Married couples of all ages and backgrounds, united in their one common Catholic faith, came together at St. Matthew Cathedral, South Bend, to worship with Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades Sept. 19 at the first of two annual anniversary Masses.
From celebrating 25 years of marriage to 73 years, the anniversary couples were living witnesses to God’s love and fidelity. The faithful gathered couldn’t help but experience a renewed sense of devotion, faith and reverence for the sacrament of marriage through couples present, as well as through Bishop Rhoades’ preaching on the topic.
He spoke to the anniversary couples in a special manner, with both humor and support for their chosen vocation.
“Dear couples, when you were married, your love for each other was united to divine love. … As you know, marriage is a day-to-day journey, a spiritual journey made up of many little steps. In marriage, you walk together on this journey, helping each other, encouraging each other, caring for each other and respecting each other. It is a journey with a destination. That destination is heaven.
“Spouses, ultimately, your task in marriage is to help each other get to heaven,” he continued. “The Lord gives you food for that journey to heaven, food that will nourish and strengthen you and your love. That food is His very body and blood in the holy Eucharist, the sacrament of His love. The holy Eucharist is the memorial with which Christ the bridegroom loved His bride, the Church. He loved us to the end. Spouses, may Jesus in the holy Eucharist increase your love and strengthen you on your journey to heaven.”
Robert and Elise Doyle of St. Joseph Parish, Mishawaka, demonstrated this love in concrete ways during the Mass, as well as afterwards in speaking with Today’s Catholic.
“We weren’t sure we would make it today,” Robert reflected slowly.
His dear wife, in a wheelchair, speechless, needed extra care and had not been well. But their devotion and love for one another was evident. He worked hard, even hiring a driver to take them to the cathedral and then ordering Elise a beautiful, pink corsage.
During Mass, he held her hand and made sure she received holy Communion first, attentive and aware of her needs. She gazed up at him, silently, with gentleness and gratitude. For a photograph, he knelt beside her like a spritely youth and hugged his bride of 71 years and four months, tears in his eyes.
Their grandson, Matt Snyder, joined the anniversary couple to help and bear witness to his grandparents’ testament of God’s sacrament of love.
Bishop Rhoades’ words rang true: “In the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we contemplate the splendor of true love.” Those near the Doyles also teared up witnessing such continual love, a love that desires the best for one another, in action.
The witness of the Whites also spoke to unity, to divine love and examples of everyday kindness. Gregory and Cordelia, of St. Joseph Parish, South Bend, joyfully attended the anniversary Mass with their children and grandchildren. Married 50 years this Nov. 25, they walked together, clearly respecting and loving one another, as well as allowing each to shine, speaking to their good qualities.
Cordelia spoke with a Caribbean lilt to her voice of their children and grandchildren, grateful to attend church with them each week. When asked for advice, Gregory shared with a smile, “Don’t take an argument to bed! Clear it all up before bed. Get up the next day fresh, for who knows what you will wake up to, if you don’t!”
Bishop Rhoades also spoke about “everyday kindness,” following the second reading from St. Paul to the Philippians — a reading that invited the community to rejoice, so that “their kindness should be known to all.” He taught, “this simple virtue of kindness is so important for a truly Christian life and good marriage. I often remember Mother Teresa speaking of kindness and thoughtfulness of others as the beginning of holiness. One who is kind speaks words of comfort, consolation and encouragement. How important this is in marriage.”
Tony and Anna Stein of St. Matthew Cathedral Parish showed this kindness to their parish as well. Tony has served as a lector for years, clearly and distinctly proclaiming well the Word of God, while Anna serves as a sacristan as well as teaching classes of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.
They are looking forward to celebrating their winter wedding anniversary next summer. She shared that “50 years goes too fast,” a sentiment to which her husband quickly nodded in agreement.
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