SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized. (CIC 1055) 

Engaged couples must contact the rectory to schedule an initial meeting with Father no less than six months before their scheduled wedding date, but one year or more is preferable. Couples will participate in a diocesan marriage preparation program and complete FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study), an online inventory of each partner’s“skill set”and “ill set,” and will discuss these matters with Father in the course of their meetings with him.

“Love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter– appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and one soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values.” (St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 19; quoted in CCC 1643)

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“The Church passes by way of the family,” said Pope St. John Paul II. The family is the fundamental building block of society, of the Church at large and our parishes at small. The love of husband and wife, expressed and fortified by children, is both our “social security” and our “ecclesial security.” Jesus Himself is our security par excellence, but we can experience His security more…securely…within the context of a vibrant family—for which reason the family is often called “the domestic Church.”

We best equip ourselves to forge a family of our own by learning and practicing virtues. Two basic virtues are chastity and modesty. Chastity is “the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being” (CCC 2337). Sacramental marriage enables human persons—fully engaging their reason and will, properly galvanized by emotions—to establish a complete and lifelong covenant that reflects God’s love for Israel, Christ’s for His Bride, the Church.

Spouses unite body and soul in the act of conjugal love, expressing and nurturing the total gift of self, holding nothing back. Among the vast variety of life ararngements out there, sacramental marriage alone can sustain a total, faithful, permanent, exclusive union that is open to new life. The Catholic Church is among a shrinking (but no less bold) few who insist that man and woman express the total gift of self through conjugal acts that are not closed off to new life by intention, chemicals, or devices. Note the comprehensive nature of this affirmation: extending it to “intention” demonstrates the totality of the gift, even as a corrupted intention, with fingers crossed, invites a deeper commitment from the spouses. “The struggle is real,” we say nowadays, and this in truly trivial matters; but fidelity to that struggle yields blessings in this life and the next.

Here’s the rub: Do we honestly believe in the next life and its impact on the decisions of this life? “Click here to find out.” “There’s no ‘link,’” you say? When the link—i.e. the marital bond—never was made, that’s the stuff of declarations of marital nullity. But you didn’t come here to read about annulments; you came for marriage. Of course, we want to celebrate the proper functioning of the marital relationship, properly situated within the divine-human relationship, of which it is an analogue. Just as in medicine, we can learn more about the proper function of a tissue or organ by way of the improper function. Learn now, and do everything in your power with God’s grace and others’ help to move forward in the best direction. Learn from your mistakes and repent of your sins: that’s the human way along the Divine Way!



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