The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

50 years: a homily

My wife’s parents, Gerry and Brenda Meyer, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last weekend. They renewed their vows at a special mass on Saturday. This is my homily for that occasion.

Last week, Maureen Dowd, the columnist for the New York Times, wrote about all the celebrity divorces going on. People like Christie Brinkley and A-Rod, she concluded, had married the wrong people – and Dowd wanted to find out what people should look for in a spouse. So she spoke with a priest in New Jersey, Father Pat Connor, 79 years old, who for 40 years has been giving a lecture to high school girls called “Whom Not To Marry.” And Fr. Connor gave his two cents worth.


It contains a lot of common sense wisdom: Never marry someone who doesn’t have friends; make sure he has a sense of humor; check out if he’s responsible with money; see what his family is like. And avoid the strong, silent type. More marriages, he said, are killed by silence than violence.

Good advice, I thought. And if you had to boil it all down to just one sentence, it would be what we just heard in the gospel.

Build your house on rock. It’s really that simple. Find solid ground. Build on rock.

When I was looking over this gospel, it got me to thinking about the house Gerry and Brenda have built, and lived in, for most of their marriage. And that house tells part of their story.

I can still remember the first time I came to your front door, to pick up your daughter for a date, over 30 years ago. I’ve been to that door hundreds of times since then. Spending time around the kitchen table. Thanksgivings in the dining room. Christmases in the rec room, the floor littered with wrapping paper…and the house overflowing with people and food and music.


Like so many houses, it has been a place for joys, and sorrows, laughter and tears. A place for making plans and sharing dreams. A place where children took their first steps, where grandchildren visited, and puppies struggled – not always successfully — to be housebroken.

It has been a place where the door is always open, the light is always on, arms always waiting in welcome.

That has been your house.

That has also been your marriage.

One of the great joys of my life has been being a part of your family, and watching your marriage unfold. It’s made me realize that, frankly, at this late date, there is nothing I can tell you about marriage that you don’t already know. I imagine there is a lot you could tell ME.


Probably the best homily about your 50 years of marriage is right here, in these pews.

It is in the children you have raised – and the children THEY are raising, learning how to be parents from you.

It is in the friends you have gathered around you — the family you have chosen for yourselves.

And it is in the faith that has brought you to these pews today — your love for the God who loves you. I know this mass is your way of celebrating your 50 years together, and of offering thanks to God. But I think that HE is probably thanking YOU. To a doubting and skeptical world, you have shown what a long and happy marriage looks like.

In a moment, you will renew the vows you made to one another 50 years ago.


But I think you have already renewed them, and continue to, every day of your lives.

If there is any secret to making a marriage last, I think maybe that is it.

It’s vowing to love and honor and care for one another, not just on that first day, when there’s the pretty dress and the flowers and the music. But every day: when life is all flannel pajamas and a leaking roof and a car that won’t start and kids who are sick.

It’s a promise kept. And renewed. Every morning. And every night. Across half a century.

It is weathering the storms – while the wind howls and the walls shake…and then you realize, with a sense of blessed relief, that it’s not the wind.

It’s just the person next to you, snoring.


And it is loving the snoring. And the quarreling. And the thousands of small negotiations that go on every day between a husband and wife. Because it reminds you that you are alive. And you are loved. And you are in love.

And your joy is complete. Because, as St. Paul reminded the people of Corinth: love never fails.

That house on Greenlane Court has changed over the years. You’ve built a new kitchen, a garage, added another level. It’s a little different from the house that you built.

But so is your marriage. And that’s how it should be. Change is a part of life. We grow. We adapt. We adjust. Christ’s first miracle was at a wedding, and it was all about change – turning water into wine. The miracle of this sacrament is one of transformation.


But you’ve reminded us that a marriage, like a house, will only survive change, and stand, when it’s made of the right materials. And they’re not the kind you find at Home Depot.

You’ve secured the walls with patience, and tenderness and prayer. You’ve installed a heating system that is cooled by laughter. And you have made sure that the roof is supported with love. Love for one another. Love for your children. Love for God.

Gerry and Brenda, what more can I say?

You have built your house on rock.

Comments read comments(10)
post a comment

posted July 14, 2008 at 8:08 am

Deacon Greg,This homily is precisely why I use your page as my homepage both here at home and at work. You have a wonderful gift for writing and sharing simple truths. Thank you!

report abuse


posted July 14, 2008 at 8:33 am


report abuse


posted July 14, 2008 at 8:34 am

Wonderful stuff. Thanks so much for posting this.

report abuse

Raving MainyYak

posted July 14, 2008 at 10:24 am

That’s a wonderful homily. God has gifted you a special talent; how blessed it must be to be able to share that talent in such a special way on such a special occasion.

report abuse


posted July 14, 2008 at 11:01 am

Congratulation to Gerry and Brenda. Many years!And, Deacon Greg, a darn good homily.

report abuse


posted July 14, 2008 at 12:03 pm

Amen to all of the above remarks.And thanks Greg for your posting on Tony Snow……intersting to now have it known that Brian Williams is also Catholic (or am I the only one who was not aware?)

report abuse

steve p

posted July 14, 2008 at 5:28 pm

Dcn. Greg,My Dad passed away this past February, 7 months before he and Mom were to celebrate their 50th.I was blessed (to tears) at reading your affirmations of this wonderful sacramental life, all of which were true for my own parents.In faith, I know that Dad’s passing takes nothing away from the love they lived and celebrated. In fact, it was in his suffering and death that I saw the fruits of that love all the more clearly in my own family.Thanks for keeping us mindful of this witness that marriage provides for the Church and the world. When done well, it’s one of the greatest lenses we have for seeing Christ’s love for us.Way to go, and congratulations to your in-laws!Steve P

report abuse


posted July 14, 2008 at 9:02 pm

Deacon Greg – What a wonderful homily … and again, a terrific site! You have created a wonderful oasis here on the web. Thank you!My parents celebrated 53 years this past May. They are cut from the same cloth as your in-laws. We’re all very blessed to be part of the family!Take care.

report abuse


posted July 18, 2008 at 4:11 pm

I found it! This is so awesome. It was great seeing you and Siobhain. Take Care, Matt

report abuse

tarif pharmacie

posted March 28, 2014 at 2:05 am

Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon on
a daily basis. It’s always useful to read articles from other writers and practice a little something from other sites.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz ...

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives! ...

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below. ...

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The ...

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy. ...

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.