This page gives a summary of the Catholic Church’s teaching on the sacrament of marriage.
Marriage is a Sacrament
We say that Marriage is a Sacrament. This means that it is an action of Jesus Christ in the Church. The sacraments are ritual signs which give grace to the person who receives them.
At your marriage, you will exchange vows with each other. You will make solemn promises that are binding for the whole of your life together. This exchange of vows is a sign of the work of Jesus Christ who joins you in the unbreakable bond of marriage. Notice that you yourselves are the ministers of the marriage. You give the sacrament to each other. The priest is there to conduct the service according to the rite of the Church, to witness your marriage and to bless you.
The Purposes of Marriage
The Catholic Church teaches that the purposes of marriage are for the procreation and upbringing of children and for the mutual welfare and support of the couple.
The procreation and upbringing of children
This is what makes married love different from any other love. The Church teaches that the use of sex should be reserved to marriage so that children can be brought up in a stable home where the parents are committed to them and to each other.
The mutual welfare and support of the couple
The companionship involved in Marriage cannot be achieved outside of Marriage. The unconditional lifelong commitment made in Marriage makes it quite different from just living together. It is important to realise this and to be well prepared for it.
Marriage will not be the solution if a relationship is in trouble. Experience and research show that it is more likely to hasten the breakdown of the relationship.
The Properties of Marriage
The unity of Marriage
Marriage is between one man and one wife. It is necessary to be aware of the kinds of relationship that are incompatible with marriage. It is not just a question of adultery. A husband and wife have a legitimate claim on each other’s time, attention and affection. This does not always happen automatically and may require self-control and determination to keep the promises made on the Wedding day.
The indissolubility of marriage (“till death do us part”)
This is well-known and great anguish is caused when Marriages break up. Again, it shows Marriage to be very different from simply living together. The vows, once made, cannot be made to another person while both partners are still alive.
We need not be too gloomy about divorce. Even if 1 in 3 marriages break up, that means that 2 in 3 stay together! And many Marriages that break up are ill-considered and ill-prepared. By preparing well for your Marriage, you lay the foundations for a happy life together. In the parish, we often have the joy of celebrating the anniversaries of people who have been married for 25 or 40 years or more. They are normal people who have lived faithfully together though the ups and downs of married life.
How to arrange your wedding at St. Joseph’s
First of all contact Father Neil to arrange an appointment and fix a date for your wedding. Father Neil will explain the various documentary procedures that need to be gone through both for the civil and the religious preparation for your marriage. These are usually all straightforward and Father Neil will take care of them.
The cost of the marriage mainly depends on the couple, not the Church. There is a standard fee for the registration of the marriage (the same as for a Register Office marriage) and couples normally make a donation to the Church. Please contact Father Neil for further details.
If desired, a quiet wedding in the Church can be arranged at very little expense. The minimum required is for the couple to make the vows in the prescribed form, the priest to solemnise the wedding, and two adults to act as witnesses.
From the point of view of the Church, Father will need to be sure of the following:
Neither of you has been married before, either in a civil or religious ceremony.
You understand that marriage is an intimate relationship for your mutual support and for the procreation and upbringing of children.
That you are entering into marriage without any kind of pressure from anyone and that you wish to give you free consent to a Christian marriage.
If a Catholic wishes to marry a non-Catholic, the parish priest or the Bishop will give permission provided that the Catholic party resolves to keep the faith, and to have any children of the marriage baptised and brought up in the practice of the Catholic faith.
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