November 12, 2023- Pastor Message12/10/2023
THE YEAR OF MISSION
THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine’...Jesus told them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ So they filled them to the brim…When the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine without knowing where it came from, he called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves good wine first and then, when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now’” (John 2:1-3, 7, 9-10).
Continuing our reflection on the canonical basics of the sacraments, we look this week at the sacrament of matrimony. Marriage is a natural institution created by God from the very beginning to provide men and women with intimate partnership and mutual support and to provide the ideal home environment for having and raising children. Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, an effective sign of God’s grace in the world through which God works out his plan for salvation for the married persons, their family, and their community. But how does it work?
The matter of marriage is the vows that the man and woman exchange out loud in front of an authorized minister and two witnesses, which is the form of the sacrament: “I (NAME), take you (NAME), to be my wife/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.” Contained within these vows is a promise to permanence (marriage is for life), fidelity (it is between only one man and one woman), a commitment to the good of the other no matter what, and an openness to having and raising children together.
The minister of the sacrament is unique. While an authorized minister of the Church, ordinarily a priest or deacon, is required to ensure the sacrament is celebrated properly, the ministers that do the form with the matter are the man and woman who, by God’s grace, marry each other. Matrimony is the only sacrament in which the ordinary minister is not ordained. The recipients are a baptized man and woman who are capable of marrying each other by the law of God and the Church. Confirmation is urged, but not strictly required.
The grace of the sacrament is the restoration of marriage to the total partnership of the whole life ordered toward God and the good of the spouses and children as intended by God from the beginning of creation but lost by us through sin. The natural marriage bond is strengthened by Christ, the bridegroom of the Church, and the couple’s love for each other and their family becomes a living sign of God’s love for his People, overflowing into and strengthening the whole community.
Fr. Marc Stockton