Holy Matrimony is the sacrament by which a baptized man and woman bind themselves to live together as husband and wife for their whole life, for the propagation of the human race, and for mutual loving support.
The Sacrament of Marriage celebrates and sanctifies the mutual love and commitment of two people who choose to bond themselfes together in a convenant that is expressive of God's love for all humanity and of Christ's love for the church.
A church wedding for the Catholic couple is more than a location of choice, by marrying in the church, the couple commits themselves to the faith community.
The marriage ritual includes the couple's affirmation of their freedom, their willingness to have children, their commitment to bringing their children up in the Catholic Church.
Each catholic marriage has two essential parts:
- the ratum is the rite at the church that binds the couple in commitment. It is the public sacramental aspects of the marriage.
- consummatum seals the covenant with the physical act of union.
A matrimony blessed by the Catholic Church
Nicolas Poussin, 1642
The sacrament of marriage gives grace to the couple so they can live together, support each other and raise children. Jesus Christ becomes a part of this new union between man and women and fortifies their efforts to walk through life together, growing in mutual understanding, love, and faith.
Man and woman administer the sacrament to each other by giving their consent. They make vows to each other that they will live together helping each other in good times and bad times, in health and sickness till the end of their lives. Then, the Church through her minister, a priest or deacon, blesses the union.
Ordinarily, the sacrament of marriage takes place between two Catholics. Nevertheless a Catholic party can validly marry a Christian non-Catholic or a non-baptized person. In these cases, however, a Catholic party has to obtain a special permission from the Church authority called dispensation.
With the respect to the Church, a marriage validly contracted and consummated is dissolved only through the death of one of the partners. Divorce before the civil authority does not dissolve a marriage. However, the catholic marriage, for particular reasons, can be declared as non-existing form the beginning. This is called annulment. Once annulment is pronounced by the authority of the church, the involved parties are free to marry again in the Church.