Jubilee Couples Show the Joy of Love
For every priest, witnessing and blessing the marriage of a couple in the name of the Church is a special joy. Their standing before the altar signifies that Christ is present with them that day. Just as Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding feast of Cana, he continues to be with couples every day of their life together.
As the archbishop of Washington, my joy is multiplied in witnessing the grace of the sacrament of marriage made visible at our annual Jubilarian Mass honoring couples marking milestone anniversaries. This year’s liturgy takes place this Sunday, June 25, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, when 712 couples will be honored for celebrating a collective 31,747 years as husbands and wives.
These Jubilarian couples bear witness to the beauty of enduring human love joined to the power of God’s love in the sacrament of matrimony. During the Mass, as they hold hands and renew their marriage vows, we see the gift of the Holy Spirit at work, manifested in their love for each other. In the promises they made to be true to each other in good times and bad, in sickness and in health, that they would love and honor each other all the days of their life, they have accepted to do their part to be witnesses of Christ’s Gospel, his love and the transforming power of the Spirit in this world.
Each spouse is to the other “a companion on life’s journey, one with whom to face life’s difficulties and enjoy its pleasures,” Pope Francis has written. “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. Even amid unresolved conflicts and confused emotional situations, they daily reaffirm their decision to love, to belong to one another, to share their lives and to continue loving and forgiving. Each progresses along the path of personal growth and development. On this journey, love rejoices at every step and in every new stage” (Amoris Laetitia, 163).
The Jubilarian couples I speak to routinely attest to the truth of the counsel the Holy Father offers – that marital love takes daily effort, as well as the patience to allow the marriage to become richer over time, like a fine wine. “The love present from the beginning becomes more conscious, settled and mature as the couple discover each other anew day after day, year after year” (Amoris Laetitia, 231). Most importantly, the pope encourages couples to pray to the Holy Spirit for an outpouring of God’s grace, which transforms and directs their love in every situation they face.
Please join the Church of Washington in giving thanks to God for these men and women who are renewing their vows and all married couples. Through their daily faith and fidelity, they witness to their children, grandchildren and all of us the “Joy of Love” that Jesus has for his holy bride, the Church.