Diocesan Pastoral Council Celebration of Significant Marriage Anniversary in Tuam Cathedral, Sunday October 20th
Address of Archbishop Michael Neary
ADDRESS ON MARRIAGE
SUNDAY, 20th OCTOBER, 2013.
I am very privileged to welcome you all as you celebrate a very significant anniversary of one of the most beautiful and important days of your life, your wedding day. Whether it was five, twenty-five or fifty years ago, what happened that day has become part of your whole life and it calls for rejoicing and celebration.
Many people will ask the question. “Who really believes in marriage anymore?” As men and women who have lived this experience you are in a privileged position to answer it. In this busy, use it and throw away society of ours, is there anything more lasting or gracious than the commitment to share your life with the person you love, and, through that commitment, to bring new life into the world?
Marriage sanctifies the bond of fidelity, it is the nearest life gets to the work of Art. It has been described as “the poetry of the everyday”. Though the moral fashions of today, like yesterday’s papers will one day crumble into dust, of this I am sure: marriage will still be there as the greatest redemption of our loneliness, the point where soul meets soul and we know that we are not alone.
Whenever we share the joy of a wedding, we feel again the sheer beauty of that ceremony. If we are to survive as a people and as a faith, as persons with identity we need to cherish marriage, family and home. Of course, sometimes it doesn’t work out, relationships fail; but still, surely there are few risks more worth taking because where there is peace between husband and wife, you can take all that life throws at you, knowing that you are there for one another in the tough times as well as the good and it all comes from the letter “C” – commitment. The best investment any of us can make in our future.
Marriage deserves a moment of celebration. What makes it one of the greatest of all human institutions that it brings together what contemporary life seems so often to split apart – sex, love, companionship, fidelity – and makes of them something greater than the some of their parts and far from being outmoded, it seems to me to be made for the 21st century.
Why? Because our world is changing much faster than we can bear. The things that once gave our ancestors a sense of stability – job for life, a place where we belonged, a set of values that seemed engraved in stone – are all gone. Where then will we find love that lasts, the knowledge that we matter unconditionally to someone else, something that endures? Not, surely, in relationships that come and go, that we change as often as our car or our television set. They are not the solution; they are the problem. The day in which you pledged your love for each other and promised to be faithful to each other you had no idea what life would bring, the twists and turns, the blind alleys and unexpected avenues. What made the difference for you both was knowing that the other would be there, that when things were tough, neither of you would walk away but whatever you faced you would not face alone.
Surely, this is faith because it involves faithfulness. Pledging oneself to someone else is a love that is loyalty and the loyalty is love. That’s what marriage is, and I find it moving that the great prophets like Hosea and Isaiah saw it as the closest metaphor of God’s love for us and our love for God. That’s why today I join with you in expressing my gratitude for the gift of love given and received, the love that grows stronger every year because it’s renewed every day, the thing called marriage that weaves two lives together and makes of them a grace none of us can ever make alone.
Today there is so much emphasis on the now the news; so much so that we overlook the fact that there is something beyond the news. We need a sense of perspective. The news is about today. But the great realities of life, faith, religion, marriage and love remind us of yesterday and tomorrow. Surely, the celebration today of your marriage anniversaries helps us to remember the past and to look to the future; those two essential things called memory and hope. There is nothing more guaranteed to cause us to make the wrong decisions than to live solely in the present, forgetting the lessons of the past and our duty to generations not yet born. So, in a world of sound-bites and every-decreasing attention spans, it is important today to have a daily reminder of eternity and in our celebration of your marriage anniversaries this is what we have and in what we rejoice today.
I congratulate you very warmly on your love for each other and for the way in which that love has found expression in your marriage and your family. I acknowledge the enormous contribution which you make to our society and our Church. I feel that I can speak on behalf of priests and religious when I say that the way in which you live your marriage vows is a reminder, an inspiration and a challenge to all of us to be faithful to Jesus Christ to whom we made our promise at Ordination or Religious profession. In joining with my brother priests I rejoice with you and thank God for your marriage and your love.