More than 700 couples with a combined total of more than 43,000 years of marriage celebrated their wedding anniversaries at a special Mass for Matrimony at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday. By personal invitation from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster, couples from the Diocese of Westminster celebrating their 10th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th or 60th wedding anniversaries during 2008 gathered to give thanks, renew their vows and pray for their families and all marriages. The congregation will include nine couples who have been married for over 60 years. As part of the Mass, after the homily, the couples faced each other and gave an intention to continue to love one another, and were solemnly blessed by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop of Westminster said: "There are few things in our country that are more important than the support of marriage. That is why I have personally invited over 700 married couples who are celebrating significant anniversaries during 2008 to Westminster Cathedral for a special Mass of Thanksgiving for Matrimony. I hope that this celebration will renew, refresh and strengthen their love so that their marriages may be the lifeblood of our parishes and bring spiritual sustenance to all." "Today, perhaps more than ever in the life and history of the Church we need the visible witness of the love between husband and wife. A successful marriage means a successful family, and the love that is at the heart of the Sacrament of Matrimony is indeed one of the most profound manifestations of God's love." "I know that politicians of all parties realise that marriage and the well-being of the family are deeply important to the future of Britain as they help to bring stability and the values of fidelity and commitment to society. Of course, some people do a courageous job as single parents, or have felt the pain of a broken marriage. But I know that most parents do not want their children to be taught that marriage is just another life-style choice. Many, many young people, when expressing their dreams and hopes express the desire to one day be happily married and to have a family. The Cardinal said marriage breakdown was "one of the greatest evils". He said: "The effects of the break up of marriage can be seen because of drugs and crime... So many people are in prison...as the result of broken marriages. And it's a time bomb because the effects are insidious. It's starting now with divorce but its effects will go on and on." Mr and Mrs Buckingham from St Albans will be celebrating their 50th anniversary in June. Mrs Esther Buckingham said: "I think it is a wonderful idea and I do hope that it is repeated for our 60th anniversary! We've had our ups and downs, but we are very happy. I wish all couples that are starting out the same happiness that we have had. That is not to say that marriage is easy, but people do not give marriage a chance today. People give up too easily." When asked what she would say to people who think that marriage is an outdated institution Mrs Finola Turner, from Northolt in West London, who will be celebrating 40 years of marriage with her husband Anthony, said: "We need marriage. It is best for children. They need the stability of having two parents who will always be there. I think that they are wrong to say that marriage is outdated, we need it. Of course, you really have to work at a marriage to make it last." Jose and Maria Martinez have been married for 25 years. Jose, originally from Spain added: "The Mass is a very good idea and will help strengthen and reunite many couples. It is important that the marriage is supported by the Church.". The Mass took place on the eve of Pentecost where the whole Church commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Disciples. Referring to this, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor added: "The Holy Spirit empowered the disciples to go out to the whole world to proclaim the Good News. That same Spirit is ever present in the union of husband and wife, made one in Christ. It is fitting that we give thanks for their love in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. " Source: Archbishops House
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