Families: Help Celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph on March 19, 2022 By Building a Saint Joseph Altar in the Lyceum

An example of a Saint Joseph altar

While Lent is traditionally a somber season, Saturday, March 19, 2022, brings a brief respite with the Feast of Saint Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Saint Joseph was a man of great virtue to be studied, imitated and honored.

This year we will pay tribute to the humble carpenter here at the Basilica by constructing a traditional Saint Joseph Altar in our parish Lyceum Auditorium, 313 Duke Street. The altar is a custom in many Catholic countries, especially Italy, and was brought to this country by immigrants. The devotion is popular among Italian Americans in the Northeastern United States and New Orleans. The custom is so common in Southern Louisiana that there is scarcely a home or parish without an altar!

There are several ways you and your family can participate:

MASS & ALTAR SET UP: We begin the day with our regular 8:30 a.m. Mass. After Mass, your help is needed to set up the Saint Joseph Altar in the Lyceum.

FOOD: Following Mass, bring to the Lyceum any baked goods, casseroles and other special dishes you’d like to share as offerings to God by way of the good San Giuseppe. Especially welcome are breads, cakes and cookies! Click here to sign up to bring food.

ALTAR BLESSING & SOCIAL: Our Saint Joseph Altar will be blessed after the 5 p.m. Vigil Mass, followed by a social. We will want to eat! Manga, manga! So, please bring heartier foods (like casseroles) for that part of the celebration. For those parishioners without the magic touch in the kitchen, feel free to bring something from the grocery store or a bottle of chianti.

FOOD FOR THE POOR: It is an Old-World custom to provide food to the poor on this feast day, an act of almsgiving since the feast falls in Lent. Please bring canned and other non-perishable foods to the Lyceum to share the joy and communion of Saint Joseph with those most vulnerable among us.

For those families who want to make their own Saint Joseph Altar at home, click below to watch a great video that will show you how:

Click here to download a Saint Joseph cutout for your altar.

Here is a blessing to recite with your family if you make an altar at your home. The Blessing of the Altar usually takes place on March 18th, the evening before the feast:

Leader: O, glorious St. Joseph, we stand before this Altar with joyful and grateful hearts. We lovingly present to you the labor of our hands and the dedication of our hearts that have fashioned this Altar in your honor. We again place ourselves under your powerful protection. Help us follow your example of complete trust and faith in Divine Providence. Open our minds and hearts to love and serve the poor, the suffering and those rejected or ignored by society. As a family, teach us to love and honor each member of our families with the love and reverence you had for Jesus and Mary. As a nation, inspire in us the will and the way to live in peace with all nations of the world that in our day we can experience the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer–“Peace be to you.” Grant this through Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns forever and ever. Amen.

All: O, Glorious St. Joseph, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ and the glory of His name, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.

Leader: Lord Jesus, bless this Altar, all this food, the candles and all those who visit it. We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

(As the Altar is being blessed, the Litany of St. Joseph is said or a hymn is sung.)

All: Remember, O most pure spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, my sweet protector, St. Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or implored your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding therefore in your goodness, I come before you and humbly supplicate you. O, despise not my petitions, foster father of our Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.

For more information, or to volunteer to help, please contact Aaron Zanca at [email protected] or 703.836.4100, extension 3024.

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