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The Christian Marriage Contract

Dec 14, 2007
Marriage is a lawful contract between a man and a woman by which they give to each other the perpetual and exclusive right to those bodily functions which are naturally apt to generate offspring. Just what does this mean? Since the bearing and rearing

Matrimony is a sacrament of the living. To get the graces attached to it, both parties must be properly baptized and in the state of grace at the time of receiving it. Unlike other sacraments.

Which are usually performed by a priest, the groom and the bride themselves are the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony. The priest has no part in the giving of the external sign. He merely acts as the Church's official witness of the contract.

The Church requires his presence, so that without him the marriage of a Catholic would not be valid. The marriage of two Catholics before a justice of the peace or a minister of some other religion is, of course, an invalid marriage.

A mixed marriage performed by a Protestant minister is not only invalid but also entails excommunication for the Catholic party. In some dioceses, this is also a "reserved sin," that is, it cannot be removed by an ordinary confessor, but recourse must be had to the bishop. In some dioceses, marriage before a justice of the peace also incurs a similar penalty. The severity of the punishment indicates the evil of the sin; one is cut off from the sacraments by excommunication until he repents.

A marriage contract cannot be entered into unless both parties freely express their marriage consent in words or equivalent signs. It must be definite and visible. In marriage this consent is ordinarily the "I will" pronounced separately by both the groom and bride.

It is precisely this expression of mutual consent which Christ uses to produce grace in the sacrament of matrimony.

A sacrament, as you know, is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. The saying of "I will" by both the bride and the groom is not only the consent of the contract; it is also the outward sign of the sacrament.

It not only signifies, but also actually produces in the souls of the newly married couple an increase of sanctifying grace and the special grace of the sacrament of matrimony.

These special graces enable the couple to live up to all the responsibilities of married life.

Just when Christ instituted the sacrament of matrimony, we do not know. Some think that it was at the wedding feast of Cana, which He blessed with His presence.

Others say that He did so when He stated that marriage could not be dissolved. Still others maintain that marriage was made a sacrament when He spoke to His Apostles about matters pertaining to the kingdom of God, between His resurrection and His ascension. This latter is the more commonly accepted teaching.

The exact time when matrimony was instituted is, of course, unimportant. The fact that Christ actually did institute it is perfectly clear from the earliest traditions of the Church.

and education of children involve a certain amount of sacrifice on the part of parents, God made the attraction between the sexes a delightful experience. In marriage, "the sex act is one of intense pleasure.

Many people would not have entered the married state if they thought only of the trouble it involves. But they 'fall in love' and desire to fulfill that love in the sex act with the beloved.

To do this, they get married, have sex relations, a child is conceived and -- after nine months -- born. Marriage Is Both a Contract and a Sacrament
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