On Sunday 17 July, the Archdiocese of Melbourne celebrated an Anniversary Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral for married couples commemorating significant anniversaries. There were more than 40 couples in attendance, many of whom were celebrating 25 and 50 years of marriage. Ten couples were celebrating their 60th anniversary.

‘It is fitting that this Sunday we acknowledge and celebrate the gift of love and life for these couples and these families,’ Archbishop Peter A Comensoli said at the beginning of Mass, since they are ‘witnesses to us especially of the reconciling love that has been fruitful over many years of living.’

The reconciling love we see in long years of marriage is a reflection of the reconciling love of Jesus, he said.

After the homily, in which the Archbishop encouraged us to attentively welcome the ‘good guest’ of Jesus Christ into our hearts and homes, he invited couples to renew their marital vows.

Saying the prayers together, they expressed gratitude to God for the sacrament of Marriage, a sacrament in which they ‘have the opportunity to live the vocation you ordained for us, to experience the giving and receiving of the greatest gift of life, and to participate in the miracle of co-creation.’

Turning to their wives, husbands then said:

Believing these things, I wish to renew my marriage vows to you, my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. I will love you and honour you all the days of my life.

And turning to their husbands, wives said the same words.

Reflecting on their experience, one couple celebrating their 50th anniversary spoke about how ‘very happy’ they were to be present for the event. Renewing their vows was such an emotional moment, as it has been each time they’ve done it. Vows are an opportunity for honesty and commitment, and ‘being honest with each other’ has been key to the endurance of their marriage.

Another couple celebrating 50 years of marriage shared a similar experience, commenting on how ‘touching’ the experience was. The exercise of ‘love and respect’ has been vital to their marriage through the years, and the opportunity to renew their vows was ‘beautiful’.

Archbishop Comensoli blessed the couples, praying that their marriages would continue to ‘reflect the union of Christ with his Church’, and that amid the joys and struggles of this life, God might preserve and strengthen their union.

‘Thank you,’ the Archbishop concluded by saying. ‘Thank you for your marriage. Thank you indeed.’