The Holy Spouses


Greetings my brothers and sisters,

As I write this article, we are about to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. We say in our Creed every
Sunday that Jesus was “born of the Virgin Mary” and this tenet of the faith is absolutely necessary to
uphold. Mary conceived Jesus “by the Holy Spirit” (also stated in the Creed) and in doing so remained
ever Virgin. She was chosen to be the Mother of God and so reserved for God. Jesus conception was
truly miraculous and did not come about in the way children are normally conceived. He is, after all, no
normal child…he is Son of God and Son of Mary, both God and man.

This truth might seem to be contradicted by another truth found in the scriptures: Mary is the spouse of
Joseph. This seeming contradiction led many in the history of the Church to seek to explain away the
spousal relationship of Mary and Joseph as just a “front” or to not be a true marriage. Joseph was
portrayed by some as an old man, a reluctant participant in the birth and raising of the child Jesus, not
“really” husband to Mary. Some even suggested that Joseph had been previously married and this
explains the reference to Jesus’ brothers and sisters, thus safeguarding Mary’s virginity.

None of this is supported by the Gospel portrayal of the relationship between Mary and Joseph. They
are married! Such is this the case that Joseph, when thinking of distancing himself, out of humility and
reverence, from the mystery unfolding in the pregnancy of Mary, needs to divorce her, not just let her
go her way. When God lets Joseph know that he is to be part of this miraculous and wonderful event, he
tells Joseph to take Mary, his wife, into his home. Mary and Joseph are husband and wife; they are
spouses! In fact, they are Holy Spouses, because their marriage bears holy fruit, the Holy Savior of the
world, Jesus the Christ!

We Oblates of St. Joseph have the privilege and honor of celebrating Mary and Joseph as Holy Spouses
with a special Feast day on January 23 each year. We take the opportunity of this celebration to remind
us all of the true nature of the marriage of Joseph and Mary. St. John Paul II in his Apostolic Exhortation
on St. Joseph, Redemptoris Custos, states:

Analyzing the nature of marriage, both St. Augustine and St. Thomas always identify it with an
“indivisible union of souls,” a “union of hearts,” with “consent.” These elements are found in an
exemplary manner in the marriage of Mary and Joseph. At the culmination of the history of
salvation, when God reveals his love for humanity through the gift of the Word, it is precisely the
marriage of Mary and Joseph that brings to realization in full “freedom” the “spousal gift of self”
in receiving and expressing such a love.

Thus, Mary and Joseph are presented as the models par excellence of the vocation to the married life
and the “spousal gift of self”. We seek to present them as such to married couples and encourage those
couples to seek their intercession so that these couples might live more faithfully their marriage
commitment and family life. Mary and Joseph has a true married vocation and can certainly be of
assistance to us who are seeking to know our vocation.

As part of this, we have developed a devotion called the Holy Spouses Rosary. This rosary is prayed like
the Marian rosary and in the place of the “Hail Mary”, the following prayer is recited: “Mary, full of
grace, and Joseph, Son of David, honor to you, Mother of God, and to you, Guardian of the Redeemer,
eternal praise to the child with whom you formed a family, Jesus. Holy Spouses, pray for us sinners, our
families and communities, now and at the hour of our death. Amen

To learn more about the Holy Spouses Rosary and devotion, please check out our Province website at

Mary and Joseph, Holy Spouses, pray for us.

Fr. Brian, OSJ