The Church teaches that “God himself is the author of marriage.” The vocation to marry is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.” (CCC1603)
Who will deny that the union between a man and woman is what peopled the earth?
Who will deny that since the brain to mind transition, the miracle of human life is not the greatest gift a heterosexual couple may participate in with the Creator; and that the family is unquestionably the basic unit of society, the people who support and love each other, the people whose members can confide and trust in each other regardless of differences of opinion outside of their love. “The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. A man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, a woman does the same and cleaves to her husband, and they become one flesh. The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been “in the beginning”; “So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” (CCC1605 modified)
This is all well and good in a reasonably perfect world where love is predominant and understood not built simply on “feelings.” However, reasonable people, and especially religious oriented people know that the world we live in is far from perfect. “Every man and woman experiences evil around them and, yes, within themselves. This experience makes itself known in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and may be overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have universal characteristics.”(CCC1606 modified)
According to faith the disorders we notice so painfully does not necessarily stem from the “nature” of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations; their mutual attraction, the Creator’s own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work. (CCC1607)
Nevertheless, the order of God’s creation persists, although sometimes seriously disturbed by the sins of his creatures. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God, who in his infinite mercy never refuses them. Without some understanding of the living God among us and his involvement as the author of all life, men and woman cannot achieve the union for which they were created “in the beginning.” Men and woman who pledge themselves before God in what is called “holy” marriage are sacramentally bound to one another in love— by the love of God. (CCC 1608 modified)
In many ways today’s state of marriage is completely misunderstood by either ignorance or a complete psychologically generated concept of gender which dispenses with the normalcy of sexuality.
On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign – at his mother’s request during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus’ presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ’s presence. (CCC 1613)
In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning, permission given by Moses to divorce one’s wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts. The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” (CCC 1614)
Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant, (CCC 1617 modified)
Is it possible for today’s young couples to entirely comprehend this most basic understanding? probably not. The purposeful rejection of “sanctity” in marriage is not really a marriage to begin with. The secular state witnessing a marriage binds the couple together legally for all intents and purposes. The same state can dissolve a marriage under particular conditions with a legal divorce. If there are children, they are usually the victims of the couple’s desire to split. People “marry” five or six times. In many ways, depending on the individual, this is nothing more than a state issued license to cohabitate until one or the other has found the right “mate”.
At the invocation of the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and his Church.The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity.
The priest invites them to declare their consent:
Since it is your intention to enter the covenant of Holy Matrimony, join your right hands, and declare your consent before God and his Church.
They join their right hands.
The bridegroom says:
I, (Name), take you, (Name), to be my wife. I promise to be faithful to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.
The bride says:
I, (Name), take you, (Name), to be my husband. I promise to be faithful to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.
The “I do” following these promises is most likely the most important “I do” in most peoples lives.With the grace of God and strength of character, promises are meant to be kept.