I welcome you back to our usual Monday teachings on the Catholic faith. Until our break, we had discussed 6 of the 7 Sacraments in the Church. We shall, from today, discuss the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We shall begin with a general overview and address topical issues concerning this Sacrament in subsequent discussions.
A Summary of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony?
Matrimony is the sacrament by which a baptized man and a baptized woman bind themselves for life in a lawful marriage and receive the grace to discharge their duties.
And God created man to his own image; to the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth.”(Genesis 1:27-28)
The chief duties of husband and wife in the married state are to be faithful to each other, and to provide in every way for the welfare of the children God may give them.
“Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is becoming in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter towards them.”(Colossians 3:18-19)
The bond of the Sacrament of Matrimony lasts until the death of husband or wife because Christ has said: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”
By the unity of the sacrament of Matrimony is meant that the husband cannot during the life of his wife have another wife, nor the wife during the life of her husband have another husband.
Every true marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman is a sacrament because Christ Himself raised every marriage of this kind to the dignity of a sacrament.
The laws of the Church require a Catholic to be married in the presence of the parish priest, or the bishop of the diocese, or a priest delegated by either of them, and before two witnesses. A deacon may also be delegated for this.
The chief effects of the sacrament of Matrimony are:
1. an increase of sanctifying grace;
2. the special help of God for husband and wife to love each other faithfully, to bear with each other’s faults, and to bring up their children properly.
How can Catholics prepare for a holy and happy marriage?
1. pray that God may direct their choice;
2. seek the advice of their parents and confessors;
3. third practice the virtues, especially chastity;
4. frequently receive the sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist.
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.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has these to say about the most essential part of the celebration – the matrimonial consent!
1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; “to be free” means:
~ not being under constraint;
~ not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.
1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that “makes the marriage.” If consent is lacking there is no marriage.
1627 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.”
1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. No human power can substitute for this consent. If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.
Can a Catholic marry a non-Catholic?
Can a Catholic divorce and remarry?
In the coming weeks, we shall be looking at these and other topical and thorny issues concerning this noble Sacrament and how to go about them, whether as Catholics or non Catholics.
God bless you.
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