Living in the Two Hearts

My Spiritual Insights and Musings

The Espousal of Mary to Joseph

Posted by Anne Elizabeth on December 15, 2008

Greetings!: This is a continuation of an Advent reflection as seen from the eyes of the Mother of the Redeemer, the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Please refer to the first post in this series: INTRODUCTION if you are a first time reader.

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Chapter 6: The Espousals

When Mary reached the age of thirteen and a half, having grown considerably for her age, Almighty God in a vision commanded her to enter the state of matrimony. Because of her intense love of chastity and her early vow of perpetual virginity, which she had often renewed, this divine order meant to her a sacrifice as painful as that of Abraham when God commanded him to offer up his son’s life (Gen 22:1-14).  When Mary heard this unexpected decree, she was astonished and became greatly afflicted. Nevertheless she prudently suspended her own judgment and preserved her faith and hope more perfectly than Abraham

Thus Mary in her great trial, though she felt some human uneasiness and sadness, obediently resigned herself entirely to the Will of God. And the Lord answered her:

“Mary, let not thy heart be disturbed, for thy resignation is acceptable to Me.  And by My disposition, that will happen which is best for thee.”

Then, as God intended, while left between uncertainty and hope, Mary gave herself over to fervent prayer an acts of love, faith, humility, obedience, and chastity.

Meanwhile the Lord spoke in sleep to the High Priest, who happened to be St. Simeon, and commanded him to arrange the marriage of Mary, whom He regarded with special love, to whomever it seemed right to the council of priests. After consulting together, the priests appointed a day on which all the bachelors of the line of David, which was also Mary’s, were to assemble in the Temple.

Nine days before that date, Simeon called in Mary and gently explained to her that as she was an orphan and a firstborn daughter with an inheritance, now near the age the young girls had to leave the service of the Temple and marry, the priests were planning to find her a worthy husband.

During the nine days that followed, Mary continually prayed to God with many tears and sighs for that which she had so much at heart.

And once the Lord appeared and said: “My dove, let not thy heart be sad or disturbed. I will guide the priests by My light, and I will give thee a husband selected by Myself, and one who will not hinder thy holy desires. I will choose a man perfect and, according to My heart.”

This good man whom God found worthy of becoming Mary’s husband and the foster father of the Word Incarnate, …was at this time a humble, unmarried carpenter who worked for a in a small town in Galilee, [was named Joseph].

Joseph was born near Bethlehem, the third of six brothers.  His parents were well off and lived in a large two-storied country…At his birth he was a beautiful baby with a perfectly formed body, and he caused an extraordinary delight to his parents and relatives. From his third year, thanks to unusual graces, he began to know God by faith. With surprising understanding he eagerly learned all that was taught to him about religion and already practiced advanced forms of prayer. At the age of seven he attained the perfect use of reason and a high degree of holiness. He was a quiet, likable, and humble boy.

…when he was about twenty, Joseph left home and went off to earn his living in the country north of Jerusalem. For some time he worked as assistant to a poor carpenter in a small town near Mount Gerizim…He spent much time in fervently asking God for the coming of the Messiah,…[and] led a very retiring life…consistently avoid[ing] the society of women… [because from] the age of twelve he had made and perfectly kept a vow of chastity,…

Soon afterward, he heard that as an unmarried descendant of King David, he was to go to the Temple in Jerusalem, with his best clothes. He was at this time thirty-three years old, a handsome, modest, and serious with pleasing, honest features.

It was on Mary’s fourteenth birthday that the young men gathered in the Temple dressed in their feast-day robes. After the High Priest had presented Mary to them and explained the purpose of the meeting, she returned to her cell and wept, while he gave to each youth a dry branch announced that they were all to pray that the Lord single out the one whom He had chosen as Mary’s spouse.  Although ,the humble carpenter Joseph had a deeper veneration for her than any of the others, he alone considered himself unworthy of such a blessing, and remembering his vow of chastity, he inwardly renewed it and resigned himself entirely to the Will of God.

After a number of prayers had been recited, each suitor came forward and placed his branch on an altar facing the Holy of Holies. When Joseph, the last in line, was about to his branch all of a sudden blossomed into a white lily-like flower, and at the same time a dove of the purest and most dazzling white was seen to descend and rest on his head for a moment, during which God said in his heart:

“Joseph, My servant, Mary shall be thy spouse. Receive her with all care and respect, for she is pleasing in My sight. She is just and pure in mind and body. And thou shall perform all that she shall [asks].”

Thereupon the priests announced that Joseph was the husband selected for Mary by the Lord Himself, and sent for her… When Mary appeared, calm and beautiful and humbly resigned to God’s Will, the priests introduced her to Joseph and proceeded solemnly to betroth the holy couple.  Then according to the Jewish custom, the two parted until the wedding.

After the wedding, Mary sadly took leave of the priest her teachers and companions, thanking them all for their kindness to her during her years among them. And then, offering up her own wish to remain in the Lord’s House all her life, with keen grief, she left the Temple, and in the company of St. Joseph and some attendants sent by the priests, she set out, with perfect resignation and trust in God for the new life to which He was leading her in Nazareth.

[emphasis added]

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We are halfway through Advent, so maybe it’s a good time to evaluate our progress-just as businesses evaluate their own strengths and weaknesses from time to time. How are you doing at fulfilling your mission? Have you been working to bring glad tidings to people? If so, then thank the Lord, and tell him that you want to go even further.  Imagine the grace and peace that can flow from every act of kindness, every gentle word of encouragement, and every work of service you do.  It won’t take long before “justice and praise” spring up wherever you go (Isaiah 61:11)!

“Jesus, give me your heart of compassion for the lost, broken, and poor. I want to fulfill the mission you have called me to. With you, all things are possible.”

~ Courtesy of Word among us: Reflection excerpt, December 14, 2008

Previous Posts:

Anne & Joachim
Nativity (Birth) of Mary
Infancy of Mary
Presentation/Service to the Temple
* Part I
* Part II
In The Temple

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