The key message in the World Marriage Day Spanish Mass was for couples to remember the significance of maintaining holy matrimony centered on our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Auxiliary Bishop Peter Byrne was the principal celebrant of the annual Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14.
The homilist was Father Peter Mushi, A.J., pastor of St. Cecilia and Holy Agony parish in East Harlem. The Mass for Día Mundial del Matrimonio is organized each year by the Movimiento Matrimonial Católico (MMC).
“Dear brothers and sisters. This is a special day, and we give thanks to the Lord,” said Father Mushi in his homily.
“Today we celebrate World Marriage Day. On this day we pray that what God has united, man does not separate. We pray so that God sustains us in marriage, in this vocation of matrimony.”
The pastor, citing the day’s readings, went on to speak about the healing and spiritually cleansing power of Jesus. He noted the importance of married couples having spiritual encounters with each other based on the teachings of Christ, and on the significance of their vows. This is especially important, he said, during difficult times, such as with the current coronavirus pandemic and the societal and domestic troubles it has brought.
He mentioned how there has long been social confusion over the very concept of marriage.
There is a spiritual sickness that for many years has affected many marriages, Father Mushi said. “So we need healing. And who has that power? It is Jesus...And so all of the sacraments are important, to save each of us. This great love from Jesus is related to what we are celebrating today, World Marriage Day. We celebrate love. On this Sunday we all pray for you and for all marriages...The family is the domestic church, our first school...As St. Paul says in the second reading: do all that you do for the glory of God.”
Angel and Ondina Gonzalez were among the 150 couples who renewed their vows during the Mass. There were fewer couples this year because of pandemic capacity restrictions; typically there are about 450 couples.
“The Mass is extremely important; it helps us remember the importance of matrimony,” Angel Gonzalez told Catholic New York after the afternoon liturgy. “And we got to renew our vows after 33 years of marriage; we give thanks to God for helping us maintain love and understanding in our marriage. Renewing our vows here in the cathedral is something tremendous.”
Mrs. Gonzalez said, “This Mass was a blessing, a blessing from the Lord. It helps us strengthen our faith and our marriage. It is very important.” She said the homily message of maintaining the Lord at the center of marriage helps couples cope with all circumstances of life.
The Gonzalez couple, both 55 and born in the Dominican Republic, are parishioners of Our Lady of Angels in the Bronx. They are parents of three grown children. He is a cable television technician; she is a homemaker.
The Mass concelebrants included Msgr. Robert Ritchie, rector of St. Patrick’s; Father Brian McWeeney, director of archdiocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; and Father Lorenzo Ato, director of communications for archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry.
At the end of Mass, lead organizers Maximo and Marcia Correa addressed the clergy and the congregation with words of gratitude and expressions of joy over the Mass being made possible by the cathedral and the archdiocese.
In an interview, Maximo Correa said, “Marriage is under (societal) attack, we’re living in these very difficult times, and intensive coexistence has created many problems with communication. But as Father Mushi said, things can get better when we accept Jesus Christ in our hearts and in our prayers. The homily was excellent.”
He said the MMC’s faith-based support group meetings and personal sessions for married couples have continued virtually during the pandemic. “We continue forward, doing everything we can,” he said, noting the benefits of the support program.