At the moment that Our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed the Judaic teaching of marriage from Genesis, He elevated it to a Sacrament. Jesus said, "Isn't it written, 'For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh''? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." (Matthew 19:5-6 NAB). From this teaching and church tradition, we find that Catholics believe the following about marriage:
1. Marriage is permanent.
When two people are Sacramentally married, it is for life. Divorce is a legal construct that changes the legal status of a couple as far as the government and law are concerned. The state of their marriage cannot change. It is a permanent mark, one on two souls. That is why Catholics require a discernment period before marriage. The couple will meet with a Priest, Deacon, or an appointed representative. Together they will learn more about marriage and what the Church teaches about it. It is a process of discernment to assist both parties in preparing themselves for the sacrifices necessary for this permanent bond.
2. Marriage is for procreation
Catholics believe that God intended marriage for the raising of children and the perpetuation of humanity. The Sacred Scriptures show that from the beginning God intended for man and woman to be fruitful and multiply. That is why the Church teaches that Catholics should not use contraception, nor should those who do not intend ever to have children enter into the Sacrament of Marriage. Those who are married must be open to life.
3. Marriage is for unity
The purpose of marriage is also for unity. It is in the marital embrace that a couple draws closer to each other. The intimacy of a married couple reflects the image of God himself to the world. In the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, we emulate God who creates life, and whose love is so immense that it creates a bond between the Father and the Son. This bond we call the Holy Spirit, a person in his own created from the love of God.
4. Marriage is between a man and a woman.
For all of this to occur, we rationally and logically have to conclude that God intended marriage to be between a man and a woman. It is only with this traditional and Scriptural understanding of the Sacrament that we find marriage fulfilling all of the requirements. We as Catholics believe that the proper place for this Sacrament to be conferred is in the setting of a Church, in the presence of the Eucharist. Marriage is between a man and a woman, but will never succeed without Christ. How much more fitting a beginning can this union have than to immediately receive Jesus himself in the Eucharist immediately after their vows?
Couples should contact Fr. Francis four to six months before the proposed wedding date. They will then meet with Father several times as part of the marriage preparation. If you need more information, a brochure is available to explain the marriage preparation policy.