The Sacrament of Matrimony
Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of "the wedding-feast of the Lamb" (Gen 1:26-27). God himself is the author of marriage. The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes.
God, who created man out of love also calls him to love-the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love (Gen 1:27; 1 Jn 4:8,16). Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good in the Creator's eyes. This love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: "And god blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it'" (Gen 1:28).
Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another, "It is not good that the man should be alone" (Gen 2:18). The woman, "flesh of his flesh," his equal, his nearest in all things is given to him by God as a "helpmate"; she thus represents god from whom comes out help (Gen 2:18-25). "Therefore man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen 2:24). The Lord himself shows that this signified an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been "in the beginning". "So they are no longer two, but one flesh" (Mt 19:6).
Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant. In the Latin Rite, the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ. In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself ever to the Church. It is therefore fitting that the spouses seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but "one body" in Christ (1 Cor 10:17).
According to Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ's grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent. The consent consists in a "human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other": "I take you to be my wife"-"I take you to be my husband". This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two "becoming one flesh" (Gen 2:24; Mk 10:8; Eph 5:31). The priest or deacon who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the church and gives the blessing of the Church. So that the "I do" of the spouses may be a free and responsible act so that the marriage covenant may have solid and lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime important. Please contact your parish priest as soon as possible if a catholic marriage is forthcoming.
In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention to preparation, but it is not insurmountable.
A valid marriage forms a bond between the spouses which is by its very nature perpetual and exclusive: furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament. The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself (Mk 10:9). From their covenant arises "an institution, confirmed by the divine law,...even integrated into God's covenant with man: Authentic married love is caught up into divine love. Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21; Gal 6:2).
It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity beyond union in one flesh, and leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving and it is open to fertility. They are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving. Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than "the family of God". From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers together with all their household. When they were converted, they desire that their whole household should also be saved (Acts 16:31; Acts 11:14). In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living radiant faith. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are by word and example first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1601-1666)
For More Information Please Contact the Parish Office at 636-629-0315.