St. Luke 1:27 The Virgin was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David.


Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican Gardens, 5 July 2010: The espousals between Joseph and Mary are an episode of great importance. Joseph was of the royal line of David and, in virtue of his marriage to Mary, would confer on the Son of the Virgin - on God's Son - the legal tile of "Son of David," thus fulfilling the prophecies. The espousals of Joseph and Mary are, because of this, a human event, but determinant in the history of humanity's salvation, in the realization of the promises of God; because of this, it also has a supernatural connotation, which the two protagonists accept with humility and trust.

 

Venerable Maria de Agreda The Most High spoke to the heart of the high priest, inspiring him to place into the hands of each one of the young men a dry stick, with the command that each ask his Majesty with a lively faith, to single out the one whom He had chosen as the spouse of Mary. While they were thus engaged in prayer the staff which Joseph held was seen to blossom and at the same time a dove of purest white and resplendent with admirable light, was seen to descend and rest upon the head of the saint... And the priest espoused Mary to the most chaste and holy of men, Saint Joseph.

 

St Josemaria Escriva: You don't have to wait to be old or lifeless to practice the virtue of chastity. Purity comes from love; and the strength and gaiety of youth is no obstacle for noble love. Joseph had a young heart and a young body when he married Mary, when he learned of the mystery of her divine motherhood, when he lived in her company, respecting the integrity God wished to give the world as one more sign that he had come to share the life of his creatures. Anyone who cannot understand a love like that knows very little of true love and is a complete stranger to the Christian meaning of chastity.

 

St Albert the Great: Here is the name of Joseph which deserves the homage of virtue, because Mary was espoused to the just Joseph, but not united to him in concupiscence.  Reflect on the vow of virginity of both these spouses, for it is stated that the angel was sent by God to a virgin espoused to a man named Joseph.  And this is said because she was found to be with child before they were united.  Since therefore she had been espoused before this was revealed to her that is since she had been entrusted to his care, up to the time when, because of her physical condition, she was found to be with child, this union would not have continued unless, by mutual consent, they had already made a vow of virginity.

 

St. Francis de Sales: How exalted in the virtue of virginity must Joseph have been who was destined by the Eternal Father to be the companion in virginity of Mary! Both had made a vow to preserve virginity for their entire lives, and it was the Will of God to join them in the bond of a holy marriage.

 

Pope Benedict XVI, Yaoundé, Cameroon, 18 March 2009: Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing. In contemplating Joseph, all men and women can, by God’s grace, come to experience healing from their emotional wounds, if only they embrace the plan that God has begun to bring about in those close to him, just as Joseph entered into the work of redemption through Mary and as a result of what God had already done in her.


St. Bernardino of Siena:  St Joseph was the living image of his Virgin Spouse; they resembled each other like two pearls.


Pope St. John Paul II, Redemptoris Custos: In the Liturgy, Mary is celebrated as "united to Joseph, the just man, by a bond of marital and virginal love." There are really two kinds of love here, both of which together represent the mystery of the Church -virgin and spouse - as symbolized in the marriage of Mary and Joseph. “Virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God not only does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes and confirms it. Marriage and virginity are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the Covenant of God with his people,” the Covenant which is a communion of love between God and human beings.

 

St. Jerome: That God was born of a virgin we believe because we read it.  That Mary consummated marriage after her childbirth we do not believe because we do not read it.  Nor do we say this in order to condemn marriage, for virginity is itself a fruit of marriage, but because there is no license to draw rash conclusions about holy men.  For if we wish to take the mere possibility into consideration, we can contend that Joseph had several wives because Abraham and Jacob had several wives and that from these wives, the ‘brethren of the Lord’ were born, a fiction which most people invent with not so much pious as presumptuous audacity.  You say that Mary did not remain a virgin; even more do I claim that Joseph was virginal through Mary, in order that from a virginal marriage a virginal son might be born.  For if the charge of fornication does not fall on this holy man, and if it is not written that he had another wife, and if he was more of a protector than a husband of Mary, whom he was thought to have as his wife, it remains to assert that he who merited to be called the father of the Lord remained virginal with her.


Pope Leo XIII, Quamquam Pluries:  There are special reasons why Blessed Joseph should be explicitly named Patron of the Church and why the Church should in turn expect much from his patronage and guardianship.  For he, indeed, was the husband of Mary and the father, as was supposed, of Jesus Christ.  From this arises all his dignity, grace, holiness, and glory.  The dignity of the Mother of God is certainly so sublime that nothing can surpass it; but none the less, since the bond of marriage existed between Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, there can be no doubt that, more than any other person, he approached that supereminent dignity by which the Mother of God is raised far above all created natures.  For marriage is the closest possible union and relationship whereby each spouse mutually participates in the goods of the other.  Consequently, if God gave Joseph as a spouse to the Virgin he assuredly gave him not only as a companion in life, a witness of her virginity, and the guardian of her honor, but also as a sharer in her exalted dignity by reason of the conjugal tie itself.


