It’s trivia time! There seems to be a trend on TV these days – from Parks and Rec to The Office, Gilmore Girls to Grey’s Anatomy– that the romantic thing to do is to impulsively get married in private and then have a big ceremony with friends. And with many shows, and in the case of a recent episode of Last Man Standing, the venue was switched last minute from the Church to a retail store where the family worked, which apparently was more meaningful.
And then there are the “vows.” It’s the popular thing for couples to write their own vows, but at least on TV they aren’t actually promising anything! It seems all their “vows” are emotionally charged declarations of their affection for one another. They say, “I love you, I can’t believe I get to marry you, I couldn’t believe I could ever be this happy…”
But in the Catholic Church, you consent to what the Church teaches. Since marriage is a Sacrament, an outward sign of grace and an image of the love Christ has for the Church, what you say and what you do are a big deal. It affects the validity of your Sacrament, and can’t be left up to an impulsive declaration of feelings.
So what makes a marriage? Here are some questions for you to answer, and then see if you are correct in the answers below. If you have taken www.CatholicMarriagePrep.com’s course, let’s see how much you remember! And if you haven’t, let’s see how much you know!
1. T/F The exchange of rings makes the marriage valid.
2. What is the sign of the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. The Wedding Rings B. The Priest’s Blessing C. The Consent
3. What is the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony?
4. What are the two parts of the consent?
5. Who gives the Sacrament of Matrimony to the spouses?
A. The Priest B. The spouses give it to each other C. The spouses’ parents
6. Where should the marriage ceremony take place?
A. On the Beach B. In a meaningful place C. In a Church
7. What are the 3 Goods and Requirements of Marriage? In other words, what do you promise in the Sacrament of Matrimony through the act of conjugal love?
8. T/F An “annulment” is the Church’s way of recognizing a divorce.
In the classic movie The Princess Bride, Wesley asks his true love if she married the prince. She said she was married: “I was there, this old man said ‘man and wife.”
But Wesley presses: “Did you say, ‘I do?’ to which Buttercup replied, “Oh no, we sort of skipped that part.”
Wesley: “Then you’re not married.”
The exchange of consent is what makes the marriage valid, where two baptized people who are free to marry gives themselves to each other by saying “I take you to be my wife. . . I take you to be my husband. I promise to be faithful to you, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love you and to honor you all the days of my life.”
This consent is then bound by the mutual gift to each other in sexual union.
Again, not about the rings! Since the Sacrament of Matrimony is a covenant, an exchange of persons, the spouses’ mutual consent is the outward sign of grace. The grace given in the Sacrament is the capacity for self-giving love, the grace to love as Christ loves the Church and laid down his life for her.
So yeah, when you make love to your spouse, you are reviving your marriage covenant and receiving the grace of the Sacrament to image God’s love. How’s that for a reason to make time in your bedroom tonight!
“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.” CCC 1604
“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).” Catechism 1661 (emphasis added)
The Catechism states that “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.”128 This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two “becoming one flesh.” CCC 1627
So, once you have said “I do” to taking each other to be your husband or wife, you then seal your consent with the physical gift of your self. If your spouse was to run away after the ceremony and before consummating the union, the marriage wouldn’t be ratified, and there for not indissoluble.
If both spouses are baptized, they give the Sacrament to each other. That’s because the exchange of consent is the sign of the Sacrament, and the seal of the Sacrament is sexual union. This is also why it’s important to abstain from sex before marriage, so that your sexual union can validate your Sacrament.
“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.” CCC 1630
And by the way, the word “vows” cannot be applied to marriage. We do not make “vows” in marriage. This is reserved for the religious life. A vow, in canon law, is a promise made to God directly, but, in marriage, the spouses make promises to one another. So it is better to use the words “marital consent,” “marriage covenant,” or “marital promises.”
“Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church.” CCC 1631
For more reasons why it should be celebrated in a Church,watch Fr. Mike Schmitz’s 5 minute video on outdoor weddings.
This is where you don’t make up your own “vows” consent, but you promise to what the Church requires: permanence, faithfulness, and openness to children. Marriage is a total self-gift where the two become one flesh. You cannot separate what God has joined, therefore this union is for the entirety of your life. You promise to not have any affairs but to be faithful to your spouse. And you cannot get married in the Church knowing that you never want to have children. Children are one of the supreme gifts of marriage (CCC 1652) and by nature marriage is ordered towards the procreation of children, since sex is the seal of the covenant, and you cannot have children without having sex.
First the term “annulment” is wrong. The Church cannot “annul” a marriage. She can only declare, after investigation, that the previous marriage was “null.” It is called a Declaration of Nullity, meaning that the marriage wasn’t valid in the first place because one of the components for a valid marriage was missing. Again, you can’t separate what God has joined. So an annulment is not the same thing as divorce.
Divorce = a marriage that has failed.
Declaration of Nullity: = invalid marriage that never actually occurred in the eyes of God.
For more information, click on the following link: Ten Questions About a Declaration of Nullity
So, how did you do?
Want more information? You can read CCC 1601-1666.
Have a question? You can send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org