Joseph & Mary's marriage


#1

I was listening to Catholic Answers: Live last Thursday (1/16/2005). Someone asked if Catholics believed Joseph and Mary were really married. I was following the answer which was making a lot of sense: Joseph and Mary were really married, Mary had taken a vow of abstinence, consummating the marriage wasn’t strictly unnecessary…

Then at the very end of the answer, the apologist threw in a new twist and just left it like that. He said St. Jerome thought Joseph “wouldn’t dare touch” Mary because Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

I thought this was a terrible way to end the answer because it opened up many more questions for me. That made it sound that Joseph and Mary did not have a real marriage. If Mary took a vow of abstinence, that’s one thing, but if Joseph didn’t dare touch Mary, that is completely different. If Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit, then she couldn’t really be Joseph’s spouse as well, could she?


#2

[quote=Angainor]I was listening to Catholic Answers: Live last Thursday (1/16/2005). Someone asked if Catholics believed Joseph and Mary were really married. I was following the answer which was making a lot of sense: Joseph and Mary were really married, Mary had taken a vow of abstinence, consummating the marriage wasn’t strictly unnecessary…

Then at the very end of the answer, the apologist threw in a new twist and just left it like that. He said St. Jerome thought Joseph “wouldn’t dare touch” Mary because Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

I thought this was a terrible way to end the answer because it opened up many more questions for me. That made it sound that Joseph and Mary did not have a real marriage. If Mary took a vow of abstinence, that’s one thing, but if Joseph didn’t dare touch Mary, that is completely different. If Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit, then she couldn’t really be Joseph’s spouse as well, could she?
[/quote]

Hi Angainor, It is true that the Holy Spirit is the Spouse. But God knows how to provide. Joseph was an adopted father and a great baby sitter. Its a family potrait. :thumbsup: God Bless


#3

[quote=Angainor]I was listening to Catholic Answers: Live last Thursday (1/16/2005). Someone asked if Catholics believed Joseph and Mary were really married. I was following the answer which was making a lot of sense: Joseph and Mary were really married, Mary had taken a vow of abstinence, consummating the marriage wasn’t strictly unnecessary…

Then at the very end of the answer, the apologist threw in a new twist and just left it like that. He said St. Jerome thought Joseph “wouldn’t dare touch” Mary because Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

I thought this was a terrible way to end the answer because it opened up many more questions for me. That made it sound that Joseph and Mary did not have a real marriage. If Mary took a vow of abstinence, that’s one thing, but if Joseph didn’t dare touch Mary, that is completely different. If Mary was the spouse of the Holy Spirit, then she couldn’t really be Joseph’s spouse as well, could she?
[/quote]

Now why did you have to go and ask a hard question like that?

Well, maybe it can be explained. Mary is the spouse of the Holy Ghost; other Christians are the “bride of Christ”. Just as other Christians (brides of Christ) are able to enter into matrimony, so too Mary was able to enter into matrimony. Being a spouse to the Holy Ghost, would not keep her from marrying Joseph any more than being a “bride of Christ” would keep another Christian from marrying someone else.

The reason Mary and Joseph did not have relations was because of her vow of chastity. The reason for her vow of chastity was the will of God. So it was both the will of God that she take the vow of chastity, and thus that she remain a virgin her entire life.

Why was that God’s will? I belive the reason is because the state of viginity is higher than “non-virginity” (is that a word?). That is a teaching of the Church, which is clearly taught in the catechism of Trent. Since Mary was to be the most perfect of God’s creatures, it makes sense that she would remain in the exalted state of virginity her entire life. That would be very consistent with her high calling.


#4

[quote=SPOKENWORD]Hi Angainor, It is true that the Holy Spirit is the Spouse. But God knows how to provide. Joseph was an adopted father and a great baby sitter. Its a family potrait. :thumbsup: God Bless
[/quote]

Your almost there Spoken:) Now,think about it there must be something special about Mother Mary for Her to be the Spouse of the Holy Spirit:) God Bless and come Home Spoken:crying:


#5

Being a spouse to the Holy Ghost, would not keep her from marrying Joseph any more than being a “bride of Christ” would keep another Christian from marrying someone else.