♔ ST JOSEPH THE OLD WIDOWER? ♔

Given the customs at the time, Mary was believed to be no older than sixteen when she was married. We are told by the mystics Venerable Maria de Agreda, Mother Maria Cecilia Baij, and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, that Joseph was a young man at the time of his espousal to Mary. Through the ages, art has shown him as an elderly man hunched over his walking stick, barely able to stand. Joseph was not a senior citizen. No offense to the elderly, but God would choose a strong, energetic man who would be able to support his family. Why, then, was Joseph depicted as an old man in so many European art pieces through the centuries? There are two reasons for this:

The first reason was to explain the “brothers and sisters” of the Lord, mentioned in the Bible. The apocryphal book titled, “The History of the Carpenter Joseph,” states that he was once a priest as well as a carpenter who was a widower with four sons and two daughters, meaning Mary’s stepchildren would be far older then she was. Apparently, Joseph was old enough to be Mary’s grandfather. This is false, and the notion of Christ having “brothers and sisters” will be explained in a later post, though some Christians are too proud and do not want an explanation—choosing instead to be deaf to the fact that Mary and Joseph were both young virgins at the time of their marriage and remained so afterward.

The second reason for the elderly Joseph was to protect the virginity of Mary. The idea of the Virgin Mary living with a handsome and robust man was not acceptable as people would think that he might have some inclination to have sexual relations with her, therefore robbing her of her virginal title. This insults both Joseph and his bride. The Bible tells us that the Messiah would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14.) Mary herself tells us this when the angel Gabriel tells her she will conceive: “How can this be since I am a virgin?” (St. Luke 1:27, 34.)

St. Jerome (347–420,) Doctor of the Church, explains the virginal relationship between Joseph and Mary:

That God was born of a virgin we believe because we read it. That Mary consummated marriage after her childbirth we do not believe because we do not read it. Nor do we say this in order to condemn marriage, for virginity is itself a fruit of marriage, but because there is no license to draw rash conclusions about holy men.

For if we wish to take the mere possibility into consideration, we can contend that Joseph had several wives because Abraham and Jacob had several wives and that from these wives, the ‘brethren of the Lord’ were born, a fiction which most people invent with not so much pious as presumptuous audacity. You say that Mary did not remain a virgin; even more do I claim that Joseph was virginal through Mary, in order that from a virginal marriage a virginal son might be born. For if the charge of fornication does not fall on this holy man, and if it is not written that he had another wife, and if he was more of a protector than a husband of Mary, whom he was thought to have as his wife, it remains to assert that he who merited to be called the father of the Lord remained virginal with her. — St. Jerome

♔ VOWS OF CHASTITY ♔

The earliest saints of the Church, who would have had contact with the original twelve Apostles, were all in agreement that the mother of Jesus was a virgin both before and after the birth of Christ. Also, Church traditions fully support that Joseph, being led by the Holy Spirit, chose to offer everything about himself to God, and had made a vow of virginity early on in life. Given that he was sanctified by God, and given many special graces, this doesn’t seem so strange.

Venerable Maria de Agreda: From his twelfth year he had made and kept the vow of chastity… and was known for the utmost purity of his life, holy and irreprehensible in the eyes of God and of men.

St. Francis de Sales: How exalted in this virtue of virginity must Joseph have been who was destined by the Eternal Father to be the companion in virginity of Mary! Both had made a vow to preserve virginity for their entire lives, and it was the Will of God to join them in the bond of a holy marriage…

This was not a common practice; however, Jesus was not a common man, so why should we doubt His parents’ uncommon vows? Joseph and Mary were Jews, and yes, it was unusual to make vows of virginity in their culture, but it is the same in our own culture today! If someone tells you they have made a vow of virginity, would you doubt them? You may doubt them, you may not, but you would be inclined to ask them why they say this. Why would anyone want to live without sex!? Because sex, in its proper context of “making love,” is one of life’s most beautiful treasures, and some people, impelled to serve God in a unique way, choose to offer it to the Lord instead of to themselves. Joseph gave one of the most beautiful gifts he could offer to God. Virginity in our culture is seen as prudishness and “old school,” and some people lie to say that they are not virgins! It is seen as something to lose as early as possible and to brag about losing – more notably among young men. If it were the other way around and virginity was seen as something to cherish, this perpetual virginity of Joseph would not seem so strange.

