parish, someone asks either Deacon John or myself to bless a particular object: A rosary, scapular, statue, an image, ect. Once a religious object is blessed and dedicated for divine worship or veneration, it must be treated with reverence and must not be used in either an improper or profane way (cf. Code of Canon Law, #1171).
So what should we do with these when they break or we simply are at a point where we need to get rid of them. The primary way that Catholics dispose of any blessed object, including old palms from Palm Sunday or even Bibles, is to reverently burn or bury them.
his practice starts, in fact, with the objects that are often used a mass. When a vestment becomes tattered to a point beyond repair or a chalice is no longer in a condition to be used, they are typically burned or buried. If holy water needs to be changed out, we do not pour it down the drain with sewage water, but rather, we pour it into the ground. Even when we receive new holy oils after the chrism mass, we pour the excess old oils into the ground. The idea comes from the same natural process we have where when a person passes away, we return their remains to the earth, for we are dust and unto dust we shall return. It is the same attitude that all gifts come from God and all are returned to God.
Taking this approach with our blessed objects is in opposition to our disposable culture that simply throws everything into the garbage. There is no reverence or recognition of the goodness of the thing that we have. But by disposing of our blessed objects in this way, we acknowledge the goodness of God and his gifts to us.
So if you are a person who gardens or you (or a neighbor) is doing any landscaping, that is a good time to take stock of the religious items you have any that are beyond repair, it is very appropriate for you to place them in the ground. Or, if you are having a bonfire this summer, you may bring along your blessed objects to burn reverently in the fire (NB: It would be inappropriate to place holy objects in the fire and the immediately begin cooking s'mores over the fire. Rather, it would be recommended to cook first and then use the same fire for disposing of blessed objects). If this is done as a family, it can be a beautiful opportunity to teach your children about sacred objects and how to have an appreciation for all that God gives us.
Fr Nathan LaLiberte