Note: The topic of pages in this area is receiving the Sacrament and the Liturgy of Marriage. For resources, ministries, and activites focused on building, enriching, or improving your marriage, click to be redirected to Marriage & Family Life.
What is a Christian Marriage?
The Catholic Church believes that Christian marriage is the union of a baptized man and woman who freely enter into a covenant of love with each other in Christ for the purpose of giving and receiving love and for the procreation and education of children.
Married couples live their sacrament by the way they care for one another, love one another, and are enthusiastic for one another as husband and wife. In their daily love for each other, their children, and the larger community, they become a living sign (a sacrament) for all of how much Jesus loves us and wishes to embrace us as His brothers and sisters. As they work their way through marital and family crises and struggles, they are witness to the power of the Holy Spirit at work in all our lives.
In order to live out this ideal Christian marriage, couples must have the ability to give and receive love and to sustain an intimate relationship. They must also have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church.
- Marriage is a covenant relationship (I will love you unconditionally), not just a contractual relationship (I will love you if you love me).
- The principal goals of marriage are the mutual love of husband and wife and the openness to new life.
- The sacrament of marriage has two important community dimensions:
- Couples, by their love for each other, become living signs of how God loves us and how he wants to embrace us as family.
- A Catholic wedding is a celebration of the entire Christian community and not simply a private family function.
- Marriage enables a couple to sustain a close intimate relationship.
- A Catholic marriage assumes that a couple has a relationship with Christ and His Church.
Marriage of Young People
If either of the parties will be under 19 years of age at the time of the wedding, parental consultation and completion of the canonical free state form must take place.
If the couple had not planned to marry, pregnancy of itself will not be considered sufficient reason to enter into marriage or to shorten the marriage preparation process.
If the couple has entered into a marriage outside the laws of the Church, a validation of the marriage is permitted after the couple has completed the assessment process of these pastoral guidelines.
Any previous marriage (Catholic or non-Catholic) is an obstacle to marriage in the Catholic Church. The parties must disclose to the Priest/Deacon/Case Sponsor the facts of the previous marriage(s) in an effort to seek resolution.
The Church has traditionally taught that sexual intercourse outside of marriage is contrary to the divine law. Times have not changed the Church’s teaching with reference to this particular matter. Those who come to begin marriage preparations and are living together will need to enter into specific discussion with the Priest/Deacon concerning the marriage and the ceremony. Only after the matter has been discussed will the decision be made concerning the marriage and the nature of the ceremony.