Pope St. John Paul II: In the Liturgy, Mary is celebrated as "united to Joseph, the just man, by a bond of marital and virginal love." There are really two kinds of love here, both of which together represent the mystery of the Church - virgin and spouse - as symbolized in the marriage of Mary and Joseph. “Virginity or celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom of God not only does not contradict the dignity of marriage but presupposes and confirms it. Marriage and virginity are two ways of expressing and living the one mystery of the Covenant of God with his people,” the Covenant which is a communion of love between God and human beings.

The Bible gives us examples of people who gave their gift of virginity to God and were not ashamed of people knowing it. They were seen as holy, not because sex is bad and they were abstaining from it, but because they saw this God-given gift as being so wonderful and they wanted to offer it and themselves wholly to God. It is a selfless act of love!

Revelation 14:1, 14:4 And I saw, and behold, the Lamb was standing upon Mount Sion, and with Him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads… These are they who were not known with women; for they are virgins.

♔ VIRGINAL TRINITY ♔

The great St. Gregory Nazianzen (329-389) proclaimed that the first virgin ever is the Holy Trinity. God the Father is a virgin who generates the Son in all His goodness; God the Son is a virgin who existed in Heaven without a mother; God the Holy Spirit is a virgin, who proceeds gloriously from the Father and the Son. As the Heavenly Trinity is the first and altogether virgin, so is the second Trinity, on earth. The Earthly Trinity of Jesus, Mary and Joseph mirror the Heavenly Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – Jesus (God the Son) connecting the two Trinities. If Jesus is a virgin and Mary is a virgin, why wouldn’t Joseph, who completes this virginal Trinity, be one as they are?

St. Josemaria Escrivá: You don't have to wait to be old or lifeless to practice the virtue of chastity. Purity comes from love; and the strength and gaiety of youth is no obstacle for noble love. Joseph had a young heart and a young body when he married Mary, when he learned of the mystery of her divine motherhood, when he lived in her company, respecting the integrity God wished to give the world as one more sign that he had come to share the life of his creatures. Anyone who cannot understand a love like that knows very little of true love and is a complete stranger to the Christian meaning of chastity.
 


The Fathers and Doctors of the Church agree that God Himself predestined and sanctified St Joseph in order that he would be the husband and upholder of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the father and protector of God the Son – Jesus. St. Epiphanius and St. Gregory, among other saints, believed that the selection of Joseph as Mary’s spouse, predestined by God, was brought out by lot. This brings to mind the process of the selection of the apostle Matthias in the New Testament.


When the Apostles were trying to find a replacement for Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Christ, they gathered and prayed to God for a sign of who was to be chosen and they drew lots between them:


Acts 1:24-26 – And they prayed and said, “Thou, Lord, who knows the hearts of all, show us which of these two men you have chosen . . .” And they drew lots between them and the lot fell upon Matthias…


When it came to the selection of St. Joseph, there were gathered a group of young men of the House of David, Joseph among them, one of whom was to be chosen as the husband of Mary. According to tradition, and the saints and mystics of the Church, in order to discern a suitable husband for Mary, the high priest Zachary, by divine inspiration, recalled how the Israelites rebelled against Moses and Aaron. In order to convince the Israelites that Aaron was the chosen High Priest, God said to Moses:


Numbers 17:1-23 – “Speak to the Israelites and get one staff from each of them ... Mark each man’s name on his staff; and mark Aaron’s name . . . Then lay them down in the Meeting Tent . . . There the staff of the man of My choice will sprout.” . . . The next day, when Moses entered the Tent, Aaron’s staff . . . had sprouted and put forth not only shoots, but blossoms as well, and even bore ripe almonds.


So using this example, Zachary told each of the young men of the House of David to bring a rod with his name engraved on it, and the man whose rod blossomed would be the chosen husband of Mary. Of course it was Joseph’s rod that blossomed. This scene was seen as part of a fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah and was revealed to Venerable Maria de Agreda and Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich:


Isaiah 11:1-5 – a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud will blossom. The Spirit of the Lord will rest upon him...


Venerable Maria de Agreda: Among the number was Joseph . . . for he was one of the descendants of the royal race of David . . . The Most High spoke to the heart of the high priest, inspiring him to place into the hands of each one of the young men a dry stick, with the command that each ask his Majesty with a lively faith, to single out the one whom He had chosen as the spouse of Mary. While they were thus engaged in prayer the staff which Joseph held was seen to blossom and at the same time a dove of purest white and resplendent with admirable light, was seen to descend and rest upon the head of the saint …

 

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich: As Joseph was about to lay his staff on the altar before the Holy of Holies, a white flower like a lily blossomed out of the top … I saw over him an appearance of light like the Holy Ghost.


