47 Questions & Answers on the Sacrament of Matrimony from the Late Nineteenth Century till Date
Q. 1005. What is the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. The Sacrament of Matrimony is the Sacrament which unites a Christian man and woman in lawful marriage.
Q. 1006. When are persons lawfully married?
A. Persons are lawfully married when they comply with all the laws of God and of the Church relating to marriage. To marry unlawfully is a mortal sin, and it deprives the souls of the grace of the Sacrament.
Q. 1007. When was marriage first instituted?
A. Marriage was first instituted in the Garden of Eden, when God created Adam and Eve and made them husband and wife, but it was not then a Sacrament, for their union did not confer any special grace.
Q. 1008. When was the contract of marriage raised to the dignity of a Sacrament?
A. The exact time at which the contract of marriages was raised to the dignity of a Sacrament is not known, but the fact that it was thus raised is certain from passages in the New Testament and from the constant teaching of the Church ever since the time of the apostles. Our Lord did not merely add grace to the contract, but He made the very contract a Sacrament, so that Christians cannot make this contract without receiving the Sacrament.
Q. 1009. What is the outward sign in the Sacrament of Matrimony, and in what does the whole essence of the marriage contract consist?
A. The outward sign in the Sacrament of matrimony is the mutual consent of the persons, expressed by words or signs in accordance with the laws of the Church. The whole essence of the marriage contract consists in the surrender by the persons of their bodies to each other and in declaring by word or sign that they make this surrender and take each other for husband and wife now and for life.
Q. 1010. What are the chief ends of the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. The chief ends of the Sacrament of matrimony are:
To enable the husband and wife to aid each other in securing the salvation of their souls; To propagate or keep up the existence of the human race by bringing children into the world to serve God; To prevent sins against the holy virtue of purity by faithfully obeying the laws of the marriage state.
Q. 1011. Can a Christian man and woman be united in lawful marriage in any other way than by the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. A Christian man and woman cannot be united in lawful marriage in any other way than by the Sacrament of Matrimony, because Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.
Q. 1012. Were, then, all marriages before the coming of Christ unlawful and invalid?
A. All marriages before the coming of Christ were not unlawful and invalid. They were both lawful and valid when the persons contracting them followed the dictates of their conscience and the laws of God as they knew them; but such marriages were only contracts. Through their evil inclinations many forgot or neglected the true character of marriage till Our Lord restored it to its former unity and purity.
Q. 1013. What do we mean by impediments to marriage?
A. By impediments to marriage we mean certain restrictions, imposed by the law of God or of the Church, that render the marriage invalid or unlawful when they are violated in entering into it. These restrictions regard age, health, relationship, intention, religion and other matters affecting the good of the Sacrament.
Q. 1014. Can the Church dispense from or remove these impediments to marriage?
A. The Church can dispense from or remove the impediments to marriage that arise from its own laws; but it cannot dispense from impediments that arise from the laws of God and nature. Every lawmaker can change or excuse from the laws made by himself or his equals, but he cannot, of his own authority, change or excuse from laws made by a higher power.
Q. 1015. What is required that the Church may grant, when it is able, dispensations from the impediments to marriage or from other laws?
A. That the Church may grant dispensations from the impediments to marriage or from other laws, there must be a good and urgent reason for granting such dispensations. The Church does not grant dispensations without cause and merely to satisfy the wishes of those who ask for them.
Q. 1016. Why does the Church sometimes require the persons to whom dispensations are granted to pay a tax or fee for the privilege?
A. The Church sometimes requires the persons to whom dispensations are granted to pay a tax or fee for the privilege: That persons on account of this tax be restrained from asking for dispensations and may comply with the general laws; That the Church may not have to bear the expense of supporting an office for granting privileges to a few.
Q. 1017. What should persons who are about to get married do?
A. Persons who are about to get married should give their parish priest timely notice of their intention, make known to him privately whatever they suspect might be an impediment to the marriage, and make sure of all arrangements before inviting their friends.
Q. 1018. What timely notice of marriage should be given to the priest, and why?
A. At least three weeks notice of marriage should be given to the priest, because, according to the laws of the Church, the names of the persons about to get married must be announced and their intended marriage published at the principal Mass in their parish for three successive Sundays.
Q. 1019. Why are the banns of matrimony published in the Church?
A. The banns of matrimony are published in the Church that any person who might know of any impediment to the marriage may have an opportunity to declare it privately to the priest before the marriage takes place and thus prevent an invalid or unlawful marriage. Persons who know of such impediments and fail to declare them in due time are guilty of sin.
Q. 1020. What things in particular should persons arranging for their marriage make known to the priest?
A. Persons arranging for their marriage should make known to the priest whether both are Christians and Catholics; whether either has been solemnly engaged to another person; whether they have ever made any vow to God with regard to chastity or the like; whether they are related and in what degree; whether either was ever married to any member of the other’s family and whether either was ever godparent in baptism for the other.
