FORT WAYNE — Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades celebrated wedding anniversary Masses at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Fort Wayne, Sept. 22, and at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, Sept. 29. Couples celebrating their 25th, 50th and 60th anniversaries were recognized during the homily and received a blessing from the bishop.
“At this Mass, we gather to thank God for your marriages, because He is the One who joined you together in the covenant of love and fidelity,” Bishop Rhoades told the couples. “When you pronounced your vows 25, 50 and 60 years ago, God sealed your consent. God gave you the grace, and continues to give you the grace, to perfect your love and to strengthen your indissoluble unity as husband and wife.
“For all these years, Jesus has been with you in your marriage,” he continued, “giving you the strength to take up your crosses and to persevere in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. Jesus has been with you, giving you the grace to forgive one another and to bear each other’s burdens. The Lord has blessed so many of you with children and grandchildren and some of you with great-grandchildren. We have much to thank God for today.”
Bishop Rhoades related the second reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians to the couples’ marriages, focusing on one verse — “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails,” and presenting insights from Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia,” “The Joy of Love.”
These are powerful words about Christian love and very countercultural words,” he said. “Christ’s love is the source of the grace of Christian love, which is love unto the end.”
“‘Love bears all things.’ This is about more than putting up with things. I’m sure you’ve all had to put up with annoying things about your spouse. The original Greek for ‘love bearing all things’ has to do with the use of the tongue,” Bishop told the couples. “It means that love resists the impulse to speak ill of another, to condemn others, or to vent our anger or resentment.”
“You know, our tongues can be pretty poisonous. We can say things that really hurt others. However, true Christian love cherishes the good name of others and doesn’t try to tear people down.
“Spouses joined by love are called to speak well of each other. They keep silent rather than speak ill of their spouse. Couples, that doesn’t mean that you don’t see the weaknesses and faults of your spouse. But you realize that those weaknesses and faults that annoy you are part of a bigger picture.”
“‘Love believes all things,’ St. Paul writes. The word ‘believes’ here is to be understood as ‘trusts,’” said the bishop. “Trust in one’s spouse is essential to a good marriage. Love trusts and sets free; it doesn’t try to control, possess, and dominate everything. One who loves is inclined to believe the best about others, to trust their motives and actions. In good marriages, there is this sincere trust in one’s spouse. When one knows he or she is trusted and appreciated, there’s no falsehood or deceit in the relationship. There’s a sincerity and a transparency in good marriages.
“Those who know they are trusted and appreciated can be open and transparent in the relationship. There is a trust in the basic goodness of the other. Spouses who trust, believe in each other.”
The connection between love and hope is of great importance also in a marriage, he said.
“Love doesn’t despair of the future. You know, sometimes things don’t turn out like we wish: In these situations, we must not give up. Sometimes God allows things to happen in our lives that are really difficult. But we can still persevere in hope because we know that God is with us. And God may well draw some good from the evil we endure in this world. We live by faith in life after death. Each of us, with all our sins and failings, is called to the fullness of life in heaven. There we will be fully transformed by Christ’s resurrection and every weakness, darkness, and infirmity will pass away. Even though there are sufferings and aggravations in this life, we don’t lose hope.
“The grace of the sacrament of marriage sanctifies, enriches and illuminates the love between a husband and wife,” Bishop concluded. “It endures long after the emotions and passions of romance subside. This is the power of true Christian love, the love we see in Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross, the love that becomes present on the altar in every celebration of the Eucharist, the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”
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