By ARCHBISHOP WILTON D. GREGORY, Commentary | Published October 4, 2018 | En Español
It does not take a very long time to establish Catholic traditions—especially the happy ones. I take particular pride in having introduced our archdiocese to the annual fall celebration of the 50th and 60th wedding jubilees of our long-married couples during my first year as Archbishop of Atlanta.
This yearly event, now solidly included in our archdiocesan calendar, is also increasingly fixed, in anticipation, in the calendars of the celebrating couples. As soon as the date is finalized each year, couples throughout the archdiocese begin to notify their children and grandchildren of this important and happy celebration. Families come together from across the country to honor and fete their moms and dads or grandmas and grandpas on their happy anniversary. For some families it is a three-day event, with relatives arriving for Friday dinners, attending the Mass and reception on Saturday and then gathering for brunches and lunches on Sunday.
While families may have other more personal observances to honor a couple marking a marriage jubilee, there is something special about being in a church filled with the smiling faces of scores of anniversary couples brimming with joy, surrounded by their kids and grandkids. The festivities remind all in the church of the precious blessings of married life and allow our people to take hope in the future. So many images in our contemporary world suggest the demise of Christian marriage that to enter a church filled with men and women who have managed to weather the storms and challenges of becoming healthy, holy and successful families must fill everyone with hope and happiness.
Fifty or 60 years of loving married commitment is a legacy of faith. The jubilee couples would be the first to tell us that love is born from giving and from forgiving. Over this coming weekend of celebration, the couples will no doubt be able to look back on moments when they made mistakes, felt overwhelmed or said things to each other that they wish they could now take back. Those moments—as painful as they might have been at the time—might even now bring a smile to their faces. Genuine love can transform human errors into smiles. Like the couple from Cana who perhaps fretted over running out of wine, these couples can remember when their faith in Christ and in one another brought them through what might have seemed at the time to have been a tragedy.
Fortunately for the bridal couple in Cana, they had invited Jesus and his mother to attend their wedding feast and therefore their future was secure. These jubilarian couples have also discovered that whenever the Lord and his mother are guests within their homes and hearts, they too are secure and ultimately well safeguarded from the crises that inevitably come their way.
Congratulations to all those who will celebrate with us a very special moment that gives meaning to the words and stories of sacred Scripture and provides hope and joy for all of us within this archdiocesan family. This fall tradition has grown so important because we all need examples of successful marriages and families—even more so today than perhaps when St. Paul wrote that love is the greatest gift that enriches each life and makes our Church glorious in every age.