Of all of the Sacraments, none has been, and more than likely will continue to be, more brutalized, disturbed, and augmented than the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. What was once done primarily in the Church is now done in the U.S. almost anywhere. From the beach to a roadside chapel to the courts. This means that the Church is called to ever more fully pronounce what the sacrament of Matrimony is. Is it simply a union between two people? Is it an attempt to be together for life? Is it a publicity stunt? Is it a financial decision reached for the benefit of two people and the children they may or may not have? Today the Church must affirm and exclaim with renewed vigor what the Sacrament of Marriage really means against a culture which doesn’t seem to be capable of answering the question.
Here are some commonly asked questions of the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church. These answers are gathered from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
- QUESTION: Who authored marriage? ANSWER: This is a very hot question in the world. Some say that marriage is a human practice made by humans for the survival of the human race. Lumen Gentium argues that “God himself is the author of marriage.” Furthermore, marriage is not a “purely human institution” (CCC 1603). What does this tell us? Marriage involves more than just a man and a woman making a commitment. It involves two people, their families, and their relationship with God.
- QUESTION: What is essential to marriage? ANSWER: The CCC plainly states: “unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage” (CCC 1664). Marriage is between a man and woman who are united (no polygamy, or swingers, affairs, etc.) throughout all of their lives (no divorce) and have a conjugal love open to life (no birth control, contraception, etc.).
- FOLLOW-UP Q: Why are these three qualities essential to marriage? ANSWER: Unity is essential as shown by Christ’s words: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Mt. 19:6). Christ exclaims that those married become one flesh (unity) and are not to be separated (indissoluble). Those married must also be open to life because in children they are given a special gift which is the marriage’s crowning glory (CCC 1652).
- QUESTION: What is the goal of the married couple? ANSWER: The CCC argues that marriage is by nature “ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (CCC 1601). This means that even if procreation is seemingly impossible despite openness to human life, the marriage is still valid. I have heard it said that before you marry someone you ought to ask yourself, “Will this person bring me to Christ?” This question essentially addresses the nature of the relationship being ordered toward the “good of the spouses” and the ultimate “good of the spouses” is eternal life in Heavenly Glory.
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a beautiful Sacrament in which two lives and families are changed forever. I encourage you to give your loved ones who are receiving the Sacrament of Marriage Catholic wedding gifts. Catholic wedding gifts will help your loved ones remember what is essential to their marriage and will help them toward their natural goals. Do you have any questions about the Sacrament of marriage? What Catholic wedding gifts do you wish you had received on your wedding day?