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<<  The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church Today on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.


  • The Catechism Today
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This is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on this issue:


1601 "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." (Code of Canon Law, canon 1055 § 1; cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1)

I. Marriage in God's Plan

1602 Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a vision of "the wedding-feast of the Lamb." (Revelation 19:7, 9;
cf. Genesis 1:26-27)
Scripture speaks throughout of marriage and its "mystery," its institution and the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal "in the Lord" in the New Covenant of Christ and the Church. (1 Corinthians 7:39; cf. Ephesians 5:31-32)


Marriage in the order of creation

1603 "The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . . . God himself is the author of marriage." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1) The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator. Marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes. These differences should not cause us to forget its common and permanent characteristics. Although the dignity of this institution is not transparent everywhere with the same clarity, (cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 47 § 2) some sense of the greatness of the matrimonial union exists in all cultures. "The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 47 § 1)

1604 God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. (cf. Genesis 1:27; 1 John 4:8, 16) Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: "And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'" (Genesis 1:28; cf. 1:31)

1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: "It is not good that the man should be alone." (Genesis 2:18) The woman, "flesh of his flesh," his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a "helpmate"; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. (Genesis 2:18-25) "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Genesis 2:24) 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." (Matthew 19:6)

Marriage under the regime of sin

1606 Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. This disorder can manifest itself more or less acutely, and can be more or less overcome according to the circumstances of cultures, eras, and individuals, but it does seem to have a universal character.

1607 According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman. Their relations were distorted by mutual recriminations; (cf. Genesis 3:12) their mutual attraction, the Creator's own gift, changed into a relationship of domination and lust; (Genesis 2:22; 3:16b) and the beautiful vocation of man and woman to be fruitful, multiply, and subdue the earth was burdened by the pain of childbirth and the toil of work. (Genesis 1:28; 3:16-19)

1608 Nevertheless, the order of creation persists, though seriously disturbed. To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. (Genesis 3:21) Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them "in the beginning."

Marriage under the pedagogy of the Law

1609 In his mercy God has not forsaken sinful man. The punishments consequent upon sin, "pain in childbearing" and toil "in the sweat of your brow," (Genesis 3:16, 19) also embody remedies that limit the damaging effects of sin. After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one's own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to

1610 Moral conscience concerning the unity and indissolubility of marriage developed under the pedagogy of the old law. In the Old Testament the polygamy of patriarchs and kings is not yet explicitly rejected. Nevertheless, the law given to Moses aims at protecting the wife from arbitrary domination by the husband, even though according to the Lord's words it still carries traces of man's "hardness of heart" which was the reason Moses permitted men to divorce their wives. (cf. Matthew 19:8; Deuteronomy 24:1)

1611 Seeing God's covenant with Israel in the image of exclusive and faithful married love, the prophets prepared the Chosen People's conscience for a deepened understanding of the unity and indissolubility of marriage. (cf. Hosea 1-3; Isaiah 54; 62; Jeremiah 2-3; 31; Ezekiel 16; 23; Malachi 2:13-17) The books of Ruth and Tobit bear moving witness to an elevated sense of marriage and to the fidelity and tenderness of spouses. Tradition has always seen in the Song of Solomon a unique expression of human love, insofar as it is a reflection of God's love - a love "strong as death" that "many waters cannot quench." (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)

Marriage in the Lord

1612 The nuptial covenant between God and his people Israel had prepared the way for the new and everlasting covenant in which the Son of God, by becoming incarnate and giving his life, has united to himself in a certain way all mankind saved by him, thus preparing for "the wedding-feast of the Lamb." (Revelation 19:7,9; cf. Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 22)

1613 On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign - at his mother's request - during a wedding feast. (John 2:1-11) The Church attaches great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence.

1614 In his preaching Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning: permission given by Moses to divorce one's wife was a concession to the hardness of hearts. (Matthew 19:8) The matrimonial union of man and woman is indissoluble: God himself has determined it "what therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder." (Matthew 19:6)

1615 This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy - heavier than the Law of Moses. (Mark 8:34; Matthew 11:29-30) By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. (Matthew 19:11) This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life.

1616 This is what the Apostle Paul makes clear when he says: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her," adding at once: "'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church." (Ephesians 5:25-26,31-32; cf. Genesis 2:24)

1617 The entire Christian life bears the mark of the spousal love of Christ and the Church. Already Baptism, the entry into the People of God, is a nuptial mystery; it is so to speak the nuptial bath. (Ephesians 5:25-26) which precedes the wedding feast, the Eucharist. Christian marriage in its turn becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church. Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant. (cf. Code of Canon Law, Can. 1055 § 2)


Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom


1618 Christ is the center of all Christian life. The bond with him takes precedence over all other bonds, familial or social. (cf. Luke 14:26; Mark 10:28-31) From the very beginning of the Church there have been men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, to be intent on the things of the Lord, to seek to please him, and to go out to meet the Bridegroom who is coming. (cf. Revelation 14:4; 1 Corinthians 7:32; Matthew 2:56) Christ himself has invited certain persons to follow him in this way of life, of which he remains the model:

"For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it." (Matthew 19:12)

1619 Virginity for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven is an unfolding of baptismal grace, a powerful sign of the supremacy of the bond with Christ and of the ardent expectation of his return, a sign which also recalls that marriage is a reality of this present age which is passing away. (cf. Mark 12:25; 1 Corinthians 7:31)


1620 Both the sacrament of Matrimony and virginity for the Kingdom of God come from the Lord himself. It is he who gives them meaning and grants them the grace which is indispensable for living them out in conformity with his will. (cf. Matthew 19:3-12) Esteem of virginity for the sake of the kingdom (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 42; Perfectae Caritatis 12; Optatam totius 10) and the Christian understanding of marriage are inseparable, and they reinforce each other:

Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.


(St. John Chrysostom, De virg. 10,1:PG 48,540; cf. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio 16)

II. The Celebration Of Marriage


1621 In the Latin Rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ. (cf. Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium 61) In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up. (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 6) It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but "one body" in Christ. (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17)


1622 "Inasmuch as it is a sacramental action of sanctification, the liturgical celebration of marriage . . . must be, per se, valid, worthy, and fruitful." (Familiaris Consortio 67) It is therefore appropriate for the bride and groom to prepare themselves for the celebration of their marriage by receiving the sacrament of penance.


1623 According to Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ's grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. In the tradition of the Eastern Churches, the priests (bishops or presbyters) are witnesses to the mutual consent given by the spouses, but for the validity of the sacrament their blessing is also necessary. (cf. Corpus Canonum Ecclisarum Orientalium, canon 817, 825)


1624 The various liturgies abound in prayers of blessing and epiclesis asking God's grace and blessing on the new couple, especially the bride. In the epiclesis of this sacrament the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church. (cf. Ephesians 5:32)


The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity.


III. Matrimonial Consent


1625 The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; "to be free" means:

  1. not being under constraint;
  2. not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.

1626 The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that "makes the marriage." (Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 1) If consent is lacking there is no marriage.


1627 The consent consists in a "human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other": "I take you to be my wife" - "I take you to be my husband." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1; Ordo Celebrandi Matrimonium 45; cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1057 § 2) This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two "becoming one flesh." (Genesis 2:24; cf. Matthew 10:8; Ephesians 5:31)


1628 The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. No human power can substitute for this consent. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1103, 1057 § 1) If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.


1629 For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed. In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1095-1107, 1071)


1630 The priest (or deacon) who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessing of the Church. The presence of the Church's minister (and also of the witnesses) visibly expresses the fact that marriage is an ecclesial reality.


1631 This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form. Several reasons converge to explain this requirement:
(cf. Council of Trent: DS 1813-1816; Code of Canon Law, canon 1108)

  1. Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church;
  2. Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children;
  3. Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is necessary (hence the obligation to have witnesses);
  4. The public character of the consent protects the "I do" once given and helps the spouses remain faithful to it.

1632 So that the "I do" of the spouses may be a free and responsible act and so that the marriage covenant may have solid and lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime importance.


The example and teaching given by parents and families remain the special form of this preparation.


The role of pastors and of the Christian community as the "family of God" is indispensable for the transmission of the human and Christian values of marriage and family, (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1063) and much more so in our era when many young people experience broken homes which no longer sufficiently assure this initiation:

It is imperative to give suitable and timely instruction to young people, above all in the heart of their own families, about the dignity of married love, its role and its exercise, so that, having learned the value of chastity, they will be able at a suitable age to engage in honorable courtship and enter upon a marriage of their own. (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 49 § 3)

Mixed marriages and disparity of cult


1633 In many countries the situation of a mixed marriage (marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic) often arises. It requires particular attention on the part of couples and their pastors. A case of marriage with disparity of cult (between a Catholic and a non-baptized person) requires even greater circumspection.


