Marriage as for the good of each other and the good of society … The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that marriage by it’s very nature is “ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children” (CCC 1660). Marriage is the foundation on which our society has its foundations. The future of society and its relationship to the one true good that is God depends on the concept marriage and family life.
A lifelong exclusive commitment … through marriage a husband and wife give themselves completely to one another. They promise to love each other freely, truly, fruitfully and faithfully for the rest of their lives, through good times and bad. They go on to express this through their sexual union which brings them intimately closer together, and by the grace of God, their relationship grows beyond themselves and they build a home for family and a place of Christian welcome.
A sign of Christ’s radical love … The love shown between a Christian husband and wife becomes a sign of the radical love shown by Christ in his life, death and resurrection. Christian marriage is not just an expression of human affection, it is a sacrament of the love of Christ, a way for husband and wife to minister to each other and to their children. And in this way the Christian family becomes a place where others can see the beauty and power of Christ’s redeeming love, a love that is often obscured in our fallen world. This is why marriage is a Christian vocation.
Christian marriage is a sacrament, a vocation, and if you choose to be married it will be a sign of your love for Christ as much as of your love for another person. But it is not the kind of call that pulls you away from your natural hopes and expectations. Marriage is not easier to live than other vocations, but it is easier to explain. If you long to be married, and there are no other big pulls in your life, then you should be at peace about seeking a husband or wife.
The story of Adam and Eve, at the very beginning of the Bible, pictures how God made man and woman for each other, and for the future and flourishing of the human race. The Rite of Celebrating Matrimony celebrates married life as ‘established as the one blessing that was not forfeited by original sin or washed away in the flood’, suggesting it was part of our original way of life in Paradise. We were not created to be alone.
The Marriage Rites of the Church celebrate the vows. The couple continue to celebrate the sacrament day in day out in their life together and in their family. So the minister of the sacrament is not the priest or deacon who officiates, but the couple themselves.