Bishop Declan Lang held a Mass to mark the end of National Marriage week and to recognise married couples who were celebrating significant anniversaries in St Peter and Paul Cathedral in Bristol on February 19.
Clifton Cathedral was full. There were more than 500 people attending the Mass. Couples of all ages and from each of the four counties in Clifton diocese joyfully celebrated their vocation of marriage. Many of the couples celebrating particularly significant anniversaries were personally invited to be part of the Mass by Bishop Lang.
He wrote to more than 70 couples over the last month asking them to come together as a wider family and share in the special celebration. Jim and Jane Small from Corpus Christi parish in Weston-super-Mare celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary.
Fr Christopher Whitehead, the Clifton Diocese Director of Adult Education and Evangelisation, organised the Mass. Fr Whitehead said: “Jane and Jim were part of a wonderful celebration bringing together people from the four counties of our diocese – Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. We reckon, if added up, we celebrated close to 10,000 years of married life in the Cathedral on Saturday.”
Bishop Lang preached about the Song of Songs. He said: “I’m not sure how many wives at this particular moment are looking at their husbands and are saying ‘There’s thy stag.’ ‘There is thy gazelle.’
“And yet it may be that it was your husband’s physical prowess that first attracted you to him. But whether it was or whether it was something else you are still today saying to one another: ‘Come then my lovely one come because I still want to hear the sweetness of your voice’. And I still want to see the beauty of your face and that invitation to each other to come and see and come and hear and be the lovely one for each other probably means far more to you today than it did when you first exchanged your marriage promises.”