“Mondays with Mary” [on a Tuesday] – 10 Quotes about Marriage from Pope St. John Paul II

Since today in the old Latin Rite liturgical calendar, is the feast of the Espousal of The Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Joseph (read my article from last year), I thought I would write “Mondays with Mary” on a Tuesday and provide you 10 quotes about Marriage from the great Polish 20th century Pope, St. John Paul II. Along with religious freedom and human dignity, the Holy Father wrote quite a bit on marital relations between a man and a woman, just as God intended it.

Today, I draw from three sources, but there are also other writings as well. Most notably is the principal work known as the Theology of the Body as well as the book he wrote before he was Pope, Love and Responsibility. If you have not read this book, I would encourage you to pick it up, however, it is rather philosophical and theological in nature. For another option, I would encourage you read – Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Dr. Edward Sri. It is based on Love and Responsibility, but a little easier to understand, especially if you have never formally studied theology. Although I have read both, I am going to read them again in the upcoming months as I prepare for my own nuptials to my fiancée.

The quotes from Pope St. John Paul II come from three particular sources – Letter to Families, which was promulgated in 1994 during the Year of the Family, Letter to Women, promulgated in 1995, and the Apostolic Exhortation, Redemptoris Custos, promulgated on August 15, 1989. I hope that you can reflect on these beautiful quotes and allow them to penetrate your own life as a married man or married woman –

1. “Since marriage is the highest degree of association and friendship involving by its very nature a communion of goods, it follows that God, by giving Joseph to the Virgin, did not give him to her only as a companion for life, a witness of her virginity and protector of her honor: he also gave Joseph to Mary in order that he might share, through the marriage pact, in her own sublime greatness.”

2. “In this great undertaking which is the renewal of all things in Christ, marriage-it too purified and renewed-becomes a new reality, a sacrament of the New Covenant. We see that at the beginning of the New Testament, as at the beginning of the Old, there is a married couple. But whereas Adam and Eve were the source of evil which was unleashed on the world, Joseph and Mary arc the summit from which holiness spreads all over the earth. The Savior began the work of salvation by this virginal and holy union, wherein is manifested his all-powerful will to purify and sanctify the family – that sanctuary of love and cradle of life.”

3. “The Book of Genesis helps us to see this truth when it states, in reference to the establishment of the family through marriage, that “a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24). In the Gospel, Christ, disputing with the Pharisees, quotes these same words and then adds: “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mt 19:6). In this way, he reveals anew the binding content of a fact which exists “from the beginning” (Mt 19:8) and which always preserves this content. If the Master confirms it “now”, he does so in order to make clear and unmistakable to all, at the dawn of the New Covenant, the indissoluble character of marriage as the basis of the common good of the family.”

4. “When, in union with the Apostle, we bow our knees before the Father from whom all fatherhood and motherhood is named (cf. Eph3:14-15), we come to realize that parenthood is the event whereby the family, already constituted by the conjugal covenant of marriage, is brought about “in the full and specific sense”. Motherhood necessarily implies fatherhood, and in turn, fatherhood necessarily implies motherhood. This is the result of the duality bestowed by the Creator upon human beings ‘from the beginning’.” [This is something our modern culture is sorely lacking and needs to understand].

5. “As a rational and free being, man is called to transform the face of the earth. In this task, which is essentially that of culture, man and woman alike share equal responsibility from the start. In their fruitful relationship as husband and wife, in their common task of exercising dominion over the earth, woman and man are marked neither by a static and undifferentiated equality nor by an irreconcilable and inexorably conflictual difference.”

6. “Marriage, the Sacrament of Matrimony, is a covenant of persons in love. And love can be deepened and preserved only by Love, that Love which is “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us” (Rom 5:5).”

7. “In marriage man and woman are so firmly united as to become—to use the words of the Book of Genesis—”one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Male and female in their physical constitution, the two human subjects, even though physically different, share equally in the capacity to live “in truth and love”. This capacity, characteristic of the human being as a person, has at the same time both a spiritual and a bodily dimension. It is also through the body that man and woman are predisposed to form a “communion of persons” in marriage.”

