Sacrament of Marriage, a Profound Covenant and Loving Partnership

The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant or partnership of life between a man and woman, which is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children. When validly contracted between two baptized people, marriage is a sacrament (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601).

Sacred Scripture begins with the creation of man and woman as spouses in the image and likeness of God and concludes with a glorious vision of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. In other words, the whole of creation and redemption is a marriage between God and His people, and for this reason, St. Paul teaches that the union of husband and wife is an image or icon of the one between Christ and His Church (Eph 5:25-32).

Sacrament of Marriage 1
Marriage of the Virgin, ANGELICO, Fra, 1431-32, Tempera and gold on panel, 19 x 51 cm, Museo di San Marco, Florence

St. John tells us that the first miracle worked by the Lord Jesus was at a wedding feast (Jn 2:1-11), revealing the intimate connection between the messianic mission of Christ and the dignity of marriage. It is the one blessing of God not lost by original sin or washed away in the great flood. However, the bond of husband and wife, disfigured by sin (like everything else in nature), required the grace of Christ to be purified, healed, and restored to its original dignity.

Because of the weakness of human nature after sin, Moses permitted the children of Israel to repudiate the solemn covenant of marriage. Jesus, on the other hand, restored the original pattern of spousal love, revealing that the marriage bond, once begun by the mutual consent of the spouses in the Sacrament of Marriage, can never be broken in this life.

Sacrament of Marriage, A Peasant Wedding
Peasant Wedding, BRUEGEL, Pieter the Elder, c. 1567, Oil on wood, 114 x 164 cm, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

By restoring the original order of creation, Jesus was not giving us a burden too heavy to carry because He supplies the strength and grace to live marriage as a permanent union by following Him in the Way of the Cross, renouncing oneself, and living for the sake of the other. The grace of sacramental marriage is a fruit of Christ’s holy Cross, the source of all Christian life.

Who is the Minister of The Sacrament of Marriage?

Unlike the other six sacraments, the sacrament of marriage is administered to each other by the husband and wife themselves. The priest or deacon is merely the Church’s witness who blesses the union created by the exchange of consent. The marriage bond, created only by those free by God’s law to marry, is an irrevocable covenant that binds the spouses to each other for life. The sacrament of matrimony conveys the special grace necessary to strengthen them for lifelong fidelity and growth in holiness.

Christ dwells with the spouses and gives them the grace to take up their crosses daily, to rise again after they fall, to forgive one another, to bear each other’s burdens, to be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ, and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love.

If you enjoyed this brief introduction to the Sacrament of Marriage, check out our other easy to understand articles in our Catholicism 101 series.

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