Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Colacicco, drawing on the day’s Gospel, referred to Jesus as a “cushion” to bring us comfort and security during life’s storms in his homily at the 43rd annual Columbus Day Mass Oct. 12.
Cardinal Dolan was the principal celebrant of the morning Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Bishop Colacicco was reflecting on the Gospel from Mark where Jesus slept comfortably on a cushion through a storm at sea. He said the Covid-19 pandemic and the toppling of Christopher Columbus statues as examples of today’s storms.
“Today’s familiar Gospel has always been a source of solace and comfort when we face any sort of trial in our lives,” the bishop said. “It was the same for those who came before us. St. Mark tells us Jesus was asleep on a cushion. Why do you think he gives us that detail? He could have simply said the Lord was asleep. That would have been enough...It causes us to wonder. It causes us to reflect.
“The cushion was a buffer, a comfort making possible a sense of serenity and peace.”
Bishop Colacicco later held up his grandfather’s Ellis Island immigration inspection card from when he arrived in the United States in 1920 and his own baptismal certificate.
“We know that faith in Christ comes about in different ways, but for most of us, we were taught the faith by our parents and grandparents. They taught us not only by word but most especially by example,” he said.
“The cushion upon which Columbus, my grandfather and your grandparents rested was their faith. When they stepped upon the soil of the new world, the first thing they did was give thanks to God. For our direct ancestors, the one thing that was familiar in this new place was the Holy Mass. When in church, they could close their eyes and feel that they were home.
“The storms of life are inevitable. To face them, we need the same courage and faithfulness our ancestors possessed or else we flounder and drown. The cushion upon which we rest our heads, the cushion which provides comfort, security and solace is the knowledge of where we came from and faith in where we are going. When we lose sight of this truth, this compass, we begin to drift through life without purpose and direction.”
Bishop Colacicco concluded his homily by saying Jesus instills courage in us, so there is no fear, and inspired the famous explorer and our ancestors to cross the waters to the new land, and later to eternal life.
“The one who was asleep on the cushion while the boat was tossed about on the sea has now become our cushion. Whatever the storm in our life, we rest in Jesus,” he said.
“The question is, do you believe in this? In the midst of every new storm, the answer to that question is all that really matters because it will determine the outcome.”
In the opening procession, Cardinal Dolan stopped to greet Francesco Genuardi, consul general of Italy to New York, and Marian Pardo, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation. The holiday crowd was sparse, especially in comparison with the large gatherings at the cathedral for Columbus Day Mass in previous years.
Cardinal Dolan welcomed all in Italian and English, including those viewing on the Catholic Faith Network and the cathedral’s livestream. He was joined at Mass by deacons, priests and bishops, including Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.
“We may be few, but we are very good, and we are very loyal to the beautiful tradition of this Columbus Day Mass,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Faith, family and food; friendship, neighborhood and parish; patriotism, music, art, culture, love, warmth, prayer, all part of the Italian genius that we celebrate as a nation and as a city today.”
The first reading from Isaiah, read by JoAnne Pollio, and the Gospel from Mark, read by Deacon Anthony Mammoliti of St. Dominic’s parish in Brooklyn, were both proclaimed in Italian.
Cardinal Dolan closed Mass with prayers in English and Italian before the national anthems of Italy and the United States were sung.
Although the Columbus Day Parade on Fifth Avenue was canceled due to coronavirus restrictions, the Columbus Citizens Foundation and WABC-TV produced a 90-minute show featuring the unveiling of the statue of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, patron of immigrants, in Battery Park. Making appearances were Cardinal Dolan, recording star Andrea Bocelli, entertainer Joe Piscopo, Maria Bartiromo of FOX News, as well as distinguished honoree, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Grand Marshal Gov. Andrew Cuomo.