Marriage of the Virgin – Raphael

8. “By its very nature the gift of the person must be lasting and irrevocable. The indissolubility of marriage flows in the first place from the very essence of that gift: the gift of one person to another person. This reciprocal giving of self reveals the spousal nature of love. In their marital consent the bride and groom call each other by name: “I… take you… as my wife (as my husband) and I promise to to be true to you… for all the days of my life”. A gift such as this involves an obligation much more serious and profound than anything which might be “purchased” in any way and at any price.”

9. “The Church professes that Marriage, as the Sacrament of the covenant between husband and wife, is a “great mystery”, because it expresses the spousal love of Christ for his Church. Saint Paul writes: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph 5:25-26).”

10. “In the Sermon on the Mount, recalling the sixth commandment, Christ proclaims: “You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery’. But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27-28)… Why does Christ speak out in so forceful and demanding a way in the Sermon on the Mount? The reason is quite clear: Christ wants to safeguard the holiness of marriage and of the family. He wants to defend the full truth about the human person and his dignity.”

As we remember this day…

Let us pray for the many holy and faithful Catholic marriages that are producing great fruit in the Church.

Let us pray for those who may be struggling in their marriages – may Our Lady and St. Joseph intercede on behalf of their trials.

Let us pray for those Catholics that are not married in the Church – those who are unaware that their marriages are not valid – pray that they, through the intercession of Our Lady and St. Joseph will come to be in full communion again and Convalidate their secular marriage.

Let us pray for those couples preparing to enter the Sacrament of Matrimony in the days and month ahead. Please pray for Megan and I as we do our preparations for Holy Matrimony.

O Mary, Perpetual Virgin…Pray for Us

Saint Joseph…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – The Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph

Although today’s feast day is no longer in the liturgical calendar of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, for many years, first beginning on October 22, 1517 and approved by Pope Leo X, the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Joseph was celebrated by many as the day that Our Lady and Saint Joseph were espoused together as a couple.

According to some of the light research I conducted last night, the Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary began when she was a young woman at the time prepared for her marriage. As tradition tells us, a few men came and to seek her hand in marriage, but all were rejected. She would be arranged to a simple and humble craftsman (worked with wood and stone) – we know this man today as Saint Joseph. He was known to be a just man of God, however, it seems he lacked the fortitude to ask for Mary’s hand. In the end, God’s Divine Providence and timing placed them together.

Mary was very happy to receive St. Joseph as her spouse. As we all know, she contained an incredible and blessed secret that was deep in her heart. As tradition also teaches us, as do the Early Church Fathers such as St. Augustine of Hippo and St. Gregory of Nyssa, Mary as a young girl made a vow of virginity in the temple (see my book, Understanding Catholic Teaching on the Blessed Virgin Mary, pages 42-45). We also believe that Mary prayed for a holy man who would respect her vow and protect her virginity.

The Catholic Church believes and teaches that the marriage of Mary and St. Joseph was real. Each of them accepted the other as spouse, which included all of the mutual rights. I say in my aforementioned book, “The essence of marriage is the lifetime vow of fidelity to Christ. According to canon law, consent (the vows) is what makes it a marriage. The gift of body is the expression of the vow. Mary and Joseph are truly married because they give themselves as total gift to one another, but not bodily” (page 48).

Marriage of the Virgin - Raphael

Marriage of the Virgin – Raphael

The marriage of Mary and St. Joseph has served as a model for Christian marriages since their own marriage endured trials. We read in the Sacred Scriptures about the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-31) and the worries that St. Joseph analyzes on how to send her away quietly (Mt 1:18-19). However, as we know, God intervened by sending an angel to St. Joseph in a dream to reassure him that Mary’s virginity was intact and that the child she was carrying was of heavenly origin (Mt. 1:20-21).

