Today the Church celebrates St. Joseph, spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is one of CCL’s patron saints because he is a role model for husbands, fathers and anyone trying to live a chaste life.
The marriage of Mary and Joseph was truly unique. They loved each other as husband and wife but remained celibate. This is a difficult concept for many of us to wrap our brains around. Was this necessary? If a married man and woman have sexual relations that reflect the promises they made in their wedding vows, it is a very good thing indeed! The Church proclaims this. So, why did Mary and Joseph remain chaste throughout the course of their marriage?
God designed sexual union not only to bring the husband and wife closer together, but also as a means of growing in holiness. As foreign to our culture as that may sound, it’s true! The ultimate purpose of our vocation — whether married or celibate — is to grow in holiness, become closer to God and one day join him in Heaven. This is what a husband and wife are meant to help each other do. Sexual union, is a way for spouses to deepen their bond with each other and God. Husbands and wives love God through loving one another.
What makes the lives of Mary and Joseph radically different from yours or mine is that they lived in the physical presence of Jesus. Would it be necessary for Mary and Joseph to grow in holiness through physical intimacy with each other when they lived in communion with God every day? Catholic author and speaker Christopher West remarks that this would have been a “step backward” for Joseph and Mary. Although their physical union would not have been bad or sinful, sex would not have served its purpose for Mary and Joseph the way it does for other married couples. They both gave their lives to God from the beginning of their marriage in the same way that priests and religious give their total gift-of-self through celibacy. The uniquely beautiful thing about Mary and Joseph’s relationship is that it shows the great dignity of both the vocation to marriage and religious life.
Thank you, St. Joseph, for your prayers of intercession for CCL and our efforts to help couples live joyful marriages through NFP!
— Sarah Drew