The Sacrament of Matrimony
The Bible begins with Adam and Eve being created in God’s likeness. God tells them to be fruitful and multiply. Their love for each other is the image of the love God has for us. Whenever the authors of the Old Testament wanted to show the beauty of the relationship between the Israelites and their God, they would often compare it with marriage. We see one example of this in Isaiah 62: 4–5
4 No more shall men call you “Forsaken,” or your land “Desolate,” But you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the LORD delights in you, and makes your land his spouse. 5 As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; And as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you. (Isaiah 62: 4–5)
In the Sacrament of Matrimony, a man and a woman are united in such a way that they become one flesh, each belonging to one another. Matrimony is a celebration of a lifelong commitment of faithful love. Living together in marriage is not the only way in which people love one another, but marriage is certainly the supreme example of human love. In the exchange of promises during the marriage ceremony, the couple administers the sacrament to each other. There must by an official Church witness present, either a priest or a deacon, because Matrimony is an act of public worship, a community prayer, bringing God’s blessing to the couple. Once the couple is married, their home becomes a domestic church, for the Church is whole and entire in a family built on the foundation of the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Matrimony often takes place during the celebration of the Eucharistic liturgy. The couple exchanges promises. One example is
I, [name], take you, [name] to be my wife/husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
While Matrimony is part of the sacramental life that makes it possible for Christians to attain eternal salvation, the purpose of the sacrament is to help the partners in this life as they work to live in faithfulness to God. Their love for each other is a reflection of the enduring love between Christ and his Church, and it provides them with a foretaste of the divine love that awaits them in paradise.