The Institution and Sacrament of Marriage. OLM Personal Vocations Fr. Llane Briese. Marriage: The Basics. Section One. Brainstorm. Why is marriage important? Why do so many marriages struggle today? What might be some factors which complicate marriage more today than once was the case?
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The Institution and Sacrament of Marriage OLM Personal Vocations Fr. Llane Briese
Marriage: The Basics Section One
Brainstorm • Why is marriage important? • Why do so many marriages struggle today? • What might be some factors which complicate marriage more today than once was the case? • What, if anything, can be done to help?
A Terminological Clarification • The word marriage carries three possible meanings. These meanings are independent; a given marriage may meet one or more definitions: • Legal Marriage: An entity in civil law; the Church has nothing to do with this definition. • Valid Marriage: An entity in natural law; the Church has discerned this definition by reflecting on human nature, but it is not exclusively governed by the Church. • Sacramental Marriage: An entity in divine law; the Church exercises exclusive jurisdiction over this type of marriage.
The Church’s Definition • Canon 1055, no. 1: • “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”
Breaking It Down… • Hence, a marriage is at its core a “covenant”; that is, at its core, a contract with a few unique qualities: • Offer and Acceptance: The parties must freely consent to the marriage. • Consideration: Each party gives something of value, namely, himself and herself. • Terms: The marriage is a lifelong partnership.
Breaking It Down… • As with any other contract, any lack of these features will nullify the marriage. In other words, the marriage cannot exist without these essential features: • Consent: Each party must freely consent to the marriage. Fraud, error, grave fear, and serious mental illness nullify consent. • Form: For a marriage to be valid, the spouses must make the marital covenant in a proper manner.
Excursus: The Idea of Natural Law • Returning to St. Paul’s magnum opus, his Letter to the Romans: • Rom 1:18–3:20: All humanity is sinful and in need of a Savior. • Israel has transgressed the law, and thus stands guilty. • The Gentiles have transgressed the law “written on their hearts” and thus stand guilty. (Cf. Rom 1:1-18-31; 2:15) • Bl. (soon St.) John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 1993: • Upholds the framework of the natural law. • Teaches that human rights are meaningless without the notion of intrinsic evil. • Natural Law is “is nothing other than the light of understanding infused in us by God, whereby we understand what must be done and what must be avoided.” (St. Thomas Aquinas, cited in VS 40). In other words, it is living “in accord with the manufacturer’s instructions.”
The Two Ends of Marriage • According to the natural law, marriage and sexuality exist for two fundamental reasons. These are known as the ends of marriage: • The good of the spouses. • The procreation and education of children. • Hence, marriage is not just about the couple; it also has a valuable and irreplaceable social function. • Expressed positively, the husband and wife give themselves fully in asymmetrical reciprocity in a manner which mirrors Christ’s gift to his Bride, the Church.
The Two Ends of Marriage • Anthropological Foundation: We do not have bodies; we are embodied creatures. In other words, we are not fully ourselves without our bodies. • Hence, bodily acts also express the full person. • Two possibilities with sex/marriage (or celibacy): • “This is my body/blood [entire self] for you.” (Mirrors Christ’s Eucharistic love; unites eros and agape.) • “This is my body … and you’re just a tool for it.” (Dehumanizes the other person into a mere commodity; abuses eros and obliterates agape.)
The Two Ends of Marriage • The Church teaches that any sexual contact outside of this marital context or intentionally separating the two ends violates the natural law with regard to one of the greatest human faculties and thus constitutes grave matter for sin: • Artificial Contraception • Artificial Conception (i.e. IVF, surrogate parenthood) • Pseudo-Intimate Relations or “Love-less Sex” (alone, pornography, prostitution, sex acts which misuse the body, etc.) • Premarital and Extramarital Intercourse • Most seriously, the unspeakable crimes by which one forces himself upon a vulnerable person.
Preparing for Marriage:The Process Section Two
First Meeting • The first meeting with a priest or deacon has three purposes: • To handle the required canonical paperwork. • Ensures that neither party is bound by an impediment to marriage. (Natural impediments, diriment impediments, simple impediments) • To get to know the couple (especially if they’re not well known). • To take care of various housekeeping tasks.
Pre-Marital Formation • Couples preparing for marriage are required to undergo some preparation. Usually, there are two requirements: • Individual Couple Communication: • i.e. FOCCUS Test • Focuses on values and communication between the spouses. • Large Group Formation: • Sponsor Couple Program • Retreat
Second Meeting • The second meeting usually has three purposes: • Prepare the wedding homily. • Check in with the couple and ensure that all paperwork (and the marriage license) is either complete or will be imminently. • Plan the Wedding Mass or Ceremony. • Ideally, the wedding rehearsal is simply a rehearsal and not an additional meeting!
The Rite of Marriage Section Three
Three Forms of the Rite • The Celebration of Marriage within Mass • Ideal when both bride and groom are Catholics. • The Celebration of Marriage outside of Mass • Ideal when either party is a non-Catholic Christian. • The Celebration of Marriage between a Catholic and an Unbaptized Person • Required when one party is non-Christian.
The Rite of Marriage • Introduction: • “My dear friends, you have come together in this church so that the Lord may seal and strengthen your love in the presence of the Church’s minister and this community. Christ abundantly blesses this love. He has already consecrated you in baptism and now he enriches and strengthens you by a special sacrament so that you may assume the duties of marriage in mutual and lasting fidelity. And so, in the presence of the Church, I ask you to state your intentions:” • Questions about Freedom: • Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage? • Will you love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives? • Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
The Rite of Marriage • Exchange of Consent (sacramental form): • “N., do you take N. to be your wife? Do you promise to be true to her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love her and honor her all the days of your life?” • “N., do you take N. to be your husband? Do you promise to be true to him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, to love him and honor him all the days of your life?” • “You have declared your consent before the Church. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you with his blessings. What God has joined, men must not divide. Amen.”
The Rite of Marriage • The Exchange of Rings • The Prayer of the Faithful • Nuptial Blessing • Contains a detailed anamnesis and epiclesis. (To be analyzed in the in-class assessment.) • Solemn Blessing • Also includes a number of features unique to each culture.
A Word on Declarations of Nullity Section Four
The Problem Matthew 19:3-11—Some Pharisees approached [Jesus], and tested him, saying, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?" 4 He said in reply, "Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' 5 and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate." […] 9 I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery." 10 [His] disciples said to him, "If that is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry." 11 He answered, "Not all can accept [this] word, but only those to whom that is granted.
The Basics • A declaration of nullity (popularly known as an annulment) is the Church’s legal decree that finds that an attempted marriage was in fact not a valid marriage. • Grounds include: • Lack of Canonical Form • Prior Bond (i.e. spouse was previously married) • Insufficient Use of Reason • Grave Lack of Discretion or Judgment • Incapacity to Assume the Essential Obligations of Marriage • Ignorance of the Societal or Sexual Nature of Marriage • Error of Person or Quality of a Person • Error Concerning the Unity of Marriage • Error Concerning the Indissolubility of Marriage