By Katherine Long | Editor
Bishop Douglas J. Lucia welcomed attendees to Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception last Friday with a greeting in Italian: “Buona festa di San Giuseppe — happy feast day on this feast of St. Joseph.”
“Not only do we gather to celebrate the witness, the model of Joseph, foster father of our Savior and husband of Mary, but also to consecrate our diocese to his patronage, to ask Joseph in a special way to intercede for us, that you and I together might be men and women of faith who give their lives totally to God,” he said.
The diocese began a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph Feb. 15; the special period of prayer and dedication culminated on the Solemnity of St. Joseph March 19. The consecration celebrated the Year of St. Joseph, declared by Pope Francis to mark the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s proclamation as patron of the Universal Church, and honored the patron of the diocese’s Year of Vocations, a diocesanwide effort to help all baptized Catholics discover God’s call in their lives.
Consecration is “an act of setting something apart, making it sacred,” according to Mary Hallman, director of the Office of Evangelization. “By our baptism as Catholic Christians, we’re set apart — to become more holy, to accomplish God’s mission for us.” Through our baptism, our first consecration, we are called continually to become more holy and to answer God’s call, Hallman said, and consecrating ourselves to St. Joseph is a way to do that, “by giving our lives over to our spiritual father and [striving to] be more like him.”
In his homily, Bishop Lucia noted he could not help but be conscious that the 12 p.m. Mass was being celebrated during the lunch hour. “Joseph would have been very conscious of that,” the bishop said. “He knew what a hard day’s work was, and he knew … how necessary it was to be refreshed and to receive food for the journey…. As I think of that image for Joseph, I think of the words of the Psalms, which would have been so familiar to him, especially the words, ‘the hand of the Lord feeds us. He answers all our needs.’”
Joseph himself would come to know that his sustenance in life would come from God.
“He learned that particularly in the moment when he was struggling in life,” Bishop Lucia said. “He was engaged to Mary, yet he found out she was pregnant and he knew he wasn’t the father.” He struggled because he wanted to be faithful to God’s law, the bishop said, but he also cared deeply about Mary and had great compassion. “So, in that struggle, in that wrestling with the Lord, he did receive sustenance. As we know, in a dream he would be told, ‘Have no fear, be not afraid.’”
As Joseph and Mary established their marital home, they would face challenges together. “But again and again, they would turn to the hand of the Lord, they would turn to the guidance of God for their lives,” Bishop Lucia said.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, Luke 2:41-51, in which Mary and Joseph find the child Jesus in the Temple, the bishop noted that “Jesus went down and was obedient to them.”
“I love that word obedient because obedience means ‘to actively listen to,’” he said. “That’s what obedience is; obedience is not going ‘yes sir, yes ma’am. I’ll do whatever you say.’ No, it’s an active listening, a being open to. And just as Jesus was open to his parents, he also demonstrates for us the openness of God — that not only was God listening to Mary and Joseph where they were at in that moment, but Mary and Joseph were also being invited to continue to listen to God, knowing that God would see them through whatever came along in life.”
“What a message for you and I, sisters and brothers, as we celebrate today this diocesan consecration to St. Joseph. It is a reminder that God will see us through whatever comes our way. But like Joseph, like Mary, we are invited to faithfulness, the same faithfulness that God has in us as seen in Jesus…. We are invited not to fear because our God accompanies us. We are invited not to let fear be the guide for our lives, but using Joseph and Mary as our models, to let the hand of God lead us always.”
Kneeling before the Year of Vocations traveling icon of St. Joseph, Bishop Lucia offered the Prayer of Consecration to St. Joseph, which concludes, “Console and strengthen me with the presence of Jesus and Mary so that, with you, I may praise and adore the Holy Trinity for all eternity. Amen.”
Find materials and prayers for the 33-day consecration at syrdio.org and information about the diocese’s Year of Vocations at vocations-syracuse.org. Watch the Consecration Mass at youtube.com/syrdio.