By Kevin Kelly
Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — Fifteen days after ordaining eight men to the transitional diaconate, eight days after ordaining four men to the priesthood, six days before ordaining 13 men to the permanent diaconate, Bishop Robert W. Finn led the annual celebration of the foundation vocation — God’s call to married life and family.
“We all come from families,” Bishop Finn told scores of couples from throughout the diocese who came June 1 to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for the annual Celebration of 50th Wedding Anniversaries.
Fittingly, he said, this year’s celebration was also held on the Sunday when the church in the United States celebrates the Ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven.
“Marriage is not only a vocation,” Bishop Finn said. “It is the path to heaven. You help each other get to heaven.”
Bishop Finn said the couples demonstrate by example the power of 50 years of commitment to the Sacrament of Matrimony.
“You are here today because of love, the love you have for each other which drew you to one another and caused you to persevere for so many years, the love of your own families and friends which supported you in good times and bad, the love of the Eternal Father who, in his mercy, gave you this extraordinary vocation,” he said.
“Over the course of 50 years, there have been some times when you knew the closeness of God,” Bishop Finn said.
“There are also times when we are challenged to remain faithful to our prayer and our commitments, even when we feel that God and his direction for our lives were not as clear as we wish,” he said.
“At these latter times, it is possible that we can give up in discouragement or, clinging to God and our beloved, we are helped by grace to persevere,” he said. “In the midst of such trials, we grow even stronger because of God’s love.”
The bond for life between one man and one woman is “an essential part of God’s plan for the world,” Bishop Finn said.
“Your love is life-giving in the wondrous gift of family and children,” he said.
“Marriage completes a man and a woman,” the bishop said. “The Book of Genesis tells us that from the beginning, ‘God made them male and female’ and that the natural complementarity of one for the other transforms you as spouses and allows you to become a new entity — a new life in Jesus Christ.”
The love of a married couple is also “a gift to the church and the world,” Bishop Finn said.
“Indeed, St. Paul tells us that the love of husband and wife is an image and reminder of Christ’s love for the church,” he said.
“The way this love reaches its perfection in marriage and in the family is in humble service for one another, and in self-sacrifice after the example and image of Christ,” he said.
“Jesus Christ, though his church, perfects and completes the natural institution of marriage through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony so that married couples will have the benefit of supernatural grace and assistance,” Bishop Finn said.
“How could couples ever hope to give themselves so completely and forever unless it is because of supernatural faith, hope and love?” he asked.
“Let us pray today, not only for all married couples, but for the institution of marriage and that our society will honor and protect authentic marriage in its integrity,” Bishop Finn said.
“Dear friends, dear married couples, the diocese thanks God for your vocation to marriage and for the health, peace and commitment in which he sustains you,” he said.
“As Mary obtained from her son the very first of his miracles on behalf of a married couple at the wedding feast of Cana, the church entrusts you to her again, confident that she will never fail to bring your prayers before her divine son,” Bishop Finn said.