HOMILY FOR THE MARRIAGE ANNIVERSARIES MASS
For the past number of years we have been celebrating a special Marriage Anniversary Mass here in the Archdiocese of Tuam. It is an opportunity to congratulate and pray with those celebrating special anniversaries. We also remember today all those who launched out with courage on the day of their marriage as they faced a future unknown. For many of them death may have intervened, for some their hopes may not have materialised and they have gone their separate ways. For others illness may make it impossible to celebrate this event with your loved one. Whatever your situation and wherever you happen to be I extend a Céad Míle Fáilte to you. You are most welcome and I will be praying especially for you in this Mass. Indeed every anniversary of marriage is special – whether it is the first, the 25th, the 50th or 60th. This afternoon I am privileged to join with you and your families in this Mass as we thank God for you, for what you have done for society and the witness you have given in the Church to married love.
We are very conscious today of the inconvenience and uncertainty which has plagued those planning their wedding during this pandemic. As you look back on the day you walked down the aisle as husband and wife, I am sure you must be thinking of how things have changed. While the standard of living has improved in countless ways as we avail of progress in science and technology, instant communication, more comfortable homes and improved transport. In other ways however we have to confront situations which did not preoccupy those who have gone before us. I admire the way you adapt to the changing culture while at the same time maintaining, deepening and fostering the love that brought you together in the first place.
As you look back over the years you readily acknowledge the challenges you faced together. You will recall nights when you stayed up with a sick child or perhaps at the other end of the spectrum the nights you spend comforting and consoling an aging parent. You have coped with ill-health, worry about your children and grandchildren, and financial concerns. It may have been ill-health, worrying about your children/grandchildren, financial concerns, employment opportunities. At the same time you share those precious memories and together you rejoiced in the graces you received as you cradled your new born babies, watched them take their first faltering steps, enjoyed the way they developed and matured and were able to take their place in society and the Church. You have coped with disappointment and disillusionment but through your faith in God, your trust in each other and the support in your family you have coped with all of this. You have your memories and they are precious.
Looking back over the years you can agree with the sentiment that states “while marriages may be made in heaven, they are lived out on earth”. You have made promises to God and to each other and you have done your best to be faithful to these promises. You have also been called upon to make compromises. That word “compromise” is a very interesting derivative of two words “com” and “promise”. The promises which you have made and the compromises which you have worked out have been a wonderful resource of strength for you both as you go forward.
As you look to the Eucharist and the Mass you find a focal point, a centre that helps to give meaning to your lives. As the priest puts the water into the wine he prays “by the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity”. The Eucharist is an endless prayer of thanksgiving. Today you thank God for being part of your married life. You thank God for the way he has surrounded you with family and friends. While you both look to each other together you look towards the Lord. You recognise through your experience over the years that married love is a tough love; like life itself, it makes heavy demands. Your faith is not some vague, abstract thing you call upon when you cannot explain something and when reason deserts you.
Faith is a gift of God that enables you to see more than meets the eye. With this gift you see the Christ on the cross as the Lord who saves us. As you prepare for another Christmas as husband and wife you recognise that the baby born in Bethlehem is the wisdom of God. With faith you look on the round host and see that it is the God who nourishes you. As you look back on your life you can both recognise times when you felt disappointed and yet these experiences were transformed and provided you with new insights. Now with the aid of hindsight you recognise and acknowledge that the Lord was and is very much part of your journey.
On this special occasion I join with your family, friends and neighbours wherever they may be in congratulating you as you celebrate your wedding anniversary and I pray God’s blessing on you.