Joseph and Mary’s WeddingLaurence Tiblis
Joseph and Mary’s Wedding
Have you ever thought about the wedding of St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother? Many of us haven’t, but traditionally, January 23 celebrates the Espousals of Our Lady and St. Joseph. While it was never on the Church’s general calendar, numerous religious congregations and dioceses (and places like St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal) celebrate it. Its origins date back to 1416, when a French theologian first proposed a liturgical feast to honor this solemn event. (1)
According to New Advent, this Feast is called “the Espousals” because the word “spouse” is only used after a couple consummates their marriage—and in the case of St. Joseph and Mary, that never occurred. However, their marriage was a real and valid one. St. Joseph took his role as provider and protector of Mary and Jesus seriously. Scripture tells us that he was a just man, and throughout the Old and New Testaments, the word “just” is used to describe people who believe in God and His promises. It’s also a word used to describe God, so we know the term has significance.
In the Gospel, we see that Joseph was faithful. He listened to God and believed that Mary’s Son was born of the Holy Spirit. He trustfully left everything in the middle of the night to flee with Mary and Jesus to Egypt. And he followed the promptings of God once again, when it was time to return to Israel. His love for God never wavered.
In his December 8 Apostolic Letter, Patris Corde (in English, With a Father’s Heart), Pope Francis confirms St. Joseph’s faithfulness and love, saying: “In every situation, Joseph declared his own ‘fiat,’ like those of Mary at the Annunciation and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.”
The Pope also reminds us that like Jesus, St. Joseph lived a hidden life, putting his faith and love into concrete actions, which remained behind-the-scenes. In a world that’s caught up in self-promotion, displaying every facet of our lives on social media, and putting our own desires above the needs of others, St. Joseph shows us the power of living counter-culturally. Acts of humility, self-denial, and hidden service have the power to draw God’s Spirit into our world. They have the power to protect Jesus, Mary, and our Church. They have the power to increase our own faith and the faith of others. It’s no coincidence that the name Joseph means to “add” or ‘increase.”
Let us begin this Year of St. Joseph by renewing our faith and asking St. Joseph’s help in imitating his life, “his virtues, and his zeal.”
Pope Francis’ prayer to St. Joseph:
Hail, Guardian of the Redeemer,
Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
To you God entrusted his only Son;
in you Mary placed her trust;
with you Christ became man.
Blessed Joseph, to us too,
show yourself a father
and guide us in the path of life.
Obtain for us grace, mercy and courage,
and defend us from every evil. Amen.
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