For anyone who knows me personally, you probably know that the topic of Christian marriage and family-life is very near to my heart in more ways than one. For those of you who may be reading this and do not know me so well let me explain. As a Theology and Religious Studies major at the Catholic University of America I have decided to concentrate my courses around this topic, as the object of my desired study. As (God-willing) a future full-time employee of the Catholic Church, I hope to work in marriage and family ministry and I currently work as the Marriage and Family Life intern at the USCCB. As for my own personal future vocation, this is truly what I believe God is calling me to. And as someone who witnessed many failed marriages within my lifetime, I understand the importance of upholding the dignity of this vocation.
As a result of the topic of marriage and family-life being so prominent in my day-to-day life and often the subject of my personal reflections, I have been in the process of developing a great devotion to the Holy Family. Today, I want to share with you a reflection I discovered a few days ago as I pondered the marriage between Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph. To give some background information, the Catholic church teaches that Mary was ever-virgin, meaning that she and Saint Joseph never consummated their marriage (And I think it’s hard to wait a few more years…). And yet, Catholics and Christians everywhere pray to the Holy Family as the absolute model for what a marriage and family should resemble. So heres my big revelation: Mary and Joseph never had sex, and yet loved each other perfectly.
Doesn’t seem that mind-blowing, I know. However, for a myself, who is in a relationship with a man that I may one day marry, and who is also striving to live a pure life and save sex for marriage, this is pretty wonderful news. Surely, Mary and Joseph can then teach my boyfriend and I, and every couple in our situation (and single-persons as well actually), something about how to truly love someone outside of the sexual union. As husband and wife, they must have had other very profound ways of expressing their love and affection for one another that did not involve being sexually intimate. This is a stark contrast to our world today that tells people, especially young people, that in order to prove your love to your boyfriend/girlfriend you must have sex with them. Mary and Joseph had the perfect relationship, and yet never had sex.
Now, I don’t want this to come across as me saying anything along the lines of sex is bad, or not necessary in a marriage. That is not at all what I am saying. Sex is sacred, holy and beautiful within marriage and is most certainty a part of God’s wonderful plan. However, for someone in my state of life right now, it is helpful to see such a wonderful example of true love that manages to express that love so perfectly without a sexual union.
I wonder, in what ways did Mary and Joseph express their love and affection for one another? Was it candle-light dinners? Did they recite poetry to each other? Surely, it must have been them praying together right? Maybe they sat around their living room and asked Jesus to tell them about the Father and the Holy Spirit and all of salvation history, who knows.
May this be inspiration to all of us couples who seek to show our affection for our beloved but who do not yet have the beautiful one-flesh union to do so.