Q. 1021. What else must they make known?
A. They must also make known whether either was married before and what proof can be given of the death of the former husband or wife; whether they really intend to get married, and do so of their own will; whether they are of lawful age; whether they are sound in body or suffering from any deformity that might prevent their marriage, and lastly, whether they live in the parish in which they ask to be married, and if so, how long they have lived in it.
Q. 1022. What is particularly necessary that persons may do their duty in the marriage state?
A. That persons may do their duty in the marriage state, it is particularly necessary that they should be well instructed, before entering it, in the truths and duties of their religion for how will they teach their children these things if they are ignorant of them themselves?
Q. 1023. Can the bond of Christian marriage be dissolved by any human power?
A. The bond of Christian marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power.
Q. 1024. Does not a divorce granted by courts of justice break the bond of marriage?
A. Divorce granted by courts of justice or by any human power does not break the bond of marriage, and one who makes use of such a divorce to marry again while the former husband or wife lives commits a sacrilege and lives in the sin of adultery. A civil divorce may give a sufficient reason for the persons to live apart and it may determine their rights with regard to support, the control of the children and other temporal things, but it has no effect whatever upon the bond and spiritual nature of the Sacrament.
Q. 1025. Does not the Church sometimes allow husband and wife to separate and live apart?
A. The Church sometimes, for very good reasons, does allow husband and wife to separate and live apart; but that is not dissolving the bond of marriage, or divorce as it is called, for though separated they are still husband and wife, and neither can marry again till the other dies.
Q. 1026. Has not the Church sometimes allowed Catholics once married to separate and marry again?
A. The Church has never allowed Catholics once really married to separate and go ahead to marry someone else again, but it has sometimes declared persons apparently married free to marry again, because their first marriage was null; that is, no marriage on account of some impediment not discovered till after the ceremony.
Q. 1027. What evils follow divorce so commonly claimed by those outside the true Church and granted by civil authority?
A. The evils that follow divorce so commonly claimed by those outside the true Church and granted by civil authority are very many; but chiefly: A disregard for the sacred character of the Sacrament and for the spiritual welfare of the children; The loss of the true idea of home and family followed by bad morals and sinful living.
Q. 1028. Which are the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. The effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony are:
To sanctify the love of husband and wife;
To give them grace to bear with each other’s weaknesses;
To enable them to bring up their children in the fear and love of God.
Q. 1029. What do we mean by bearing with each other’s weaknesses?
A. By bearing with each other’s weaknesses we mean that the husband and wife must be patient with each other’s faults, bad habits or dispositions, pardon them easily, and aid each other in overcoming them.
Q. 1030. How are parents specially fitted to bring up their children in the fear and love of God?
A. Parents are specially fitted to bring up their children in the fear and love of God:
By the special grace they receive to advise and direct their children and to warn them against evil;
By the experience they have acquired in passing through life from childhood to the position of parents. Children should, therefore, conscientiously seek and accept the direction of good parents.
Q. 1031. To receive the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily is it necessary to be in the state of grace?
A. To receive the Sacrament of Matrimony worthily it is necessary to be in the state of grace, and it is necessary also to comply with the laws of the Church.
Q. 1032. With what laws of the Church are we bound to comply in receiving the Sacrament of Matrimony?
A. In receiving the Sacrament of matrimony we are bound to comply with whatever laws of the Church concern Matrimony; such as laws forbidding solemn marriage in Lent and Advent; or marriage with relatives or with persons of a different religion, and in general all laws that refer to any impediment to marriage.
Q. 1033. In how many ways may persons be related?
A. Persons may be related in four ways. When they are related by blood their relationship is called consanguinity; when they are related by marriage it is called affinity; when they are related by being god-parents in Baptism or Confirmation, it is called spiritual affinity; when they are related by adoption, it is called legal affinity.
Q. 1034. Who has the right to make laws concerning the Sacrament of marriage?
A. The Church alone has the right to make laws concerning the Sacrament of marriage, though the state also has the right to make laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract.
Q. 1035. What do we mean by laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract?
A. By laws concerning the civil effects of the marriage contract we mean laws with regard to the property or debts of the husband and wife, the inheritance of their children, or whatever pertains to their temporal affairs. All persons are bound to obey the laws of their country when these laws are not opposed to the laws of God.
Q. 1036. Does the Church forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?
A. The Church does forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all.
Q. 1037. Why does the Church forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all?
A. The Church forbids the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion, or no religion at all, because such marriages generally lead to indifference, loss of faith, and to the neglect of the religious education of the children.
Q. 1038. What are the marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion called, and when does the Church permit them by dispensation?
