The Vocation and Sacrament of Marriage
When the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a Christian vocation it is saying that the couple’s relationship is more than simply their choice to enter a union which is a social and legal institution. In addition to these things, marriage involves a call from God and a response from two people who promise to build, with the help of divine grace, a lifelong, intimate and sacramental partnership of love and life.
The vocation to marriage is a call to a life of holiness and service within the couple’s own relationship and in their family. As a particular way of following the Lord, this vocation also challenges a couple to live their marriage in a way that expresses God’s truth and love in the world.
When the Catholic Church teaches that marriage between two baptized persons is a sacrament, it is saying that the couple’s relationship expresses in a unique way the unbreakable bond of love between Christ and his people. Like the other six sacraments of the Church, marriage is a sign or symbol which reveals the Lord Jesus and through which his divine life and love are communicated. All seven sacraments were instituted by Christ and were entrusted to the Church to be celebrated in faith within and for the community of believers. The rituals and prayers by which a sacrament is celebrated serve to express visibly what God is doing invisibly.
In a sacramental marriage, God’s love becomes present to the spouses in their total union and also flows through them to their family and community. By their permanent, faithful and exclusive giving to each other, symbolized in sexual intercourse, the couple reveals something of God’s unconditional love. The sacrament of Christian marriage involves their entire life as they journey together through the ups and downs of marriage and become more able to give to and receive from each other. Their life becomes sacramental to the extent that the couple cooperates with God’s action in their life and sees themselves as living “in Christ” and Christ living and acting in their relationship, attitudes and actions.
Catholic teaching holds that sacraments bring grace to those who receive them with the proper disposition. Grace is a way of describing how God shares the divine life with us and gives us the help we need to live as followers of Christ. In marriage, the grace of this sacrament brings to the spouses the particular help they need to be faithful and to be good parents. It also helps a couple to serve others beyond their immediate family and to show the community that a loving and lasting marriage is both desirable and possible.
For more information on the vocation of marriage, and for marriage resources please visit: www.foryourmarriage.org
Because Christian marriage is a sacrament, the Catholic Church wants couples to be well-prepared. Dioceses and parishes offer marriage preparation to help couples develop a better understanding of the sacrament; to evaluate and deepen their readiness to live married life; and to gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple.
Marriage preparation programs take different forms. Some couples attend a weekend retreat; others are matched with a "sponsor couple"; and others participate in a series of marriage preparation classes offered by their parish or region. The important thing for engaged couples to keep in mind as they check numerous items off their pre-wedding "to-do" list is the well-known adage, "Your wedding lasts a day, but your marriage lasts a lifetime." The Church encourages couples to invest time and energy into the all-important work of preparing for their married life together.
For couples planning to marry in the Catholic Church, please contact your parish priest at least six months before your anticipated wedding date to begin the marriage preparation process.
Retrouvaille: A Program to Help Couples Heal and Renew their Marriages
The word Retrouvaille (pronounced re-tro-vi with a long i.) is a French word meaning rediscovery. The program offers tools needed to rediscover a loving marriage relationship. Thousands of couples headed for cold, unloving relationships or divorce have successfully overcome their marriage problems by attending the program. The Retrouvaille Program consists of a weekend experience combined with a series of 6-12 post-weekend sessions over 3 months. It provides the tools to help put your marriage in order again. The main emphasis of the program is on communication in marriage between husband and wife. It will give you the opportunity to rediscover each other and examine your lives together in a new and positive way.
If you are struggling with any of the above questions, please contact the next Retrouvaille weekend nearest you at www.retrouvaille.org
Natural Family Planning
God designed marriage as an "intimate partnership of life and love" (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). In God's design, marriage is a unique union of one man with one woman "for the whole of life" (see Canon 1055, The Code of Canon Law). Marriage is oriented to the good of the spouses and to the creation and nurture of new human life (see Gaudium et spes, no. 48). Making decisions therefore, about when and how many children to have in marriage is a sacred responsibility that God has entrusted to husband and wife. This is the foundation of what the Church calls, "Responsible Parenthood"--the call to discern God's will for your marriage while respecting His design for life and love.
The Catholic Church supports the methods of Natural Family Planning (NFP) because they respect God's design for married love. In fact, NFP represents the only authentic approach to family planning available to husbands and wives because these methods can be used to both attempt or avoid pregnancy. Here are a couple methods offered in our own diocese:
The Billings Ovulation Method™ teaches a woman to understand her natural signs of fertility and infertility throughout her reproductive life. The Billings Ovulation Method™ is easy to learn and is highly successful when used by a couple to achieve or avoid a pregnancy.
This method of natural family planning engenders co-operation and respect between the woman and man. It develops love and concern for each other and for the child, thus enriching their relationship. As the Billings Ovulation Method™ is a natural method, respecting fertility instead of suppressing it by drugs or devices, it is acceptable to couples from all cultures and religions.
The Billings Ovulation Method™ of natural family planning was developed by husband and wife team Drs. John and Evelyn Billings and Fr. Maurice Catarinich, all of Melbourne, Australia, and has since spread worldwide.
To find a teaching centre near you, please visit: www.naturalfamilyplanning.ca
Essex County FertilityCare teaches the Creighton Method, which will give you the knowledge and the tools to make natural procreative choices for achieving or avoiding pregnancy and to monitor, maintain and evaluate your procreative and gynecologic health. The FertilityCare system is tailor made to each women’s unique individual cycle and needs. FertilityCare brings predictability and confidence to a couple through simple charting techniques and a deeper understanding of her body’s signs of fertility. NaProTechnology aims to restore the body’s natural functions, by evaluating a women’s gynecologic and reproductive health. It uses FertilityCare to monitor various events and telegraph abnormalities in the cycle. When abnormalities arise, it identifies problems and treats them cooperatively with the natural cycle. Women now have the opportunity to know and understand the causes of the symptoms from which they may suffer from. To learn more visit: http://ecfertilitycare.webs.com/ or contact Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org
London region please contact: email@example.com