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Non-Catholics Section: Matrimony

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Non-Catholics Section:

Matrimony

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Is Marriage a Sacrament?

Is Marriage Indissoluble Until Death?

What is the Primary Purpose of Marriage? / What Are the Blessings of Marriage?

What is the Proper Role of a Wife?

Why Has the Catholic Church Traditionally Forbidden or Discouraged Mixed Marriages?

Question

Comments

Is Marriage a Sacrament?

Consider:

* Marriage was raised to a sacrament by Christ. As Pope Pius XI has said:

"And since the valid matrimonial consent among the faithful was constituted by Christ as a sign of grace, the sacramental nature is so intimately bound up with Christian wedlock that there can be no true marriage between baptized persons 'without it being by that very fact a sacrament.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

* So called "civil marriages" are not true marriages for Christians, and are considered sinful unions. Only Sacramental marriages are valid for Christians.

"Among Christians there can be no true marriage that is not a sacrament." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"For a Christian, it is not sufficient to get only the civil contract, because it is not a sacrament, and therefore not a true marriage." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"Spouses who would live together united by only a civil marriage would be in an habitual state of mortal sin, and their union would always be illegitimate in the sight of God and of the Church." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"We say nothing about that other decree in which, after completely despising the mystery, dignity, and sanctity of the sacrament of matrimony; after utterly ignoring and distorting its institution and nature; and after completely spurning the power of the Church over the same sacrament, it was proposed, according to the already condemned errors of heretics, and against the teaching of the Catholic Church, that marriage should be considered as a civil contract only, and that divorce, strictly speaking, should be sanctioned in various cases; and that all matrimonial cases should be deferred to lay tribunals and be judged by them; because no Catholic is ignorant or cannot know that matrimony is truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelical law, instituted by Christ the Lord, and that for that reason, there can be no marriage between the faithful without there being at one and the same time a sacrament, and that, therefore, any other union of man and woman among Christians, except the sacramental union, even if contracted under the power of any civil law, is nothing else than a disgraceful and death-bringing concubinage very frequently condemned by the Church, and, hence, that the sacrament can never be separated from the conjugal agreement, and that it pertains absolutely to the power of the Church to discern those things which can pertain in any way to the same matrimony." (Pope Pius IX, 1857 A.D.)


In Closing...

"Marriage has God for its Author, and was from the very beginning a kind of foreshadowing of the incarnation of His Son; and therefore there abides in it a something holy and religious; not extraneous, but innate; not derived from men, but implanted by nature." (Pope Leo XIII)

"But considering the benefits of the Sacrament, besides the firmness and indissolubility, there are also much higher emoluments as the word 'sacrament' itself very aptly indicates; for to Christians this is not a meaningless and empty name. Christ the Lord, the Institutor and 'Perfecter' of the holy sacraments, by raising the matrimony of His faithful to the dignity of a true sacrament of the New Law, made it a sign and source of that peculiar internal grace by which 'it perfects natural love, it confirms an indissoluble union, and sanctifies both man and wife.'" (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

Is Marriage Indissoluble Until Death?

Consider:

* Our Lord Jesus Christ has stated that marriage is indissoluble until death:

"It was also said, 'Whoever divorces his wife must give her a bill of divorce.' But I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) causes her to commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Mt. 5:31-32)

"Some Pharisees approached [Jesus], and tested him, saying, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause whatever?' He said in reply, 'Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female' 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'? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.' They said to him, 'Then why did Moses command that the man give the woman a bill of divorce and dismiss (her)?' He said to them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.'" (Mt. 19:3-9)

"The Pharisees approached [Jesus] and asked, 'Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?' They were testing him. He said to them in reply, 'What did Moses command you?' They replied, 'Moses permitted him to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her.' But Jesus told them, 'Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female. 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.' In the house the disciples again questioned him about this. He said to them, 'Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'" (Mk. 10:2-12)

"Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and the one who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery." (Our Lord Jesus Christ, Lk. 16:18)

Clearly, a 'divorce' is meaningless since one could not be committing adultery if he was no longer married.

