There Is a Sanctity To Marriage Vows

Marriage is sadly misunderstood in today’s world. We have confused the contract of marriage with the sacrament of marriage. 

Matrimony is so much more than just entering into a “partnership.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church #1601 teaches us that “(T)he matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward 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.” 

In the order of creation, God blessed Adam and Eve and told them to be fruitful and multiply. They entered into a covenant with each other and rightly saw their union as a reflection of the interior life of God, who is the Most Blessed Trinity. 

In the fall of humankind, when original sin enters the world, we see that the relationship between Adam and Eve becomes strained, as does their relationship with God. But still, the marriage covenant endures with Adam and Eve, as does the Covenant with the Lord God. 

Remember, even as God must exile Adam and Eve from Eden, he still provides for them. As we are reminded in the nuptial blessing in the order of Christian matrimony, it is the one original blessing not washed away in the flood, which we read about in the Old Testament’s Book of Genesis. 

We can look to the good news, which we witnessed this past weekend in the lives and in the love shared by couples who celebrated their relationship milestones with Bishop Robert Brennan at the parish of Resurrection-Ascension in Rego Park. 

Certainly, these couples did not have every single day of their marriages without an ounce of difficulty. But like Adam and Eve, despite difficulties and problems, God provides with his loving, faithful kindness. 

Our world today proposes so many alternatives to Christian marriage. Yet none of them lives up to what the Lord Jesus has given to the Church as a sacrament. 

A civil union between couples is simply not the same. It does not have in it the grace and the power of the sacrament. 

In a Catholic wedding, it is not the clergyman who is the true celebrant of the marriage; it is the bride and the groom themselves who are the recipients and the ministers of the sacrament of holy matrimony. 

All a deacon, priest, or bishop does is officiate at the marriage in the name of the Church. 

Simply put, Catholic marriages endure. The divorce rate in the U.S. is currently at 44% for all couples, yet statistics tell us that for Catholic marriage, divorce is only 19%. Even this number is too high. 

On June 15, Pope Francis stated: “There is therefore first and foremost a duty to accompany with a sense of responsibility those who manifest the intention to be united in marriage, so that they may be preserved from the traumas of separation and never lose faith in love.” 

The Holy Father urged dioceses to devote more time to marriage preparation, stating: “It is, therefore, a duty of justice for the Mother Church to devote time and energy to the preparation of those whom the Lord calls to so great a mission as the family.” 

Thanks to the guidance of Mr. Christian Rada, the Director of Marriage, Family Formation and Respect Life Education for the Diocese of Brooklyn, and so many other parish-based individuals, we in Brooklyn and Queens are trying to live up to the Pope’s command to help Catholic couples have happy, healthy, holy marriages, which last a lifetime.