Marriage Mass and Renewal of Vows a 'Countercultural' Event

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
10 Jul 2017

On Sunday, St Mary's Cathedral was filled to capacity for the annual Marriage Mass and Renewal of Vows, organised by the Life Marriage and Family Centre for the Archdiocese of Sydney.

Each year, married couples are invited to attend the Mass and renew their vows, with special acknowledgment given to couples celebrating "milestone" anniversaries.

Giselle Bertino-Clarke, Education Officer for the Life, Marriage and Family Centre, said that the Mass was "an important opportunity to honour and give thanks to married couples for the sacrifices and valuable contributions they have made as parents and spouses."

"At a time where marriage breakdowns are commonplace, this Mass is truly a 'counter-cultural' event as it celebrates and bears witness to the beauty of faithful and self-giving marital love," she continued.

The organisers also said that the numbers registering for the Mass and Renewal of Vows grow steadily each year, showing the eagerness of the Catholic community to acknowledge the importance of marriage in Australia.

This idea was addressed by Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP during his homily, in which reflected on the recent census which included some striking results about modern marriage and family life.

"For the first time in recorded history," Archbishop Fisher said, "more than one in four Australians lives in a single-person household, another big chunk live with others to whom they are unrelated, and fewer than half our 'families' involve a mum, a dad and kids."  Despite this, he noted, most apparently still aspire to marriage and family life.

Archbishop Fisher acknowledged the seeming inappropriateness of celebrating the Marriage Mass on the Sunday for which the Gospel seemed to have Jesus telling people to "hate parents, children and even their own life, or at least to regard them as less important than following Him (Mt 10:37-42.)"

Delving more deeply into the Gospel, the Archbishop explained that if we put God first, then "far from failing to love ourselves or others, we will love them more purely, intelligently, intentionally, appropriately."

The Archbishop called love "the easiest and hardest thing in the world."  On the one hand, it is a force of nature, with attraction, affection and desire coming naturally to the human person.  But on the other, he said, it is "a choice, a commitment, a matter of mind and will," which requires constant attentiveness, communication, forgiveness, honesty, fidelity and compromise.

In addition to the married couples and the regular Cathedral community attending the Mass, also present were the families of those couples to whom Archbishop Fisher presented certificates to commemorate their celebration of 50, 55, 60 and even 65 years of marriage!

Following the Mass, the group gathered with the Archbishop for photos on the Cathedral steps.