* St. Paul has confirmed that spouses are bound to each other until death:

"A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whomever she wishes, provided that it be in the Lord." (1 Cor. 7:39)

"Are you unaware, brothers (for I am speaking to people who know the law), that the law has jurisdiction over one as long as one lives? Thus a married woman is bound by law to her living husband; but if her husband dies, she is released from the law in respect to her husband. Consequently, while her husband is alive she will be called an adulteress if she consorts with another man. But if her husband dies she is free from that law, and she is not an adulteress if she consorts with another man." (Rom. 7:1-3)

* Scripture even compares the bond of marriage to the bond between Christ and his Church:

"Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. So (also) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church." (Eph. 5:22-32)

* Those are mistaken who think the state can dissolve a marriage. 

"[T]he bond of Christian marriage cannot be dissolved by the civil authority, because the civil authority cannot interfere with the matter of the sacrament nor can it put asunder what God has joined together." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"Divorce granted by courts of justice or by any human power does not break the bond of marriage, and one who makes use of such a divorce to marry again while the 'former' husband or wife lives commits a sacrilege and lives in the sin of adultery. A civil divorce has no effect whatever upon the bond and spiritual nature of the Sacrament." (Baltimore Catechism)

* For good reasons, the Church may allow a physical separation of spouses, but this does not end the marriage or allow the spouses to marry others.

"The Church sometimes, for very good reasons, does allow husband and wife to separate and live apart; but that is not dissolving the bond of marriage, or divorce as it is called, for though separated they are still husband and wife and neither can marry as long as both are alive." (Baltimore Catechism)

* The Church may declare a marriage invalid (or "null"), but this is not the same as a divorce. This declaration of nullity means the marriage never existed in the first place, even despite appearances to the contrary. Note that a marriage which is valid at its beginning can never be declared invalid, even if conditions later change. 

"The Church does not allow Catholics once really married to separate and marry again, but it sometimes declares persons apparently married free to marry again because their first marriage was null; that is, no marriage on account of some impediment not discovered until after the ceremony [that is, an impediment which already existed at the time of the marriage ceremony, but was not discovered until later]." (Baltimore Catechism)

* Remember that the Catholic Church is the world's "greatest protector of marriage on the planet". Not only has she not compromised her teachings "in the mist of the spiritual wreckage which surrounds her", but her firmness on the indissolubility of marriage has cost her whole peoples (e.g. England).


Closing Quotations...

"But he who has once entered into the matrimonial alliance, regret it as he afterwards may, cannot possibly change, or invalidate, or undo what has been done." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"[T]he bond of marriage...cannot be dissolved except by the death of either husband or wife, because God so ordained from the beginning and so Jesus Christ our Lord solemnly proclaimed." (Catechism of St. Pius X)

"It should be known that no power can dissolve the bond of Christian marriage whenever this has been ratified and consummated; and that, of a consequence, those husbands and wives are guilty of a manifest crime who plan, for whatever reason, to be united in a second marriage before the first one has been ended by death." (Pope Leo XIII)

"The third advantage [of Marriage] is called the Sacrament, that is to say, the indissoluble bond of marriage. As the Apostle has it: The Lord commanded that the wife depart not from the husband, and if she depart that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband; and let not the husband put away his wife (1 Cor. 7:10). And truly, if marriage as a Sacrament represents the union of Christ with His Church, it also necessarily follows that just as Christ never separates Himself from His Church, so in like manner the wife an never be separated from her husband in so far as regards the marriage-tie." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"In the second place, if marriage could be dissolved by divorce, married persons would hardly ever be without causes of disunion, which would be daily supplied by the old enemy of peace and purity; while, on the contrary, now that the faithful must remember that even though separated as to bed and board, they remain none the less bound by the bond of marriage with no hope of marrying another, they are by this very fact rendered less prone to strife and discord. And even if it sometimes happens that husband and wife become separated, and are unable to bear the want of their partnership any longer, they are easily reconciled by friends and return to their common life." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The self-same testimony of Christ our Lord easily proves that the marriage-tie cannot be broken by any sort of divorce. For if by a bill of divorce a woman were freed from the law that binds her to her husband, she might marry another husband without being in the least guilty of adultery. Yet our Lord says clearly: Whosoever shall put away his wife and shall marry another committeth adultery. Hence it is plain that the bond of marriage can be dissolved by death alone, as is confirmed by the Apostle when he says: A woman is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband die she is at liberty; let her marry whom she will, only in the Lord; and again: To them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband; and if she depart that she remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. To the wife, then, who for a just cause has left her husband, the Apostle offers this alternative: Let her either remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. Nor does holy Church permit husband and wife to separate without weighty reasons." (Catechism of the Council of Trent)

