Marriage is not merely a contract, but a covenant bond between people–a giving of people to each other. “The marriage covenant refers to the relationship between the husband and wife, a permanent union of persons capable of knowing and loving each other and God.”1 It is a means “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”2 Man and woman were created for each other and so they might become intimately unified in body, soul, and spirit–“they are no longer two, but one flesh.”3 The grace that is conferred through this sacrament helps both to “attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.”4
The celebration of marriage is also a liturgical act, appropriately held in a public liturgy at church. Catholics are urged to celebrate their marriage within the Eucharistic Liturgy.”1 The relationship between husband and wife is symbolic of the relationship between Christ and His Church.5
For this sacramental covenant to be valid, both parties must be free to marry (not already married or not prohibited by natural law) and must do so with free consent.6
They must also be open to life created from their union. “A husband and wife express their committed love not only with words, but with the language of their bodies. That “body language”—what a husband and wife say to one another through the intimacy of sexual relations—speaks of total commitment and openness to a future together … Part of God’s gift to husband and wife is this ability in and through their love to cooperate with God’s creative power. Therefore, the mutual gift of fertility is an integral part of the bonding power of marital intercourse. That power to create a new life with God is at the heart of what spouses share with each other.”7
The Church understands the teachings of Christ, as preserved in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, to forbid artificial contraception because this interferes with the totality of giving of persons and the creativity of Jesus, who is present, as He is in all sacraments. Families can be planned and births spaced naturally, however, using Natural Family Planning. These resources provide more information:
Christ also taught that marriage is indissoluble.
“Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”8
Couples who are interested in marriage in the Catholic Church should contact the Parish of St. Ann church office at least 6 months in advance to prepare for this beautiful sacrament. (760) 375-2110