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Diocese of Rockville Centre

Bishop's Homilies


On this eve of the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Virgin Mary and Patron of the Universal Church, we seek to pay honor to Him who watched over and protected Mary and Mary’s Son. This moving Gospel of a humble family. The parents care for Jesus was tested but their love for Him and his for them is summed up in those last words: He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was obedient to them.

What did they have in Nazareth? A simple home but one built by the hands of Joseph, the carpenter. Built with love for Mary and her Son. Built to protect and shelter them. Built to be a home where, as Blessed Paul VI so beautifully reminds us, Here we begin to understand the life of Jesus – the school of the Gospel…Here everything is eloquent. Everything has meaning.

In honor of Joseph who built that first home for Mary and her Son, in honor of that Holy Protector and guardian of the Son of God made man and Mary, our beloved Mother, we are here this evening to re-dedicate this beautiful Cathedral and re-affirm that this House of God is built to the honor and glory of God, Father, Son and Holy Ghost! Built to be His House and our Home where we will always encounter Jesus Christ, always find the answers to the deepest hopes and most loving desires of our hearts. Here we are God’s family; here we are the spiritual brothers and sisters of the Virgin Martyr, Saint Agnes. Here we are the Church.

Thanks to you, all of you, we have something beautiful to offer to God. Thanks to your prayers, your generosity, your love, this cathedral will welcome one and all to let the beauty of this place draw our hearts to God and remind us that He so loved the world that he sent his Son to save us all. I am thinking this evening of a conversation I had many years ago with Dorothy Day. She reminded me that Cathedrals should always be beautiful for the sake of the poor who, like us all, need beauty in their lives and can find it often only here where they can enter freely and let the beauty inspire them as one with Him. Here all are truly welcome!

What we do this evening evokes all of the mysteries of our salvation. Here is the new Baptismal font we just blessed. Children of all ages will go down into the waters that cleanse them from sin to rise to share in the life of Christ. I stand in this ambo from which the Word of God will be preached in season and out of season: God’s Word to form our lives and guide and instruct us on how we should live; and there the Tabernacle where the abiding presence of Jesus is as sacramentally present to us as Jesus was physically present in the home Joseph built for the Holy Family in Nazareth. And this altar, about to be consecrated with the Sacred Chrism becomes the holy table which now will become truly Christ for us. This sacred altar replicates the Cross on which Christ died for us. This altar of sacrifice is where the bread and wine we offer become the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, the greatest gift Jesus left to His Church on the night before he died!

Yes! This night we, God’s family, rejoice that this is our spiritual home where we daily belong more deeply to Christ, to His Church and to one another. As Paul tells us, like Abraham, our Father in faith, we have a righteousness that comes through faith, a righteousness that is God’s free gift of his Love that transforms us and makes us sharers in his Divine life. Ours is the heritage that is enriched above all by our Saint Agnes; a heritage that is guided and shaped by the lives of all the saints before our eyes in the Baldacchino; the heritage that has been passed on to us by the four evangelists who with the angels hold up for us the Sacred Host, the Glory of God given to us for our pilgrim journey as a community of communion, living in the faith and hope and love that mark the witnesses of Jesus Christ.

Jesus prepared himself in that home of Nazareth to bring the message of the Father’s merciful love to the world. From that house built by Joseph he went first to the Nazareth synagogue, then to Galilee and Judea and up to Jerusalem to make the altar of the cross the tree of life and the instrument of our salvation. We too will go forth time and again from this House, built to the honor and glory of the Triune God. We too will be nourished by the sacraments and, above all, the Eucharist to follow Jesus and witness his message of life and love. And as we do so, we carry in our hearts and we proclaim with our lives that Jesus is alive. He lives in our hearts. And it is He, the Crucified and Risen Christ, who bids us to go forth and preach the Good News by our lives, bring his message to all the world by our witness, and proclaim the truth He has placed in our hearts to be made known to all the world. What a tremendous and awesome gift is Life in Christ! What joy fills our hearts to be numbered among His Elect! How grateful we are for all that He has given us! And how much do our hearts offer Him all our Praise, all our Love, all our Lives!