On January 29, 2013, the faith-based marriage enrichment organization, Worldwide Marriage Encounter, announced the winners of its 2013 Longest Married Couple Project. The winners were John and Ann Betar of Fairfield, Connecticut. John, who is 101 years old, and Ann, who is 97, celebrated their 80th wedding anniversary on November 25, 2012.
John and Ann grew up in the same ethnic (Syrian) neighborhood in Bridgeport, Connecticut. John fell in love with Ann after he started driving her and her friends to high school every day. When Ann was 17 years old, her dad arranged for her to marry a man who was 20 years her senior. Horrified at the prospect of being forced into a marriage, Ann asked a friend to pick her up at her house and take her to John, who at that time was 21 years old. They then drove to Harrison, New York, and got married.
The year they were married (1932), the cost of a New York daily newspaper was two cents, a gallon of gas was 10 cents, a loaf of bread was six cents, a postage stamp was three cents, and a movie ticket was 22 cents.
When they got married, John had a well-paid job operating a fruit stand. He owned his own car, a Ford Roadster, which he had purchased for $539. Later, in 1938, he opened up his own grocery store, Betar’s Market, in the south end of Bridgeport.
John and Ann had five children, 14 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren. In a recent interview, Ann said, “The worst thing that can happen to two people is to lose a child, whether they’re two years old or 60. We’ve lost two of them, and that’s the hardest thing to face.” Their son John died in 2000, at the age of 60, and their daughter Joan died in 2006, at the age of 68.
As Christians and founding members of the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church in Bridgeport, John and Ann Betar behaved the old-fashioned way – they stayed married.
The Modern Catholic Dictionary defines “marriage” as follows:
As a natural institution, the lasting union of a man and a woman who agree to give and receive rights over each other for the performance of the act of generation and for the fostering of their mutual love.
The state of marriage implies four chief conditions: 1. there must be a union of opposite sexes; it is therefore opposed to all forms of unnatural, homosexual behavior; 2. it is a permanent union until the death of either spouse; 3. it is an exclusive union, so that extramarital acts are a violation of justice; and 4. its permanence and exclusiveness are guaranteed by contract; mere living together, without mutually binding themselves to do so, is concubinage and not marriage.
Christ elevated marriage to a sacrament of the New Law. Christian spouses signify and partake of the mystery of that unity and fruitful love which exists between Christ and his Church, helping each other attain to holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children.
The Son of God declared that there is no power on Earth that can dissolve a valid marriage. It is only His church, the Catholic Church, that has continued to abide by His declaration. Except for Catholicism, there has never been a religion that has believed and taught that marriage is indissoluble.
One of the primary conflicts that arose between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Church, which eventually resulted in the Eastern Orthodox Church’s separation from Rome, was the practice among the Eastern bishops of repeatedly granting “annulments” without justification.
One of the issues that contributed to Luther’s break from Rome in 1517 was the Catholic Church’s continued insistence that no one had the power to dissolve a valid marriage. By 1521, divorces were rampant among Luther’s followers.
Last week, in his State of the State speech, in support of his proposal that the minimum wage should be raised to $10 per hour, the governor of Illinois said, “Nobody in Illinois should work 40 hours a week and live in poverty. That’s a principle as old as the Bible.” Later in the same speech, the governor stated that Illinois is “a land of discrimination,” and that although we allow civil unions between gay couples, we must take the next step toward “marriage equality” and allow gay couples to marry. Notably absent from the governor’s statement about marriage equality was a similar claim that gay marriage is a principle as old as the Bible.
In fact, the teachings of Christ that marriage is an indissoluble union between a man and a woman can be found in multiple places in the Bible: Matthew 5, Matthew 10, Matthew 19, Luke 16, and several of the writings of St. Paul. Because Christ recognized the difficulty of a man and a woman remaining in a monogamous relationship, He elevated marriage to a Sacrament.
The verse that is always used by non-Catholics to justify divorce is Matthew 19:9, which states, “And I say to you, that whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that shall marry her that is put away, committeth adultery.”
The position of the Catholic Church has always been that infidelity (e.g., adultery) can never be used as a justification for a dissolution of marriage; however, when infidelity occurs, the innocent spouse in the marriage is justified in separating from the offending spouse, even if the separation is permanent. This position was confirmed as an Article of Faith by the Council of Trent.
There is a Luciferian conspiracy that is currently being played out in this country to destroy the Catholic Church. Before this can be accomplished, the institution of marriage must first be destroyed. We are witnessing an unprecedented number of diabolical attacks against the sacred institution of marriage. We are almost past the point of no return. If Christians do not rise up and beat back these attacks, we will live to see the day when Christians are again persecuted and martyred because of their beliefs.
Dear Harry and Georgette –
I read this wonderful story about John and Ann Betar’s long years of marriage earlier, but had no time to comment. I just opened it again. What an example of, and strong “argument” for, TRUE married life! Thank you for this, and also for your last comment to me.
Blessings for a fruitfilled Lenten time! Sister Roberta