Monday, June 26, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, honored more than 700 married couples at a special Mass on Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Each year, the archdiocese hosts a special Mass for couples celebrating wedding anniversaries ranging from 25 to 75 years.
Representing parishes from across the Archdiocese of Washington, 721 couples registered through their respective parishes to have their milestone anniversaries recognized, totaling more than 32,000 years of marriage. While not all the couples were able to attend the Mass, such as Robert and Laurin Balkam, who have been married for 75 years, the basilica was filled with approximately 520 couples, along with their families and friends. Of those in attendance, approximately 360 couples were celebrating 50 or more years of marriage.
“What we are celebrating today is a reality that goes all the way back to the beginning of time,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he began his homily. “Marriage is the most visible sign and universally recognized expression of committed human love.”
“These wedding jubilees that we celebrate are a testimony to the power of God’s grace at work in you. We come together so that not only can we celebrate your jubilee, but also recognize that it is part of the Church’s proclamation of the Good News. This jubilee is a celebration of enduring human love, transformed by the power of God’s grace.”
“The Church highly values married love for it speaks to the world today of the abiding and fruitful love of Jesus Christ, who is with us always,” the cardinal said, and referenced Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Latetia (On Love in the Family). “The sacrament of marriage flows from the incarnation and the paschal mystery, whereby God showed the fullness of his love for humanity by becoming one with us. Neither of the spouses will be alone in facing whatever challenges may come their way” (Amoris Laetitia, 74).
The cardinal reflected on the liturgy’s second reading from the First Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians, “We are reminded of just how beautiful is the gift of love and how it never fails. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
“I draw inspiration from the many stories I hear following this celebration,” he continued. “Stories of the many forms that love takes, some of them as simple as remembering to say, ‘I love you.’ Another couple reminded me, we must ‘always say I’m sorry.’ Another couple told me they never go to bed without first together saying a prayer.”
“We rejoice with you and to ask God’s blessing on you, your love and your ongoing future together, and to thank you for your witness to the beauty of enduring human love and the power of God’s grace in the sacrament of marriage,” said the cardinal as he concluded his homily. After the homily, the couples renewed their wedding vows, and after the conclusion of Mass, the cardinal took time to greet the couples and took photographs with them.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.