"The true origin of marriage, venerable brothers, is well known to all. Though revilers of the Christian faith refuse to acknowledge the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church on this subject, and have long striven to destroy the testimony of all nations and of all times, they have nevertheless failed not only to quench the powerful light of truth, but even to lessen it. We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time. And this union of man and woman, that it might answer more fittingly to the infinite wise counsels of God, even from the beginning manifested chiefly two most excellent properties - deeply sealed, as it were, and signed upon it - namely, unity and perpetuity. From the Gospel we see clearly that this doctrine was declared and openly confirmed by the divine authority of Jesus Christ. He bore witness to the Jews and to His Apostles that marriage, from its institution, should exist between two only, that is, between one man and one woman; that of two they are made, so to say, one flesh; and that the marriage bond is by the will of God so closely and strongly made fast that no man may dissolve it or render it asunder.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

What is the Primary Purpose of Marriage? / What Are the Blessings of Marriage?

Consider:

* The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children:

"Can. 1013 § 1 The primary end of marriage is the procreation and education of children; the secondary [end] is mutual support and a remedy for concupiscence. § 2 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain special firmness by reason of the sacrament." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

As St. Augustine has said, "Marriage itself among all races is for the one purpose of procreating children, whatever will be their station and character afterwards; marriage was instituted for this purpose, so that children might be born properly and decently." (St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church, 5th century A.D.)

* The blessings of marriage include: the proper procreation and education of children, fidelity, and the sacrament (which is indissoluble):

"Marriage has three blessings. The first is children, to be received and raised for God's service. The second is the loyal faith whereby each serves the other. The third is the sacrament, which signifies the inseparable union of Christ with His Church." (St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church and "greatest theologian in the history of the Church")

Three blessings are ascribed to matrimony: "The first is the procreation and education of children for the worship of God. The second is fidelity that each of the spouses must observe towards the other. The third is the indissolubility of matrimony - indissoluble because it signifies the indivisible union of Christ with the Church. Although a separation from bed may be permitted by reason of marital infidelity, nevertheless is not permitted to contract another matrimony since the bond of marriage lawfully contracted is perpetual." (Council of Florence)

What is the Proper Role of a Wife?

Consider:

* Whether modern women like it or not, Scripture is clear that women are to be subordinate to their husbands. For example, consider the following...

"To the woman also [God] said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee." (Gen. 3:16) [Note: Douay Rheims translation. Modern translation says "and he (your husband) shall be your master"]

"Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord." (St. Paul, Col. 3:18)

"Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything." (St. Paul, Eph. 5:22-24) [Note: Of course "everything" is necessarily limited to everything lawful and not sinful.]

"But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and a husband the head of his wife, and God the head of Christ." (St. Paul, 1 Cor. 11:3) 

"Likewise, you wives should be subordinate to your husbands so that, even if some disobey the word, they may be won over without a word by their wives' conduct when they observe your reverent and chaste behavior." (St. Peter, 1 Pt. 3:1-2)


Closing Quotations...

