On feastday, Bishop McKnight seeks St. Joseph’s intercession, urges all the faithful to serve



Scroll through the photos to see 24 images from the Mass. 

It is worth noting that none of St. Joseph’s words are recorded in Sacred Scripture — only his decisive and obedient actions.

“This makes St. Joseph a good model for all of us,” Bishop W. Shawn McKnight told a very small congregation in the Cathedral of St. Joseph, along with all who would tune in online, during a March 19 Mass for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary.

“Sometimes, perhaps, we rely too much on words and not enough on action,” the bishop stated in his homily. “We are called to fulfill our vocations and to place the needs of others before even our personal fears and apprehensions: to be a people of action.”

It was the first Solemn Mass in the cathedral since all public Masses in the Jefferson City diocese were suspended, in order to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we might be full of fear,” said Bishop McKnight, his words resonating in the nearly empty cathedral. “We hear every day about how infectious this virus is, and how serious and deadly it can be, especially for those who are over 60 years of age.

“But, my dear people, during this time in which we are experiencing something as close to a plague as we may ever encounter in our lives,” he said, “the Church is called to fulfill her vocation: to be present to those who are in need, the sick, the lonely, the poor and the forgotten!”

He acknowledged that the Church must exercise great prudence in carrying that mission out, in order to keep the virus from spreading more quickly than there are healthcare resources available to handle it.

“Nonetheless, the Church, in her maternal extinct, will not fail to care for those in need,” he insisted. “And in so doing, we fulfill our mission to be light in the darkness.”

He explained that the ancient practice of having patron saints makes a connection between the community of faith and the saint entrusted with that community’s patronage: “We seek their protection as we contemplate their particular virtues or role in salvation history.”

The bishop pointed out that upon appearing to St. Joseph in a dream, the angel told Joseph not to be afraid of his calling in life and all that it would entail.

“The angel seeks to ease not fear of himself, but of Joseph’s own appointed task as son of David, spouse of the Virgin, and foster father to Jesus,” the bishop stated, referring to the Gospel reading from Matthew, Chapter 1. “The angel was not saying, ‘Do not be afraid of me,’ but ‘Do not be afraid of your calling’ — or more precisely, ‘Do not be afraid to take Mary, your wife, into your home.’”

Joseph knew well of the messianic sign prophesied by Isaiah: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel,” (Isaiah 7:14).

“And when he saw Mary as both virgin and mother, Joseph trembled at the thought of being such an immediate recipient of the fulfillment of that prophecy,” said Bishop Mc­Knight.

Joseph was aware of his own unworthiness for this great vocation of being the foster father of the Lord and Messiah.

“Like Isaiah before him and Peter after him, Joseph sought to excuse himself from the scene,” Bishop McKnight noted. “But the angel arrived to prevent him from allowing that laudable reverence to keep him from his appointed task: ‘Do not be afraid — do not allow your holy fear to keep you from your vocation.’”

Joseph immediately did as the angel commanded, taking Mary, his wife, into his home.

Spiritually connected

Joining Bishop McKnight at the altar were Bishop Emeritus John R. Gaydos; Father Louis M. Nelen, pastor of Cathedral of St. Joseph parish; and Monsignor Donald W. Lammers PA, a retired priest of the diocese.

Deacon John Schwartze assisted them.

Seminarian Ryan Bax functioned as the altar server. Shane Kliethermes, a member of Immaculate Conception parish in Jefferson City who is a student at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, proclaimed the readings.

Bishop McKnight noted that making a Spiritual Communion — also known as a Communion of Desire — is an important facet of the life of the Church.

“Sometimes, we can’t always be in church, yet we can always be spiritually connected with one another in Christ,” he said.

At the Offertory, organist Tom Halpin played a quiet variation on the ancient Gregorian chant, “Ubi Caritas.” The words, in Latin, mean, “Where charity and love are true, God is present.”

Bishop McKnight asked everyone to beseech God for protection for all who are suffering at this time of pandemic, including healthcare workers, first responders and especially all who are lonely, poor and most in need.

He then asked everyone to join him praying the diocese’s Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for Protection from the Coronavirus:

O Immaculate Heart of Mary, we entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick. At the foot of the Cross, you participated in Jesus’ pain, with steadfast faith.

Patroness of the Diocese of Jefferson City, you know what we need. We are certain of the power of your intercession, so that, as you did at Cana of Galilee, joy and feasting might return after this moment of trial.

Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform ourselves to the Father’s will and to do what Jesus tells us: He who taught us to “love one another, as I have loved you” took our sufferings upon Himself and bore our sorrows to bring us, through the Cross, to the joy of the Resurrection.

Bring under your mantel of protection all who provide care for the sick and minister to their needs, as your Son implores us to do for one another.

V. We seek refuge under your protection, O Holy Mother of God.

R. Do not despise our pleas and deliver us from every danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.