St. Joseph: A Model for Making Marriage Work

by Archbishop Donald Wuerl

Something as wondrous as a successful marriage and as beautiful as a functioning family does not happen on its own. A mother, a father, and children all need to work at making a family a success. Such effort is an expression of love.

After an annual Mass for those celebrating their golden jubilee of marriage, I sometimes ask people in the reception line what is the secret to their success. So often the response is “We work at it every day.”

The picture of St. Joseph as spouse of Mary and foster father of Jesus includes the image of a gentle, loving man, wise enough to teach a child and caring enough to be present at the important moments to lead by example every day.

St. Joseph is clearly a patron for fathers and a model for our day. The child Jesus had what we would call today a “role model” in his life.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children” (2223).The home should be a center for education in the virtues. It is also to be what is called the “domestic church.” A Christian family constitutes a specific manifestation and realization of ecclesial communion. It is a sign and an image of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, just as the Church itself and every believer are to be a manifestation of the love of God within us and at work in the world around us.

Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., has written numerous books of the Catholic faith. This article was excerpted from the June 2002 issue of Columbia, the monthly magazine of the Knights of Columbus.

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