Marriage: A Sacrament Or A Ceremony?
Most people remember with fondness their wedding ceremony. The problem being that in this generation many people are skipping not only the sacrament of marriage, but the entire marriage ceremony itself.
This is a wholesale and deliberate attack on the family, the family unit and the Church. The devil is working overtime in this dispensation to tear apart the very pillars that our society had been built on. This was not always the case.
Late in the year (Dec. 24), 1902, Pope Leo XIII, wrote his encyclical of marriage entitled, DUM MULTA. This encyclical was one of the one hundred that he wrote in his Papacy. He was the third longest serving Pope and he wrote more encyclicals than any other Pope. He was the last Pope of the 19th century and the first Pope of the 20th century. He was also the oldest person to be a Pope. He wrote this particular encyclical when he was 93 years old and this would be the last one he wrote.
In the Dum Multa, Pope Leo XIII looked at civil marriages and Church marriages. This advice was timely then and even more timely now. His message is clear, concise, and very much to the point. He concluded as only as he could that marriage is a Holy Sacrament meant to be shared with others in a Church. Civil marriages should be condemned and we should realize that just because something is legal does not make it the right or moral choice.
First, Look At The Nature of Christian Marriage
Here, Pope Leo XIII clearly stated the dignity of the sacraments, the holiness of marriage inside of the Church, and the importance of marriage and family for the future of the family, nation, and Church.
We have treated this matter often in other letters, especially in Our apostolic letter of 10 February 1880. In it We emphasized the nature of Christian marriage, its strength, the care the Church has devoted to protecting its honor and its rights, and the role of civil authority in its regard. As it is evident that Christ, the son of God, redeemer and restorer of human nature, raised Christian marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, every Christian marriage is this sacrament. The matter of the contract can be separated in some sense from the nature of the sacrament. This means that while the civil authority retains in full its right to regulate the so-called civil effects, the marriage itself is subject to the authority of the Church. In addition, it is certain that Jesus, the redeemer of every race, abolished the custom of repudiation, strengthened marriage with holy power, and reinstated the law of permanence just as it was established by the will of God from the beginning. It follows then that the marriage of Christians when fully accomplished is holy, indivisible, and perfect. It cannot be dissolved for any reason other than the death of either spouse according to the holy words: "What God has joined, let no man divide." In so doing, Christ certainly intended to confer many benefits on the human race, for this institution most effectively preserves or restores morality, fosters the love of one spouse for the other, confirms families with divine strength, renews the education and protection of offspring, maintains the dignity of woman, and finally establishes the honor and the prosperity of familial and civil association in the most beneficial and excellent way.
Second, The Condemnation of Civil Marriage
Here, Pope Leo XIII points out the obvious. You can not make a law to do something even though it is not moral to do so and then justify it by saying the state will let me do something, therefore, it must be right. This is what civil authorities were doing in the early days of the 20th century.
Therefore, in accordance with our duty as supreme teacher which makes Us guardian and champion of divine and ecclesiastical law, We raise our voice and totally condemn the so-called civil marriage laws recently enacted in Ecuador. Concerning divorces, We reject them together with every assault on the holy discipline of the Church there. The fact that these laws have been established in the face of your opposition and are so much at variance with the development of civil prosperity and the interests of religion is no reason for you to be disheartened. You should rather increase your zeal for religion and be more vigilant. Continue therefore as you are doing to defend the neglected and spurned rights of the Church without yielding to defeat. Teach the faithful entrusted to your care and educate them so that they preserve the reverence due to their leaders; be faithful to the teaching of theCatholic religion and practice Christian morality. With earnest and eager prayers to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus to whom your people have been solemnly dedicated above all nations, you all should ask that He deign to bestow happier times on the Church of Ecuador through the abundance of His mercies. We still remain your companion and share in your sorrows and supplications. Meanwhile, assign of Our good will and as a pledge of divine gifts, We impart lovingly in the Lord Our apostolic blessing to you and to your faithful.
Brothers and sisters, God has blessed us with intelligence, let us use it.
God has blessed us with the word of God, let us use it. God has blessed us with a wonderful Church- his Church. The one he established almost 2,000 years ago now. We can not and we will go back against the words of Pope Leo XIII and begin to see how the family will be torn apart even more. The U.S. Census Bureau has tracked marriage rates since 1890, and its data shows the median age for a first marriage has been climbing higher and higher over the last 70 years. As of 2020, the census reported the median age for a first marriage was about 30 for men and 28 for women. This average is up over eight years for the men (compared to the figures of 1900) and seven years for the women (compared to the figures of 1900). This along with other factors such as abortions, have decreased the size of the family and the future of both our nation and the Church. Pope Leo XIII saw what was going to happen and wrote about. We are now talking about this and the only question left is: now, what are you going to do about it? Comment below.