WASHINGTON — Married couples across the country renewed their wedding vows in special Masses celebrated for World Marriage Day, observed Feb. 9 this year.
The special day comes during National Marriage Week, observed this year Feb. 7-14. The day and the week provide the opportunity to focus on building “a culture of life and love that begins with supporting, promoting and upholding marriage and the family,” said a statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
This year’s theme, “Stories from the Domestic Church,” was chosen to reflect how “spouses are consecrated and by means of a special grace build up the body of Christ and form a domestic church,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco said when he announced the theme. He is chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, and Family Life.
The enduring power of married love “comes from the total gift of self a man and a woman give to each other,” said Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, in his message for World Marriage Day.
“In celebrating this day, we remember that God, in Jesus, is always with us and with his help and grace assists us in all our efforts to live the love he calls us to give to each other,” he said. “The Eucharist is the greatest sign of God’s love for us. It is the source of the grace that married couples seek in order to deepen their love for each other and carry out their vocation of bringing God’s love into the world.”
He acknowledged that marriage takes “patience and perseverance,” but when married couples make the Eucharist “a central part of this vocation,” they “remind themselves and their families that life is not about ‘me’ alone. It is about ‘us.’ Marriage, and its inherent permanence, is made stronger when it is grounded in prayer, particularly the Eucharist.”
He prayed that all married couples “grow in love with each other with the help of God” and he thanked them for “the witness of their love and commitment.”
In the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, at a Mass he celebrated Feb. 8 in observance of World Marriage Sunday, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge told married couples that Jesus is “the model of how to perfectly love — selflessly, sacrificially and faithfully.”
“Marriage is a sign of the way Christ loved us, his church, his bride, his people,” the bishop said in his homily during the Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington. “Therefore, married couples, this has great implications for you. It means that we should be able to look at you and to say, ‘Do you see how those two love one another? That’s a sign of the way that Christ loves us. Thank you for that faithful witness.”
In Los Angeles, about 50 couples renewed their wedding vows at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels during a Feb. 9 Mass celebrated by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. The group included couples married for 25 or 50 years or longer.
One couple married 72 years shared their secret to long-lasting love. In a TV interview with the CBS affiliate before the Mass, the husband told the reporter: “What’s the secret? Maybe the first thing is love and the second one is trust.”