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  • Sarah Raad

Brothers-in-Law

Updated: Nov 21, 2021

Saint Joseph Chaste Spouse of the Blessed Virgin, Intercede for them…

The Marriage of the Virgin (Giotto, Scrovegni Chapel)

I am the eldest child in a family of eight children. Six of the children in my family are girls, who are all married with children of their own (Thank God).


When you come from a very big family with a lot of children and when many of those children are female, there is a special sort of dynamic that plays out through the relationships within the family. After all, nobody wants to step on any toes and lots of new people enter the family and need to be included and embraced into its fold…


And so, just as I have five sisters, I also have five brothers-in-law. Some of those brothers-in-law are easier for me to get along with than others – though thank God I get along with all of them (and my sister-in-law as well).


I have been thinking of all my brothers-in-law over the last few weeks because I have recently completed – for myself and on their behalf – a “Consecration to Saint Joseph” as per the instructions of Father Donald Calloway, which he provides in his beautiful book by the same name.


You see, when I was younger, and the first of my brothers-in-law married one of my sisters, I did not think of them very often in my prayers. And over the years as the others joined our family, I rarely – if ever – prayed for them. This is not to say that I did not pray. I prayed fervently for my sisters and for their children – but though I never wished ill on my brothers-in-law, I rarely prayed for them (they had families to pray for them and did not need my prayers – or so I reasoned).


About a year ago, a beautiful friend told me that Saint Josemaria Escriva said, “The road to Heaven is paved with your husband’s name.” They are beautiful words that I have not forgotten. You see, they brought to my attention, my ultimate mission – to pray for those who are in my family and for those who I love.


When I reflect on this mission of prayer under the tutelage of Saint Joseph, I have come to realise that Saint Joseph is in fact the most powerful intercessor for my sisters, their children and their families’ happiness, but not in the way that you would first assume…


You see, never was there born a man who loved his wife more than Saint Joseph loved Our Lady.

Saint Joseph was passionately, completely, totally and madly in love with his Holy Spouse. Who could help but love one such as She – especially if they had been close to her. Saint Joseph could not resist her every whim. After all, Christ – God the Son Himself – could not resist her requests!

All this time, while I have focused on the immaculate chastity and perpetual virginity of Our Blessed Mother, I have forgotten that sex is not the only thing…


It took a consecration to Saint Joseph to remind me about that fact.


You see, Saint Joseph understood it. He had no intimate physical relationship with his wife, and yet there was more intimacy in their marriage than in any other marriage between two humans in the entire history and future of creation.


Why?


Because Saint Joseph cared for his wife so well that he anticipated her needs. And this anticipation is only possible through great intimacy.


Think of the journey to Bethlehem… Saint Joseph knew that his wife would soon give birth. Two thousand years ago women did not share such information with just anyone – especially not with men…


Even 40 or 50 years ago women did not share this information. My mother-in-law herself delivered all five of her children with only midwives and doctors present. Her husband did not attend – this was women’s work – and she tried (unsuccessfully) to persuade me to do the same. Thankfully times have changed and I must admit that I enjoyed seeing my husband’s reaction to the “labour” of “labour”…


And yet – Saint Joseph knew when Our Blessed Mother’s time was near for her to deliver her child and he helped her to do so. It was he who found the stable, it was he who guarded the place, it was he who walked in afterwards when Our Blessed Mother was tired and could not walk and offered her a drink of water and some food.


In fact, it was Saint Joseph who did all these things for his wife because he loved her so much he not only gave her his chastity to protect her virginity – which is the thing we seem to focus on most in the narrative of the marriage of Saint Joseph (as this proves that Christ is the Son of God) – but he gave her his whole life! Saint Joseph spent his life migrating from place to place to protect the child of her flesh. He spent his life working to provide for the needs of her body and those of her child. He changed his life on the message of a dream for their sakes – not his… For Saint Joseph was a just man.


And now – more than two thousand years after his death – he is only now being acknowledged officially in the Church in this great Year of Saint Joseph. And surely this too is a sign of his love for his Holy Spouse… For he – who is surely the highest of all saints following Our Lady, having lived with God Himself – humbled himself to be largely ignored and unloved until now, in our present age with the crisis of chastity and family life that we are witness to.


Only now – again when he is most desperately needed – does Saint Joseph come to our aide as he aided his Holy Spouse…


So, I have realised that if I wish to pray for the earthly happiness and the spiritual salvation of my sisters and their children – I must first pray to Saint Joseph for my brothers-in-law…


After all, if I pray for them to imitate Saint Joseph, my sisters will surely be able to better imitate Our Immaculate Mother, his Holy Spouse. And – really – what could be more wonderful than that?


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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