50th anniversary couples join the cardinal for a group portrait. Pilot photo/Christine Williams
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BOSTON — The married couples celebrating their golden and silver wedding anniversaries with a Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 21 are a sign of God’s love and commitment, said Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley in the homily. Nearly 200 couples and their families gathered at the annual Mass sponsored by the Office of Family Life.
The couples’ love, joy and commitment to each other in the Sacrament of Marriage is a sign of hope, he added.
“In a world where marriage is under siege, you exemplify this vocation, which is so essential for society and for the Church,” he said. “Your lives of love and commitment are a sign of hope to our world and an example to our young people. Marriage is the great sacrament of love, a sacred sign that represents the love between Christ and His Church.”
The world reduces love to lust and infatuation, but Jesus tells us that it is something more. Christ came because of the Father’s love for us, and Christ came to teach us about God’s love, which is unconditional, he said.
God loved us first when we were in sin or indifferent, he added. He loved us so much that He was willing to suffer and die, and He asks us to love as He does.
“Love means self-giving,” Cardinal O’Malley said. “There is no love without suffering.”
During the 40 days following His resurrection, Christ instituted many sacraments to show His people the new ways He was present in the community of faith, he said.
“The Sacrament of Marriage is a very special grace — a way that Christ captures our lives,” he said.
Marriage is a covenant between spouses that represents the covenant God made with us all. God is very pleased when His people make promises, and pleased when they keep those promises, he said.
The cardinal then told a story about a conversation he had with a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.
Cardinal O’Malley said, “So I said to them, ‘What’s the secret of this happy marriage?’ He said, ‘Bishop, when my wife and I married, we decided we were going to make all of our decisions in a very scientific way.’ I said, ‘Really? Has it worked?’ and he said, ‘It has. We decided that I would make all the big decisions and my wife would make all the little decisions, but you know there haven’t been any big decisions.’”
“Love is the big decision,” the cardinal continued. “Love is the decision that you have made in your marriage, and today we are here to thank you for making that decision. May God bless you always and help you to be witnesses to the Easter joy that Christ is alive. He is with us, accompanying us, blessing us, helping us to keep our promises.”
Immediately after the homily, couples celebrating their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries stood and renewed their vows. Surrounded by a sea of friends and family they joined hands and said, “I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”
Then Cardinal O’Malley said, “You may kiss the bride.”
Dick and Peggy Walsh from St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Norwood celebrated their golden anniversary at the cathedral. Both said the Mass was beautiful and that their children were sending them to Ireland as a gift for their anniversary. They have six children and 16 grandchildren.
“We want to thank God for our 50 years and the great faith that has sustained us through the 50 years,” said Peggy.
“We’ve had a great journey,” added Dick.