Our Lady’s Espousals
According to tradition, when Mary was of marriageable age, numerous suitors sought her hand. All were rejected and the humble virgin, was given in Marriage to St. Joseph, a lowly artisan. Joseph was already known as a just and God-fearing man; but he was not so bold as to aspire to the hand of one so accomplished as the daughter of Anne and Joachim. What was his joy at being the choice of Providence. What was his happiness in possessing as his spouse a virgin in whom the holiness of God shone so clearly. His whole soul turned to God in thanksgiving.
It was also a great joy for Mary to receive Joseph as her spouse. She bore with solicitude a heavenly secret hidden in the depths of her heart. She had made a vow of virginity, and she prayed to have a spouse who, though truly married to her, would consent to respect her virginity; and this man God had prepared in the person of virtuous Joseph.
The marriage of Mary and Joseph was very real since each accepted the other as spouse with all their mutual rights; yet when Mary disclosed her intentions of remaining a virgin, Joseph acquiesced as to an order that came from heaven. What joy this brought to Mary.
The marriage of Mary and Joseph would not have served as a model for Christian marriages had it not been visited by some trials. Some months passed, when Joseph perceived that Mary would soon be a Mother. His holy spouse had kept the Annunciation a secret. Joseph was troubled at the time. After much prayer, Joseph decided to leave Mary quietly; but heaven intervened to render homage to Mary’s virginity and to reassure Joseph’s conscience.
An angel appeared to Joseph during the night and said, “Fear not, Joseph, to take unto thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call His name Jesus for He shall save His people from their sins.” Thus Joseph learned at once the irreproachable fidelity of Mary and the richness of the treasure he had in his home.