Over 600 couples with a combined total of 39,830 years of marriage attended a Mass in Thanksgiving for the Sacrament of Marriage in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 18 May at 3pm. The Mass will be celebrated by the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, who gave a special blessing to the couples.
The couples from the diocese celebrating their 10th, 25th, 40th, 50th or 60th + wedding anniversaries during 2013 gathered to give thanks and to renew their vows and pray for their families and all marriages. As part of the Mass, after the homily, the couples faced each other and stated intentions to continue to love one another, and were solemnly blessed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols.
In his homily Archbishop Nichols gave a special mention to Mr & Mrs Kevin and Carol Herbert from Garston who were celebrating their Golden Wedding anniversary actually on 18 May. He went on to say that the Mass of Thanksgiving for Marriage gives eloquent witness to the truth of the nature of marriage and the true role and importance of the family for a healthy society.
Marriage an exclusive commitment between a man and a woman
Archbishop Nichols said that the Catholic faith underlines that “there is a certain, unmistakable incompleteness in man and woman; and that this lack finds important fulfilment in the union of husband and wife, a union that is so complete that it is ordered, in itself, to bringing forth new life. Marriage, then, fulfils husband and wife and is itself fulfilled in the life of the family. On these foundations we rightly understand marriage to be an exclusive commitment and a life-long partnership between a man and a woman. And this is its shape by nature.”
He told the couples: “This witness you give, to the true nature of marriage in its natural and supernatural meaning, is a witness that is sorely needed today. It stands against those trends in our society which seek to undermine this understanding of marriage, reducing marriage primarily to a means of satisfying individual emotional needs.”
Definition of marriage and need for a healthy society
Archbishop Nichols gave thanks for the loving effort that marriage requires and say that, “I hope many in our society will realise, before it is too late, the importance of full and unequivocal legal backing for this true and lasting definition of marriage. The core of marriage is not determined by human laws and conventions. For a healthy society, those laws and conventions should always support marriage as an institution characterised by an openness to children and the responsibility of fathers and mothers remaining together to care for children born into their family.”
His homily addressed the wider need of family for stable society: “Strong families serve society by bringing forth healthy children and maturing young adults, by being a rich source of a compassion for sick members, of support for others in time of crisis and of care for the elderly and the dying. Stable families are the first and best answer to many of the personal and social consequences of hardship and deprivation today . Families are often best placed to respond to those needs. No intelligent government can continue to ignore the urgent priority of giving support and practical encouragement to marriage and family stability as the first response to growing social needs.”
Significant Wedding Anniversaries:
- 25 couples celebrating their 60th or over
- 135 couples celebrating their 50th or over
- 138 couples celebrating their 40th or over
- 12 couples celebrating their 30th or over
- 189 couples celebrating their 25th or over
- 106 couples celebrating their 10th or over
The full text of the homily is HERE