During the annual retreat of the California Oblates in June of 1991, a “Holy Spouses Rosary” was developed, to extend the traditional Marian devotion to include St. Joseph. This rosary was approved by the provincial for use by the Oblates and for promotion among the faithful to whom they minister. Prayed in much the same manner as the Marian rosary, this devotion substitutes the “Hail Mary” with an analogous prayer that includes St. Joseph and asks for their common intercession as spouses. Ten mysteries expand upon the normal five joyful mysteries.
Prayer “Mary, full of grace, and Joseph, son of David”
The prayer used in place of the “Hail Mary” is:
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.
The title the angel uses to address Mary, “full of grace,” is complemented by that he uses to address Joseph, “son of David.” Similarly the Church’s time-honored title for her, “Mother of God,” is complemented by the Church’s most recent choice of title for him, “guardian of the Redeemer.” While Mary and Joseph are honored, the child Jesus is eternally praised; he is the center of their family, and his name remains at the very center of this prayer, as it should for every prayer. Mary and Joseph are invoked together as “Holy Spouses” and their prayers are sought not simply for ourselves as individuals, but also as families and communities.
The ten mysteries to be reflected upon are:
Betrothal of Mary and Joseph (Mt 1:18, Lk 1:26-27, 2:4-5).
Annunciation to Mary (Lk 1:28-38).
Annunciation to Joseph (Mt 1:19-25).
- The Visitation (Lk 1:39-56).
Birth of Jesus (Lk 2:6,15-16).
Circumcision and Naming of Jesus (Lk 2:21).
Presentation of Jesus (Lk 2:22-40).
Escape into Egypt (Mt 2:13-15).
Finding of Jesus in the Temple (Lk 2:41-50).
Hidden Life at Nazareth (Lk 2:51-52).
The traditional joyful mysteries are found among the ten Mysteries of the Incarnation and Hidden Life. They lead to consideration of Mary not simply as an individual but as a wife in union with her husband, Joseph. Additional mysteries include the first stage of the marriage, the betrothal; the intervening annunciation to Joseph after the one to Mary; and the second stage of the marriage, the husband taking his wife into his home. At the circumcision Mary and Joseph give the child the faith name Jesus, “Yahweh saves,” given to each of them by the angel. The escape into Egypt and the years of hidden life at Nazareth are also mysteries for which Redemptoris Custos provides rich material for reflection.
The devotion proves fruitful for the faithful at large, but is of particular inspiration to married couples, who are encouraged to pray it together in their homes, and to engaged couples, who are invited to pray it in preparation for their marriage. In at least one parish, a group of couples gathers regularly to pray the Holy Spouses Rosary together and support one another in trying to live holy marriages.