1634 Difference of confession between the spouses does not constitute an insurmountable obstacle for marriage, when they succeed in placing in common what they have received from their respective communities, and learn from each other the way in which each lives in fidelity to Christ. But the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated. They arise from the fact that the separation of Christians has not yet been overcome. The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.


1635 According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority. In case of disparity of cult an express dispensation from this impediment is required for the validity of the marriage. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1124, 1086) This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1125)


1636 Through ecumenical dialogue Christian communities in many regions have been able to put into effect a common pastoral practice for mixed marriages. Its task is to help such couples live out their particular situation in the light of faith, overcome the tensions between the couple's obligations to each other and towards their ecclesial communities, and encourage the flowering of what is common to them in faith and respect for what separates them.


1637 In marriages with disparity of cult the Catholic spouse has a particular task: "For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband." (1 Corinthians 7:14) It is a great joy for the Christian spouse and for the Church if this "consecration" should lead to the free conversion of the other spouse to the Christian faith. (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:16) Sincere married love, the humble and patient practice of the family virtues, and perseverance in prayer can prepare the non-believing spouse to accept the grace of conversion.


IV. The Effects Of The Sacrament Of Matrimony


1638 "From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament." (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1134)


The marriage bond


1639 The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself. (cf. Mark 10:9) From their covenant arises "an institution, confirmed by the divine law, . . . even in the eyes of society." The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God's covenant with man: "Authentic married love is caught up into divine love." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1 and 2)


1640 Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God's fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom. (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1141)


The grace of the sacrament of Matrimony


1641 "By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11 § 2) This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11 § 2; cf. Lumen Gentium 41)


1642 Christ is the source of this grace. "Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 2) Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ," (Ephesians 5:21; cf. Galatians 6:2) and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb:

How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father? . . . How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.


(Tertullian, Ad uxorem. 2,8,6-7:PL 1,1412-1413; cf. Familiaris Consortio 13)

V. The Goods And Requirements Of Conjugal Love


1643 "Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values." (Familiaris Consortio 13)


The unity and indissolubility of marriage


1644 The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Matthew 19:6; cf. Genesis 2:24) They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." (Familiaris Consortio 19) This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.


1645 "The unity of marriage, distinctly recognized by our Lord, is made clear in the equal personal dignity which must be accorded to man and wife in mutual and unreserved affection." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 49 § 2) Polygamy is contrary to conjugal love which is undivided and exclusive. (cf. Familiaris Consortio 19)


The fidelity of conjugal love (Also see CCC 2364 and 2365)


1646 By its very nature conjugal love requires the inviolable fidelity of the spouses. This is the consequence of the gift of themselves which they make to each other. Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement "until further notice." The "intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons, and the good of the children, demand total fidelity from the spouses and require an unbreakable union between them." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1)


1647 The deepest reason is found in the fidelity of God to his covenant, in that of Christ to his Church. Through the sacrament of Matrimony the spouses are enabled to represent this fidelity and witness to it. Through the sacrament, the indissolubility of marriage receives a new and deeper meaning.


1648 It can seem difficult, even impossible, to bind oneself for life to another human being. This makes it all the more important to proclaim the Good News that God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love, that married couples share in this love, that it supports and sustains them, and that by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God's faithful love. Spouses who with God's grace give this witness, often in very difficult conditions, deserve the gratitude and support of the ecclesial community. (cf. Familiaris Consortio 20)


1649 Yet there are some situations in which living together becomes practically impossible for a variety of reasons. In such cases the Church permits the physical separation of the couple and their living apart. The spouses do not cease to be husband and wife before God and so are not free to contract a new union. In this difficult situation, the best solution would be, if possible, reconciliation. The Christian community is called to help these persons live out their situation in a Christian manner and in fidelity to their marriage bond which remains indissoluble. (cf. Familiaris Consortio 83; Code of Canon Law, cann. 1151-1155)


1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ - "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mark 10:11-12) the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God's law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.


1651 Toward Christians who live in this situation, and who often keep the faith and desire to bring up their children in a Christian manner, priests and the whole community must manifest an attentive solicitude, so that they do not consider themselves separated from the Church, in whose life they can and must participate as baptized persons:

They should be encouraged to listen to the Word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts for justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God's grace. (Familiaris Consortio 84)

The openness to fertility (Also see CCC 2366 and 2367)


1652 "By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 48 § 1; 50)

Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: "It is not good that man should be alone," and "from the beginning [he] made them male and female"; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: "Be fruitful and multiply." Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.


(Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 50 § 1; cf. Genesis 2:18; Matthew 19:4; Genesis 1:28)

1653 The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. (cf. Gravissimum Educationis 3) In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life. (cf. Familiaris Consortio 28)


1654 Spouses to whom God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full of meaning, in both human and Christian terms. Their marriage can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality, and of sacrifice.


VI. The Domestic Church


1655 Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all [their] household." (cf. Acts 18:8) When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved. (cf. Acts 16:31; Acts 11:14) These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.


1656 In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11; cf. Familiaris Consortio 21) It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 11)


1657 It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way "by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity." (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium 10) Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and "a school for human enrichment." (Vatican II, Gaudium et spes 52 § 1) Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous - even repeated - forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life.


1658 We must also remember the great number of single persons who, because of the particular circumstances in which they have to live - often not of their choosing - are especially close to Jesus' heart and therefore deserve the special affection and active solicitude of the Church, especially of pastors. Many remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the "domestic churches," and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. "No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who 'labor and are heavy laden.'" (Familiaris consortio 85; cf. Matthew 11:28)


In Brief:


1659 St. Paul said: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church. . . . This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church" (Ephesians 5:25, 32).


1660 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1055 § 1; cf. Gaudium et spes 48 § 1).


1661 The sacrament of 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 (cf. Council of Trent: DS 1799).


1662 Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love.


1663 Since marriage establishes the couple in a public state of life in the Church, 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.


1664 Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to marriage. Polygamy is incompatible with the unity of marriage; divorce separates what God has joined together; the refusal of fertility turns married life away from its "supreme gift," the child. (Gaudium et spes 50 § 1)


1665 The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith.


1666 The Christian home is the place where children receive the first proclamation of the faith. For this reason the family home is rightly called "the domestic church," a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity.



  1. St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107)
    Athenagoras, (A.D. c.133-181)
    St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186)
    St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220)
    Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218)
    St. Methodius of Olympus, (A.D. 250-311)
    St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384)
    Timotheus of Alexandria, ( AD. c.310-c.395)
    St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386)
    St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403)
    Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398)
    St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394)
    St. Amphilochius, (A.D. c.339-c.403)
    St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396)
    Theodore of Mopsuestia, (A.D. 350-428)
    Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417)
    St. Maximus, (unknown - A.D.423)
    St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428)
    St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444)
    Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461)
    St. Maximus (the Confessor), (A.D. c.580-662)
St. Ignatius of Antioch, (A.D. 50-107), Syrian; ecclesiastical writer, bishop, martyr. A disciple of St. John, the Apostle; he was bishop of Antioch, in which see he succeeded St. Peter, or, as others think, Evodius. He is supposed to have governed that church for about forty years. He suffered martyrdom at Rome in the year 107.

Speak to my sisters, that they love the Lord, and be satisfied with their husbands both in the flesh and spirit. In like manner also, exhort my brethren, in the name of Jesus Christ, that they love their wives, even as the Lord the Church. (Ephesians 5:25) If any one can continue in a state of purity, to the honour of Him who is Lord of the flesh, let him so remain without boasting. If he begins to boast, he is undone; and if he reckon himself greater than the bishop, he is ruined. But it becomes both men and women who marry, to form their union with the approval of the bishop, that their marriage may be according to God, and not after their own lust. Let all things be done to the honour of God.
(1 Corinthians 10:31)

From New Advent: The Epistle of Ignatius to Polycarp
Chapter 5. The duties of husbands and wives

Athenagoras, (A.D. c.133-181), Athenian; a Proto-orthodox Christian apologist, a philosopher, and a convert to Christianity. According to Philippus Sideta, he presided over the school at Alexandria. He flourished about the year 170. He wrote apologetic defenses of the Christian religion, and a treatise on the Resurreotion.

"Having the hope of eternal life, we despite the things of this life, and those things in which the soul takes pleasure. Each of us looks upon her whom he has married according to your laws as his wife, as far as regards the procreation of children. For, as the husbandman, when he has cast the seed into the earth, waits for the harvest, and sows no more, so also with us the limit of concupiscence is the begetting of children. You may meet with many amongst us, both men and women, who have grown old in a state of celibacy, in the hope thereby to be more closely united to God. But if the continuing in virginity and celibacy unites more closely to God, and even thoughts and desires exclude us from His presence; of those things of which we shun the desire, much more do we renounce the act. For our profession consists not in well-composed sentences, but in demonstration and practice. Each one either continuing as he was born, or confining himself to one marriage, for a second marriage is a decorous adultery."

