By Barb Arland-Fye
This week’s print edition of The Catholic Messenger contains a keepsake: a 14-page special section featuring wedding and current-day photos of couples in the Davenport Diocese who have been married 25 years or longer.
We’ve included couples’ reflections on their marriages along with information from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on its efforts to promote marriage and to help couples remain married.
Nearly 200 couples submitted photos by our deadline for inclusion in the special section. We had to turn away late submissions because of the production time and costs involved.
Thanks to technology, about one-fourth of the photos arrived to us by e-mail. But some couples entrusted us with original photographs from their weddings — including a 70-year-old black and white 8-by-10 photo of an entire wedding party. The image looks like a scene from a 1940s movie. It’s amazing to think that the children in that wedding party are now senior citizens in their 70s!
We were heartened to receive so many photo submissions from couples who’ve been married 40 years, 50 years, 60 years, or longer. They readily admitted that reaching such a marvelous milestone required commitment, sacrifice, a genuine appreciation for one another and the grace of God.
The example set by these long-married couples hopefully is fostering an appreciation for the sacrament of marriage that is being passed on to the next generations.
My husband Steve and I are among the married couples of that next generation, and feel blessed to have celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary this spring. Like the couples who’ve been married twice as long as we have, we wonder how the years passed so swiftly! One of the positives of the passage of time is that it can heal the heartache that inevitably enters every couple’s life on occasion. Couples who embrace marriage as a sacrament respond to the challenges out of love and commitment, with Christ as their guide.
“Love is the heart of the vocation of marriage. It calls spouses to imitate Jesus by their willingness to sacrifice themselves in everyday situations for each other and their children,” the U.S. bishops write in their pastoral letter on marriage. “Couples must also grow in the moral virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance.”
But the bishops made another point, which was underscored by the couples who shared their photos and stories with us:
“Marriage is a school of gratitude, in which husband and wife are thankful for the gift of each other. They express their joyous gratitude in giving themselves completely to each other. Their gratitude leads them to be open to children and to be generous towards others.”
I extend my gratitude to all who contributed to this special section in some way: our subscribers and other readers, our advertisers, and the Iowa Knights of Columbus for its sponsorship. As State Deputy of the Iowa KCs, Pat O’Keefe said the Knights feel strongly about supporting this project. “That’s what we’re all about! We are very much in support of marriage, and family is number one with us.”