For Catholics, the sacrament of marriage is sacred; a public sign that one gives oneself totally to the other person – for life. It is also a public statement about God’s values because the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values that are based on Jesus’ eternal love for his bride – the Church.
How marriage evolved as a sacrament
Marriage in the early church was understood as an agreement, contract, or covenant that was arranged between two families; where our more modern notion of romance rarely influenced the choice of a spouse. The fathers of the bride and groom mutually agreed upon the union, determined the gifts that would be exchanged and even presided over the ceremony.
In the culture of the first century in the East, marriage was understood as a kind of partnership and each partner had specific duties and responsibilities that he or she was expected to fulfill.
Roman law emphasized that marriage was by consent of the two people concerned, but this clashed with the Germanic law which upheld parental consent as validity of a marriage. As a result of the clash of these major systems, questions and difficulties invariably arose.
At that time, the Church – formed by the people of the Roman Empire, and the people of migrating tribes, became the point of contact. Although there may well have been only a simple and primitive theology of marriage in place, down the centuries, a growing set of customs and laws were being formed which have now led to a well-developed canonical system.
Closer to our times, the Second Vatican Council dramatically refocused the understanding of marriage from a sort of legal contract to that of a sacrament that is solidly rooted in Scripture, sealed as it were, by Jesus’ own words in the Gospels of Matthew (5:31-32), Mark (10:6-9) and Luke (16:18), “But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.’ (…) Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
That’s why, for the Church, marriage is more about relationship than it is about property, rights, and responsibilities. Marriage is understood as a gift from God, a graced moment in the lives of two people with a need to ground their relationship in Gospel values and Church teachings. It is a sacrament because it is a visible sign of love between Christ and His Church and because it is a sacred pledge of fidelity between a man and a woman.
Did you know?
To understand more about this sacred sacrament and the process at OLHC, please call the Parish Office on 9704 7935.
Why do we have to have a Catholic wedding? Why does it take so long to get married in the Church? Why does the Church insist we have children? Here’s BustedHalo.com’s fantastic introduction to the sacrament of marriage.
Fr. Steven Bell, CSP, answers more questions about getting married in the Catholic Church: Can we have a destination wedding? What kind of music can we use? What if we’re already living together? What if we’re divorced? These questions and more are answered in this video.
Here’s a video for Husbands & Fathers. Fr Ripperger speaks in a marriage conference to men on what it means to be a Christian man, a father and a husband.
Here’s a video for Wives & Mothers. Fr Ripperger speaks in a marriage conference to women on what it means to be a Christian woman, a mother and a wife.
Jason Evert (author of “How to find your soulmate without losing your soul”) gives us a very interesting talk titled, “How to Save Your Marriage… Before You Meet Your Spouse“. His talk was sponsored by the Department of Student Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville.