On Tuesday, July 26, we celebrate the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne. From First century BC, tradition holds that this blessed couple lived in Galilee and later moved to Jerusalem where Mary was born and raised. Very little else has been passed down to us about them, but it is definitely safe to say and assume that Mary’s parents were holy people and that they were appropriate grandparents for Jesus. For that matter, they are great patrons for all Christians and grandparents. This can be confirmed just by looking at Mary’s faith – one that could move mountains.
So, the perfect couple bore the perfect child who in turn, having surrendered her life totally to God with her “Yes” to Archangel Gabriel, also bore the perfect child – the Lord and Saviour of our souls. This blessed child of Saints Joachim and Anne continued this fiat all the way to the foot of the Cross. Such amazing faith does not come out of nowhere.
Blessed John Paul II called parents the “first heralds of the Gospel” to their children (Familiaris Consortio,#39) and these two patrons were forerunners, as it were to the “Proclaimer” of the Gospels.
The fact that so little is known about the people who inspired Mary’s faith makes them even more fitting patrons. Think about famous builders who never saw their work completed, yet without their skills we would not be enjoying today the beauty of all their sacrifices. So it is with these patrons of moms and dads and with all parents who strive and sacrifice daily to build something more lasting than just buildings.
On this weekend, before Tuesday’s feast most parish priests take the opportunity to pray especially for married couples, and for those present at the Masses, they let them come forward to renew their marriage vows. This is a time I look forward to especially as my wedding anniversary falls on the day after this feast.
For us who have been married beyond twenty-five years, we know that we have been truly blessed, as we well know the joys and sorrows of married life and of nurturing children to become and stay as followers and believers of Jesus Christ.
Some parishes complain of having many baptisms, but very few marriages. It seems, as if marriage is a “feared’ institution, because when some children see the trials that their parents endure, they think that there is no way that they are getting into that situation.
This is why, through the ages, young people are always encouraged to choose their mates wisely. They should ask the Holy Spirit to send them partners who have the same religious beliefs as they have. One who, in time of crisis will not walk away or mock but will kneel together in prayer in order to gain a proper resolution.
So my prayer today is to ask the Holy Spirit to guide young Christian people to become and stay married by emulating the lives of Saints Joachim and Anne. They must have been praying people teaching their daughter Mary how to pray; encouraging her by their good works and example to have faith and trust in God; letting her know in no uncertain terms that God her Creator would never have led her where He could not bring her through.
For those who are already married, I pray that you never give up on your partner or children no matter what the circumstances. Pray to Saints Joachim and Anne to help you to be as Holy Spirit-inspired as they were when they had their job of bringing up Mary. I am sure that it was not always easy with the enemy always trying to intervene as much as possible, but their faith in God never deterred them and we must try to emulate this faith and this courage.
We must declare with faith and conviction “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4: 13) and “I am more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8: 37) because “With God all things are possible’.(Mathew 19:26)
So, my people, have a blessed weekend and for each married couple a holy marriage – one like that of Saints Joachim and Anne. – Rosana Gonzales, CERO, Suburban Vicariate (Some material and illustration sourced from Legatus magazine