Marriage has been viewed as a natural event and formal contract between a man and a woman in all cultures. But the Church understands it as sacrament when two baptized persons offer their consent to live together until death in exclusive conjugal love. Such a relationship is hailed a sacrament, for it is graced event based on the Scriptures. “Therefore, a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, 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 (Gen 2:18-25, Mt 19:6).

Two essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility. The love between the couples are so unified that there is no space in any way for another person. Adultery, polygamy, and polyandry go against unity. The marriage bond is indissoluble until one of the couples dies. God himself has determined it “what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder (Mt 19:8, Mt 19:6). Divorce goes against indissolubility. The Church cannot allow divorce against the divine rule. However, in certain incompatible lives, if grounded so, the Church declares certain marital relationships as null and void. That means, the Church declares that what appeared to be a marriage in fact was not a marriage due to certain defects in areas that constitute a real marriage. For example, mutual consent.

The ends of marriage include the good of the spouses, conjugal love and children. The ultimate good of the spouses is that they must reach heaven in and through the marital relationship. “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament (CCC 1601).

There is an important reason why marriage has a sacramental status. “Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life” (CCC 1660-1661).

The crucial element of marriage is the consent of the contracting parties to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. It takes place within the church and society. It is not just a private affair.  Therefore, it is fitting that its celebration be public, in the framework of a liturgical celebration, before the priest (or a witness authorized by the Church), the witnesses, and the assembly of the faithful (CCC 1663).

Living married life in the full sense is not easy. It requires grace. That is provided by the sacrament of marriage.

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