Hopes of The Holy Family: Advent Reflections Week 1, Day 3

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One thing I’ve noticed is how much I feel called to imitate Mary. In this Advent season, Mary plays a particularly prominent role. I’m currently praying the Immaculate Conception novena in anticipation of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the official start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. But I can’t talk about Mary without also talking about her most chaste spouse, Joseph. As part of Advent, some of my friends and I are doing meditations on Joseph and Mary. St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother were there for me during a retreat I staffed last spring and I love imagining the relationship that they had with each other.

My friend Cari shared this particular meditation with me from Catholic Tradition:

Our Lady, in giving him her hand, gave him also her whole heart. Never did a wife love her husband so tenderly, so ardently, nor revere him more profoundly. Mary and Joseph, says St. Bernardin of Siena, were but one heart and soul; they were two in one same mind, one same affection, and each of them was the other’s second self, because Our Lady and he were, so to speak, only one person. The heart of Mary with that of Joseph, and the heart of Joseph with that of Mary, who ever could imagine a union so intimate, a grace so great!

Can you imagine what they were thinking as they were journeying from Nazareth to Bethlehem? Mary is heavy with child and in spite what a certain song asks, she did know her part in the narrative, but it’s still overwhelming to her. Joseph is equally overwhelmed because he will have to raise a child that isn’t actually his own and sharing his life with a woman who’s never sinned. It takes a man of great humility to accept this great responsibility.

For today, I want you to reflect on Mary’s Magnificat and this wonderful song from MercyMe. Contemplate what Mary and Joseph may be thinking as they journey with us this Advent.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children forever.

 

Headcanons of Joseph and Mary: OTP of the New Testament

In the world of fandoms, there is something called OTP also known as One True Pairing. It basically means “the relationship that fans of a show love the most.” In the Bible, there are many beautiful relationships. My OTP is Joseph and Mary

I only gained a devotion to the Holy Family recently, but I would sometimes talk on Tumblr with other Catholics about what Joseph and Mary’s life could’ve been like. These speculations are called “headcanon.”

An example from a past Tumblr post:

  • Who decorates the house: Even though Joseph made all the furniture in their house, Mary is the one who always makes sure that the house is filled with flowers and little things she gathers from walking around town.
  • Who does the cooking: Mary does the cooking as per tradition. She taught Jesus how to cook, too.
  • Who kills the spiders: Neither of them kill spiders, but instead release the spiders to a safe outdoor area as far away from their house as possible.
  • Who is more organized: Mary. I’m very certain that she came up with the phrase “cleanliness is next to godliness.”
  • Who wakes up first: Joseph. He always smiles at his wife and child before getting up.
  • Who has the weird taste in music: Given that they had limited means of listening to music at the time, they both take what they get.
  • Who spends the most while out shopping: Joseph. He wants to make sure that what he gets is perfect.
  • Who sings in the shower: Mary. Joseph does hum, though.
  • Who cries during movies: Given that the closest thing they had to movies was folk tales and stories from Scripture, neither of them.
  • What’s their favorite non-sexual activity: Since neither of them have sex, Mary and Joseph pray. A lot.
  • Who is more protective: Joseph.
  • Who’s the cuddler: Also Joseph. He’s not much for words, after all.
  • Who’s the big spoon/little spoon: Joseph always spoons behind Mary. And it’s always my headcanon that they share a bed even though they don’t have sex because they love each other romantically.
  • Who kisses more roughly: Neither of them.
  • My rating of the ship from 1-10: 10! They’re 2/3 of the Holy Family!

I’ve written about my personal Joseph/Mary headcanon before. But my friends on Tumblr and I  are not the only ones who love speculating on

My dad, who has an amazing devotion to St. Joseph, has a book called Joseph the Silent by Michael Gasnier, O.P., which goes into detail about the kind of man St. Joseph was. There’s also a famous story of how Joseph became betrothed to Mary as described in the Protoevangelium of James: when it came time for Mary to find a husband, the priests of the temple called on all the eligible men to place their rods in the temple and the owner of the rod that would flower would become Mary’s husband. Joseph’s was the one that bloomed. However, the Protoevangelium of James speculated that Joseph was an old widower.

Rachel and Kateri made this video about what Fulton Sheen said about St. Joseph, who thought that St. Joseph was probably a young man, closer to Mary’s age (14):

Even fellow Patheos blogger Rebecca Frech goes into her headcanon on what Mary was like (or at least her kids do). Hopefully, we’ll see what her kids have to say about St. Joseph soon.

Which brings me to the question everyone’s asking: Why speculate about Joseph and Mary if it’s not in the Bible?

Headcanons are a very weird and funny thing. I think the reason we love speculating about Joseph and Mary is because headcanons make the characters (or in this case Biblical figures) feel more human. We can imagine Mary and Joseph as people and not just as images depicted on stained glass windows or statues that are part of a Nativity set.

We can imagine 14 year-old Mary turning to the handsome, young possibly 17-year-old Joseph for comfort and strength when she couldn’t deal with everything on her own. We can imagine the two of them trying to raise Jesus even as they deal with the constant mood changes that come with adolescence and young adulthood. We can imagine Joseph dying at a young age, in the arms of Jesus and Mary, and realize how short life can be.

St. Joseph, bring us closer to Jesus and Mary and grant us the grace of a happy death.

 

JMJ