When I was single, I desperately prayed for a spouse. I prayed individual prayers and I prayed novenas. I asked St. Jude and St. Rita to intercede for me because I believed my situation was so hopeless and impossible. I prayed novenas to St. Martha and to St. Therese the Little Flower, as I was moved and encouraged by each of their stories. I also sought the assistance of St. Raphael the archangel, the patron saint of happy meetings.
For those who are not familiar with the archangel Raphael, he can be found in the book of Tobit. It is in the Old Testament of the Catholic Bible. A fascinating story, there is so much hope to be found in it for singles who want marriage. It shows how much God wants to help people get married when they are stuck in prolonged singleness.
These are all great saints to ask for intercession, along with many others. And I believe all my prayers were not wasted in the pleas for assistance I made to find my future spouse. However, it was ultimately my praying of the rosary that brought me and my husband together.
Sister Lucia of Fatima said, “The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” We see this battle going on today. Marriage is attacked on all fronts. Divorce is rampant in our society. People no longer believe you need to be married to live together, have a sexual relationship, or have children. Contraception is considered normal and part of healthcare. Less and less people are wedding in the Church. And these are the current issues surrounding the nuptial relationship. There are many others confronting the family unit.
I believe there is a part of this final battle on marriage and the family referenced by Sister Lucia of Fatima that many do not consider; it involves the battle to get married. There are many singles who desire marriage but struggle to find a suitable helpmate, a spouse. This is especially true where prolonged singleness is involved.
As Catholics, we have been given a tremendous weapon by the Blessed Virgin Mary to help us fight this final battle: the rosary. It was the rosary that I began to pray incessantly to invoke her intercession. Once I did, I believe that it was through the power of the rosary that my husband and I met, dated, were engaged, and married in the Catholic Church. All within eleven months!
God loves marriage. I wrote a three-part series on the reasons why God loves marriage entitled “God Loves Marriage: How Come?”. From this study, we know that marriage is both a divine and natural institution. In the book of Genesis, “God said: ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and the cattle, and over all the wild animals and all the creatures that crawl on the ground.’ God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:26-27 NABRE)
Each of us, individually, is made in the image and likeness of God. However, we were also made for marriage, e.g., it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18 NABRE). It is in the primordial state of marriage that man and woman were created; it is in marriage that the fullness of God’s image is reflected which is the Most Holy Trinity.
Given what Sister Lucia said regarding the final battle between God and Satan, it makes absolute sense that this spiritual warfare would include an assault on singles desiring to find love and marriage. Among things, marriage reflects God’s image here on earth. The fewer weddings that take place means the less God’s likeness is mirrored among humans here on earth.
There is another reason the rosary and the Blessed Virgin Mary are a perfect intercessor for single Catholics right now. Mary, too, had to trust God for a spouse! She can relate to the suffering we experience and therefore has compassion for singles.
In the Gospel of Matthew, the Scriptures tell us the following about the engagement and marriage of Joseph and Mary:
“Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, but unwilling to expose her shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, 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. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means ‘God is with us.’ When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” (Matthew 1:18-24 NABRE)
The scriptures tell us that Joseph and Mary were betrothed, which is a bit more serious than an engagement in our culture. We know that Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceived Jesus. When Joseph found out about this pregnancy, he made plans to divorce Mary privately (under Mosaic Law, the betrothal was more binding so the breaking of it was more severe as well).
Mary had to trust God for her spouse, for her husband. She had to completely rely on God’s providence to handle the situation with Joseph. Many of us are no different than Mary. We need to completely rely on God to provide us with a spouse. Of course, this reliance and circumstances are going to look different for each of us.
Mary may have already known who her husband was going to be: Joseph. Many of us have yet to meet this person. Nevertheless, Joseph was going to break off the betrothal and marriage based on the new information he was given. Even though Mary was immaculately conceived, she experienced emotions. Rather than succumbing to fear and hopelessness about who she was going to marry or what she was going to do, she turned to and put her faith in God. Mary trusted God to get her to marriage. Therefore, she understands what those of us in prolonged singleness experience and is available to intercede for us.
God acted in response to Mary’s faith and as part of his plan of salvation for all of us. In a dream, the angel of the Lord spoke to Joseph telling him not to be afraid to take Mary to be his wife. Joseph, too, had to exercise faith in his response to God regarding his marriage to Mary.
Both saints, the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, can serve as examples to singles today. They are a model of trust in God for the provision of a spouse despite our circumstances and feelings. Yes, God had a purpose for their marriage: the birth of the long-awaited messiah of Israel and the savior of the world. Doesn’t God have a purpose for you and your marriage, too?
God is not a respecter of persons. God wants to help his children get married; he is a father and he loves weddings. “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…” (Ephesians 3:14-15 NABRE). Marriage creates a family.
The rosary has been compared to a spiritual sword. This sword will help cut through the natural and spiritual darkness that surrounds singles today, assisting them on the journey to meeting a suitable helpmate and marry. Pray to Mary! Pray the rosary! It is a divine weapon. We are in a battle over marriage and to get to marriage. Mary has a heart for this issue.
I want to echo the words of Sister Lucia, “There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the holy rosary.” For single Catholics, I believe this includes the challenge of finding a spouse in today’s world.
By Julieanne M. Bartlett All Rights Reserved Copyright 2020