Yup, 50 years ago today a young man (he was young then) and a young lady (she's still young, of course) walked up the aisle to stand in front of the altar to promise before God that they would supporrt one another on the way to heaven for as many years as He would give them on this earth. So here they are, 50 years later, still alive and still saying nice things about one another behind one another's back. I know, it happened in front of me.
The young man is an interesting study in priesthood. He spent four years in the seminary and then left. He left the seminary but never left his vocation. He never did get ordained and is therefore not an "ex opere, operato" priest. But his entire life has been a continuous mission in the "ex opere, operantis" priesthhood. He has helped more people to find God and to follow Jesus than a lot of priests who stand at the altar, preach, distribute communion and then run off to the race track, the golf course or the football game. None of them has five children, one of who requires life-long, physical and emotional attention. Now, that is dedication. That is ordination of a different stripe, but one just as demanding as the one we all see every Sunday, protected from some very harsh realities of the "real world."
The young lady is a priest too. How else would she be able to offer the sacrifice of her body, heart and soul to a large family, including her aging mother on the demanding altar of matrimonial vows? She was blessed. She had more practice in a large family than her husband...she was (is still) the youngest of 12 children. Who knows, maybe that's the secret.
As happy an occasion as a golden wedding anniversary can be, it also carries with it the cargo of all those years. A mixed bag of good, bad and ugly. A mixed bag of frustrations and consolations. A mixed bag of miracles for and miracles for which they are still waiting. One thing for sure is that the greatest miracle is the grace to still be supporting one another on the road to Christian perfection in view of the Eternal Prize. It takes two saints to get this far. It takes one constant miracle being accepted and practiced by them to make it happen.
Marriage is really a priesthood. We don't do it for ourselves. We do it for the other persons that it puts into our lives. It is like the priesthood of Jesus Himself. We die to ourselves every single day. After 50 years we remember a lot of happy things. We look back and tell ourselves that it feels just like yesterday. That's a miracle too. Imagine finding happiness and consolation of having kept on the straight and narrow for so long? Imagine finding happiness in an imperfect situation? Imagine God filling souls with the ability to stick by Him, just like His Son did while shedding blood and being humiliated in public? Now that, is a priestly sacrifice.
So I have to say in conclusion that I am proud to say that this young man and this young lady are my brother and my sister-in-law. They are saintly examples of selfless sacrificial dedication to Our Father, His Son and His Holy Spirit on this very earth. I am so happy for them and happy to be a part of them that it would be wrong for any of you to cry at my funeral...and theirs too.
Happy 50th to you and all who have known you for all these years. I won't wish you 50 more. I will wish you a hand-in-hand walk with God through the garden of life for the amount that He will give you. Then you will be blessed because when you get to the Pearly Gates you won't have to put up with the grouchy gate keeper.
Paul and Belle