Marriage - The institution of marriage was officially recognized as one of the sacraments of the Church at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215. Prior to this time, it had always been considered a religious reality distinctly different from non-Christian forms of marriage. St. Paul referred to marriage as a mysterion, or great mystery. Marriage was referred to by some of the early Christians writers, especially St. Augustine, as a sacrament, but the term had various meanings, all related to St. Paul's reference. Theologically, it is considered a sacrament because it images the union of Christ and His Church.
Unlike the other sacraments, marriage itself was not instituted by Christ. Since it predated Christianity, the Church teaches that Christ raised or elevated marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. This is so because He recognized something fundamentally good in the marital institution. This good is grounded in the complementary relationship of the man and the woman. In the creation account of the Book of Genesis, the male is created first but is incomplete. Man, in the generic sense, is completed with the creation of the female.
The scriptural account states that the male could not find
another creature that was fit to be his partner. This account goes on to
state that the man and woman become one flesh. The "one flesh" union is a
covenantal formula that refers not to the physical joining of the spouses
but to the total human joining that comes about in marriage. This total
relationship entails the giving of one spouse to the other for the purpose
of aiding in the well-being of each other. This highest form of gift
requires that the spouses be totally faithful to each other, a fidelity
that is grounded in a special kind of love, referred to by St. Augustine
as conjugal charity.
As a sacrament, it is a means of encountering Christ in a special way and of bringing about the salvation of the spouses. The theology of Vatican II and the revised Code refer to marriage as a vocation (Canon 226.1), through which married persons work for the building up of the Body of Christ in a special way.
Marriage as a commitment or act is acknowledged in both civil society and law, and Church society and law. This is primarily because of the role it plays in the welfare of Church and society. For this reason, both secular and religious institutions have enacted laws for the regulation of marriage. These laws treat of requirements for marriage as well as standards for the way spouses relate to and treat each other.
Closely related to the effect of marriage on the community is its fundamental purpose. For the sacrament, the purpose is twofold: marriage by its nature is ordered to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children (Canon 1055). Parents are instrumental not just in the physical procreation of children but are directly responsible for their natural and Christian nurture. This includes not simply their physical and material well-being but their training as Christians. The essential source of this training is the participation of the children in the total love relationship of the husband and wife for each other. By example, they learn the meaning of Christian charity and love of God.
The Catholic concept of Christian marriage involves much more than holding the wedding in church. What makes a marriage Christian isn't a church blessing added on to a legal contract. Christian marriage is a personal relationship of life-giving love in which two people make the love of Christ present to each other and become a sign of the love of Christ to those around them.
It is a wonderful gift for a parish community to celebrate the love of a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony. In ministering to the engaged couple and in celebrating their marriage, the Church not only expresses its love and support for the couple, but also praises the value of their married life as a help to each other to attain holiness. It emphasizes that marriage is a blessing for society and the Church. As Catholics who celebrate Marriage as a sacrament, we believe that this encounter with the risen Christ is an on-going element of a sacramental union. Spiritual preparation for marriage is an important element of the preparation time. We encourage those preparing for marriage to be attentive to the practice of their faith life in all its aspects: participating in the Eucharist at Mass, and other sacramental celebrations: prayer, and living the Gospel message of Jesus in their daily lives.
INITIAL STEPS BY THE COUPLE
Catholic adults who wish to be married in the Church at a specific parish often believe that they are registered through their parents. Anyone over the age of 21, who is not in school, and not dependent upon their parents, should be independently registered.
Couples are to initiate contact with the parish at least six months prior to their proposed wedding date. A wedding date is not set until a meeting with the priest or pastoral staff member occurs.
Marriage preparation is a requirement of all engaged couples that wish to get married in the Catholic Church. This will involve meetings with the priest, and a pre-marriage assessment instrument will also be used as part of the preparation process.
Attendance at a Marriage Preparation Program approved by the Diocese is also required.
For additional information or questions, please contact the Parish Office at 207.324.2420