World Marriage Day, sponsored by Worldwide Marriage Encounter and celebrated this year on Sunday, February 13, affirms the priority of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to support and strengthen marriage.
The idea of an annual celebration of marriage began in Baton Rouge, La., in 1981, when local couples encouraged the mayor, the governor and the bishop to proclaim Valentine’s Day as “We Believe in Marriage Day.”
By 1982, 43 governors officially proclaimed the day, and celebrations spread to U.S. military bases in several foreign countries. In 1983, the name was changed to “World Marriage Day,” to be officially celebrated each year on the second Sunday in February. In 1993, Pope John Paul II imparted his apostolic blessing on World Marriage Day, and World Marriage Day celebrations continue to spread to more countries each year.
The day honors husband and wife as head of the family, the basic unit of society. It salutes the beauty of their faithfulness, sacrifice and joy in daily, married life.
The theme for World Marriage Day, "Love One Another," is the commandment given by Jesus at John 15:12. It speaks to us in a simple but challenging way of how our God wishes us to live. Loving one another is a daily decision — simple, but challenging.
"Heavenly God, we thank you for your tremendous gift of the sacrament of marriage. Help us to witness to its glory by a life of growing intimacy. Teach us the beauty of forgiveness so we may become more and more one in heart, mind and body.
"Strengthen our communication and help us become living signs of your love. Make us grow more in love with the church so we may renew the Body of Christ. Make us a sign of unity, in the name of Jesus, our Lord and brother. Amen."