Perhaps, but Christians married to “brides of Christ” dare to touch eachother. St. Jerome thought Joseph didn’t dare touch Mary because she was the bride of the Holy Ghost.

The reason Mary and Joseph did not have relations was because of her vow of chastity.

I could accept that. Vows are voluntary. Joseph would have to have consented to respect that vow. The idea that Joseph wouldn’t dare touch Mary is much different. It seems to set up a barrier. It is not the language of a voluntary action. Something is over-riding the normal rules of marriage from outside the marriage. A vow would be a voluntary action within the marriage. Mary and Joseph would have freely entered a vow of chasitiy, but there is nothing free about not daring to touch the “spouse of the Holy Ghost”, that implies the couple could not have decided differently without breaking the Law. I think a marriage where the couple are forbidden from marital actions is not a marriage at all.

I belive the reason is because the state of viginity is higher than “non-virginity”

I would have to disagree with that (among married couples) but that is a different discussion.


#6

Consumating the marriage does play a part, I agree. I’d have to study up on marriage before and after consumation to see exactly what happens after consumation. I know that the Church is able to disolve a valid marriage that has never been consumated; not declare it null and void (such as in an annulment), but actually disolve the marriage bond. From this we can see that consumation does play a part in marriage. I will look into it. If I find any good information, I’ll pass it along.

Regarding Mary’s vow of chastity. This was not a vow that she and Joseph took together. This is a vow that she took much earlier. From the time Mary was three years old she was a “temple virgin”; kind if like a nun is today. Her parents dedicated her to God and she lived in the temple, away from them. I am pretty sure it was during this time that she took the vow. She was bound by the vow before meeting Joseph.


#7

This was not a vow that she and Joseph took together. This is a vow that she took much earlier.

I could accept that, if that were the end of the story. Joseph would have known about and consented to respecting that vow when he agreed to marry Mary.

But is that the end of the story? The radio apologist felt the need to tack on to the end of the explination the bit about Mary being the spouse of the Holy Spirit. How does that fact fit into the picture?

Did Joseph and Mary abstain because of Mary’s vow, or because Joseph “dared not touch” the spouse of the Holy Spirit?


#8

I suggest you get a copy of the book “Sex and the Sacred City” by Steven Kellmeyer. It will change your opion on this matter.


#9

[quote=Angainor]This was not a vow that she and Joseph took together. This is a vow that she took much earlier.

I could accept that, if that were the end of the story. Joseph would have known about and consented to respecting that vow when he agreed to marry Mary.

But is that the end of the story? The radio apologist felt the need to tack on to the end of the explination the bit about Mary being the spouse of the Holy Spirit. How does that fact fit into the picture?

Did Joseph and Mary abstain because of Mary’s vow, or because Joseph “dared not touch” the spouse of the Holy Spirit?
[/quote]

In my opinion, the main reason would have been because of the vow. The reason I say that is because we know both Mary and Joseph were completely obedient to God - their desire was to do what God wanted them to do.

When a person makes a vow to God, they bind themselves to that which they vowed. If Mary took a vow of chastity, we can be certain that both Mary and Joseph would want her to be faithful to that vow. Therefore, aside from anything else, I would say the main reason they obstained was so that Mary could be faithful to the vow. If Joseph “dared not touch” Mary, I think that would be the primary reason for it.

I can’t really comment on what the apologist said St. Jerome thought. St. Jerome was a great saint, but I would not get to hung up on one of his thoughts, since it is not a dogma of the faith that a Catholic is bound to assent to. You are free to believe as you like about St. Jerome’s opinion on that matter.


#10

RSiscoe wrote, in part:

[quote=RSiscoe]Consumating the marriage does play a part, I agree.

Regarding Mary’s vow of chastity. This was not a vow that she and Joseph took together. This is a vow that she took much earlier. From the time Mary was three years old she was a “temple virgin”; kind if like a nun is today. Her parents dedicated her to God and she lived in the temple, away from them.
[/quote]

I’ve always wondered; is that in scripture? I’d like to show it to my friend.
Thanks.


