Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
Since the beginning of creation, marriage of husband and wife was made to be a sign of God's love for the world.
Marriage between a baptized man and a baptized woman is a Sacrament; meaning in a particular way, the sacrament of matrimony is a effective sign of Jesus' love for the Church. When we see the love of husband and wife in the sacrament of marriage, we see the love Jesus has for His Church, and the love of husband and wife become a channel through which God pours His love into the world.
In the sacrament of marriage, the husband and wife encounter Jesus in each other, and the world encounters Jesus when they encounter the couple.
It's important to remember that Marriage is a call from God. Not everyone is called to marriage on earth, but everyone IS called to the heavenly marriage with God, the spouse of our souls.
PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE Please allow 9 months for preparation. A meeting with the Priest begins this process.
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Sacrament of Matrimony Basics
Nowhere is the “family connection” so evident as in the sacrament of matrimony. For it is matrimony that makes new Christian homes, which tradition calls “domestic churches.” 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 fulfill the duties of the married state.
The Bible presents marriage as the primary metaphor for the union of God and His people, [as the primary metaphor for] Christ and the Church. This theme recurs in the Old Testament, and it finds its fullest expression in the fifth chapter of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians: “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh…This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that is refers to Christ and the Church” (Eph 5:31-32). Paul’s word for mystery, mysterion, is the early Church’s preferred term for “sacrament”; in fact, in this passage, it was translated into Latin as sacramentum.
Christ has married the Church, indissolubly and eternally. He has given His own life for her life, and that makes matrimony a sacrament. Prior to the coming of Christ, marriage was a natural phenomenon and even a covenant union; but it became a sacrament of grace only when Christ established a new family order in His own flesh and blood with the Church as his bride and very body (for the two become “one flesh”).
Thus, every sacramental marriage becomes, as it were, a homily, a message, an icon of the union between Christ and His Church.
The free consent of a man and woman is what constitutes the sacrament. As soon as the couple expresses and exchanges consent, they have ratified their covenant. But the sacrament of matrimony becomes purely and absolutely indissoluble only when that marriage is consummated through the act of marriage; that is, through sexual intercourse.
Matrimony is ratified by vows and consummated by sexual union. Therefore, the ministers of the sacrament of marriage are the husband and wife. Ordinarily, for validity, a priest or deacon will preside at the exchange of vows and “witness” on behalf of the church.
Christ made marriage a sacrament of His total, unbreakable, and abundantly fruitful communion with the Church. That is why the Church has always forbidden divorce, polygamy, birth control, sodomy, and other practices that destroy matrimony’s power to signify God's love (CCC 2360-2400).
What are the effects of the sacrament? Like all sacraments, matrimony brings about an increase in sanctifying grace; that is, even apart from your spouse, you are joined closer to Jesus Christ. You receive a greater fullness of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1624). You mature as a child of God. Then you receive a special sacramental grace that enables you to love with a divine love, to love as Christ loves, to forgive as Christ forgives. For, unless a couple is willing to live like Him, love like Him, and forgive like Him, their marriage will not work (CCC 1609). (From Scott Hahn's Book, Swear to God)