A. The marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion are called mixed marriages. The Church permits them by dispensation only under certain conditions and for urgent reasons; chiefly to prevent a greater evil.
Q. 1039. What are the conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic?
A. The conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic are:
That the Catholic be allowed the free exercise of his or her religion;
That the Catholic shall try by teaching and good example to lead the one who is not a Catholic to embrace the true faith;
That all the children born of the marriage shall be brought up in the Catholic religion. The marriage ceremony must not be repeated before a heretical minister. Without these promises, the Church will not consent to a mixed marriage, and if the Church does not consent the marriage is unlawful.
Q. 1040. What penalty does the Church impose on Catholics who marry before a Protestant minister?
A. Catholics who marry before a Protestant minister incur excommunication; that is, a censure of the Church or spiritual penalty which prevents them from receiving the Sacrament of Penance till the priest who hears their confession gets special faculties or permission from the bishop; because by such a marriage they make profession of a false religion in acknowledging as a priest one who has neither sacred power nor authority.
Q. 1041. How does the Church show its displeasure at mixed marriages?
A. The Church shows its displeasure at mixed marriages by the coldness with which it sanctions them, prohibiting all religious ceremony at them by forbidding the priest to use any sacred vestments, holy water or blessing of the ring at such marriages; by prohibiting them also from taking place in the Church or even in the sacristy. On the other hand, the Church shows its joy and approval at a true Catholic marriage by the Nuptial Mass and solemn ceremonies.
Q. 1042. Why should Catholics avoid mixed marriages?
A. Catholics should avoid mixed marriages:
Because they are displeasing to the Church and cannot bring with them the full measure of God’s grace and blessing;
Because the children should have the good example of both parents in the practice of their religion;
Because such marriages give rise to frequent disputes on religious questions between husband and wife and between their relatives;
Because the one not a Catholic, disregarding the sacred character of the Sacrament, may claim a divorce and marry again, leaving the Catholic married and abandoned.
Q. 1043. Does the Church seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages?
A. The Church does not seek to make converts by its laws concerning mixed marriages, but seeks only to keep its children from losing their faith and becoming perverts by constant company with persons not Catholics. The Church does not wish persons to become Catholics merely for the sake of marrying Catholics. Such conversions are, as a rule, not sincere, do no good, but rather make such converts hypocrites and guilty of greater sins, especially sins of sacrilege.
Q. 1044. Why do many marriages prove unhappy?
A. Many marriages prove unhappy because they are entered into hastily and without worthy motives.
Q. 1045. When are marriages entered into hastily?
A. Marriages are entered into hastily when persons do not sufficiently consider and investigate the character, habits and dispositions of the one they intend to marry. It is wise to look for lasting qualities and solid virtues in a life-long companion and not to be carried away with characteristics that please only for a time.
Q. 1046. When are motives for marriage worthy?
A. Motives for marriage are worthy when persons enter it for the sake of doing God’s will and fulfilling the end for which He instituted the Sacrament. Whatever is opposed to the true object of the Sacrament and the sanctification of the husband and wife must be an unworthy motive.
Q. 1047. How should Christians prepare for a holy and happy marriage?
A. Christians should prepare for a holy and happy marriage by receiving the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist; by begging God to grant them a pure intention and to direct their choice; and by seeking the advice of their parents and the blessing of their pastors.
Q. 1048. How may parents be guilty of great injustice to their children in case of marriage?
A. Parents may be guilty of great injustice to their children in case of marriage by seeking the gratification of their own aims and desires, rather than the good of their children, and thus for selfish and unreasonable motives forcing their children to marry persons they dislike or preventing them from marrying the persons chosen by the dictates of their conscience, or compelling them to marry when they have no vocation for such a life or no true knowledge of its obligations.
Q. 1049. May persons receive the Sacrament of Matrimony more than once?
A. Persons may receive the sacrament of Matrimony more than once, provided they are certain of the death of the former husband or wife and comply with the laws of the Church.
Q. 1050. Where and at what time of the day should Catholics be married?
A. Catholics should be married before the altar in the Church. They should be married in the morning, and with a Nuptial Mass if possible.
Q. 1051. What must never be forgotten by those who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church?
A. They who attend a marriage ceremony in the Church must never forget the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, and that all laughing, talking, or irreverence is forbidden then as at other times. Women must never enter into the presence of the Blessed Sacrament with uncovered heads, and their dress must be in keeping with the strict modesty that Our Lord’s presence demands, no matter what worldly vanity or social manners may require.
Would have been Great! Years ago my husband was on travel. I was at home seeing my parents, just before Christmas. He called and asked if I got my Christmas gift. I didn’t and he told me what it was Divorce papers. Thank God my parents were by me I had a big seizure. Wonder why? Not. What a Christmas gift. We were going to adopt children.