Mary and Joseph

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation and the Church sort of takes a break from celebrating Lent to rejoice in the simple, yet profound faith of Mary. She was about twelve years old and promised in marriage to Joseph, who was probably about sixteen at the time. An angel visited her and asked her to be the mother of the Messiah. We celebrate her simple act of faith in the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary and in the Angelus, a prayer based on the account of this momentous event in the history of salvation. 

In the first lecture of the 1950 Godinne lecture series, titled Person, family and education, Fr Joseph Cardijn reflected on the place of Mary as a lay woman in the world in the life of the Church: 

“Why did not God choose an empress, an educated woman, a woman of commanding presence? He took the humble, poor, and simple working girl and she remained all her life in the working world; she did not go into a palace and live there with Our Lord; she lived only with the simple, she the highest, the most perfect, and the great collaborator with God. Without her there would have been no Christ, no Church, no Pope, no Bishops, no Sacraments, no salvation for the entire earth. And Our Lady remained a poor working woman.”

Cardijn was about the same age as Mary when he asked his parents to allow him to go to the minor seminary, eventually to become a priest. And just as Mary made a commitment to the will of God, so, too, did the young Joseph Cardijn. He was just twenty years old when his father died. Cardijn rushed home from the seminary to visit his father for the last time and in his father’s presence, he committed himself to God and to the formation of young missionaries to carry the faith to the world’s workers. 

How might we engage in actions that can contribute to the transformation of workers and the world? Like all saints, we can learn from Mary, who said to the archangel Gabriel: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). If you live in Australia, have you reviewed the findings of the Plenary Council? Perhaps there is a need to read the action document from the Council? Or to work with others in your parish to form groups who would give advice on the implementation of the findings of the Plenary Council in your parish? . 

Whichever actions are chosen, Mary shows us how to engage in them. She was a prayerful woman. She never put on airs. She remained a poor lay woman who never sought honours or an easier life. (St) Joseph Cardijn tried to be the same and so should we. 


Pat Branson 


Person, family and education – Lecture 1: The human person: The 1950 Godinne series of lectures by Fr Joseph Cardijn