Who are the Holy Spouses?
Dear couples, God has called you to live a life of love and fidelity with each other as a sign of his love and fidelity for his Church. This is the vocation to the married life. This vocation is very dear and important to the Church and we thank you for your commitment to it. Realizing that sometimes our society does not appreciate the beauty and integrity of this vocation of marriage, God has given you Mary and Joseph as examples and intercessors to help you in living your marriage joyfully and in overcoming difficulties that may arise in the midst of such a society.
Therefore, we, the Oblates of St. Joseph, invite you to take Mary and Joseph, the Holy Spouses, as your models and guides in your married life by becoming members of the Holy Spouses Society. The commitment you make in becoming members of this society will ensure that you will live your marriage according to the teachings of Jesus and his Church and that you will receive the assistance of the Mother of God and the Guardian of the Redeemer, who themselves lived most perfectly the vocation to marriage.
What is the Holy Spouses Society?
We have described a Holy Spouses feast, rosary, image, and workshop as pastoral means for taking Mary and Joseph as patrons and models for one’s marriage. These are all brought together in a spiritual society to which couples may make a personal commitment. This commitment consists of the following eight points:
- Celebrate the Feast of the Holy Spouses, Joseph and Mary, on January 23 each year by attending Mass together as a couple.
- Pray some part of the Holy Spouses Rosary together.
- Have a Holy Spouses Picture enthroned in your home.
- Live your marriage as a call from God.
- Respect children as the greatest fruit of marriage.
- Uphold the Church’s teaching on the two inseparable ends of marriage: union in love and openness to procreation.
- Attend together a Life-Giving Love Workshop once in life.
- Avoid the use of artificial contraceptives.
These four means of the feast, the rosary, the picture, and the workshop are vehicles for living the other four points, which are the simple obligations of every married couple: to live marriage as a vocation, actively to uphold its two-fold purpose, to value children and of course to avoid contraception.
There is a brief enrollment ceremony for those couples prepared and willing to make this commitment. The enrollment may take place in a service of the Word, on the Feast of the Holy Spouses, or at the end of the Wedding Mass.
Enthronement Rite of the Holy Spouses Image
The rite begins with a hymn to Mary and Joseph, a greeting, and the following introduction:
My dear brothers and sisters, we are here this day in the house of N. and N. to enthrone this picture of Mary and Joseph, the Holy Spouses. N. and N. have taken them as the models and patrons of their marriage commitment by entering the Holy Spouses Society. As members of that society, they strive to live their marriage according to the teachings of Jesus and his Church, especially by living it as a vocation of love and a sacrament of unity in the midst of the world. In this way they witness to the love and unity that God has for and wishes for his Church and the whole world. N. and N. know that living their marriage in this way can be difficult. They have asked Mary and Joseph to be their inspiration and to intercede for them so that they can always remain faithful to God and each other by remaining faithful to their commitment, as did Mary and Joseph, the Holy Spouses.
A first reading and psalm response are chosen from the selection for the marriage rite and Luke 2:41-52 is read for the gospel. After a brief homily, the following prayer of blessing is said:
Almighty and everlasting God, you are the source of all life and love. You call us all to participate in that love by loving one another, according to our own particular vocation. You have called N. and N. to love one another in the vocation and sacrament of marriage. They have taken Mary and Joseph, the Holy Spouses, as models and guides in their marriage. We ask you to bless + this picture of these same Holy Spouses, Mary and Joseph, that it might serve as a reminder and inspiration for N. and N. and their family, of the great love that you have for them, of the powerful intercession and example of Mary and Joseph, and of the need that our world has of examples of those who make true and lasting commitments of love. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The image is then sprinkled with holy water, as are those present, and it is hung in the place where it is to stay on the wall. All kneel before the image and pray some part of the Holy Spouses Rosary. A final prayer of blessings ends the rite. The image remains as a reminder of the enthronement and a call to seek the intercession of the Holy Spouses and to strive to imitate their love for each other.