Today is a happy day. It’s my wedding anniversary! Twenty-nine years ago today, I married my high school sweetheart! We met in chorus, and performing together in “My Fair Lady” sealed our fate. It’s hard to believe it’s been 29 years. I guess in my mind, twenty-five years was the one that was supposed to be the “big one”. Notable, yes, but this one just seems a more momentous for some reason. Maybe because it’s close to 30, and that sounds huge!!!
We decided to hold our wedding in May because I wanted to get married in Our Lady’s month. What I didn’t know at the time was the May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph, the Worker, the patron saint of married people. Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think of the feast of St. Joseph, I think March 19. So I ask myself, “Why this additional title and separate feast day?”
I think it’s because the Church wants us to honor the vocation of marriage and fatherhood and the role of men as providers for their families.
God made Joseph’s vocation to marriage quite clear when “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.'” (Mt 1:20) “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Mt 1:24) His prompt, faithful response is a model for Christian husbands and fathers, and indeed, for all of us, in how to respond to God’s call. His work as a carpenter providing for his family was his daily response to that vocation.
We live in an age when marriage is under attack and young people do not consider it until much later when they’ve “had all their fun and are ready to settle down.” What a shame! Marriage can be one of the greatest gifts in someone’s life. I’m glad I didn’t wait. Getting married young (by today’s standards) was one my greatest blessings.
We’ve all heard the statistic about “50% of marriages today will end in a divorce.” (Statistically, 40% of first marriages, 60% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)) Yeah…that’s pretty scary. And, for those we know, and maybe even for some of you who read this today, it is a devastating experience. But, with the right person, with proper preparation, and with God at the center, marriage can bring deep joy into life. Young people need to know that.
So I thought I’d pull out a few statistics to provide some other numbers to complement the oft heard ones (from Brittany Crim, MA, LPC, Plano Counseling – click this link for the full list):
- 85% of the U.S. population will marry at least once. (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 2006)
- Married people live longer than unmarried or divorced people. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
- Married people are happier than single, widowed, or cohabiting people. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
- Married people have more sex and a better quality sexual relationship than do single, divorced or cohabiting individuals. (Waite & Gallagher, 2000)
- Cohabiting before marriage is related to more frequent arguments during marriage and a greater perceived risk of separation and divorce. (Hill & Evans, 2006)
- Couples who cohabit before remarriage report lower levels of happiness in their marriage than remarried couples who did not cohabit. (Xu, Hudspeth & Bartkowsk, 2006)
- Premarital preparation can reduce divorce rate by 30%. (Stanley, Amato, Johnson & Markman,2006)
- Recent research combining information from 11 experimental studies found significant differences favoring couples who received premarital education. There was a 79% improvement in all marital outcomes compared to couples who did not receive premarital education. (Carroll & Doherty, 2003)
It is the Catechism, though, that teaches us the true nature of marriage (CCC 1603):
The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage.” The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.”
“Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes.” (CCC 1604):
So today,would you join me in praying for the strengthening of the vocation of marriage – for those married, for those contemplating marriage or awaiting a wedding, for those whose marriages struggle, and for those whose marriages are broken – that Saint Joseph the Worker will intercede to reaffirm and build up our response to God’s call.
Alleluia! Alleluia! He is Risen! Anne
Prayer to Saint Joseph to Know One’s Vocation
O Great Saint Joseph, you were completely obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Obtain for me the grace to know the state of life that God in his providence has chosen for me. Since my happiness on earth, and perhaps even my final happiness in heaven, depends on this choice, let me not be deceived in making it.
Obtain for me the light to know God’s Will, to carry it out faithfully, and to choose the vocation which will lead me to a happy eternity. Amen.