Photos: 2016 Wedding Anniversary Mass
On Sunday, May 29th, Most Reverend Bishop Douglas Crosby welcomed 467 couples from the Hamilton Diocese celebrating 25, 40, 50, 60 or 60+ years of marriage to the annual Anniversary Mass. Together the couples represent 21,670 years of marriage - a wonderful testament to the loving commitment they made so many years ago! This year we had a couple celebrating 71 years of marriage! Congratulations to them all!
Below is Bishop Crosby's Homily from the Mass:
Reverend Monsignors, Reverend Fathers, my dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is a pleasure for me to be here today with you and see so many married couples celebrating significant milestones. With 467 couples and more than 21,670 years of marriage between you, it is indeed something to celebrate!
When you married a few years ago, many people surrounded you in a circle of love that helped to strengthen your bond as a new couple. Many of those people may be missing from your lives today, but children, perhaps their spouses and grandchildren, have come into your circle of love and surround you in new and important ways. Today it is good to remember all those who have journeyed with you, some for short periods of time, some for longer periods of time, but all, none-the-less, people who have travelled the road of life with you. And you should remember as well, that thousands of people have been touched by all of you in good and enduring ways. They have witnessed, through your journey, marriages that have blossomed over many years. They have seen you share joys and sorrows, as well as challenges and successes. Today is a testament to lasting marriages, true covenants of faith and love for life.
When two people marry, it is never about what a person can get from the relationship, but instead it is about the gift of mutual giving and receiving, a holy union in which two people grow together. In September of 2014, during his homily at the Mass for the Rite of Marriage in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis reminded young couples that the love of Christ has blessed and sanctified their marriages and he offered them this encouragement: “This is what marriage is all about: man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man.” This is what each of you have done for 25, 40, 50, 60 and 60 plus years - you have sustained your love and helped each other to become more, to become better.
Each of the readings today provide us with lessons for living, lessons that can and should be reflected in the lives of married couples:
In the first reading Melchizedek bestows a blessing on Abram, and in thanksgiving and appreciation, Abram tithes a tenth of what he has to him as his priest. Abram reminds us that when we receive a kindness, we should show a kindness. Gratitude is a basic disposition of believers, because we recognize all as gift. In marriage, gratitude expressed for blessings both great and small reminds each of you of the beauty of giving and receiving in your relationship. It also brings to the forefront the many signs of the sacred in your lives.
In the second reading, Paul brings this sacredness into sharp focus as he reminds us of the visible signs of the sacrifice of Christ, the bread and the cup. He reminds us that the sacrifice of Christ is repeated at each Eucharistic celebration, and because of that, Christ continues to provide nourishment for our souls. When couples receive the Eucharist, grace provides them strength both to endure and prosper in their relationship.
In the Eucharist, we receive the living Christ in the visible sign of bread and wine. In marriage, the bride and groom themselves become the visible sign of the sacrament, a living testament to the love of God for his people. Each and every day, with each passing year, it is important to remind yourself of the responsibility you, as spouses, have within God’s plan.
And in today’s Gospel we receive a wonderful lesson from Jesus for this Year of Mercy and indeed for marriage. The people have followed Jesus to receive spiritual nourishment, but he is also concerned with showing them compassion by attending to their physical hunger. Jesus reminds each of us that we are called to minister to the whole person and, as the disciples learned with the bread and fish, when we share our gifts with others, when we put those gifts into God’s hands, miraculous things can happen. When you bring God into your marriage, he provides each of you with grace which assists you to use the gifts God has bestowed on you. When couples unite their gifts, they are both better for it, as is the world in which they live.
During a general audience in October of last year, Pope Francis reminded that crowd that, “The whole family reality is founded on a promise: think about this well: the family identity is founded on a promise. It can be said that the family lives from the promise of love and fidelity that the man and woman make to one another. This implies the commitment to receive and educate the children, but it is also carried out in taking care of elderly parents, in protecting and helping the weakest members of the family, in helping one another to fulfil one’s qualities and to accept one’s limitations…And the conjugal promise extends to sharing the joys and sufferings of all fathers, mothers and children, in generous openness to all that is related to human coexistence and the common good.”
When two people join in marriage they unite past generations and also form a bond to pass on to future generations. You married couples here today stand in a long line – a rich legacy of countless previous unions that brought together people from different families, traditions, and sometimes cultures. God’s plans for the world are fulfilled by each of us and new unions that create new paths with love and faith keep his plan moving forward. Indeed the Kingdom of God is advanced by loving married couples who bequeath to their heirs the richness of love and sacrifice, of faith and fidelity. Today’s celebration is a wonderful one because your love continues to grow, continues to unfold God’s plan for your lives and stands firmly as a living sign of God’s love for each of us. May God bless all of you as you journey forward in love.