Legatio pro Christianis, n.33, page 310, Ed Bened. St. Justin. Paris. 1742.
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St. Theophilus of Antioch, (unknown - A.D. c.186), Patriarch of Antioch, born pagan but embraced Christianity by studying the Holy Scriptures, especially the prophetical books. Wrote against idols, made contributions to Christian literature, polemics, exegetics, and apologetics.

"There are in this matter two modes of life, one inferior and common, I mean matrimony; and the other angelic and which cannot be surpassed, I mean virginity. He that chooses the worldly, matrimony that is, is not to blame; but he receives not so great gifts; for some he will receive, since he bears fruit thirty-fold. But who so embraces a chaste state, and one that is above the world, although the road is, compared with the other, more rugged and difficult, yet has he more wonderful gifts, for he has produced a perfect fruit, even an hundred-fold."

Epist. ad Amunem, page 766, T.i Par. 2
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St. Clement of Alexandria, (A.D. 150-220), Greek; theologian, a scholar of Pantaenus, to whom he succeeded as head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, Egypt. His writings display great acquaintance with the Gentile philosophy. He wrote with the express design of hiding the mysteries of the Christian religion from the Pagans, and the uninitiated, while at the same time, laboring to show the immense practical superiority of the Christian code of morals over that of every Pagan sect and system of philosophy.

"Some have adopted continency blasphemously, with all impiety towards God, when it was lawful to choose celibacy agreeably to the sound rule of piety; giving thanks for the grace given them, but not abhorring the creature, or despising those who are married; for the world, as well as celibacy, is the work of the Creator; but let both give thanks in the state in which they are placed, if they know for what ends they are placed in it."

Strom. I. iii. n 18, p. 560.
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"At the celebration of the marriage feast, where all was conducted with propriety, the mother of the Saviour was there, and He too was invited and was present together with His disciples, rather to work a miracle, than to feast; and moreover to bless the principle (beginning) of human generation, as far, I mean, as the body is concerned. For it was befitting, that He who was to renew the very nature of man, and to restore all nature to a better state, should bestow a blessing not only on those who had been already called into life, but also prepare beforehand that grace for all those not yet born, and make their entrance into existence holy. . . . He, the delight and joy of all men, gave a dignity to marriage by His presence, that He might do away with the former shame and grief attached to child-birth."

T. iv. Comm. in Joan. l. ii. in loco, pp. 134-5. See also Ep. ad Nestorium.
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Tertullian, (A.D. 160-218), North African; ecclesiastical writer, Christian apologist and lawyer, son of a centurion and contemporary of St. Irenæus, a native and citizen of Carthage. The zeal and ability with which he defended the Christian cause, and vindicated its faith and discipline, have immortalized his name, though it has suffered by his adoption, around the year A.D. 200, of some of the Montanist's errors, whose cause he is thought to have supported until his death. His works are numerous, and are written with great ability and erudition, but in an harsh style.

"How can we find words to describe the happiness of that marriage, which the Church joins together; and the oblation confirms; and the blessing seals; the angels report; the Father ratifies."

L. ii. Ad. Uxor. n.9, page 171;
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St. Methodius of Olympus, (A.D. 250-311), Asia Minor; bishop, ecclesiastical writer, martyr.

"I seem to myself to discover clearly from the Scriptures, that after virginity had been introduced, the Word did not entirely do away with marriage. For not because the moon is greater than the stars, is light on this account withdrawn from the other stars."

Orat. ii. n. 1, Galland, p. 678.
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St. Optatus of Milevis, (unknown - A.D. 384), bishop of Milevis, Numidia, in Africa; from Augustine's writings we can assume Optatus was a convert; he is best known for his opposition to the heresy of Donatism.

"She who is under the yoke (of marriage) is in part Christ's; the virgin Christ's wholly; the former is not entirely fettered to the world; the latter in no way attached to it, for that which in her who is under the yoke is in part, in the virgin is complete. Thou hast chosen the angel's mode of life; thou art placed in the number of those who never felt the yoke."

T. i. or. xxxi. p. 502. See also Ib. or. xxxii. p. 517, D.
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Timotheus of Alexandria ( AD. c.310-c.395), flourished in 385, a disciple of St. Athanasius, whose see he obtained. He was present at the Council of Constantinople, held in 381.

"If any one calls a cleric to unite a couple in marriage, but he shall hear that the marriage is unlawful . . . ought the cleric to agree to the request, and make the oblation?

(Answer) Say at once, if the cleric hears that the marriage is unlawful the cleric ought not to become a partaker of others sins."

