How Joseph and Mary both also practiced the Evangelical Counsels of Poverty and Obedience

March 11, 2022 • 3 min

#Obedience #Mary #Joseph #Marriage #Morals #Consecration #Poverty

From The Life and Glories of St. Joseph, page 153
By Edward Healy Thompson, M.A.

Be this as it may, we have good reason to believe that the holy spouses never contemplated retaining the whole of the patrimony which Mary inherited from her parents, and which, moderate as it was, would probably have sufficed to raise them above the level of actual poverty. These two ardent lovers of virginity were also lovers of poverty, which they thus embraced by their voluntary act.

Maria d’Agreda says that immediately after their marriage they divided what they possessed into three portions, one of which they gave to the Temple, one they distributed to the poor, and the third remained in the hands of Joseph for his administration, our Lady reserving to herself the office of waiting on her holy spouse and performing all household work; for the same favoured soul tells us that never did Mary interfere in external business, neither would she buy or sell; money, in short, never passed through her pure hands. Joseph was thus installed as head of the family, in the office of steward and administrator of the goods of what might truly be called God’s house. The third portion of Mary’s inheritance, which had been reserved, consisted chiefly, no doubt, of their humble house at Nazareth, whither they were about to retire, and where soon was to be accomplished the great mystery of the Incarnation.

We have seen how St. Joseph during his youth had exercised the trade of a carpenter. He now, we are told by a great contemplative, asked our Lady if she wished him to continue it for her service, in order besides to have something to give to the poor, and also because it was well not to lead an idle and unemployed life. Of this the most prudent Virgin approved, telling him that the Lord did not wish them to be rich, but poor, and lovers of the poor and the refuge of the poor, so far as their means extended.

Then—Maria d’Agreda, whom we quote, tells us—there arose a holy contest between the two blessed spouses as to which of them was to regard and treat the other as superior.

Joseph in his humility esteemed himself as all unworthy of the treasure which had been committed to his charge; and so great was his veneration for Mary that he would have desired to take the place of her servant, seeking only to know and obey her will in everything.

She, however, who amongst the humble superexcelled in humility, was the conqueror in this loving strife; for the most holy Mary would not consent that, the man being the head, the natural order should be inverted, so that it was her will to obey in all things her spouse Joseph, asking him only to allow her to give alms to the poor of the Lord, to which the Saint willingly agreed.

It was a great sacrifice to Joseph to have thus to assume the place due to him as husband, and in doing so he, on his part, was practising the virtue of obedience, even as Mary was on hers. The two spouses were, therefore, perfectly fulfilling the three evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

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