10/5/2017 9:00:00 AM REFLECTION Special anniversary
of Marriage Jubilee
BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGER led last weekend's diocesan Marriage Jubilee celebration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany for couples noting special wedding anniversaries. Here, the Bishop delivers his homily. For more photos and a list of couples marking significant wedding anniversaries, see The Evangelist's print edition. (Nate Whitchurch photo)
Hostess Nadine Cunningham pins a corsage to Rose Burke of St. Pius X parish in Loudonville, married 60 years to Thomas Burke; and Thomas and Cheryl Riendeau, marking their 25th anniversary, do the second reading at Mass. (Nate Whitchurch photos)
From across the Albany Diocese, 125 couples came to renew their wedding vows and accept the Bishop's blessing of their marriage. This celebration began in the 1970s as a part of a renewed focus on the sacrament of marriage, in response to concerns that marriage was "going out of style."
This concern continues 45 years later. Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love") addresses it: "Longer lifespans now mean that close and exclusive relationships must last for four, five or even six decades; consequently, the initial decision has to be frequently renewed."
In the document, Pope Francis encourages everyone to view a couple's marriage as sacred, remembering that "the love they pledge is greater than any emotion, feeling or state of mind, although it may include all of these. It is a deeper love, a lifelong decision of the heart."
Examples of this could be seen in the cathedral during the jubilee: when an elderly couple helped each other up during communion, for instance, or younger couples consulted each other on where to sit.
Celebrating the renewal of vows each year in our Diocese is a practical witness to the beauty Pope Francis describes as a precious sign, for "when God is, as it were, 'mirrored' in them, He impresses in them His own features and the indelible character of His love. Marriage is the icon of God's love for us."
Icons are said to tell a story. Sitting among more than 100 married couples, all those who attend the jubilee each year can speak to the astonishing artistry God uses to tell the world of His love.
Recently, a wedding symbol has shown up in sporting goods stores. A new product for those with active lifestyles is silicon wedding rings to be worn when exercising or doing labor that would be dangerous while wearing a metal ring.
This speaks to the symbol wedding rings continue to be in our society: a sign of love and fidelity, promise and permanence. Couples today are still making that vow and valuing that outward sign as a reminder of their promise.
Each day, couples wake up and live out that promise, the sacrament of marriage, giving a glimpse of God's love to the world. The couples who come to the Marriage Jubilee are a tiny fraction of all the married couples in our Diocese -- beautiful icons, present around us each day.
(Mrs. Fay is associate director of marriage formation and family life for the Diocese.)