Norwich Mass celebrates 3,400 years of married life
An amazing 3,400 years of marriage were represented by 80 couples who received certificates from Bishop Alan Hopes at the annual Marriage and Family Celebration Mass at the Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Norwich on Saturday (June 18).
"This Mass is offered in thanksgiving and celebration of the goodness of marriage and family, and as an affirmation of the life-long commitment husbands and wives make to each other," said Kerry Urdzik, Marriage and Family Life Co-ordinator.
“A strong marriage forms the basis of a happy family, which in turn contributes to a flourishing community. We recognise and commend all couples for the love they give and the sacrifices they make to achieve this, and the witness to marriage they provide. We have couples here today celebrating over 60 years of marriage, which is remarkable!"
Over 300 people attended the Mass and the 80 couples who received certificates from Bishop Alan were celebrating their first year of marriage, multiples of five years or anything over 60 years.
Two couples were celebrating 65 years of marriage. They were Molly and Kevin Marsden from St Mary’s Parish in Great Yarmouth, and Fr Gordon and Mary Cordy from the Cathedral in Norwich.
Gordon and Mary had been married for 65 years in March and have eight grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Mary said: “The secret of a happy marriage is give and take and to look after each other. Gordon is not well now and it can sometimes be a bit difficult, but we go through it all together, do things together, help each other.
“The service today is very important to us. It is excellent and is good to bring everybody in and let the younger people see how long people can remain married for.”
Giving the homily, Bishop Alan said: “We understand that love is at the heart of marriage. Our first reading today, from St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians in chapter 13, is a litany of love.
“It is why Pope Francis in his recent apostolic exhortation on marriage and family called it Amoris Laetitia, which means the “joy of love”. He devotes a whole chapter to reflect on these words of Paul.
“The very nature of love is to make sacrifices,” said Bishop Alan. “We express our love by the sacrifice of our bodies just as Jesus gave his body for us on the cross.
“We express this in the heart of marriage when we say to each other ‘this is my body’ and it is said so radically that, according to the Scriptures, the two of you become one flesh. This beautiful reality is at the heart of the church’s teaching about marriage.
“To say this is my body is nothing less than to share in the cross of the Lord himself.”
Pictured above Bishop Alan Hopes with all of the married couples who received certificates at the Mass and, above, cutting a celebration cake with Molly and Kevin Marsden (right) and Fr Gordon and Mary Cordy (left).