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 | Bishop Gregory Parkes

A Celebration of Sacramental Marriage

On February 12, 2023, Bishop Gregory Parkes celebrated the Marriage Jubilee Mass at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle for couples celebrating 25 year or 50 years plus of sacramental marriage. Below is his homily from the Mass.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, We celebrate and give thanks to God for the gift of marriage, the Sacrament of Marriage and for married love.

Whenever I see married couples, it is a reminder to me, of God's love for us through His Son Jesus Christ. Just as Jesus Christ formed a covenant of eternal life and love with us, through his life, death and resurrection, so you as a husband and wife have formed covenants of life and of love. When I see your marriages, I am reminded of the covenant that God has formed with us through this Son. It is a covenant of love, generosity and one that gives unselfishly from one to the other.

What a beautiful witness and example you have given, through your lives and through your marriage, to your family, friends, and community. It’s important that we celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage and this Jubilee Mass because, if we're honest, we can say that the Sacrament of Marriage and marriage in general, is in a bit of a crisis and in many ways under attack. The very nature of what a marriage is, is in question by some.

The Church's teaching on marriage has been steadfast from the beginning. Marriage is between one man and one woman for the whole of life and a union that is open to the generation of the bringing forth of children from that union. The Church has not wavered on that, unlike some, and we don't question what God intended.

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, put it this way, “Today there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion. Is it out of fashion? In a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of enjoying the moment. They say that it's not worth making a lifelong commitment. Making a definitive decision forever because we don't know what tomorrow will bring.” The Holy Father continues, “I ask you instead to be revolutionaries. I asked you to swim against the tide. Yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes you are incapable of responsibility, that believes you're incapable of true love. I have confidence in you, and I pray for you.”

I think our Holy Father captures very much the essence of the crisis that marriage is undergoing today. As priests and deacons, we see fewer and fewer couples come into the Church to be married. If they are getting married, it's outside of the Church and not by a priest or by a deacon, which is unfortunate. Certainly, coming to the Church to form this union, between man and woman in the presence of God and receiving His blessing upon that union, is so very important. Believe me, even though I have not married and have never been married, I grew up in a family with parents and they gave very good witness to what married love is really all about. But I also know, and I witnessed growing up, that marriage is not always easy.

People sometimes think that we as priests because we don't get married, because we make that commitment to celibacy, that we sacrifice so much. I say the opposite when I look at married couples, and I realize the sacrifices that each of you make, not only to each other, but to your children and to the family.

What a great expression of selfless love that you give to others through that witness. It's not easy, which is why it's important to stay close to God to pray together as couples and as a family and to grow together in faith.

I remember asking a couple who had been married for many, many years, what is the secret to having a long-lasting happy fulfilling peaceful marriage. They told me, you have to be of course patient, have a good sense of humor, and it helps if you have a bad memory. I guess so that you forget those little hurts and things that might happen within a marriage. I'm sure each of you has your own formula, your own secret sauce, so to speak, that makes your marriage work for each of you.

Never underestimate that we need God's help, if you're going to fulfill the vocation that you have been called to. Thank you to each one of you for your witness to God's love, for your witness to what it means to be generous and patient with each other, and to be loving and forgiving. Thank you for the witness that you give to our community, to your family and to your friends. As your bishop, know of my gratitude for each of you. Know that I asked God's blessing upon you.

Marriage Jubilee Mass 2023