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placeholder August 8, 2016   •   VOL. 54, NO. 14   •   Oakland, CA

John and Mimi Streett at their wedding reception in 1984.

Why do we celebrate wedding anniversaries?

I recall a dinner conversation at a family gathering shortly before my husband and I married. My uncle suggested listening to a marriage preparation series by Dr. James Dobson and a doctor that had changed his life and marriage a number of years after he married.

We were all eager to hear what he thought was so fabulous. He remembered that his wife was glad he learned the importance of celebrating anniversaries.

Unfortunately he hesitated recalling the exact reason given, and one of the other dinner guests waved her hand, saying: "I know, I know!" Turning to her, we all groaned when she said: "Gifts! It's about the gifts!"

Thirty-two years later, maybe she wasn't so far wrong. It is about a gift: the gift of love that Pope Francis has written so eloquently about in "Amoris Laetitia" ("Joy of Love") and Pope St. John Paul II developed so profoundly in his Theology of the Body teachings to young and old people alike.

My son, according to his father-in-law, asked for his bride's hand in marriage, declaring that he thought she was his path to heaven and that he was hers. Wow! We are signs to others, in our church, workplace, stores, homes. We are called to a sacred vocation, compared by Jesus Christ to His own love for His Bride, the Church.

Let's face it: If you are married 25 years or more, you are a special and, these days, rare couple. You are no longer supported by societal norms, your friends, your employers or, in many cases, your family.

A Huffington Post article noted that readers celebrate their wedding anniversaries each year because:

• It reinforces the fact that your marriage is a priority.

• It allows you to pull back from your daily grind and relive a moment that changed your life forever.

• Being married a long time is a source of pride in today's world of high divorce rates.

• After I watched several friends' marriages end in divorce, I know for certain how potent a force — and how dangerous — complacency can be in a relationship. We once again celebrate with fervor.

We are so happy for your marriage, whether it was always a struggle or a piece of cake, or a combination of "good times and bad." If you are married 25-plus years, I hope you and your family will join Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, and the Office of Marriage & Family Life at 10 a.m. Oct. 2 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, and celebrate the Joy of Love at our biennial Anniversary Mass and Reception.

(Mimi Streett is coordinator of marriage and family life for the Diocese of Oakland.)

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