My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,
On June 9th, the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis will sponsor the annual Diocesan Wedding Anniversary Mass at the chapel of the Immaculate Conception Center in Douglaston. Auxiliary Bishop James Massa will be the main celebrant. This celebration invites all couples who have received the sacrament of Marriage, to renew their wedding vows. Special recognition will be given to couples celebrating their 25th, 50th, and 75th anniversaries. This celebration is not only for married couples, but also for families of the couples to come together and share in their wonderful love and commitment.
This is a good time to reflect on the dignity of the institution of marriage. Marriage is a permanent, faithful, fruitful partnership between one man and one woman. This partnership is established by their free mutual consent. Where do we find the origin of this sacred and natural institution? Marriage was established by God, in the time of humanity’s innocence. It signifies the mystical union that is between Christ and the Church. What is fascinating is that marriage is the only institution that predates Christ. Christ lifted the institution to the sacramental level at the wedding feast of Cana.
The sacrament of Marriage has two purposes: the good of the spouses, which is known as the unitive purpose, and the procreation and education of children. These two purposes are inseparable because they are two aspects of the same selfless love, which is self-giving. In marriage, the husband and wife participate in God’s own self-giving love through their life and example. In the words of St. Paul, “He (husband) who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates their own flesh.” (Eph. 5:28-29)
In other words, the two individuals become one flesh. Both mutually give and receive each other through their intimate union. Married love is by its very nature life-giving. The procreative purpose recognizes this married love. The children who result from this cherished union are the ultimate gift of marriage. Some couples experience the tragedy of infertility and may be tempted to think that their union is not complete. That is not true. Once the man and woman mutually consent their love, they are a family, with or without children.
Married and engaged couples and those who would like to promote and defend the authentic meaning of marriage can check out the following USCCB websites for useful information: For Your Marriage: www.foryourmarriage.org, Por Tu Matrimonio: www.portumatrimonio.org, and Marriage: Unique for a Reason: www.marriageuniqueforareason.org.
We pray for all married and engaged couples that those who put out into the deep relationship of marriage will keep the marriage bond as a permanent one, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments. We pray also that the love between spouses will mirror the love Christ has for His Church as they grow together on the path to holiness.
We remember the deepest value of Christian love, which must inspire all that we do in the support of the sacramentality of marriage.