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The Sacrament of Matrimony
“He said, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)
Jesus reaffirms the original meaning of marriage as uniting a man and a woman for their whole lives. He elevates marriage to be a sacrament. The love of the Christian husband and wife teaches us of the love of Jesus for His Church. St. Paul expresses this teaching on Christian marriage “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
It is very significant that Jesus was present at the wedding feast at Cana (cf. John 2), yet ultimately He reveals the meaning of marriage most profoundly as He suffers and dies on the Cross. In this way, He shows the depth of His love for His bride, the Church.
Regarding Matrimony, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the following:
- The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament. (#1660)
- The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life. (#1661)
- Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. (#1662)
- Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its “supreme gift,” the child. (#1664)