Servant of God, Mother Cecilia Baij: Suddenly Joseph saw his branch begin to sprout and become bedecked with snow-white blossoms! Everyone around him was soon staring at this miraculous sign. … All those present now saw a snow-white dove descend from Heaven and settle on the head of Joseph. It was now quite certain that of all the candidates, Joseph was the man of God’s choice.


This tradition of the selection of St. Joseph is still upheld by Christians to this day and in almost every image or statue of St. Joseph, he is shown holding his staff which is blooming flowers (either lilies or spikenard) or just holding the flowers themselves. This is as a reminder of both his worthiness and purity in the eyes of the Heavenly Father to be chosen as the spouse of the Mother of God.


Imagine how honored Joseph would have felt to be the chosen one. Out of all these men, some more successful than he, God chose a humble worker. Think of how happy and yet nervous he would have been when seeing the Virgin Mary. Think of the innocent awkwardness of Joseph and Mary when they first encountered each other alone, in order to get to know each other. They would both have been nervous because they had both made vows of virginity to the Lord. Mary would have told Joseph this in order to be completely honest with him. He should not expect to have sexual relations with her and therefore, she could not bear him children. If he wanted, he could find a more suitable wife who had not made this vow to the Lord.


Joseph however, was relieved at hearing these words. He too had made a vow to the Lord to remain a virgin. How perfect a union this would be and how wonderful the moment of their espousals—the choirs of angels must have rejoiced in the Heavens at that sacred moment in history!


Venerable Maria de Agreda: In the interior of his heart God spoke: “Joseph, my servant, Mary shall be thy spouse; accept her with attentive reverence, for she is acceptable in my eyes, just and most pure in soul and body…” At this manifestation and token from heaven the priests declared Saint Joseph to be the spouse selected by God himself for the maiden Mary. Calling her forth for her espousal, the chosen one issued forth like the sun, more resplendent than the moon, and she entered into the presence of all with a countenance more beautiful than that of an angel, incomparable in the charm of her beauty, nobility and grace; and the priests espoused her to the most chaste and holy of men, Saint Joseph.


Proverbs 31:10-29 – Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize! She brings him good, and not evil . . . She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Her husband is prominent . . . She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel . . . Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all!


When we read the beautiful Nuptial Ode, in the Book of Psalms, we can easily envision Mary saying to her beloved:


Psalm 45:2-8 – “My heart overflows with a goodly theme as I sing my ode . . . Fairer in beauty are you than the sons of men; grace is poured out upon your lips; thus God has blessed you forever . . . God has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your . . . kings!”


And Joseph serenades his bride:


Psalm 45:14-17 – “All glorious is the . . . daughter as she enters; her raiment is threaded with spun gold. In embroidered apparel she is borne in . . . Behind her the virgins of her train . . . are borne in with gladness and joy; . . . I will make your name memorable through all generations; therefore shall nations praise you forever and ever!”


The importance of the espousals between Joseph and Mary is shown to us in the words of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Leo XIII:


Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican Gardens, 5 July 2010: The espousals between Joseph and Mary are an episode of great importance. Joseph was of the royal line of David and, in virtue of his marriage to Mary, would confer on the Son of the Virgin — on God's Son — the legal tile of "Son of David," thus fulfilling the prophecies. The espousals of Joseph and Mary are, because of this, a human event, but determinant in the history of humanity's salvation, in the realization of the promises of God; because of this, it also has a supernatural connotation, which the two protagonists accept with humility and trust.


Pope Leo XIII, Quamquam Pluries: The dignity of the Mother of God is certainly so sublime that nothing can surpass it; but none the less, since the bond of marriage existed between Joseph and the Blessed Virgin, there can be no doubt that, more than any other person, he approached that supereminent dignity by which the Mother of God is raised far above all created natures. For marriage is the closest possible union and relationship whereby each spouse mutually participates in the goods of the other. Consequently, if God gave Joseph as a spouse to the Virgin he assuredly gave him not only as a companion in life, a witness of her virginity, and the guardian of her honor, but also as a sharer in her exalted dignity by reason of the conjugal tie itself.


Feast of the Espousals of Mary and Joseph: January 23 - Approved in 1546 by Pope Paul III to celebrate the holy espousals of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph.

ST JOSEPH HUSBAND OF MARY PT 1
ST JOSEPH HUSBAND OF MARY PT 2
Assumption of St Joseph, Nobility of St Joseph, Sanctification of St Joseph in the Womb, Happy and Holy Death of St Joseph, Holy Espousals, Marriage of the Virgin, Patron of Workers, Patron of a Happy Death, Virgin Father of Jesus, Foster Father, Entrustment, Consecration, Apostolate of St Joseph, Patron of the Church,