Before blessing a restored statue of St. Joseph at the Cathedral of the Assumption, Father Martin Linebach called on Catholics to imitate the saint, urged them to pray for his intercession and told his listeners they share an inheritance with the humble family man.
“We’re here today because we’re a part of the ancestors who inherited the vast promises of God,” said Father Linebach during a special Mass on March 19, the solemnity of St. Joseph. The Mass opened a day of prayer that included guided meditation and concluded with vespers.
“We’re here today to lift up one who may have been silent, stood in the shadows, but who through his obedience to God’s will, played a part in our salvation,” he said in his homily. “The important word is inheritance. We share in the inheritance.”
Father Linebach, rector of the cathedral, went on to note that 2021 marks the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as patron of the Universal Church. In observance of this anniversary, Pope Francis declared a Year of St. Joseph to run from Dec. 8, 2020, through Dec. 8, 2021.
The Holy Father declared the year in an apostolic letter entitled “Patris Corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”). In the letter, Father Linebach noted, Pope Francis describes St. Joseph in many ways — as a loving father, a tender father, accepting, courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows. Joseph, who is also patron of the Archdiocese of Louisville, doesn’t speak a word in the Bible.
During his homily, Father Linebach also held up St. Joseph as an intercessor, asking, “Shall we be beggars below his workshop in heaven asking him to assist us, to accept what he did — whatever it is that God asks us to do … to be alert, attentive to the direction of the angels and travel that path like he did without fear?”
He especially recommended St. Joseph to fathers “who may need to travel paths they did not expect so that their spouses and children are protected, that they have what they need the grace of God to teach them about truth, beauty, goodness, sacrifice, the simple gift of time together, to seek that humility in the shadow, for St. Joseph to bless their work.”
Father Linebach also suggested imitation of St. Joseph, whose statue he blessed after Mass.
“By his presence with us in the mother church of the archdiocese, this cathedral and beyond, let us learn to imitate him as once again he is taking his rightful place among us. Learn to imitate him, sometimes in the silence and the shadows,” he advised. “Imitate his humility, his obedience, his faith, his trust.”
Following Mass, Father Linebach blessed a newly-restored 167-year-old statue depicting St. Joseph. Archdiocese of Louisville Archivist Tim Tomes, who is also a member of the cathedral parish, believes the statue dates to 1854, two years after the cathedral was completed. It was removed in the 1970s and later damaged during a series of moves.
After extensive restoration work and being painted for the first time, the statue of St. Joseph has a new home along the south wall of the cathedral near the sanctuary.
A kneeler and chairs will remain by the statue for quiet prayer through the year of St. Joseph along with a devotional candle stand, on loan from St. John Paul II Church.
A prayer card is available to those visiting the statue. The cathedral is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.