Cardinal Wuerl Honors More than 800 Couples Celebrating Milestone Wedding Anniversaries
Monday, June 20, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated a special Mass on Sunday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception where he honored more than 800 married couples. Each year, the archdiocese hosts a special Mass for couples who have celebrating wedding anniversaries ranging from 25 to 75 years.
Representing parishes from across the archdiocese, 844 couples registered to have their milestone anniversaries recognized by the Archdiocese of Washington this year, totaling 37,550 years of marriage. Over 630 couples attended the Mass with 405 couples married for 50 or more years. Thirteen couples have been married for 70 or more years.
“Marriage is the most visible sign and universally recognized expression of committed human love. People fall in love, get married, have children,” Cardinal Wuerl said in his homily. “All of this is an expression of the commandment of Jesus, ‘Love one another as I have loved you,’ and a reflection of what we hear in the Gospel today, ‘They are no longer two but one.’”
“In you whose jubilees we celebrate today, we recognize the power of God’s Spirit at work. It is manifested in your love for each other. In the promises you made to be true to each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, that you would love and honor each other all the days of your life, you accepted to do your part in what Jesus asked of you — to be his witness to his Gospel, his love and the transforming power of his Spirit in this world,” the cardinal told those gathered in the basilica.
The cardinal spoke about Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), saying “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.” Cardinal Wuerl quoted the exhortation, “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.”
He continued, “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.”
“There are many definitions of love,” the cardinal reminded those who filled the basilica. “The love that we celebrate today is an enduring love that is also present in so many little things. Saint Paul reminds us of what we are witnessing here today that ‘love never fails.’ Because of the power of love, the partners in a marriage can move from ‘I’ to ‘We.’ This love takes on many, many forms and is found in the day to day commitment of both spouses.”
Cardinal Wuerl spoke of the Holy Father’s reminder that love forgives and in family life one must be open to understanding, to pardon, and to reconciliation. He continued, “So valued is human love, so important is married love, that Christ raised it to the capacity to actually reflect His Love for His Church and so become a means of Grace.”
Cardinal Wuerl concluded by thanking the more than 600 couples gathered for their “witness to the beauty of enduring human love and the power of God’s grace in the sacrament of marriage.” After the homily, the couples renewed their vows and also received a special blessing.
All the couples who registered for the Jubilarian Mass received personalized certificates commemorating their special anniversary following Mass.
The Archdiocese of Washington is home to over 620,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 95 Catholic schools, located in Washington, D.C., and five Maryland counties: Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s.
Chieko Noguchi or Lindsey Frechou