May, Mary, and Marriage
In case y'all didn't know, May is already coming to an end. Seeing that this is the month Catholics give honor to Our Lady, I wanted to end it by talking about one of my favorite roles she bears: Mary the Spouse.
Yes, she was a spouse to the beloved St. Joseph but often times Catholics refer to her as the spouse of the Holy Spirit. (Whatttt?????) Specifically, we talk about her fidelity and loyalty to the Holy Spirit.
So what does that mean & where do we find that? And what the heck does it have to do with those of us who are married women or women discerning marriage with a partner?
Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. (CCC 721)
"for that which is conceived in her is of the holy spirit" (Matthew 1:20)
This is the most basic part in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in holy scripture which gives us the imagery of Mary bearing the Son of God, of the Holy Spirit, in her womb. So what did life look like for her as a "spouse" of the Spirit?
Mary gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation (when she said "yes" to the angel Gabriel) and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the cross (CCC 2674)
I chose this passage from the Catechism because it reminds me of wedding vows..."til death do us part." And then, when Joseph and Mary present Jesus in the temple as a young boy, Simeon looks at Mary and says
"and a sword will pierce through your own soul also" (Luke 2:35)
You see, she has a fidelity to the spirit, even to the cross. Mary is the perfect example of a spousal union who is faithful from her fiat (her Yes to the Lord) to the end, when she stays at the foot of the cross.
I was preparing for a talk on this when John 2:5 kept popping into my head. It's the scripture of the Wedding Feast of Cana where
His mother said to the servants “do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5)
At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus performs the first of his signs, the first of his ministry.
In a sense, her “push” or nudge as some may call it, was prompted by the spirit to bring his ministry to life.
This was the gospel read at our wedding, so that alone makes it hold a special place in my heart. But, I also think it’s one of the most perfect examples of her fidelity to her spouse, The Holy Spirit.
As a wife, it’s the reminder I need on days where marriage isn’t the most fun.
It’s what she whispers to me -- reminding me of the total trust, loyalty, fidelity I have to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and my own spouse.
Looking back, I've heard this whisper time and time again.
When we presented the flowers to her at our wedding, we made our final prayer of Marian consecration and entrusted our marriage to her. Do whatever he tells you.
At my daughters birth during those last few pushes when I was sure the ring of fire was going to kill me, that was translated to “I did this and so can you. Do it. Just one more”
Do whatever he tells you.
Reflecting on the idea that Mary served our Lord by being a wife and mother is not something I reflect on often (which I should) but when I do, I remember that I’m not alone.
She also did the dishes & picked up after Jesus and Joseph. She took care of her husband, her family, her friends, and I think it's in those small life moments we can try to remember her fidelity to her yes, and it’s in that sort of simplicity that she reminds me I can do the same as a wife.
I “do whatever he tells me” by loving my husband, taking care of my child, my family & friends, by constantly living out my own “yes” I said on the altar as I became a wife.
One of the greatest characters of salvation history was a wife, and that brings me a lot of peace in knowing this is how I’m meant to serve the Lord -- this is how I’m meant to do whatever He tells me.
The “he” in that verse is Christ obviously, but I think in marriage it can also be applied as “do whatever your spouse tells you”. Now before ya'll start thinking anything crazy like I'm dominated by obedience to my husband, hold up. I mean that part of fidelity in marriage is trusting your husband, and that’s something the spirit OFTEN prompts me to do and I usually have a hard time listening.
I am a very anxious person who goes over every possible scenario when I lay in bed at night. During our marriage prep, we both decided it was prudent that when a big decision comes our way, we will discuss it together (duh). But, if I can’t think rationally, he can make the final call. That’s our relationship and I am 10000% okay with that. Maybe it’s flipped for you, idk. When we decided it was time for us to leave New York, I had just had our first baby. We’d been praying & talking about it for months on end. I had no idea where my heart was, I’m not sure he did either. But, I do know that ultimately being closer to family was what we needed, even if it’s not what we wanted at the time. The spirit nudged me when Chase told me it was final, we were moving to TX. I didn’t know how to feel--excited and distraught? Both? With sore breasts and a brain running on zero sleep, I trusted him. There was no way I could make a decision. Mary whispered “do whatever he tells you.” It’s in trusting the Spirit & my spouse when I can’t deal with it myself that I often find great peace.
What's a simple way we can take all of this & apply it to our marriage and/or relationship if you are discerning marriage with a partner?
The spouses union achieves the twofold end of marriage: the good of the spouses themselves and the transmission of life (CCC 2363)
In marriage you will constantly be trying to will the good of the other and to be life-giving.
You guys. That was Mary’s whole life, as a spouse, in a nutshell!!!
She had a beautiful fidelity to the Spirit because she wanted His will to be done at all times, AND she gave life to the life-giver himself.
So when she whispers to you, do whatever he tells you, she is saying:
Trust in the man whom God has given to you. Be loyal & faithful -- whether that’s fidelity in the marriage bed or doing the dishes when you said you would.
She is saying trust in the promptings of the Holy Spirit, like I did at Cana, because once you do, that’s when your marriage will come to life.