From time to time, a married couple will ask me if we could arrange to have a special blessing for them within Mass on the occasion of a milestone wedding anniversary, such as for their 25th, 40th, 50th, 60th, or 65th anniversary. On behalf of the Church, I am grateful and happy to honor requests of this nature.
Normally in the Fall, our Diocese hosts a Mass of Celebration for couples who are observing milestone wedding anniversaries. Acknowledging couples who are celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries is important for reasons such as the following. Couples who want to be recognized at Mass on the occasion of a milestone wedding anniversary are acknowledging the spiritual nature of marriage.
As Catholics, we regard marriage as a Sacrament. As we take this to heart, we will grow in the awareness of how the Lord is related to marriage. Through the eyes of faith, we can see that it is the Lord Who leads two persons of the opposite sex to find favor in the eyes of each other and to want to make the commitment to live together as husband and wife for as long as both of them are alive. It takes a lot of faith to commit one’s self to a relationship that is permanent.
As anyone can observe, particularly the children of a given marriage, there are “bumps along the road” in every marriage. Each marriage, sooner or later, meets challenges such as the following. As much as a husband and wife love each other, there will be times when misunderstanding comes between the partners. This does not necessarily signal the presence of sin. Each of us is a mystery. If we don’t fully understand ourselves, how can one fully understand the other? A number of couples grow in the awareness that more important than is the attempt to understand the other is the goal of enabling one’s spouse to become what the Lord wants that individual to become. The ultimate goal of marriage is to serve as the vehicle in and through which the Lord works to bring both persons to the gift of heaven.
Every marriage is challenged by the potential that we each have of being unattractive through no fault of our own. We do not choose handicaps or debilitating conditions. Who knows for how long we will have the vibrancy that many of us are now enjoying? The Lord alone offers the strength that is needed for a husband and wife to be there for each other in an enabling way when the going get tough.
Marriages are also challenged by the inclination that we all have to wander away from the Lord, the One Who is the source of genuine love, If we don’t allow the Lord to deepen and strengthen His friendship within us, this will take its toll in the manner in which we relate to one another. What a powerful tool the regular celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be in the work of strengthening marriages.
It is fitting to honor marriage jubilarians at Mass because of the social nature of marriage. As goes the quality of marriages, so goes the quality of life in the Church and in the world. Whether we are married or not, we all need role models. Drawing attention to married couples who are celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries invites and challenges all of us to be faithful to the mission and the work to which the Lord calls each of us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor