The Sacrament of Marriage, or Holy Matrimony, is a public sign that one gives oneself totally to this other person. It is also a public statement about God: the loving union of husband and wife speaks of family values and also God's values.
The Gift of Love
Many people ask the difference between a civil marriage as provided by a justice of the peace and a sacramental marriage we receive within the Church. As Catholic couples, we receive both.
We receive the legal benefits of marriage as provided by our Federal and State governments through the signing of our marriage license at the town hall. This contract guarantees our ability to be considered as a legally respected union, especially concerning taxes , retirement benefits, and other worldly concerns.
We form a covenant as lifelong husband and wife within the Catholic rite of Marriage. Through this we receive the Sacramental gifts of love endowed by the Trinity; God's strength and perseverance, the Holy Spirit's never-ending source of inspiration, hope and faith, and Christ's gift of forgiveness, compassion and love.
Christ IS Present
The power of the Sacrament of Marriage is the core of our families and extends beyond-into our parishes and communities.
We are called to share this strength.
If we want our children to be kind, honest and faithful-we ourselves must be kind, honest and faithful. If we want our communities to be supportive, generous and welcoming- we ourselves must be supportive, generous and welcoming. Marriage provides us the path to share these virtues.
The Sacrament of Marriage is alive within us as spouses- and as the children of our parents. It is the blessings of this Sacrament that we therefore are called to go forward and share with others.
A Daily Decision
The Sacrament of Marriage should not be confused with a "Sacrament of Wedding." In other words, while we receive blessings upon our union through a priest on our wedding day, this event is not the sacrament.
The Sacrament of Marriage is a gift that each member of a marriage bestows upon their partner each day. It is a daily devotion that allows God's love to be reflected through us and nourish our growth. It is not something the priest gives us-it is something we must do ourselves.
The Catholic wedding is guided by a priest or deacon to publicly recognize and honor the start of this daily decision to find and share love.
Vatican II clarified that marriages must grow, showing us that this Sacrament is alive and not just a one day event. As the months and years pass, it is precisely because we have asked God to bless us with the Sacrament of Marriage that we have the reserve of strength, the well of hope, the grace to forgive and the willingness fo share a smile.
The gift of the Sacrament is alive within you, is ready to be called upon, is ready to be shared, is ready to strengthen, and is ready to comfort.