#11

Mary had worked in the Temple since she was 3 years old. She took a vow of abstinence.
When Mary came of age the rabbis said she had to marry and not sleep in the temple anymore.

Joseph was selected from a group of 6 elderly men. Joseph was elderly and had children by his then dead wife. A bird in the temple is said to have landed on Joseph’s head, he was selected. Yes they were married. Joseph knew of Mary’s vow.


#12

[quote=Mimi]RSiscoe wrote, in part:

I’ve always wondered; is that in scripture? I’d like to show it to my friend.
Thanks.
[/quote]

Sorry for the delay in getting back with you. The information came from the book Mystical City of God, by Ven. Mary of Agreda. The book contains revelations of the life of Mary, given by Mary herself to Mary of Agreda. The book has been recommended by many Popes. I would recommend this book to everyone.


#13

[quote=RSiscoe]Sorry for the delay in getting back with you. The information came from the book Mystical City of God, by Ven. Mary of Agreda. The book contains revelations of the life of Mary, given by Mary herself to Mary of Agreda. The book has been recommended by many Popes. I would recommend this book to everyone.
[/quote]

This is also related in Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich’s “The Dolorous Passion…”. If I’m not mistaken this tradition was first put to paper in the Protoevangelium of James:

newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm

Of course, this is non-canonical, so it is not an article of faith, but I’ve always considered it part of Early Church tradition.


#14

Angainor - I wouldn’t get too caught up in the wording. I just think he meant once Joseph knew Mary was the Bride of the Holy Spirit. Joseph realized how special she was. No more no less. I am sure he didn’t mean that Joseph wouldn’t dare touch her out of fear or respect, but that he once he realized how special she was it was just another reason not to consumate their marrage.

That is one reason I would not like doing apologetics - it is too easy to get caught up in the wording and miss the meaning.


#15

Thank you all for your responses.

I see the initial conclusions I drew from the radio apologist show weren’t quite right, the Catholic position is much more self-consistant than I thought.

I just don’t happen to agree that Joseph and Mary’s marriage would have been on some higher level because they abstained from marital relations, which is the impression I get from such discussions. Maybe that is not what Catholics think at all. A good question to ask to test this would be:

What would you’re reaction be to the idea of Joseph and Mary having marital relations?


#16

Being under a vow of virginity (celibacy, not chastity) may sound strange to us in our sex crazed society but, it was not unheard of at that time. In fact if you read Numbers, chap 30 you’ll see there were even “Laws” governing how the husband must act when taking in a woman under a vow into his household. Numbers 30 is the reason Joseph would not even think of having sex with Mary. Read numbers chaps 27-30, it’s not too long; you’ll see why Mary was under the house of David, since she was an only child and daughter.


#17

[quote=Tom]Being under a vow of virginity (celibacy, not chastity) may sound strange to us in our sex crazed society but, it was not unheard of at that time
[/quote]

It seems somehow un-Jewish for a woman to permanently vow to not have sex (and not have children therefore). I can’t think of any in the OT right now. Can you? Or are there examples of these virginity vows in secular writings of the era? Numbers 30 for me is just about vows, and not about a particular virginity vow.


#18

[quote=Angainor]Thank you all for your responses.

I see the initial conclusions I drew from the radio apologist show weren’t quite right, the Catholic position is much more self-consistant than I thought.

I just don’t happen to agree that Joseph and Mary’s marriage would have been on some higher level because they abstained from marital relations, which is the impression I get from such discussions. Maybe that is not what Catholics think at all. A good question to ask to test this would be:

What would you’re reaction be to the idea of Joseph and Mary having marital relations?
[/quote]

That is a good question. One that offers an opportunity for a more free exchange of ideas.

When Catholics hear the Gospel words " the Kingdom of God is among you" or “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” it is understood as a life once only lived in heaven has been established on earth and in time.