Galland. T. vii. Resp. Canon, pp. 348-49.
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St. Cyril of Jerusalem, (A.D. 315-386), Palestinian; ordained by Maximus, he was made bishop of Jerusalem in A.D. 345; scholar and Doctor of the Church. None of his writings have been preserved to us, except eighteen catechetical instructions addressed to catechumens, and five mystagogic discourses addressed to neophytes.

"And the doctrine concerning chastity, let the order of monks and of virgins especially attend to it, who are observing in the world an angelic life, and then, the rest of the Church's people also. . . . But be not, while observing chastity, puffed up against those who are living in the inferior state of wedlock. For marriage (is) honorable, and the bed undefiled, as saith the Apostle. Thou too who keepest thy purity, weren't you not also born of married persons? Do not, because thou hast a possession of gold, set at naught the silver."

Catech. iv. n. 2-5y pp. 63-4.
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St. Epiphanius of Salamis, (A.D. 332-403), Palestinian; bishop, abbot, scholar.

"The greater part of these heresies forbid to marry, and command to refrain from meats, not exhorting unto this for the sake of a (holier) state of life, nor for greater virtue, and rewards, and crowns, but because they account the creatures of the Lord abominable. But the holy Church both commends virginity, and praises a single life, and chastity, and widowhood, and also honors and approves an honorable marriage, and condemns fornication and adultery, and lust. Whence may be seen the characteristic of the holy Catholic Church, and that of the false ways of all the rest. . .He (Christ) is delighted with those who are able to show forth these ensamples of piety, choosing to practise virginity and purity and continency. He honors one wedlock, and in a special manner adorning, as a pattern, with the gifts of the priesthood, those who, after being once married, were continent, or who had preserved their purity spotless ; even as His Apostles becomingly and holily established as a law of the Church for the priesthood."

T. i. Adv. Howes. (48), j?. 410.
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"The same holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church desires to save also those who are in venerable wedlock: for how could marriage not be honorable . . . seeing that the Saviour was invited to marriages, to give His blessing to that state. Had He refused to be present at the marriage, He would as suredly have been the destroyer of marriage. . . . Honorable therefore is marriage, seeing that Himself established it."

Adv. Hæres. (67), p. 714.
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Pope St. Siricius, (A.D. c.334-398), an active Pope, involved in the administration of the Church and the handling of various factions and viewpoints within it; author of two decrees concerning clerical celibacy. The decree of A.D. 385 stated that priests should stop cohabiting with their wives.

"Husbands love your wives, Ephesians 5:25. Let this bond of nature, this yoke (imposed) by means of the blessing, be a union of those (before) separated. . . .Though the husband be harsh and savage in temper, the wife must bear with him, and on no pretext seek to sever the union. Does he strike? Still he is your husband. Is he drunken? Yet he is united to thee by nature. Is he harsh and hard to please? Still he is a member of thy body, and the most honorable of thy members."

T.i. P. i. in Hexaemer. Hom. viii. n.5, page 95.
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"You have asked whether a woman that has been betrothed to one, may be married to any other person.

We, by all means, forbid this to be done; seeing that it is accounted by the faithful a kind of sacrilege to violate by any transgression the blessing which the priest bestows on her that is about to be married."

Galland. T. vii. Ep. i. ad Himer, n. 5, p. 534.
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St. Gregory of Nyssa, (A.D. c.335 - c.394), bishop of Nyssa in A.D. 371, an erudite theologian who made significant contributions to the doctrine of the Trinity and the Nicene creed. Gregory's philosophical writings were influenced by Origen. He was the brother of the great St. Basil.

"Let no one, however, imagine from what has been said (on virginity) that I repudiate the marriage state (economy); for I am not ignorant that upon this too there is not wanting the blessing of God."

T. iii. de Virginit. c. 8, page 136.
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St. Amphilochius, (A.D. c.339-c.403), bishop of Iconium, in the history of theology he occupies a place of prominence for his defence of the divinity of the Holy Spirit against the Macedonians.

"A wonderful thing, therefore, is virginity, as being a possession unsubdued, a plant unfading, a free dwelling-place, the ascetic's delight, as being above human nature, as exempt from passions that seem necessary, as penetrating, with Christ the bridegroom, into the chambers of the heavenly kingdom. . . . But, having said all this, we do not establish an opposition between virginity and marriage, but express our admiration of both, as mutually needful to each other; since the Lord, and the preordainer of both, does not place one in the balance against the other, for from both He receives goodly worship; for without reverend and God-fearing worship neither virginity is venerable, nor is marriage honorable."

