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Praying for St. Joseph’s intercession

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

May 6, 2020

The following is Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s homily for the consecration of the Diocese of Ogdensburg to St. Joseph on May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

During the ten years that I have been bishop, we’ve had to close five parish churches that were under the patronage of St. Joseph. They were in Treadwell Mills, Mooers, Massena, Bombay and Malone. With this special consecration of the Diocese of Ogdensburg to St. Joseph today, I want to assure the parishioners of these former parishes, indeed, remind all of us, that St. Joseph has not become a forgotten saint. Back in 2017, I consecrated the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. God desires that all children be entrusted to the loving and caring heart of a mother and a father. Mary is our spiritual mother. Joseph is our spiritual father.

Just a few years ago St. Joseph’s name was added to the Eucharistic Prayer for every Mass, in acknowledgement of his importance in the communion of saints and of how vital the Church considers his intercession today. My friends, it is time for our total consecration to St. Joseph. What better place for that to happen than at the Motherhouse of our very own Sisters of St. Joseph!

Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. After much prayer and reflection, I decided that you and I, the entire Church of the North Country will put St. Joseph to work, particularly this next year as the Diocese of Ogdensburg is consecrated to this holy man.

Our Diocese is placing a lot on his plate. We place before him some urgent needs of our Church, our families and marriages, our communities, our country, nations of the world, and all our hurting sisters and brothers. We will “go to Joseph.” Yes, on this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we will put St. Joseph to work for us.

The urgency of the moment is part of the reason why I believe the Lord put on my heart the desire to consecrate this local Church in a special way to St. Joseph at this time. Now, more than ever, we need to go to St. Joseph! We need to pray fervently for his intercession, particularly under the titles we will soon voice in the Litany of St. Joseph about which FatherDonald Calloway wrote extensively.

Let us reflect on some of them and consider how they speak loudly of a need we experience today. Our reflection should begin with Joseph, Hope of the Sick. Those of us who have made a pilgrimage to St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal are aware of St. Joseph’s powerful intercessory prayer for healing. The Oratory’s walls, lined with crutches, give tangible testimony to the effectiveness of his prayer.

As Hope of the Sick and Comfort of the Afflicted, we rely on St. Joseph’s intercession for those suffering from the corona virus, for those who struggle with cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse, and all debilitating diseases. Joseph, Hope of the Sick and Comfort of the Afflicted, pray for us!

Another title in our Litany that causes me to go to St. Joseph is that of Protector of Holy Church. Today, not only do we experience terrible polarization in our society, tragically such divisiveness has infiltrated our Church. Extremists from both ends of the ecclesial and ideological spectrum do little to build up the Body of Christ. They threaten the peace and unity that our Savior prayed for.

As the Terror of Demons, we seek St. Joseph’s protection against the wiles of Satan as the evil of sexual abuse by Church leaders and the mishandling of such misconduct has caused great pain in the lives of so many. Joseph, Protector of Holy Church and Terror of Demons, pray for us!

We, also, plan to put St. Joseph to work as the Zealous Defender of Christ. It is no secret that today society has, in so many ways, pushed Christ to the margins of our daily lives or completely off the radar screen. We pray that Joseph, who brought his Family, Jesus and Mary, on the perilous journey to Egypt and back, will help us bring Jesus back into our families during these troublesome times. We pray that St. Joseph will help us in our continuing efforts to address our diocesan pastoral priorities of Creating a Culture of Vocations, Strengthening Faith Formation in Family Life and Building Parishes with Living Stones. St. John Paul II wrote: It is precisely the intrepid faith of St. Joseph that the Church needs today in order to courageously dedicate herself to the urgent task of the new evangelization. Joseph, Zealous Defender of Christ, pray for us!

We will turn to Joseph, Mirror of Patience and Pillar of Families. It seems today that everybody is yelling at somebody. Patience is in short supply. Vulgarity, insulting others is much in vogue. Respect for the other person, for the unborn and the person sitting across from us at the supper table, appears to be a virtue of times gone by. Reflecting the unfortunate polarizing phenomenon in which we have become mired, we are increasingly blind to our own personal failings and sinfulness while having no patience for the weaknesses of others. We must encourage and pray that our families will be strengthened as the domestic church. In a special way today, we pray for our fathers. All children desire a father whose heart is strong, faith-filled, protective and gentle. St. Joseph, Pillar of Families, Mirror of Patience, pray for us!

We especially entreat St. Joseph, Model of Workers at this time when so many have lost their jobs because of the pandemic. Breadwinners are anxious about their ability to provide the basics for loved ones at home. Jesus grew up in the same condition as the vast majority of people. He wasn’t raised with wealth, prestige or influence but in ordinary obscurity. “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” The worries of providing the basics for Jesus at his home, gives Joseph the attentive ears and understanding heart that today’s breadwinner’s need in these uncertain times. St. Joseph, Model of Workers, Pray for us and our loved ones who are without a job.

Joseph, Spouse of the Mother of God: Under this title I am reminded of the equal respect and dignity due every wife by her husband. Too often, not only in other societies, but even in the Western world, wives suffer emotional, sexual, and physical abuse. Too often, they are taken for granted. As we near the day in which we will honor our moms on Mother’s Day, albeit taking her out for dinner isn’t an easy option this year, we pray that their husbands always be true soul companions and loving sources of support and respect. We go to Joseph, the Spouse of the Mother of God as the model for all husbands.

I know that we are placing a heavy burden on St. Joseph as we consecrate this year to him. For Jesus, Joseph set the model of manhood in service to the will of God. We know that he is well-equipped to receive our prayers and present them to his Son, our Lord. Perhaps, each month during the next year, we might take one of the titles of Joseph of this Litany and apply it to our personal lives, those of our family, community, and our Church.
My sisters and brothers, Joseph the Worker will earn his saintly stripes as we begin this special year in our local Church and place before him the desires of our hearts so that this carpenter might present them to Jesus, drawing us closer to Him and to one another. Good St. Joseph, pray for us!


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