Jesus revealed to us what a heavenly life looks like and how it is recieved on earth. He is the seed that establishes that heavenly tree of life. That life is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, but we are not.When we experience conversion it seems the whole world has changed. It seems as if everything is different than it was before. We therefore respond to our new reality in a different way as well. From the converts perspective it’s the world that has changed, to the world the only thing that is different is the convert.

The life that Jesus offers is a conversion that if experienced to it’s completion while on earth would cause a person to react to the world’s new appearance in a way that would radically change the fundamental purposes of their life. The source of what drives purpose would not be earthly but heavenly, since life in heaven is the fulfillment of life on earth procreating would no longer even be a drive.

Yet this heavenly life wouldn’t react that way to a world of Original Innocense but it does to a world steeped in the worship of carnal senses as the end of human life.

So, for a Catholic the idea that Joseph and Mary had marital relations would change the meaning of their lives and everything we accept about who they are and what they mean would collapse, and not only what they mean to catholics but since much of what all christians hold true about who they are, what their lives mean is supported by this Catholic perspective what they mean to most Christians would collapse as well.


#19

[quote=Benadam]…When we experience conversion it seems the whole world has changed. It seems as if everything is different than it was before. We therefore respond to our new reality in a different way as well. From the converts perspective it’s the world that has changed, to the world the only thing that is different is the convert.

…The source of what drives purpose would not be earthly but heavenly, since life in heaven is the fulfillment of life on earth procreating would no longer even be a drive.

Yet this heavenly life wouldn’t react that way to a world of Original Innocense but it does to a world steeped in the worship of carnal senses as the end of human life.

So, for a Catholic the idea that Joseph and Mary had marital relations would change the meaning of their lives and everything we accept about who they are and what they mean would collapse, …
[/quote]

Thank you for that candid response. It tells me a lot. I have to tell you, that to my ear, your response sounds vaguely gnostic: newadvent.org/cathen/06592a.htm.

I don’t think we need to reject our carnal (1. of the flesh; material; worldly) senses. God made our bodies. He made them good. It is sin that has twisted our attitiudes and relationships to our bodies. We should reject the sinful attitudes toward the body, but why “throw the baby out with the bathwater”?

I believe in the resurrection of the body. Our bodies will be remade whole and sinless. I believe it is a mistake to yearn for a more heavenly existance here on earth, partly because we don’t really have a good idea what a “more heavenly existance” really means.

It is our lot to live our lives on this earth with the bodes God made for us, striving to obey His commandments, praising God, and looking to Jesus for our salvation. We will find out soon enough what a heavenly existance really is.


#20

[quote=Angainor]Thank you for that candid response. It tells me a lot. I have to tell you, that to my ear, your response sounds vaguely gnostic: newadvent.org/cathen/06592a.htm.

I don’t think we need to reject our carnal (1. of the flesh; material; worldly) senses. God made our bodies. He made them good. It is sin that has twisted our attitiudes and relationships to our bodies. We should reject the sinful attitudes toward the body, but why “throw the baby out with the bathwater”?

I believe in the resurrection of the body. Our bodies will be remade whole and sinless. I believe it is a mistake to yearn for a more heavenly existance here on earth, partly because we don’t really have a good idea what a “more heavenly existance” really means.

It is our lot to live our lives on this earth with the bodes God made for us, striving to obey His commandments, praising God, and looking to Jesus for our salvation. We will find out soon enough what a heavenly existance really is.
[/quote]

You are misunderstanding what I’m saying. Please reread because I agree with most of what you say here. My faith in Christ isn’t adulterated by the false notions in the constructs taught by Plato and incorporated within gnostic thought.

The conjugal act is a physical act that most expresses God’s Mysterious Union of divine Love. I believe the meaning of the human body is founded in the purpose of making the Mystery of God visible. So I would never deny it as something that participates in the hypostatic union.

As for the meaning of an existence on earth in complete Union with heaven it was lived in the human experience Christ delivered to us. To deny that we can know the meaning of a more heavenly existence is to deny that we can know Christ and live the life we are called to in Him.

Knowledge in it’s deepest sense is a union of likeness as expressed in scripture " we will see Him as He is because we will be like Him" and again Adam’s expression when he recieved his helpmeet " flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone"


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