The Sacraments: Holy Matrimony
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
We have now completed the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist), the Sacraments of Healing (Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick), and will now move to the Sacraments of Service (Marriage, Holy Orders).
The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a covenant, which is more than a contract. The marriage covenant refers to the permanent union of a man and woman that love each other and God. As part of this sacrament, the couple makes a solemn promise, fortified by an oath, related to future action. That future action refers to things like – accepting children lovingly from God and raising them in the Catholic faith and vowing to “take your lawful husband/wife to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish until death do us part”. Seems a little daunting – doesn’t it? Committing our entire life to someone no matter what the future holds. We have no idea what’s in store!
Thankfully, through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, God gives us the graces we need to fulfill this covenant. Early on in this series of the sacraments – I mentioned that the sacraments are God’s way of providing us with the graces we need at various points throughout our lives, and marriage is no exception.
This sacrament is the imprint of God on the union of husband and wife – not on each as an individual. It is a predisposition to holiness placed on their souls by God on the day of their wedding. The graces received through Holy Matrimony provide the couple with remedies against the wounds of sin that can be prevalent in marriage – such as pettiness, anger, tension and infidelity to each other or to their duties.
A married couple can expect God to inspire them to know what they should understand and do in a particular situation and strengthen their will and give them the courage to carry it out. It also means that when they feel ill equipped to the task of the moment, they can expect new courage to be available to them. Having said this – as with all sacramental graces bestowed on us – we need to be open to receiving them. Husbands and wives must carefully cooperate with sacramental grace through prayer, frequenting the other Sacraments, and by constantly reminding themselves to depend upon God at the center of their marriage. Prayer can seem very personal, making it hard or sometimes awkward to pray together. When I work with engaged couples, I speak to the importance of learning how to pray as a couple, and also provide them with a prayer book that will support them in this endeavor.
As we all know, life is a journey and a daily struggle. The love of Christ accompanies us on this road and aids us by renewing our strength every day. Daily, a husband dedicates himself generously to the good of his wife, and she dedicates herself daily to his good. This generosity is an expression of the intimate union between themselves, and it shows itself in their daily sacrifices. Above all, this generous love shows itself in their ability to forgive one another. Faithfulness to the marital commitment is one of those aspect of sacramental marriage most difficult for our current culture to understand. For those who are called to the vocation of marriage, let’s work to be an example to the world that a faithful and enduring love is possible.
Here are some commonly asked questions about Holy Matrimony
If we were married outside the church, is it possible to obtain a sacramental marriage?
Yes! This is called a Convalidation. A Convalidation is making your civil marriage a sacramental marriage. Oftentimes this is referred to as having your marriage blessed. A Convalidation ceremony comes from the Order of Celebrating Matrimony Rite Book.
There is some paperwork involved and the process is quite easy. The following paperwork needs to be completed or provided.
- Complete a Prenuptial Investigation – This verifies that there is not a canonical impediment from marrying in the Church
- Provide current Baptismal and Confirmation Certificates (must be dated within six-months of Convalidation)
- Two witness affidavits completed on your behalf, parents are the preferred witnesses, this confirms your freedom to marry in the Church
- A copy of your civil marriage certificate
What preparation is required to get married in the Catholic Church?
Because Holy Matrimony is a sacrament, the Catholic Church wants couples to be well-prepared. We typically require at least 6 months to complete the preparation process which will help couples develop a better understanding of the sacrament; to evaluate and deepen their readiness to live married life, and to gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple. At Our Lady of the Wayside, this preparation includes:
Prenuptial Investigation – A meeting with the Priest or Deacon to discuss the intent of the sacrament???
Pre-Cana – Typically a day-long session that helps the couple understand more about the sacrament of marriage, discuss, and align on the commitment and help prepare them for married life.
FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory – FOCCUS stands for “Facilitate Open, Couple, Communication, Understanding and Study. This program was founded on the principle that communication and problem solving are the keys to a successful marriage. Each person individually answers a list of questions, and then trained FOCCUS facilitators within our parish set up time with each couple to review their answers – where they are/are not aligned so they understand areas of their relationship that will continue to require discussion.
Why can’t I have a Catholic wedding ceremony outside?
Marriage is a sacrament of vocation that is a serious and sacred calling. Any setting outside of a church would not be conducive to the seriousness and sacredness of the sacrament.
All the sacraments are required to be celebrated in a church unless there is a real necessity that dictates otherwise (except for anointing of the sick, which out of necessity is almost always outside of a church).
This is the seventh installment in a series of articles about the Seven Sacraments, contributed by Deacon Peter LeTourneau, Director of Parish Ministry and Evangelization at Our Lady of the Wayside Parish. Please feel free to reach out to Deacon Peter with questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.Tags: #catholic, #deaconpeterletourneau, #holymatrimony, #marriage, #olwparish, #peterletourneau, #sacraments, #thesacraments
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