Not mentioned in the official canon of Scripture, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Ss. Joachim and Anne, are known to Catholic tradition through the extra-biblical Protoevangelium of St. James. We celebrated the feast of this married couple on July 26, so here are some tips on marriage based on their loving, faith-filled marriage.
1. Prayer & Fasting Are Essential
Both Ss. Joachim and Anne are described as a desolate married couple who were unable to conceive a child. As an act of piety, St. Joachim fasted for 40 days and nights in the desert as a sacrifice for the barrenness of his wife, while St. Anne lamented in prayer and supplication to God asking Him to bless their union with a child.
They performed these acts of atonement until an angel of the Lord appeared to each of them separately announcing Mary’s Immaculate Conception: “Then, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared and said to her, ‘Anna, Anna, the Lord has heard your prayer. You will conceive a child and give birth, and your offspring will be spoken of throughout the entire world.’” They set out at once to meet each other and share in this joyous news, meeting each other at Jerusalem’s city gate, often depicted with a chaste kiss.
Their faithfulness to prayer and fasting is an example to married couples, particularly those who are struggling, to take their difficulties to the Lord who will bless them with mercy and an untold abundance of grace.
2. Marriage Is About Union
Marriage is a uniting bond with an intrinsic meaning rooted in God’s love for us. Dr. Budziszewski, a theologian and philosopher, describes how Natural Law plays a role in the marital union: “The other meaning and purpose of human sexuality…is union; the mutual and
total self-giving and accepting of two polar complimentary selves in their entirety, soul and body.”The marital embrace, otherwise known as conjugal union, binds man and woman together in an institution set apart from all others. (Mk 10:5-9)
The earthly marital union is a foretaste to the heavenly bond between Jesus Christ and his love for his bride, the Church. A natural marital union is called to vocationally reflect this love on earth as an example to their fellow man of that divinely shared love.
3. Your Marriage Is A Homily
Pope Francis once said during a homily at Casa Santa Marta that “Matrimony is a silent homily for everyone else, a daily homily.” The love Ss. Joachim and Anne shared, modeled for the Blessed Virgin Mary how to be a wife and mother, allowing her to partake in the Kingdom of Heaven as the Mother of God. In the same way, married couples are called to be examples of faith to their children and faith community.
Ss. Joachim and Anne represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure. A reflection of the love of God shines through this union and bears the fruit of the Immaculate Conception and is a perfect example for us of authentic love.
Visit The Station of the Cross for more authentically Catholic media content and listen to this episode of Sermons for Everyday Living which defines what Holy Matrimony and how to imitate the Holy Family.
Ss. Joachim & Anne, pray for us!