To Be Or Not To Be: Marriage On The Rocks? I Do, I Do, Holy Matrimony?
What is wrong with getting married by civil authorities? What is wrong with just living with someone? These are two questions that face many young people today. The problem is one of lack of religious education. If people are not going to Church because of COVID 19 or other reasons how can you obtain a good quality religious education? The simple answer is you really can not. We will look at marriage and the marriage ceremony itself to showcase this very point.
Recently, I was talking to a series of young people who were talking about marriage. They asked, “Why get married in the Church when I can get married easily by the Justice of the Peace?”
I began to explain and then they told me that the ceremony itself was the same and the language they used was the same- you know I do, I do.
You are married if you heard words like the ones below you were married, but are you really married in the eyes of God? Today we will look at what is happening to the Sacrament of Marriage.
Marriage has not changed. Not really that much. However, today many people will just live together or get married in a civil ceremony. After all, we love each other, why should we bring the Church into our marriage? Before I answer that question let us look at the civil wedding ceremony itself. The following ceremony is currently being used in Florida.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today (tonight) to join this man and this woman in (holy) matrimony."
Exchange of Vows Notary asks the man, "(his name), do you take this woman to be your wife, to live together in (holy) matrimony, to love her, to honor her, to comfort her, and to keep her in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?"
Man answers, "I do."
Notary asks the woman, "(her name), do you take this man to be your husband, to live together in (holy) matrimony, to love him, to honor him, to comfort him, and to keep him in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, for as long as you both shall live?"
Woman answers, "I do." Notary states, "Repeat after me."
To the man: "I, (his name), take you (her name ), to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part."
To the woman: "I, (her name), take you (his name ), to be my husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part."
Exchange of Rings
Notary asks the man to place the ring on the woman's finger and to repeat the following, "I give you this ring as a token and pledge of our constant faith and abiding love." (Repeat the same for the woman).
Pronouncement Notary asks the couple to join hands, then declares, "By virtue of the authority vested in me under the laws of the State of Florida, I now pronounce you husband and wife."
To the man: "You may kiss the bride."
Please note that you have a secular judge or person joining people in holy matrimony- is there any wonder why some people think it is perfectly okay to marry like this? Why do we need a priest to marry us if we can just get the JP to do the same thing? The point of the confusion is understandable and frightening at the same time. Many people share this opinion who actually even attend Church. Pope Leo XIII told the Church over 120 years ago this about a Christian Marriage.
We are concerned about the whole Christian flock, as Our apostolic duties require, for We have given frequent instruction concerning the sanctity of marriage. Jesus Christ, the author of the new covenant, translated the duty of nature into sacraments, and this duty cannot be divorced from religion and immersed in worldly of fairs. Preceded by sacred rite, it can bring about a more tranquil and happy life for the spouses, strengthen family harmony, raise children more correctly, and suitably provide for the welfare of its community. Indeed, We have treated this matter in greater detail in Our apostolic letter Arcanum divinae sapientiae consilium. In that letter We wanted to remind the faithful of the vigilant cares which the Church has shown for preserving the honor and sanctity of marriage, for the Church is the best guardian and avenger of mankind. We also reminded the civil authorities of what matters they could rightfully regulate. It is not necessary for Us to bring each of these examples to your attention. It is, however, relevant to mention again that the leaders of the state have authority in human affairs which led to marriage and generally concern civil matters. However, in the truly Christian marriage, they have no authority, for this matter should be left to the jurisdiction of the Church, which is not established by men. If the marriage contract is properly performed-that is, as Christ established it - then they will be able to see if anything which pertains to civil law might follow. It is Catholic teaching that the dignity of the sacrament adds to the marriage of Christians; nobody can depart from this without losing faith. For that reason, these matters should be governed by the divine authority of the Church alone. No marriage can be considered firmly ratified unless it is joined according to Church law and discipline. It is easy to understand from this that wherever the Tridentine law of the chapter Tametsi(1) would have been correctly promulgated, then any marriage contracted against its prescription should be considered null and void. That Tridentine law was not only promulgated in Peru, but it has been enforced for a long time and faithfully observed. Therefore, the Apostolic See strongly desires to keep this teaching.
We need to have a robust religious education program to train our younger people to make sure they realize that Holy Matrimony is a sacrament of the Church and not a word mentioned by the Justice of the Peace.