Marking the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX proclaiming St. Joseph as the patron and protector of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis honored that December 8, 1870, announcement to the world with his apostolic letter, Patris corde, dedicating this current liturgical year to the venerated foster father of Jesus.
There are nine parishes named for St. Joseph in the Diocese, and Bishop Ronald Gainer will be making a pastoral visit to each throughout the year. The locations that have churches to the patron saint are Berwick, Bonneauville, Dallastown, Danville, Hanover, Lancaster, Mechanicsburg, Milton, and York.
On Feb. 28, the second Sunday of Lent, Bishop Gainer visited St. Joseph’s in Lancaster, which has graced Strawberry Hill in the heart of the Red Rose city for more than 170 years. Bishop Gainer celebrated Holy Mass in the morning, and in the afternoon celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form for the Latin Mass community.
In his homily, Bishop Gainer spoke to the day’s Readings and the story of Abraham’s complete obedience to God obeying the command to take his only son Isaac to the land of Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice, only to be told to withhold the knife; that the act of obedience meant blessings “as abundant as the stars in the sky and sands of the seashore” (Gen. 22).
Bishop Gainer also spoke to the Gospel reading (Mark 9: 2-10) that describes the transfiguration of Christ before the witness of Peter, James and John atop a high mountain. “Christ’s humanity begins to radiate his divinity in the transfiguration,” the bishop noted. Christ’s clothes became a dazzling white as Moses and Elijah appeared as well and then a cloud came casting a shadow and a voice said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”
Jesus was then alone in white and he charged the three with him to not utter a word about what they had seen except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
“St. Joseph takes it all in as well; remains silent, does what God asks of him. He receives God’s plan in a dream, and he obeys it,” Bishop Gainer said. “He stands as a model and patron for us all and is an intercessor…. We could use a lot more silence in our lives today.”
“Can we be more dedicated these 40 days of Lent to hearing the voice of our Lord?” Bishop Gainer asked. “That requires our silence, our listening, to take things in and be quiet because there is so much noise today. The Lord wants us to listen to Him, be silent, and there is no greater example of that than St. Joseph.”
March 19 marks the feast day of St. Joseph, and March is also the month dedicated to him.
(Photos by Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness.)
By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness