Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz told couples celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries that they are called to be living witnesses to the gift of faithful love.
About 50 couples heard from Archbishop Kurtz during the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption Oct. 31.
Couples marking their 50th wedding anniversary and members of their family took part in-person while couples marking 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70 and above were invited to take part via livestream. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mass was celebrated virtually in 2020.
The Mass is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Louisville’s Family Ministries Office, one of the 100 or so services and agencies supported by the Catholic Services Appeal.
In welcoming the couples, Archbishop Kurtz thanked them for allowing the church to join in their celebration. He also thanked the family members who accompanied them.
“A very special thanks to family members who are gathered. When we celebrate in this way, the church rejoices, families rejoice,” said the archbishop.
Archbishop Kurtz shared with the gathering that the Chrism Mass, celebrated during Holy Week, is one of his favorite liturgies. During that liturgy, he thinks back to the day he was ordained and renews the promise he made as a priest, he said. “What a joy it is to renew that gift.”
The archbishop invited the married couples to think back to the day they were married and to think back over the years of their lives together.
“When you think back over 50 years, I suspect you’re going to say ‘some things went exactly the way we planned.’ And then you may add, ‘but most things didn’t,’ ” said Archbishop Kurtz. “The gift of fidelity, the gift of faithful love is a gift that our culture needs today. We need living witnesses of that gift. … Remember what you promised, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I think maybe, for richer and for poorer, until death do us part.”
The archbishop invited the couples to reflect on those “sacred vows” in light of the day’s readings from sacred Scripture.
In the first reading from the book of Deuteronomy, Moses tells the people of Israel that they should fear God.
“Fear of the Lord does not move us away from God. Fear of the Lord is like the wonder, the awe, the mystery that somehow in God’s plan you who are married to each other, God gave you to each other as a gift,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “That sense of awe and wonder is something that we say thank you for today.”
The second reading, from the book of Hebrews, centered on Jesus as the High Priest. The archbishop shared that when he was a seminarian he was taught that five of the seven sacraments were given for an individual’s own salvation. Two of the seven sacraments, including holy orders, were given for the salvation of others.
“The gift of holy orders is a grace given to me, not for my own good, but for me to serve others,” said the archbishop. “And guess what? The gift of the sacrament of matrimony is a grace that is given to a husband, not for his own good, but that he might be a channel of Christ to his spouse. And the gift of grace that is given to a wife is given not for her own good, but that she might be a channel of Christ to her spouse.”
God “loves to love us through other people and there is no better way than through the holy sacrament of matrimony,” he said. “You are witnesses not only for your own good. Your vows are personal but they are not private. They are not private because you are called to give witness by your love for each other to the world and so Christ, the high priest, is the one who is part of your marriage today as you renew your marriage vows.”
During the Mass, Archbishop Kurtz invited the couples to renew their marriage vows.
In total, 151 couples from 46 parishes were recognized during the Mass and each of the couples received a certificate, either in person or by mail.