While there have been feasts of Mary and Joseph as individual saints, and more recently also a feast of the Holy Family, no feast honoring their marriage has entered into the universal liturgical calendar of the Church. At least as early as 1413 Jean Gerson had proposed the Feast of the Betrothal. It was introduced into the missal for the cathedral of Chartres in 1482 and by the Franciscans and Servites in 1537 and thereafter by many other particular liturgical calendars. Saint Joseph Marello (canonized on November 25, 2001) also introduced it into the congregation he founded, the Oblates of St. Joseph. The feast had become so widespread that it was included in the universal Roman Missal under the section pro aliquibus locis, when in 1961 the revision of the universal liturgical calendar suppressed such particular feasts, requiring their reintroduction by groups wishing to preserve them. In 1989 the feast of The Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph, was reintroduced into the proper calendar of the Oblates of St. Joseph, with its proper texts for Mass and for the Liturgy of the Hours. (In 1991 Fr. Juan Antonio Morán, M.J., in El Salvador also prepared a Mass text for private use for November 26, when married couples were also invited to renew their vows.)
The approved texts for the Oblate version of the Mass are as follows:
Entrance Antiphon: Hail Mary, Mother of God, united by a sacred bond to Joseph, faithful guardian of your virginal motherhood.
Opening Prayer: Holy Father, you joined together by a virginal bond the glorious Mother of your Son and the just man, Saint Joseph, that they might be faithful cooperators in the mystery of the Word Incarnate. Grant that we who are united with you by the bond of baptism may live more intimately our union with Christ and may walk more joyfully in the way of love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ….
Readings: Isaiah 61:9-11; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:41-52.
Prayer over the Gifts: Lord, look graciously upon the gifts which we present at your altar on the Feast of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph, and enkindle in us the spirit of your love. We ask this….
Preface: Father, all-powerful and ever-living God, we do well always and everywhere to give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. You give the Church the joy of celebrating the feast of the Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph: in her, full of grace and worthy Mother of your Son, you signify the beginning of the Church, resplendently beautiful bride of Christ; you chose him, the wise and faithful servant, as Husband of the Virgin Mother of God, and made him head of your family to guard as a father your only Son, conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, our Lord. For this gift of your kindness, we join….
Communion Antiphon: Joseph, son of David, have no fear about taking Mary as your wife. It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.
Prayer after Communion: Lord, by your holy gifts you have filled us with joy. By venerating the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her spouse, may we be strengthened in your love and live in continual thanksgiving. We ask this….
While the feast is celebrated on January 23 in all Oblate houses for all the faithful, the recent emphasis in the Holy Spouses Province of the Oblates of St. Joseph has been to extend a particular invitation to married and engaged couples. They are invited to look to Mary and Joseph as patrons and intercessors for their marriage, and to take them as the model husband and wife to strive to imitate in loving one another selflessly as spouses. Mary and Joseph may be shown to exemplify the two inseparable ends of marriage, love and life, and to refute the mentality of contraception and divorce. The Holy Spouses Image may be displayed and decorated during the Mass, special petitions offered, and special blessings given. Couples may be invited to renew their marriage vows or to make the commitment to the Holy Spouses Society described below, if they have been properly prepared. The Holy Spouses Rosary may be prayed before or after the Liturgy. The feast is a particular occasion each year to honor and uphold the Christian sacrament of marriage, in light of that most exemplary marriage of the two persons closest to Christ.