By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY, Archbishop of Atlanta | Published June 4, 2009
Although people get married every day, and ordinations take place throughout the calendar year, this time of year seems to have a surplus of wedding anniversaries and priesthood ordination anniversaries. The springtime is a moment for married couples and priests to pause and give thanks for however many years they have lived the grace of their sacramental promises.
Wise husbands, wives and priests will all admit that the real honor belongs to God who is the truly faithful and sustaining One in their lives.
Anniversaries are really moments to praise God for His fidelity. No matter how many years we have lived the sacrament of Marriage or Holy Orders, we have only been able to do so because of and with God’s grace.
Some anniversaries are momentous because they mark out a special amount of time that God’s blessings have filled our lives. The 25th, the 40th, the 50th, the 60th, or the rarely achieved 75th for the truly hardy are moments when we should gather friends, relatives, neighbors and colleagues together to proclaim: How good indeed has the Lord been to me—to us! But, in fact, God is continually faithful to all of us no matter what the number of the anniversary that we might be observing in any given year.
On Thursday, June 4, I will celebrate a special Jubilee Mass for the priests of our Archdiocese who are marking out one of those special anniversaries. They will be joined by many of their fellow priests whose anniversaries may not ordinarily be considered noteworthy but who want to support our brothers who are rejoicing in a special way this year.
Many of our married couples came together last fall at St. Brigid Parish to celebrate their 50th or 60th wedding anniversaries! It was a glorious moment for them and their families as they rejoiced and gave praise for a lifetime of blessings.
Many other married couples will celebrate during this time of year their 25th or 40th anniversaries, and they too will come together with children and family members to give thanks for the blessings that they have lived in their marriages and families. Each year is a grace and since so many couples chose June as a wedding date, there will be lots of celebrations throughout this month that will ring out with joy and happiness throughout this local Church. I congratulate all of our jubilarian couples and their families during this happy season.
Married couples provide a wondrous sign of encouragement to our young people who so often observe only the broken promises that are trumpeted in the Hollywood news reports and on the Internet. Our youngsters need examples to encourage them to believe that it is really possible to enter into loving and lasting marriage promises and that living the sacrament of matrimony brings great joy, fulfillment and happiness. Each jubilarian married couple would be quick to acknowledge that there are many struggles and trials that they have endured, but with God’s grace and with their own patience and love for one another, they have grown far happier together than they could possibly be alone. They declare to the entire Church that marriage in Christ is both possible and life-giving.
Married couples and priests who observe anniversaries at this time of year provide a wonderful joint statement on our ability to live out the promises that we make as young people with the grace of God, and it is a message that we all need to hear more frequently! Congratulations to every person celebrating a special moment at this time of year—may the Lord continue to be good to each one of you and through you to all of us as well!