One of the most blessed gifts I have been given as a priest has been the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of marriage. To be a part of the joining of a woman and man in the holy bonds of matrimony is truly awesome. The unique aspect of this sacrament is that in reality I am not the minister of the sacrament, but rather a witness representing the Church. The two presenting themselves are the actual ministers of the sacrament, voicing their intentions and declaring their consent.
In recent years there has been much confusion over the nature of Christian marriage and the Church’s teaching on sexuality. There has been a call among some in government and society to redefine what marriage is, and who exactly can enter into this union. Over the next few weeks I would like to share with all of you the teaching of the Catholic Church, as contained in Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition, on marriage and human sexuality. It is my purpose to do this as a way of clarification, with charity and concern.
The primary points to be made this week are that: 1) Catholic marriage is the union of one woman and one man, who have been baptized; 2) it is an exclusive relationship, demanding that the two spouses be faithful to one another, forsaking all others; 3) it is for life, dissolved only by death; 4) it is fruitful, open to the possibility of new life. Before entering into this very sacred union the couple should reflect over these realities so as to be sure that they are ready to live this commitment with integrity.
We live in an age that almost glorifies infidelity, has made divorce easy to obtain, and views children as a problem to be avoided rather than as a gift to be embraced. True Catholic marriage calls the couple to be witnesses of the Gospel against these anti-values. It is not easy. There are many problems and struggles along the way. It is for this reason that we rely on the grace of God, and His merciful love, to make the marriage bond last.