Matrimony: Sacrament of Life-giving Oneness
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1601-1666
In all civilizations people have sensed a mysterious sacredness about the union of man and woman. There has always been a vague realization that the deep longing for oneness with “the other” is life-giving and that is a longing for oneness with the source of all life. Therefore, religious rituals and codes of behavior have always been related to marriage.
Jesus made marriage the Sacrament of Matrimony, giving matrimony a new dimension to the Christian vocation that begins in baptism.
In matrimony, a husband and wife are called to love each other in a very practical way: by serving each other’s most personal needs; by working seriously at communicating their personal thoughts and feelings to each other so their oneness is always alive and growing. This love is explicitly and beautifully sexual. As Vatican II points out, “Married love is uniquely expressed and perfected by the exercise of the acts proper to marriage (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, 49).”
In matrimony, a couple is also called to live their sacrament for others. By their obvious closeness, a couple affects the lives of others with “something special” – the love of Christ in our midst. They reveal Christ’s love and make it contagious to their children and to all who encounter them. A major purpose, and natural outcome, of matrimony is the begetting of new life – children. But a couple’s love also gives life – the life of Christ’s Spirit – to other people.
A couple does not live a life of love because they happen to be compatible. They do it consciously and deliberately because it is their vocation and because matrimony is called “a great mystery…in reference to Christ and the Church (Ephesians 5:32).”
Matrimony is much more than a private arrangement between two people. It is a sacramental vocation in and for the Church. It is a medium through which Christ reveals and deepens the mystery of his oneness with us.
In the Catholic Church, a couple’s sacramental union is exclusive (one man with one woman) and indissoluble (till death do us part). These are concrete ways in which the mysterious oneness between husband and wife, Christ, and his Church, becomes reality.
The best thing parents can do for their children is to love each other. Similarly, one of the best things a couple can do for the Church and for the world is to strive for greater closeness.
Congratulations on your engagement! We rejoice that you are interested in celebrating your marriage in the Catholic Church, and that you are eager to make God and the Catholic faith an important part of your relationship.
Our marriage preparation program is designed to offer you resources and guidelines for the reverent and dignified celebration of the Rite of Matrimony as practiced by the Church. Download our Guide to Marriage Preparation to better understand our procedure and guidelines.
We encourage couples to start the process at least one (1) year before the desired date of the wedding. Schedule an initial meeting with a parish priest by contacting the parish office.
To learn more, call (973) 779-6200.