Wedding Anniversary Mass honors witness of love in Sacrament of Matrimony
By Ed Hopfner
Nearly 300 people braved the threat of rain on Saturday, February 3, to enjoy the annual Archdiocese of San Francisco Wedding Anniversary Mass with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone at St Mary’s Cathedral. The wedding anniversaries ranged from four years to 69 years for Alfred and Josephine Romine, who have been regulars at the event for the past several years. In all, eight couples celebrated 60 years or more of Holy Matrimony, and an additional 19 were celebrating 50 years or more. Couples reaching “milestone” anniversaries (5 years, 10, 15, 20…) in 2024 were recognized during the Mass.
In his homily, delivered in both English and Spanish, Archbishop Cordileone noted how the traditional symbols of marriage reflect, in a way, the increasing ‘value’ of marriages as they become more and more elegant throughout the years: paper for a one-year anniversary, wood for five years, silver for 25, gold for 50, etc. This understanding of the accomplishment of a successful marriage, through a series of peaks, valleys, setbacks, and triumphs, reflects the Scriptural image of God refining and purifying His people as precious metal is refined in a fire (such as in Psalm 12, “like silver, purified seven times.”)
God’s design for marriage is to take two “opposite” people, opposite in the sense of equal and complementary, to unite them, and through their union and communion, their struggles and triumphs together, teach each of them to become more selfless, and ultimately arrive at the true happiness God wants for all of us. This, the Archbishop said (quoting Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount), is the life of blessedness, where “blessed” is synonymous with “saint”, but also with “happy.” Thus, God’s plan for all of us, shown perhaps directly in marriage, is to become saints, those who are truly blessed, truly happy.
Archbishop Cordileone blessed the rings of the married couples and encouraged them in their witness to love:
“On this occasion today when we celebrate your wedding anniversaries and the beauty of God’s plan for marriage, I pray He may bless you with the grace and wisdom to live that plan well to the very end, so that you may teach us about His love for us and you yourselves may be brought into the perfect communion of His life and love forever in heaven when you pass from this life to the next.
The Mass was followed by a reception in the Cathedral’s Patron’s Hall, featuring a “then and now” slide show of the couples (with their wedding photos and current photos), and musical accompaniment by harpist Anna Maria Mendieta. Each couple also received a certificate, noting the anniversary year they celebrated.
A good time was had by all.
Ed Hopfner is the director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.