The consistent thread throughout the Scriptures for the Annual Silver and Gold Anniversary Mass was the theme of persistence, perseverance, and patience. It was a thread Deacon Doug Hoffman continued to sew throughout his homily asking couples gathered at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick, “How do each of us live out our marital sacramental vows, our sacramental marriage? How are you a living example of Christ’s love for His church? The answer, Hoffman said was simple, “Through persistence, perseverance and patience.”
Hoffman referred to the Old Testament story of Moses who needed the support of his companions to hold his staff upright so that the Israelites could defeat their enemy in battle. “Not only did Moses need to appeal to God for help, but he also needed the support of others, of his community. On each of your respective wedding anniversary dates, you and your spouse became a new community – to love and support each other for better, for worse; for richer, for poorer; in sickness and in health for life. To persist, to persevere, to be patient and to do it all in God’s presence, with God’s help and with God’s grace.”
Through the grace of their Sacrament and their sacramental vows, Hoffman told the couples that each of them is a visible sign of the love Christ, the bridegroom, has for his church, and for each one of them. Each couple is a living example of Christ’s love for the church through their prayer and connection to their Catholic communities of faith.
He shared the story of his community, the parishioners at St. Mary, Mother of the Redeemer Parish in Groton, who invited him and his wife and their sons into a community of faith and spiritual growth. “I had never experienced anything like this before,” he said noting that he married into the Catholic Church in 1981 but it was 12 years before he was welcomed into the faith at the Easter Vigil, 1993. Currently, Hoffman serves as a deacon at St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart Parishes in Groton and Our Lady of Lourdes in Gales Ferry.
Through the witness of other married couples in his faith community, Hoffman said he discovered that persistent prayer is what connected him and his wife to God and continues to do so today. “Persistent prayer helps us to understand and accept God’s will. Persistent prayer ensures that there will still indeed be faith on earth when the Son of Man comes.”
Quoting the words of a priest, Hoffman said, “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Elaborating on this concept, Hoffman said, “Your milestone sacrament marriages mirror this. I pray that you share, and you evangelize your milestone with your families, your friends and with anyone else when the opportunity presents itself.”
Over 60 couples married between 25 to 71 years registered for this year’s Mass celebrated by Bishop Michael Cote to honor their enduring love. During the Mass, couples renewed their marriage commitment at the prompting of Bishop Cote who said, “Today, years after your wedding day, you know so much better both the joys and rewards of your commitment. I invite you, therefore, to look to the future together and to hold fast to the promise that the best is yet to come!”
The renewal commitment ended with couples praying together, “Blessed are you, Lord, for in the good and the bad times of our life, you have stood lovingly by our side. Help us, we pray, to remain faithful in our love for one another, so that we may be true witnesses to the covenant you have made with humankind.”
By Mary-Jo McLaughlin
The Anniversary Mass video is below
Bishop Michael R. Cote Celebrant
Deacon Doug Hoffman-Homilist