Saturday, October 29, 2011

An Outline of the Sacrament of Matrimony

Matrimony – as it was “in the beginning” and the blessing of Jesus at Cana
  • a Sacrament is (i) an outward visible sign (ii) instituted by Christ (iii) to convey the invisible reality of sacramental and sanctifying grace, so that we might be redeemed and sanctified

  • the “outward sign” is composed of the matter (e.g. water) and form (words) together with the right and proper intention of the minister, that is, celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church

  • Marriage is the primordial sacrament – "All the sacraments of the new covenant find in a certain sense their prototype in marriage" – Pope John Paul II
    • the entirety of Salvation History can be seen as a kind of spousal relationship between God and mankind
  • at the Creation, God said that it is not good for Man to be alone

  • Man, male and female, is not merely a social creature, but a spousal creature made in the image of the Triune God, who is a loving communion of persons in one being

  • God made us to love and be loved and, in creating man and woman for each other, He gave us the ability to share in His creative power, telling us to be fruitful and multiply

  • in Matrimony, a man and woman are two made one in a communion of persons by Christ through the power of the Spirit of Love, and spouses should love each other as Christ loves the Church

  • the Sacrament is conferred upon the giving of matrimonial consent, that is, when a man and a woman manifest the will to give themselves to each other irrevocably in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love

  • such matrimonial consent is sealed by God, and the Sacrament establishes a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses

  • this communion of persons in marriage is not only unitive, such that it is indissoluble, but fruitful and procreative, just as the love between Christ and His Bride, the Church, is unitive, fruitful, and procreative

  • a special grace is conferred to give the husband and wife the ability to maintain their union in accord with the original divine plan, even in the face of threats to the unity and fruitfulness of marriage

  • the ministers of Matrimony are the man and woman to be married, with the priest receiving that consent in the name of the Church and giving her blessing to the union

  • Canon Law and Marriage

    The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility. From a valid marriage there arises between the spouses a bond which by its nature is perpetual and exclusive. Moreover, a special sacrament strengthens and, as it were, consecrates the spouses in a Christian marriage for the duties and dignity of their state. The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by divine law and canon law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent. The competence of civil authority concerns merely civil effects of a sacramental marriage. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage. (Can. 1055-57, 1059; Can. 1134)

    Pursuant canon law, before a marriage is celebrated, it must be evident that nothing stands in the way of its valid and licit celebration. Thus, pastors should ensure that the Christian faithful are instructed about the meaning of Christian marriage and about the function of Christian spouses and parents, and there should be personal preparation prior to entering marriage, which disposes the spouses to the holiness and duties of their new state. (Can. 1063, 1066)

    For matrimonial consent to exist, the contracting parties must be at least not ignorant that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman ordered to the procreation of offspring by means of some sexual cooperation. However, error concerning the unity or indissolubility or sacramental dignity of marriage does not vitiate matrimonial consent provided that such error does not determine the will. The internal consent of the mind is presumed to conform to the words and signs used in celebrating the marriage. A marriage which was initially invalid because of a defect of consent is convalidated if the party who did not consent later gives valid consent, provided that the consent given by the other party perseveres. The renewal of consent must be a new act of the will concerning the marriage which the renewing party knows or thinks was null from the beginning. (Can. 1096, 1099, 1101; Can. 1157, 1159)

    Because valid consent is essential to the making of a marriage, a person is deemed to lack the capacity to contract marriage if he or she lacks the sufficient use of reason, is not able to assume the essential obligations of marriage for causes of a psychic nature, or suffers from a grave defect of discretion of judgment concerning the essential matrimonial rights and duties mutually to be handed over and accepted. Also, the marriage contract is invalid when one is deceived by malice, perpetrated to obtain consent, concerning some quality of the other partner which by its very nature can gravely disturb the partnership of conjugal life, or if it is entered into because of force or grave fear from without, even if unintentionally inflicted, so that a person is compelled to choose marriage in order to be free from it. (Can. 1095, 1098, 1103)

    With certain exceptions, marriages are valid under canon law only when contracted before the local ordinary, pastor, or a priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who assist, and before two witnesses. The person who assists at a marriage is understood to be only that person who is present, asks for the manifestation of the consent of the contracting parties, and receives it in the name of the Church. (Can. 1108)


    Serendipity said...

    ser/en/dip/it/y (noun)

    1. Preparing for an upcoming RCIA lesson on Matrimony and finding all this good stuff here!

    Mark said...

    Happy to be of assistance.

    Not to overwhelm you with a mountain of stuff, but you might also be interested in some of the earlier posts here on marriage and family, as well as material over at our sister site Vita Nostra in Ecclesia (both original material and excerpts from Church documents, etc.), including posts on --

    marriage and family,
    human sexuality and chastity, and
    theology of the body