Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer
October 26, 2017 // Uncategorized

Marriage: an icon of God’s love

Jennifer Miller
Freelance Writer

Whether one has been married for a single year or for 70, the essential components of a Catholic marriage are the same, timeless virtues. St. Paul articulated those five virtues in a letter to the Corinthians, which constituted the second reading on Sunday, Oct. 22, and Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades expounded on them in his homily as he celebrated Mass that morning at St. Matthew Cathedral for couples on the South Bend side of the diocese. Twenty-six couples attended the Mass and were observing their special 25th, 50th, 60th or 70th wedding anniversaries this year.

Bishop Rhoades congratulated the couples, saying, “In joys and in sorrows, you have persevered in love, and so we thank you today for your perseverance, for your witness in the Church to the love of Christ, a love that is permanent and indissoluble. How much our society and culture needs your witness today! You continue to strive,

Couples bow their heads to receive a blessing from Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades during a Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral Oct. 22 for those celebrating their 25th, 50th, 60th or 70th wedding anniversary. — Jennifer Miller

in the words of St. Paul, to “put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.

“St. Paul invites us to put on a quintet of virtues, five virtues that culminate in his plea to “put on love, … the bond of perfection. These five virtues are heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” he continued, describing the virtues in action and what they could look like in the marital relationship. He offered the example of Mary and Joseph of the Holy Family as an icon of marriage, “with the help of the Lord’s grace.” Also, Bishop Rhoades stated, “He (the Lord) gives us the Eucharist, the sacrament of love, which nourishes us and gives us the strength we need to persevere in love and to be faithful to our vocations. May God bless our anniversary couples and their families with joy today, the joy of love, the joy of the Gospel, which is the joy of the Church!” Bishop Rhoades offered the couples a blessing, which they received. It spoke of the marriage of a man and a woman as a true image of God’s own love.

Giles and Suzanne Horban, of Corpus Christi Parish, found the reminder of God’s presence in the sacrament of marriage especially important. Celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary, they said, “You’re not just married; it is holy matrimony!”

Giles and Suzanne both attended 8 a.m. Mass every day for years, they said, and prayed to meet a spouse. Giles lived in Rochester while Suzanne resided in South Bend. They met after he put an advertisement in the Pennysaver, which Suzanne read and felt in her heart, “There is just something about it — and he said he was Catholic!” They now have seven children, ages 8 to 23, four of whom joined them for the special wedding anniversary Mass.

The Horbans found Bishop Rhoades’ homily to be true in their own life experience. “He has a short memory for what I do wrong, and I sit back and listen when he talks. I don’t need to bring up old, other stuff. We remember, ‘We are going to make this work.’”

Robert and Betty Urbanski, who have been married for 70 years, speak with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades following the wedding anniversaries Mass at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend.

Giles surprised his wife this June with a special vow renewal and party at their parish, with their friends and family in attendance, as well as a beautiful mother’s ring with birthstones of each of their children and a diamond in the middle.

Larry and Angela Taylor of Christ the King Parish also celebrate 25 years of marriage this year. The couple teaches natural family planning classes for the diocese.

Faith, with God as the center, is extremely important in their marriage, the couple said — it has given them the grace to remain committed to each other. Mass attendance is an integral part of their faith as well. No matter where they are or what is on their schedule, they make sure to attend Mass every week. They also do their best to find a Mass time that works for everyone in the family.

The Taylors were joined at the anniversary Mass by Angela’s mother and the couple’s five children.

Receiving the sacraments regularly is also very important to Deacon Greg Gehred and his wife, Patricia, who celebrate 50 years of marriage this year.

God comes first as they raise their six children. Daily Mass was a regular practice with the whole family, and prayer time at home and breaking open Scripture also happened on a daily basis. They were involved in ministries and in the avenues that opened up to them with helping the less fortunate in our communities.

The Gehreds for decades have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours and the rosary together daily. The words of Father Patrick Peyton, known as the Rosary Priest, resound in their minds and hearts: “The family that prays together, stays together.”

Also looking toward the future with joy and gratitude, and surviving joy and great sorrow, were Robert and Betty Urbanski of St. Matthew Parish. Married for 70 years, they have six children, four of them living. “Losing two children, one at 42, one at 17, made us closer,” said Betty. “I wouldn’t have survived without him. One works for the other. One gives the other strength when they are feeling down. We can read each other’s minds,” she said smiling, clearly still in love.

“He also never said to me, ‘Don’t buy it,’ even when we were on a shoestring budget when he was a student at Notre Dame.”

The Urbanskis met at a dinner-dance and Mass at St. Casimir Parish, South Bend, celebrating the parish’s mortgage burning. Robert, freshly back from the Air Force on the European front during World War II, saw Betty dance by with another gentleman, cut-in and danced only with her the rest of the evening, shooing away any other possible suitors. The Urbanskis now look forward to celebrating their 70th anniversary with a river cruise down the Danube in Germany in December. 

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