THE CATECHISM OF ST. PIUS X
The Sacrament of Matrimony
Nature of the Sacrament of Matrimony
1 Q: What is the sacrament of Matrimony?
A: Matrimony is a sacrament, instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, which creates a holy and indissoluble union between a man and woman, and gives them grace to love one another holily and to bring up their children as Christians.
2 Q: By whom was Matrimony instituted?
A: Matrimony was instituted by God Himself in the Garden of Paradise, and was raised to the dignity of a sacrament by Jesus Christ in the New Law.
3 Q: Has the sacrament of Matrimony any special signification?
A: The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the indissoluble union of Jesus Christ with the Church, His Spouse, and our holy Mother.
4 Q: Why do we say that the bond of marriage is indissoluble?
A: We say that the bond of marriage is indissoluble or that it cannot be dissolved except by the death of either husband or wife, because God so ordained from the beginning and so Jesus Christ our Lord solemnly proclaimed.
5 Q: Can the contract be separated from the sacrament in Christian marriage?
A: No, in marriage among Christians the contract cannot be separated from the sacrament, because, for Christians, marriage is nothing else than the natural contract itself, raised by Jesus Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.
6 Q: Among Christians, then, there can be no true marriage that is not a sacrament?
A: Among Christians there can be no true marriage that is not a sacrament.
7 Q: What effects does the sacrament of Matrimony produce?
A: The sacrament of matrimony: (1) Gives an increase of sanctifying grace; (2) Gives a special grace for the faithful discharge of all the duties of the married state.
Minister — Rite Dispositions
8 Q: Who are the Ministers of this sacrament?
A: The Ministers of this sacrament are the couple themselves, who together confer and receive the sacrament.
9 Q: How is this sacrament administered?
A: This sacrament, preserving, as it does, the nature of a contract, is administered by the contracting parties. themselves, who declare, in the presence of the parish priest, or another priest delegated by him, and of two witnesses, that they take each other in marriage.
10 Q: What use, then, is the blessing which the parish priest gives to the married couple?
A: The blessing which the parish priest gives to the married couple is not necessary to constitute the sacrament, but it is given to sanction their union in the name of the Church and to invoke on them more abundantly the blessing of God.
11 Q: What intention should those have who contract marriage?
A: Those who contract marriage should have the intention: (1) Of doing the will of God, who calls them to that state; (2) Of working out in that state the salvation of their souls; (3) Of bringing up their children as Christians, if God should bless them with any.
12 Q: How should those about to be married prepare themselves to receive this sacrament with fruit?
A: In order to receive this sacrament with fruit, those about to be married should: (1) Earnestly recommend themselves to God, so as to know His will and obtain the graces necessary for that state; (2) Consult their parents before making any promise, because obedience and the respect due to them demand this; (3) Prepare themselves by a good confession, or, if necessary, a general confession of their whole life; (4) Avoid all dangerous familiarity in word or act while in each other’s company.
13 Q: Which are the principal obligations of married persons?
A: Married persons should: (1) Guard inviolably their conjugal fidelity and behave Always and in all things as Christians; (2) Love one another, bear patiently with one another, and live in peace and concord; (3) Think seriously of providing for their children, if they have any, according to their needs; bring them up as Christians, and leave them free to choose the state of life to which they are called by God.
Conditions and Impediments
14 Q: What is necessary to contract Christian marriage validly?
A: To contract Christian marriage validly it is necessary to be free from every diriment impediment to marriage; and to give consent freely to the marriage contract in the presence of the parish priest (or a priest delegated by him) and of two witnesses.
15 Q: What is necessary to contract marriage lawfully?
A: To contract marriage lawfully it is necessary to be free from every impeding impediment to marriage; to be instructed in the principal truths of religion; and, finally, to be in a state of grace; otherwise a sacrilege would be committed
16 Q: What are impediments to marriage?
A: Impediments to marriage are certain circumstances which render marriage either invalid or unlawful. The former are called diriment impediments and the latter impeding impediments.
- NOTE: See Code of Canon Law, canons 1083 and following for the current regulations on impediments. This affects the next two questions.
17 Q: Give examples of diriment impediments.
A: Diriment impediments are, for example, relationship to the fourth degree, spiritual relationship, a solemn vow of chastity, or difference in religion, that is, when one party is baptized and the other is not.
18 Q: Give examples of impeding impediments.
A: Impeding impediments are, for example, the forbidden times, a simple vow of chastity, and the like.
19 Q: Are the faithful obliged to make known to ecclesiastical authority impediments of which they have a knowledge?
A: The faithful are obliged to make known to ecclesiastical authority impediments of which they have knowledge; and for this reason the names of those who intend to get married are published in the Church.
20 Q: Who has the power to regulate impediments to marriage, to dispense from them, and to judge of the validity of Christian marriage?
A: The Church alone has power to regulate impediments to marriage, to judge of the validity of marriage among Christians and to dispense from the impediments which she has placed.
21 Q: Why has the Church alone power to place impediments and to judge of the validity of marriage?
A: The Church alone has power to place impediments, to judge of the validity of marriage, and to dispense from the impediments which she has placed, because the contract, being inseparable from the sacrament in a Christian marriage, also comes under the power of the Church, to which alone Jesus Christ gave the right to make laws and give decisions in sacred things.
22 Q: Can the civil authority dissolve the bonds of Christian marriage by divorce?
A: No, the bond of Christian marriage cannot be dissolved by the civil authority, because the civil authority cannot interfere with the matter of the sacrament nor can it put asunder what God has joined together.
23 Q: What is a civil marriage?
A: It is nothing but a mere formality prescribed by the law to give and insure the civil effects of the marriage to the spouses and their children.
- NOTE: The law in this question refers to the human law of the state.
24 Q: Is it sufficient for a Christian to get only the civil marriage or contract?
A: For a Christian, it is not sufficient to get only the civil contract, because it is not a sacrament, and therefore not a true marriage.
25 Q: In what condition would the spouses be who would live together united only by a civil marriage?
A: Spouses who would live together united by only a civil marriage would be in an habitual state of mortal sin, and their union would always be illegitimate in the sight of God and of the Church.
26 Q: Should we also get the civil marriage?
A: We should perform the civil marriage, because, though it is not a sacrament, it provides the spouses and their children with the civil effects of conjugal society; for this reason, the ecclesiastical authority as a general rule allows the religious marriage only after the formalities prescribed by the civil authorities have been accomplished.