Marriage

Marriage preparation requirements

While many engaged couples focus on preparing for the wedding day, the Church encourages them to spend their engagement preparing for a strong, lifelong marriage—and the responsibilities and challenges that come with it.  Some couples view the Church’s marriage preparation requirements as an unfair burden; they “just want to get married.”  But according to one study, most couples (nearly 94 percent) who completed a marriage preparation program found it to be a valuable experience, especially in the early years of marriage (see "For Your Marriage").  There is also growing evidence that marriage preparation programs significantly reduce the risk of divorce.  Marriage preparation programs take different forms, but they all aim to help couples talk about issues that may not have come up while they were dating, such as finances, raising kids, chores, family backgrounds, conflict resolution, and gender roles.  Marriage preparation programs also supply couples with proven strategies for overcoming tough times.

At St Paul the Apostle marriage preparation involves contacting the pastor 6 months to a year prior to setting your wedding date.  The preparation process includes a pre-marriage relationship inventory--FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding & Study), an Engage Encounter Weekend Retreat or Pre-Cana Seminar through the Diocese of Corpus Christi, a course in Natural Family Planning if not attending the Engage Encounter Weekend, and discussion on the nature of the sacrament of marriage with the pastor.

For those married civilly needing their marriage convalidated in the church, the process for prepartion is case by case.  Please contact the pastor to set up an appointment.

For various pastoral reasons, some couples may need to obtain dispensations from certain conditions in order to marry.  The most common dispensation is that required for couples entering an interfaith marriage. 

In addition, an annulment may be necessary prior to marriage.  “Annulment” is an unfortunate word that is sometimes used to refer to a Catholic “declaration of nullity.” Actually, nothing is made null through the process. Rather, a Church tribunal (a Catholic Church court) declares that a marriage thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union.

 

What is Marriage?

The sacrament of marriage is a visible sign of God’s love for the Church. When a man and a woman are married in the Church, they receive the grace needed for a lifelong bond of unity.

Marriage is a Covenant

The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenantal union in the image of the covenants between God and his people with Abraham and later with Moses at Mt. Sinai. This divine covenant can never be broken. In this way, marriage is a union that bonds spouses together during their entire lifetime.

The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life. (CCC 1661)

The love in a married relationship is exemplified in the total gift of one’s self to another. It’s this self-giving and self-sacrificing love that we see in our other model of marriage, the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. (CCC 1662)

The Church takes the lifelong nature of the Sacrament of Marriage seriously. The Church teaches that a break in this covenant teaches goes against the natural law of God:

The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith. (CCC 1665)

Marriage Reflects the Holy Trinity

We believe that God exists in eternal communion. Together, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in one being with no beginning and no end. Human beings, likewise, were created by God in God’s image for the purpose of communion with another human being.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit” (CCC 2205). The Sacrament of Marriage is “unitive, indissoluble and calls us to be completely open to fertility.” Christian marriage at its finest is a reflection of God’s self-giving love expressed between the love of two people.

 

Helpful Links

 

For Your Marriage

Diocese Office of Family

Readings

Tips

Annulment Information

 

Marriage

God created man and woman out of love and commanded them to imitate his love in their relations with each other. Man and woman were created for each other…Woman and man are equal in human dignity, and in marriage both are united in an unbreakable bond. (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, Ch. 21, p. 279)

 

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