Married couples across the Diocese were invited to renew their vows and thank God for the gift of the Sacrament of Matrimony during the annual Wedding Anniversary Mass Sept. 13.
Bishop Alfred Schlert celebrated the Mass in his private chapel and it was aired online and on television so all could participate safely from their homes.
“Today there are a combined 16,439 years of marriage represented,” Bishop Schlert said. “It’s important for us to reflect on that as we look at today’s Gospel and first reading because this also represents 16,439 years of forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key to marriage.”
Each year the Cathedral of St. Catharine of Siena, Allentown, is filled to capacity for the Mass. This year, with 374 couples registered, it would have exceeded the church’s capacity.
Those participating represented more than 70 parishes across the Diocese’s five counties. More than 150 of the couples have been married 50 years or more, and eight couples have been married for 70 years or more. More than half attended a Catholic school. All who registered will receive a certificate from Bishop Schlert in the mail.
“We come here today to celebrate with each of you these milestone anniversaries. We pray always that fine young men and women will be drawn to the Sacrament of Matrimony – to its faithfulness and to its ability to be a model for us every day of the love that Christ has for his Church,” he said.
The Bishop reminded those in attendance that St. Paul said none of us live for ourselves and none of us die for ourselves. “Isn’t that the beautiful interchange in marriage where the spouses live for each other and for their children? That only occurs in the realm of forgiveness and fidelity,” he said.
How much forgiveness? How much fidelity? “The answer is in today’s Gospel,” he said. “Unlimited refills of forgiveness.”
After the homily the Bishop imparted a special blessing on all who participated, asking them to hold hands and renew their vows. “We ask you Lord to renew their marriage covenant each day. Increase their charity and forgiveness, and strengthen in them the bond of peace, so that together with the Church and the circle of their family and friends, they may forever enjoy your blessing,” he said.
After Communion, the names of the couples registered, along with their anniversary year and their parishes, were displayed onscreen. They also were listed in the Sept. 10 issue of The A.D. Times and at www.allentowndiocese.org/anniversarymass.
The recording of the Mass and the display of registered couples can be watched at www.allentowndiocese.org/anniversarymass, on YouTube, and at the Diocese’s Facebook site.