From the Pastor: Parish Dedication to St. Joseph
Last Saturday, May 1, the Solemnity of St. Joseph the Worker, we had a Solemn High Mass instead of our usual 8:00 am Low Mass. During this proclaimed Year of St. Joseph, our Bishop, Gregory Parkes, had announced that he was going to consecrate the entire Diocese to St. Joseph on that day. He asked us to join in those prayers in whichever way we could, and this is how I decided to do so. The altar boys had been clamoring for a special Mass (ya gotta love their enthusiasm to serve!) and this gave us a perfect excuse to have it happen. What I held back from them was that they were going to be serving at the Mass wherein I was going to consecrate the parish to St. Joseph as well! I thought I would share the prayer of consecration with you for the sake of those who were not able to attend the Mass in person, as well as to provide a spiritual tidbit for the edification of all who have a devotion to this holy Saint.
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION TO ST. JOSEPH
O Glorious Patriarch and Patron of the Church! O Virgin Spouse of the Virgin Mother of God! O Guardian and Virginal Father of the Word Incarnate! In the presence of Jesus and Mary, in union with Bishop Parkes as he consecrates the Diocese of St. Petersburg to you, I choose you this day to be the father, guardian, and protector of Epiphany of Our Lord parish.
O great St. Joseph, whom God has made the Head of the Holy Family, accept the clergy, staff, and parishioners, I beseech you, though utterly unworthy, to become members of your “Holy House.” Present us to your Immaculate Spouse; ask her also to adopt us as her children. With her, pray that we may constantly think of Jesus, and serve him faithfully to the end of life. O Terror of Demons, increase in us virtue, protect us from the evil one, and help us not to offend God in any way.
O my Spiritual Father, I hereby consecrate this parish to you. In faithful imitation of Jesus and Mary, I place her and all her concerns under your care and protection. To you, after Jesus and Mary, I consecrate the parish buildings and property, each member’s home and property, our very body and soul, with all our faculties, our spiritual growth, and all our affairs and undertakings.
Forsake us not, but adopt us as servants and children of the Holy Family. Watch over us at all times, but especially at the hour of death. Console and strengthen us with the presence of Jesus and Mary so that, with you, we may praise and adore the Holy Trinity for all eternity. Amen.
Every year I try to read up a little more on St. Joseph before his two feast days, March 19 being the more ancient and well-known. There are plenty of Saints who have commented on this holy man and a few mystics who have been privileged to see and write about his life. Each writes a little bit differently about him, based on their prayers and spiritual reflections. The scriptures hold very little information about him, but that doesn’t mean that truly holy men and women haven’t been able to discern much, much more! One little delightful insight first came my way by means of St. Francis de Sales. He wrote that we have no relics of St. Joseph’s body, just as we have no relics of his blessed spouse, Mary! That we have no relics of Mary’s body is a great way of showing the truth behind the Assumption—body and soul—of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven. The members of the early church revered the bodies of the Martyrs and Saints with great devotion, awed that such people gave everything, including their lives, for God. We have relics of the apostles but none of the Blessed Mother. Why? Because her body is already glorified in Heaven! There is no skeleton in her grave from which to collect relics! We have no relics of St. Joseph, either! St. Francis de Sales believed that St. Joseph was also assumed body and soul into Heaven, uniting the Holy Family once again. And, although that is not a dogma of Faith, it is something held by other Saints as well. An online search quickly yields St. Bernardine of Siena, St. Vincent Ferrer, Servant of God Mother Cecilia Baij, Pope John XXIII, St. Gertrude the Great, and Saint Leonard of Port Maurice all ascribing to this belief.
I will leave you with one quote from St. Francis de Sales, though he addressed this topic several times: Surely, when Our Lord went down into Limbo, St. Joseph addressed Him in this wise: “Be pleased to remember, Lord, that when you came down from Heaven to earth I received you into my house and family, that I took you into my arms from the moment you were born. Now you are going back to Heaven, take me with you (body and soul). I received you into my family, receive me into yours; I took you in my arms; take me into yours; I looked after you and fed you and guided you during your life on earth; stretch forth your hand and lead me into life everlasting.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka