So there we have it!!
Paragraph 1625 says, “The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent; ‘to be free’ means: not being under constraint; not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.”
Free of impediments means there are no obligations that they have to someone else or something else that would make them not free to contract marriage
The term FREEDOM is important and means a couple of things
Firstly, that there is they are not under any constraint
There is nothing FORCING them to get married
There is no coercion
There is no fear that is driving them
So shotgun weddings, where the woman is pregnant and that is why the couple is getting married, could be an impediment
There are a number of priests who will say that if a woman is pregnant, let’s wait until after the baby is born
Let’s not jump into marriage because of the presence of a child
Would it not be better if the child had a mom and a dad?
THAT IS ALWAYS A GOOD THING!!
We want to make sure that the man and woman are able to enter into the covenant of Matrimony in a FREE WAY so that there is NO CONSTRAINT
The second aspect is that they are not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law
There are some natural things that make marriage impossible
One would be if both people are of the same sex
That would be a natural law that makes marriage impossible and prohibits Matrimony
Another thing that would make a natural reality is that if a couple is incapable of entering into natural sexual intercourse even once because this is an essential part of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
You might have a great relationship
There might be incredible love and support
You might have an incredible friendship
There might be a depth of love for each other that is real
The couple MUST be able to enter into the sexual embrace at least once in order for the marriage to be a sacrament
This is a painful thing to bring up
It is an important thing to bring up because it is so essential
The thing that makes marriage different than any other relationship is the presence of the sexual embrace
We have relationships with a lot of people in the course of our lives
We have parents of children
We have friends
We have brothers
We have sisters
We have deeper friendships
So many degrees of relationship
What is the single thing that makes marriage unique?
It’s not necessarily permanence because you can have permanent relationships wherever
It’s not necessarily love because you can have love amongst any number of different kinds of relationships
The thing that makes marriage DISTINCT is the sexual embrace
Without that sexual embrace, IT IS NOT MARRIAGE
Because that is the aspect of this particular relationship that makes it this particular relationship
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s analogy of chocolate chip cookies…
In a similar way, the sexual embrace is not the only ingredient in marriage
Without the sexual embrace, it is not a marriage
It can be a great relationship
It can have permanence
It can have mutual support and love
It can have all these good things
Without the sexual embrace, that is an impediment, and they would not be able to go through the rite of marriage
Not impeded by ecclesiastical law would be someone’s not free to marry because they have taken vows in Holy Orders
Or a person is not free to marry because they’ve made some other vow in a religious institution
Or they might not be free to be married because they have previously married or are married to someone else
These are some of the obstacles to freedom
Paragraph 1626 (Fr. Mike says 1627 here but it’s really 1626) says, “The Church holds the exchange of consent between the spouses to be the indispensable element that ‘makes the marriage.’ If consent is lacking there is no marriage.”
Paragraph 1627 says, “The consent consists in a ‘human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other’: ‘I take you to be my wife’-’I take you to be my husband.’ This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two ‘becoming one flesh.’”
At the altar, the Sacrament of Matrimony is ratified and made real
It is not consummated and completed yet
It does not find its fulfillment until the two become one flesh physically in the sexual embrace
The Sacrament of Matrimony not only has the baptized man and baptized woman in the presence of the Church’s minister and in the presence of two witnesses at least
In a public way they demonstrate that consent
That free consent gets ratified at the altar
It is consummated and fulfilled and completed in the sexual embrace
At the altar they say I’m yours and you’re mine
In the sexual embrace they LIVE OUT I’m yours and you’re mine
At the altar, the two become one flesh
In the sexual embrace, the two TRULY become one flesh
THIS IS SO SO IMPORTANT!!
WE NEED BOTH!!
That’s why chocolate chip cookies need chocolate chips 😉
Paragraph 1628 says, “The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. No human power can substitute for this consent. If this freedom is lacking the marriage is invalid.”
So what about arranged marriages?
Are arranged marriages valid?
They can be
They don’t have to be
Just like any marriage
Even in an arranged marriage, the couple would have to be free to enter into and free to offer their consent
If freedom is lacking, the marriage is invalid
If there was an impediment that would prohibit the couple from freely entering into the Sacrament of Matrimony, then the marriage is invalid
Paragraph 1629 says, “For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the competent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that the marriage never existed. In this case the contracting parties are free to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are discharged.”
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s example of annulment…
It is called the annulment process or the application for a declaration of nullity
Sometimes the Church can say YES there was an impediment so the marriage was not valid
Sometimes the Church investigates and finds there was no impediment to marriage and the marriage was freely entered into
Then this was a VALID sacrament and they remain married, even if they are civilly divorced
These are heavy topics
Every one of our lives are touched by betrayal
Every one of our lives are touched by broken hopes
Every one of our lives are touched by broken relationships, including broken marriages
There are people who are listening who have applied for a declaration of nullity and were refused
Others may be afraid to apply for the declaration of nullity
Others may think it is an excessive burden to place on someone and refuse to go through the process
Here is an invitation
GOD IS GOOD!!
GOD KNOWS YOUR STORY!!
GOD KNOWS YOUR HEART TOO!!
If you have been civilly divorced and have not applied for a declaration of nullity, if you believe that there is a case to be made that the marriage was not valid then talk to your pastor and see if he can help you
There is a process and part of the process is contacting your ex-spouse and witnesses and asking them if they are willing to spend their time on this
It’s not meant to be burdensome
It could be experienced as burdensome
Did you know this about the Church tribunals and canon lawyers?
Oftentimes, there are too few canon lawyers and too many couples who are seeking declarations of nullity
Sometimes it can take a year or two to go through the entire process
Please do not let that frighten you
The process for applying for declaration of nullity is meant to be a PROCESS OF HEALING
Fr. Mike has talked to so many couples who have said they felt it was a daunting process to write the story of their relationship and why there were impediments
But the more and more they had to go over the story, the clearer and clearer their heart became
Yes it can be a difficult process
There are some difficult processes that end up in destruction
There are some difficult processes that end up in HEALING
And the process for an application for a declaration of nullity is meant to be the process that ends in HEALING
Even if the declaration of nullity is not granted because there were no impediments that could be demonstrated, the process is meant to have an opportunity for self-examination
It is meant to have an opportunity for recognizing what was brought into the relationship and how choices brought the couple to a certain place
It’s not just meant to beat oneself up or accuse oneself
But to go over one’s past and know oneself even better and come before God in a new and deeper way
This is such a pain in so many people’s lives
YOU ARE CALLED TO BE CATHOLIC!!
You can say yeah, you're divorced and remarried so you can’t be Catholic
I get it
TRY TO TAKE THAT STEP!!
YOU WILL NOT BE SAD FOR TRYING!!
YOU WILL NOT REGRET TRYING!!
YOU WILL REGRET NOT TRYING!!
YOU ARE NOT ALONE!!
YOU ARE WANTED!!
THERE IS HEALING IN THE FUTURE!!
Paragraph 1631 says, “This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to the ecclesiastical form. Several reasons converge to explain this requirement: -Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. It is therefore appropriate that it should be celebrated in the public liturgy of the Church; -Marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children; -Since marriage is a state of life in the Church, certainty about it is necessary (hence the obligation to have witnesses); -The public character of the consent protects the “I do” once given and helps the spouses remain faithful to it.”
Holy Matrimony is a SACRAMENT OF SERVICE
Holy Matrimony is a SACRAMENT OF DISCIPLESHIP
Let’s listen to Fr. Mike’s story about getting ordained…
Fr. Mike cannot get ordained at his parent’s place on the lake because it means a lot to him
Fr. Mike is not getting ordained for himself
Fr. Mike is getting ordained because Holy Orders is a SACRAMENT OF SERVICE in the Church
It is a SACRAMENT OF DISCIPLESHIP in the Church
His day of ordination is not about him
It’s a day that the WHOLE CHURCH is getting a new priest
It’s similar with Holy Matrimony
Yes it’s the bride’s day in some ways
Yes it’s the couple’s day in some ways
Not in other ways
For a Catholic couple to enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony, they are saying that this is the way they believe that Jesus Christ is calling them to serve His Church
This is the way that Jesus Christ is calling them to be His disciples
SO THIS IS NOT JUST YOUR DAY!!
THIS IS THE DAY FOR THE ENTIRE CHURCH!!
This is the day where you are declaring discipleship for the Lord in this particular vocation
It does not make any sense to get married on the beach
It does not make any sense to get married in the woods
It makes sense to say that we are going to get married in the Church
BECAUSE THIS IS A SACRAMENT OF THE CHURCH!!
This is me declaring that this marriage, this Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, is the way I believe Jesus is calling me to BUILD UP THE BODY OF CHRIST
So it makes no sense for a Catholic Christian to get married outside the Church or outside the rite given to us by the Church
When you said yes to your spouse, you were also saying yes to how I will serve the Church
This is how I will follow Jesus Christ as His disciple
Paragraph 1632 says, “So that the ‘I do’ of the spouses may be a free and responsible act and so that the marriage covenant may have solid and lasting human and Christian foundations, preparation for marriage is of prime importance. The example and teaching given by parents and families remain the special form of this preparation.”
This is called the remote preparation for the Sacrament of Matrimony
We learn a lot from watching our parents
Either this is how marriage is supposed to work or this is how marriage should never work
We are always being formed by our culture
We are always being formed by our families and by our parish and by our parents
Part of that formation is marriage preparation
Later on, we get formal preparation that lasts 6 months up to a year of formal, immediate marriage preparation
That is typically done at the parish by a priest or deacon
These topics are really good to talk about
The rest of the Catechism gets more personal from here
Because of that, we are all going to be challenged
And because of that…
Fr. Mike is praying FOR YOU!!
Please pray for Fr. Mike and for each other!!
I cannot WAIT to see you tomorrow!!