Being the just, noble, and obedient man that he was, St. Joseph witnessed for himself the plan of God in his life and in the life of his spouse. He realized how faithful Mary truly was to not only God, but to him as well.

To learn more about the history of the feast, I would encourage you to read the Catholic Encyclopedia page on New Advent. For those who are even more daring, you can read St. Thomas Aquinas’ questioning from the Summa Theologica.

As we remember this day…

Let us pray for the many holy and faithful Catholic marriages that are producing great fruit in the Church.

Let us pray for those who may be struggling in their marriages – may Our Lady and St. Joseph intercede on behalf of their trials.

Let us pray for those Catholics that are not married in the Church – those who are unaware that their marriages are not valid – pray that they, through the intercession of Mary and St. Joseph will come to be in full communion again and Convalidate their secular marriage.

Let us pray for those couples preparing to enter the Sacrament of Matrimony in the days and month ahead.

O Mary, Perpetual Virgin…Pray for Us

Saint Joseph…Pray for Us

“Mondays with Mary” – ‘The Marriage that Linked Joseph to Mary’

On Saturday, I attended the wedding of parishioners I met last year, since they both were in our RCIA and Adult Confirmation process at the parish. Now they are not only parishioners; David and Kristen have become friends who I frequently spend time with when we are all free. I was honored at their request when they asked me to read the First Reading (Tobit 7:6-14) and the Prayers of the Faithful at their Nuptial Mass. The Nuptial Mass was held at the parish and our Pastor was the main celebrant. It was a beautiful wedding made up of close family and friends.

So to honor David and Kristen today, as they began their life together in their sacramental covenant, I want to share a quick reflection on the marriage that linked Joseph to Mary. This comes from the book, Mary for Today, written by Hans Urs Von Balthasar.

Just to clarify for you the section before this one Von Balthasar speaks about the heritage of Israel as a bride to God, which culminated in the prophet Hosea taking a prostitute for his wife to show the people of Israel that what she does to him with other men, they do to God with false gods. Even though this occurred in the Old Testament, marriage was still seen as holy for it would be fulfilled not only on Mary and Joseph, but most complete with Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. He is the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride.

The section is divided into small sections for easier reading online. Originally it was one paragraph –

“Now perhaps we can understand better the kind of theological significance possessed by the marriage by Joseph and Mary. This marriage is not only necessary so that Mary’s child can count as the descendent of David but also in order to lead toward the fulfillment of the religious sense of Old Testament marriage. Joseph thus brings to completion the two tendencies mentioned above [previous section] but does so while crossing the threshold of the final and definitive covenant.

Marriage of the Virgin - Raphael

Marriage of the Virgin – Raphael

He brings to completion the fecundity of Abraham, who gave to God all the glory and understood his fruitfulness as a “resurrection from the dead” and thus allowed God to take over. For the husband whose life was centered on marriage this meant a renunciation on the basis of faith and at the same time a sharing in the virginal fruitfulness of his wife. Here Joseph is completely within the field of the New Covenant: physically can seem merely the child’s foster-father, but spiritually he has a very much more profound share in God’s fatherliness by assenting silently to the renunciation demanded by the angel. His hidden virginal fruitfulness should not be forgotten when Mary’s grace is seen its full light.

The marriage that linked Joseph to Mary is a model both for married people and for celibates in Christ’s Church. Admittedly this marriage points predominately backward; it is the completion of marriage as well as of prophetic obedience to Israel. It hardly points forward to the questionable ideal of “Joseph-like marriages.”

As you begin this Monday, pray through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph for all marriages; that Christ will always be the center and source for the couple’s love and devotion to one another. Pray that the Holy Family will give the grace needed for men and women to defend their marriages against all the attacks of the culture. Pray that marriages may not just reflect Mary and Joseph but Jesus Christ and the Church. Think Ephesians 5!

For further reading today, I would also encourage you to read – “Mondays with Mary” – Mary, Joseph’s Virginal Spouse and Spousal Gift of Self.