Holy Matrimony

Marriage is a practice common to all cultures in all ages. It is, therefore,
a natural institution, something common to all mankind. At its most basic
level, marriage is a union between a man and a woman for the purpose
of procreation and mutual support, or love. Each spouse in a marriage
gives up some rights over his or her life in exchange for rights over the
life of the other spouse.

While divorce has existed throughout history, it has been rare until
recent centuries, which indicates that, even in its natural form, marriage
is meant to be a lifelong union.

However, in the Catholic Church, marriage is more than a natural
institution; it was elevated by Christ Himself in His participation in the
wedding at Cana (John 2:1-11), to be one of the seven sacraments. A
marriage between two Christians, therefore, has a supernatural element
as well as a natural one. While few Christians outside of the Catholic
and Orthodox Churches regard marriage as a sacrament, the Catholic
Church insists that marriage between any two baptized Christians, as
long as it is entered into with the intention to contract a true marriage, is
a sacrament.

The spouses are the ministers of the sacrament of marriage because
the mark—the external sign—of the sacrament is not the wedding Mass
or anything the priest might do, but the marriage covenant itself. This
does not mean the wedding license that the couple receives from the
state, but the vows that each spouse makes to the other. As long as
each spouse intends to enter into a true marriage covenant, the
sacrament is performed.

The effect of the sacrament is an increase in sanctifying grace for the
spouses, a participation in the divine life of God Himself. This sanctifying
grace helps each spouse to help the other advance in holiness, and it
helps them together to cooperate in God's plan of redemption by raising
up children in the Faith.

In this way, sacramental marriage is more than a union of a man and a
woman; it is, in fact, a type and symbol of the divine union between
Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. As married
Christians, open to the creation of new life and committed to our mutual
salvation, we participate not only in God's creative act, but in the
redemptive act of Christ. --- www.About.com: Catholicism

Weddings at our parishes are beautiful and joyous celebrations of the
Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. It is important to understand that family
and friends participating in the solemnity of this great Sacrament affirm
their love and support for the new couple by a profound respect and
dignity during the Nuptial Mass.

Our Wedding Guidelines help couples and their families understand
what to expect when making a decision about holding their ceremony in
our Church. We ask that couples carefully read and consider all of our

PRE-CANA CLASSES:    What, why, when, & where