"A household cannot be a democracy, ruled by everyone, but the authority must necessarily rest in one person." (St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church)

"Wherefore, as the Apostle has it, as Christ is the head of the Church, so is the man the head of the woman; and as the Church is subject to Christ, who embraces her with a most chaste and undying love, so also should wives be subject to their husbands, and be loved by them in turn with a faithful and constant affection." (Pope Leo XIII, "Quod Apostolici Muneris", 1878 A.D.)

"The husband is the chief of the family and the head of the wife. The woman, because she is flesh of his flesh, and bone of his bone, must be subject to her husband and obey him; not, indeed, as a servant, but as a companion, so that her obedience shall be wanting in neither honor nor dignity. Since the husband represents Christ, and since the wife represents the Church, let there always be, both in him who commands and in her who obeys, a heaven-born love guiding both in their respective duties. For 'the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church...Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let wives be to their husbands in all things.'" (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

"The same false teachers who try to dim the luster of conjugal faith and purity do not scruple to do away with the honorable and trusting obedience which the woman owes to the man. Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected. This emancipation in their ideas must be threefold, in the ruling of the domestic society, in the administration of family affairs and in the rearing of the children. It must be social, economic, physiological: - physiological, that is to say, the woman is to be freed at her own good pleasure from the burdensome duties properly belonging to a wife as companion and mother (We have already said that this is not an emancipation but a crime); social, inasmuch as the wife being freed from the cares of children and family, should, to the neglect of these, be able to follow her own bent and devote herself to business and even public affairs; finally economic, whereby the woman even without the knowledge and against the wish of her husband may be at liberty to conduct and administer her own affairs, giving her attention chiefly to these rather than to children, husband and family. This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man. This equality of rights which is so much exaggerated and distorted, must indeed be recognized in those rights which belong to the dignity of the human soul and which are proper to the marriage contract and inseparably bound up with wedlock. In such things undoubtedly both parties enjoy the same rights and are bound by the same obligations; in other things there must be a certain inequality and due accommodation, which is demanded by the good of the family and the right ordering and unity and stability of home life." (Pope Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.) 

"Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that 'order of love,' as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: 'Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.' This subjection, however, does not deny or take away the liberty which fully belongs to the woman both in view of her dignity as a human person, and in view of her most noble office as wife and mother and companion; nor does it bid her obey her husband's every request if not in harmony with right reason or with the dignity due to wife; nor, in fine, does it imply that the wife should be put on a level with those persons who in law are called minors, to whom it is customary not to allow free exercise of their rights on account of their lack of mature judgment, or of their ignorance of human affairs. But it forbids that exaggerated liberty which cares not for the good of the family; it forbids that in this body which is the family, the heart be separated from the head to the great detriment of the whole body and the proximate danger of ruin. For if the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love. Again, this subjection of wife to husband in its degree and manner may vary according to the different conditions of persons, place and time. In fact, if the husband neglect his duty, it falls to the wife to take his place in directing the family. But the structure of the family and its fundamental law, established and confirmed by God, must always and everywhere be maintained intact. With great wisdom Our predecessor Leo XIII, of happy memory, in the Encyclical on Christian marriage which We have already mentioned, speaking of this order to be maintained between man and wife, teaches: 'The man is the ruler of the family, and the head of the woman; but because she is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, let her be subject and obedient to the man, not as a servant but as a companion, so that nothing be lacking of honor or of dignity in the obedience which she pays. Let divine charity be the constant guide of their mutual relations, both in him who rules and in her who obeys, since each bears the image, the one of Christ, the other of the Church.'" (Pius XI, "Casti Connubii", 1930 A.D.)

Why Has the Catholic Church Traditionally Forbidden or Discouraged Mixed Marriages?

Consider:

* In accordance with Scripture and tradition, the Church has historically discouraged (and forbidden) mixed marriages (marriages of Catholics with non-Catholics) because they lead to religious indifference, loss of faith, improper instruction of children, etc. 

"Can. 1060 Most severely does the Church prohibit everywhere that marriage be entered into by two baptized persons, one of whom is Catholic, and the other belonging to a heretical or schismatic sect; indeed, if there is a danger of perversion to the Catholic spouse and children, that marriage is forbidden even by divine law." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"The Church can forbid the marriage of Catholics with persons who have a different religion or no religion at all, because such marriages generally lead to indifference, loss of faith, and to the neglect of the religious education of the children." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Catholic truth and Church doctrine which forbids mixed marriages as disgraceful because of the communion in holy things and because of the serious danger of the perversion of the Catholic spouse and the perverted education of the future children." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Commissum Divinitus", 1835 A.D.)

"Other reasons also proving that persons should turn with dread from such marriages are chiefly these: that they give occasion to forbidden association and communion in religious matters; endanger the faith of the Catholic partner; are a hindrance to the proper education of the children; and often lead to a mixing up of truth and falsehood, and to the belief that all religions are equally good." (Pope Leo XIII, "Arcanum", 1880 A.D.)

"Catholics should avoid mixed marriages (1) Because they are displeasing to the Church and cannot bring with them the full measure of God's grace and blessing; (2) Because the children should have the good example of both parents in the practice of their religion; (3) Because such marriages give rise to frequent disputes on religious questions between husband and wife and between their relatives; (4) Because the one not a Catholic, disregarding the sacred character of the Sacrament, may claim a divorce a marry again, leaving the Catholic married and abandoned." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Since We must diligently safeguard the integrity of sound doctrine and practice, We cannot help but be displeased with whatever might imperil them. And yet what the Church has always thought about marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics is more than abundantly clear. Indeed she has always considered such marriages to be illicit and destructive both because of the disgraceful sharing in sacramental matters involved and because of the ever present danger of the Catholic spouse and improper upbringing of offspring. And this is the tenor of most ancient canons severely prohibiting such marriages and more recent sanctions of supreme pontiffs." (Pope Gregory XVI, "Quas Vestro", 1841 A.D.)

* Traditionally, any dispensations given for mixed marriages are issued only reluctantly, and under certain conditions:

"The marriages of Catholics with persons of a different religion are called mixed marriages. They Church permits them by dispensation only under certain conditions and for urgent reasons; chiefly to prevent a greater evil." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The Church [traditionally] shows its displeasure at mixed marriages by the coldness with which it sanctions them, prohibiting all religious ceremony at them, by forbidding the priest to use any sacred vestments, holy water or blessing of the rings at such marriages; by prohibiting them also from taking place in the church or even in the sacristy. On the other hand, the Church shows its joy and approval at a true Catholic marriage by the Nuptial Mass and solemn ceremonies." (Baltimore Catechism)

"The conditions upon which the Church will permit a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic are: (1) That the Catholic be allowed the free exercise of his or her religion; (2) That the Catholic shall try by teaching and good example to lead the one who is not a Catholic to embrace the true faith; (3) that all the children born of the marriage shall be brought up in the Catholic religion. The marriage ceremony must not be repeated before a heretical 'minister'. Without these promises, the Church will not consent to a mixed marriage, and if the Church does not consent, the marriage is unlawful." (Baltimore Catechism)

"Can. 1061 § 1 The Church does not dispense from the impediment of mixed religion, unless: 1° Just and grave cause so urge; ° 2 The non-Catholic spouse gives a precaution to remove the danger of perversion from the Catholic spouse, and from both spouses [there is a promise] that all children will be baptized only Catholic and so educated; °3 There is moral certitude the cautions will be implemented. § 2 These cautions are regularly required in writing." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

"Can. 1064 Ordinaries and other pastors of souls: 1° Shall discourage, whenever possible, the faithful from mixed weddings; 2° If they are unable to impede them, they shall studiously take care that they not be contracted against the laws of God or the Church; 3° In cases of mixed weddings already celebrated, whether in their own or in another's territory, they shall be sedulously vigilant that the spouses fulfill faithfully all the promises made; 4° In assisting at marriage, they shall observe the prescription of Canon 1102." (1917 Code of Canon Law)

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