Orat. ii. de Occursu Dom. n. 1, Galland. T. vi. p. 467.
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St. Ambrose of Milan, (A.D. 340-396), German; reluctantly made bishop in the A.D. 374., Doctor of the Church. He closed a great and glorious career in A.D. 396. We have his life by Paulinus.

"We know that God is the Lord and the guardian of marriage, who suffers not another's bed to be defiled; and he that commits this crime, sins against God, whose law he violates; whose grace he dissolves. And, therefore, because that he sins against God, he loses the fellowship of the heavenly sacrament."

Dissuading from marrying Christians to Gentiles, he says:

"As the marriage must be sanctified by the putting on of the veil by the priest, and by his blessing, how can that be called a union, where there is no agreement in faith."

T. ii. Ep. xix. Vigilio, n. 7, p. 844.
See also Ep. xlii. n. 3 (Syricio), p. 960.
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St. Theodore of Mopsuestia, (A.D. 350-428), bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia and ecclesiastical writer. A friend of St. Pachomius.

"When thou art about to take a wife, read not only the laws of those that are without, but besides these, those also laid down amongst us : for by these, and not by those, is God to judge thee in that day!"

T. iii. Quotes ducendce uxores. Horn. iii. n. 1, p. 255.
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Expounding Genesis. 24:67:

"Let women imitate her (Rebecca) and men emulate him (Isaac): let it be their anxious care to bring home their brides thus. . . . Why dost thou make a parade of the venerable mysteries of marriage? Thou oughtest to drive far from thee all these practices, and to train the maid from the first in modesty, and to call in the priests, and by prayers and benedictions to rivet fast the concord of their common habitation."

T. iv. Hom, xlviii. in Genes, n. 6, p. 566.
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Commenting on 1 Timothy 4:3, he says:

"What then, do not we forbid to marry, someone asks? God forbid! We do not forbid those who wish to marry, but those that do not wish to marry we exhort to virginity. It is one thing to forbid, and another to leave one to his own free choice. He that forbids, does it once for all (or utterly), but he that leads on to virginity, as a higher state, does not this as forbidding marriage, but as exhorting to virginity."

T. xi. Horn. xii. m Ep. i. ad Tim.
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Pope St. Innocent I, (A.D. c.350-417) was pope from (A.D. 401 to 417), he lost no opportunity in maintaining and extending the authority of the Roman See as the ultimate resort for the settlement of all disputes.

"We declare, and this is in accordance with Catholic faith, that to be (the true) marriage which was first established by divine grace, taking another women, while the first woman is still living, and not divorced, cannot possibly be lawful."

Ep. xxxvi. Probo. p. 607.
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St. Maximus, (unknown-A.D.423), Italian; bishop of Turin and theological writer, he assisted at the Council of Milan in 451, and that of Rome in 465. Maximus is believed to have been a native of Rhaetia.

"The Son of God goes to the marriage, that what He had long before appointed by His power, He may now sanctify by the blessing of His presence."

Hom. i. in Epiph. T. vi. Bibl. Maxim. SS. PP. p. 9.
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St. Augustine of Hippo, (A.D. 354-428), North African; born in Tagaste in A.D. 354, baptized in Milan in A.D. 387, ordained a priest in A.D. 391 and appointed bishop of Hippo in A.D. 395, Augustine is one of our greatest theologians. His numerous works display genius of the highest order, and have ever had great weight in the Christian churches. He is also a Doctor of the Church.

"This excellence (of matrimony) is threefold, faithfulness, offspring, and the sacrament. In faithfulness it is required that neither act in violation of the marriage tie; in the offspring, that it be received in love, fed with kindness, educated religiously; and in the sacrament, that the wedlock be not dissolved, and that neither, if divorced, be united to another, not even for the sake of offspring."

T.iii. de Genes, ad. Lit. L. ix. n. 12. col. 399
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"Throughout all nations and men, the excellence of wedlock is in the procreation of children, and in the faithfulness of chastity: but as regards the people of God, it is also in the holiness of the sacrament, through which holiness it is a crime, even for the party that is divorced, to marry another, whilst the husband lives."

T. vi. De Bono Conjug. n. 32 (al. 24), col. 567-68.
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St. Cyril of Alexandria, (A.D. 376-444), Egyptian; bishop, theologian and Doctor of the Church. He succeeded Theophilus in the patriarchal see of Alexandria, in A.D. 412, and was the great champion of orthodoxy against Nestorius, against whom the general council of Ephesus was called, in A.D. 431 and in which St. Cyril presided.

