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 requirements.
Wedding Planning Book