The Espousal of the Blessed Virgin Mary with St Joseph: Missa “Salve, sancta parens“
January 23rd is the traditional day of the feast called “The Espousal of the Virgin Mary with St Joseph.” Although never on the general Calendar, it was kept by many religious orders, especially those with a particular devotion to the Virgin Mary, and on many local calendars.
We don’t often think of the marriage of Mary and Joseph, or the events that transpired prior to the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel. What we do know is that Mary was presented at the temple at a young age, at which time she likely took a vow of perpetual virginity. What, then, was her reaction to the Lord calling her to marriage? As before when she entered the temple, and later, when she accepted the message of Gabriel, Our Lady demonstrates perfect fidelity to the Lord—the quality which sets her apart from all others, and the reason for her chosen status as the Mother of God.
But consider Saint Joseph, her spouse. He, too, entered into a marriage with a vow of chastity, resigning himself to the will of God, and to the protection of the Lord’s sacred vessel of the Incarnation. Even following the Annunciation, Joseph placed his trust in God, choosing not to quietly divorce his wife (as we read in the Gospel he considered), but rather entrusting himself and his family to the Lord’s wisdom and plan.
On the feast of the Espousal, we are called to our own leap of faith—our own abandonment of our personal desires for those of the Lord. We look to emulate Mary and Joseph, who in their infinite trust, placed themselves in the hands of God, faithfully, continently, and chastely living as husband and wife, raising the Son of Man.
Hail, holy Mother, thou who didst bring forth the King who rules heaven and earth for ever and ever. (Ps. 44: 2) My heart hath uttered a good word : I speak my works to the King. v. Glory be…etc
Grant, o Lord, we beseech Thee, to thy servants, the gifts of thy heavenly grace: that as our redemption began in the delivery of the blessed Virgin, so in the solemnity of her espousal, we may have an increase of peace. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, Forever and ever. R. Amen
Commemoration of St Joseph
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be helped by the merits of the Spouse of Thy most holy Mother, so that we cannot obtain of ourselves, may be given to us through his intercession. Who livest and reignest…
EPISTLE Proverbs 8
Lesson from the book of Wisdom. The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his ways, before he made any thing from the beginning. I was set up from eternity, and of old before the earth was made. The depths were not as yet, and I was already conceived. neither had the fountains of waters as yet sprung out: The mountains with their huge bulk had not as yet been established: before the hills I was brought forth: He had not yet made the earth, nor the rivers, nor the poles of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was present: when with a certain law and compass he enclosed the depths: When he established the sky above, and poised the fountains of waters: When he compassed the sea with its bounds, and set a law to the waters that they should not pass their limits: when be balanced the foundations of the earth; I was with him forming all things: and was delighted every day, playing before him at all times; Playing in the world: and my delights were to be with the children of men. Now therefore, ye children, hear me: Blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, and that watcheth daily at my gates, and waiteth at the posts of my doors. He that shall find me, shall find life, and shall have salvation from the Lord.
Blessed and venerable art thou, O Virgin Mary, who without spot wast found the Mother of the Savior. V. O Virgin Mother of God, He, Whom the whole world can not contain, hath shut Himself within thy womb, becoming man. Alleluia, alleluia. V. Happy art thou, O sacred Virgin Mary, and most worthy of all praise, for out of thee hath risen the sun of justice, Christ, our God. Alleluia.
GOSPEL Matthew 1
Beginning of the Holy Gospel according to Matthew. The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon. And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse. And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa. And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias. And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias. And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon. And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor. And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud. And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Blessed art thou, O Virgin Mary, who didst bear the Creator of all things; Thou broughtest forth Him Who made thee, yhet for ever remainest a virgin, alleluia.
May the humanity of thy only begotten son, o Lord, succour us, that He who being born of a virgin, diminished not, but consecrated her virginity, may free us, who celebrate the festival of her espousal, from our sins: and render our oblation acceptable to thee. Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God Forever and ever. R. Amen
Commemoration of St Joseph
We render Thee, O Lord, the debt of our service, humbly entreating that Thou wouldst preserve Thy gifts within us through the intercession of blessed Joseph, the Spouse of the Mother of Thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord; on whose holy festival we offer to Thee the sacrifice of praise. Through our Lord…
PREFACE of the BVM
It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O holy Lord, Father almighty and everlasting God. That on the Festival of the blessed Virgin Mary, we should praise, bless and proclaim Thee. For she conceived Thine only-begotten Son by the over-shadowing of the Holy Ghost; and losing not the glory of her virginity, gave forth to the world the everlasting light, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through whom the angels praise Thy majesty, the Dominions worship it, and the powers stand in awe. The Heavens and the heavenly Hosts, and the blessed Seraphim join together in celebrating their joy. With these we pray Thee join our voices also, while we say with lowly praise:
Blessed is the womb of the Virgin Mary, which bore the Son of the Eternal Father.
We have received, o Lord, the votive mysteries of this annual celebration; grant, we beseech thee, that they may confer upon us remedies for time and eternity. Through the Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, one God For ever and ever. R. Amen
Commemoration of St Joseph
Come to our assistance, we beseech Thee, O merciful God; and through the intercession of blessed Joseph Thy confessor, graciously preserve Thy gifts about us. Through our Lord…