For the last five weeks, I have written about the Sacrament of God’s mercy, Penance or Reconciliation. Prior to that I had given some thoughts on the Sacraments of Baptism, Holy Eucharist and Confirmation. Now, I continue this series on the sacraments with that of Matrimony.
At the beginning of the Bible we read: "...God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them, saying: "Be fertile and multiply..." (Genesis 1:27-28) Here God instituted marriage. Later on, Jesus Christ elevated it to a sacrament at the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:1-10). Baptized Catholics, who worthily enter into a properly conducted marriage ceremony, receive a special grace which enables them to love and to be faithful to one another. This grace also gives them the strength and power to bear the difficulties that might come along.
The marriage is only for male and female together. It cannot be otherwise; we need only read the Bible. Once the Catholic is married before a bishop, priest or deacon, the marriage can not be dissolved.
Some of the prerequisites necessary for a Catholic marriage to be valid are the following. First, there must be freedom, that is, no person or circumstance can force one into the marriage contract. Secondly, the couple must be capable of marital relations. Next, each must be of age, mature enough to make a life long commitment. They must believe in the permanency of marriage and also commit themselves to be exclusively faithful only to each other for as long as they both live. Thirdly, the bride and groom must be open to life, which means willing to accept children if God so grants it. Moreover, they must be psychologically capable; one may not be so impaired as to not be able to make such a serious commitment.
A marriage can take place in the Catholic Church between a Catholic and a non-Catholic. The differences in faith must not be a obstacle for either. They both promise to see that the children are baptized and raised in the Catholic faith.
It takes two to make a marriage happy and successful. No one should take the marriage commitment lightly. It is a lived commitment, meaning that the husband and wife are serious about each moment of each day. It takes an upright character to do this. Each has to remember the other person. Each has to remember God and what they promised before His altar. He is always with them with His help and love.