Marriage is a Sacrament
Marriage is for the good of the individuals and of society as a whole. It is part of God’s plan for all humanity. However, between a baptised man and woman, marriage was raised by Christ the Lord to the level of a sacrament. As an action of Jesus Himself, in marriage we receive the grace we need to live out our married and family lives.
The Purposes of Marriage
There are two purposes of marriage: the mutual love of the couple, and the procreation and raising of children. To be a valid marriage, the couple cannot deliberately exclude either purpose. Marriage is about love. It is also about openness to receiving children as a gift from God. The physical relationship between a couple is something beautiful and precious – reserved for marriage so children can be brought up in a loving and stable home. The Church’s teaching about sexuality and fertility is based on self-control, generosity and mutual respect, it is life-enhancing and for our own happiness.
The Properties of Marriage
Unity: Marriage is between one man and one woman. A husband and wife have a legitimate claim to each other’s time and affection. There must be mutual trust and commitment.
Indissolubility: At the wedding ceremony you take vows ‘till death us do part.’ Christ taught that marriage is for life. The Catholic Church upholds His teaching. Where a valid marriage is celebrated, there is no divorce in the eyes of God.
These are difficult commitments. That is why we need the grace of the sacrament and the strength gained from living the Christian life. A marriage celebrated after proper prayer and preparation and in accordance with the teaching of the Church, is a beautiful way of life, something which brings life and true joy to this world and contributes towards the eternal happiness of the whole family. A good Christian family is at the heart of all parish life.
Preparation for Marriage
- Do not make commitments, for example booking a reception venue, until you have spoken to the priest and established that you are able to marry in church on the date you want.
- You must give the priest at least six months’ notice of your intention to marry.
- You need certain documentation as evidence that you are baptised and free to marry. If you are resident in this parish, but marrying in a Catholic church elsewhere, you will still normally need to complete the documentation here.
- You must attend a marriage preparation course – the priest can give you details.
- You need to comply with the civil requirements for a marriage. It is your duty to obtain the necessary certificate/licence from the local authority.
- The marriage normally takes place in the parish church of the bride or groom. To marry at Holy Ghost & St. Stephen at least one of you must be a Catholic connected to the parish.
- The priest will help with the choice of readings and music, and the preparation of the order of service.
Frequently asked questions
- What if one of us has been married before? If either of you have been married before and your spouse is still living, you should discuss the details with the priest. It may be worth exploring whether there was, in fact, a valid marriage in the first place. (This is a thorough process which will take some time.)
- What if you want to marry a non-Catholic or a non-Christian? In principle, this should not be a difficulty. The two of you should discuss your respective beliefs and how these will impact on your marriage and future family. As our faith is a precious gift, the Catholic partner makes a promise to do all they can to continue practising their faith and that any children will be baptised and raised as Catholics.
- I was married in a registry office when I was much younger. My faith is now much more important to me. What can I do? Provided both of you are free to marry, the ‘convalidation’ process is relatively simple and you can come to church to pronounce your vows and enter into a Catholic marriage.
“What God has joined together, let no man put asunder,”
HOLY GHOST & ST. STEPHEN
44 Ashchurch Grove
020 8743 5196