"At the celebration of the marriage feast, where all was conducted with propriety, the mother of the Saviour was there, and He too was invited and was present together with His disciples, rather to work a miracle, than to feast; and moreover to bless the principle (beginning) of human generation, as far, I mean, as the body is concerned. For it was befitting, that He who was to renew the very nature of man, and to restore all nature to a better state, should bestow a blessing not only on those who had been already called into life, but also prepare beforehand that grace for all those not yet born, and make their entrance into existence holy. . . . He, the delight and joy of all men, gave a dignity to marriage by His presence, that He might do away with the former shame and grief attached to child-birth."

T. iv. Comm. in Joan. l. ii. in loco, pp. 134-5.
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Pope St. Leo I, ( A.D. c.391-461), also known as Leo the Great, bishop of Rome (A.D. 440 to 461); an Italian aristocrat, remembered theologically for issuing the Tome of Leo, a document which was foundational to the debates of the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon.

"Whereas, the union in marriage was from the beginning so constituted, as, besides the conjunction of the sexes, to have within it, the sacrament of Christ and of the Church, there is no doubt that a woman is not married, in whom it is manifest that there has not been a nuptial mystery."

Ep. clxvii. ad Rusticum Narbonn. Ep. Inquis. 4, p. 1422.
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St. Maximus (the Confessor), (A.D. c.580-662), Byzantine; a Christian abbot, theologian, scholar and ascetical writer; he gave up this life in the political sphere to enter into the monastic life.

"The Son of God goes to the marriage, that what He had long before appointed by His power, He may now sanctify by the blessing of His presence."

Hom. i. in Epiph. T. vi. Bill. Maxim. SS. PP. p. 9.
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We believe Matrimony to be a sacrament of the New Law, instituted by Christ; whereby a new dignity is added to the lawful covenant of marriage, and grace given to those who worthily receive it. Marriage is not a contract. As Scott Hahn has said, "In a contract you exchange property, whereas in a covenant you exchange persons."


Though the institution of this sacrament by name is not mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures, the doctrine, that Christian matrimony is a sacrament which confers grace on the parties who worthily receive it, is the common doctrine of the Latin and Greek Church as well as the heretical and schismatical churches in the early church of the east, as is evident from the rituals and books of the administration of sacraments, used by:


The Church's Scriptures that support Holy Matrimony or Marriage:


The creation of Man and Woman, Account 1

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.

Genesis 1:26-28

The creation of Man and Woman, Account 2

18 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." 19 So out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; 22 and the rib which the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.


23 Then the man said, "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man." 24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.

Genesis 2:18-24

Our Lord catechizes and gives counsel concerning Marriage

4 He [Jesus] answered, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."

Matthew 19:4-6

Jesus' Teaching about Divorce

5 But Jesus said to them: . . . 6 "But from the beginning of creation, "God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, 8 and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder." 10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 11 And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; 12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."


Mark 10:5-12

St. Paul catechizes and gives counsel to those married and single

1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote. It is well for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of the temptation to immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not refuse one another except perhaps by agreement for a season, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, lest Satan tempt you through lack of self-control. 6 I say this by way of concession, not of command. 7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own special gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. 8 To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain single as I do. 9 But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. 10 To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband 11 (but if she does, let her remain single or else be reconciled to her husband)— and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 To the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any woman has a husband who is an unbeliever, and he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is consecrated through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is consecrated through her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but as it is they are holy. 15 But if the unbelieving partner desires to separate, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. For God has called us to peace. 16 Wife, how do you know whether you will save your husband? Husband, how do you know whether you will save your wife?

The Life That the Lord Has Assigned


17 Only, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 18 Was any one at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was any one at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. 19 For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. 20 Every one should remain in the state in which he was called. 21 Were you a slave when called? Never mind. But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity. 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a slave of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 So, brethren, in whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God.

The Unmarried and the Widows

25 Now concerning the unmarried, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is well for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek marriage. 28 But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a girl marries she does not sin. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 I mean, brethren, the appointed time has grown very short; from now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the form of this world is passing away. 32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33 but the married man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If any one thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry — it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do better.


39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. If the husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I have the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 7

The Christian Household

21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church; 33 however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


Ephesians 5:21-33

Children and Parents

1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 "Honor your father and mother" (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 "that it may be well with you and that you may live long on the earth." 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:1-4

Rules for Christian Households

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Colossians 3:18-21


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