40 Reasons Why It’s Cool to be Catholic #12 Catholic Marriage

 Sexual love is a Catholic thing.  Christ raised marriage to the level of a sacrament.  Marriage is not the    sacrament of washing dishes.  Christopher West.

“Hold on a minute, deacon.  Marriage isn’t just a Catholic thing.  Every church does marriage.”  That’s a good point.  It’s true that every faith tradition celebrates marriage.  In fact, the Catholic Church recognizes every church marriage as being valid.  We believe that marriage is a sacrament.  In fact, it was the very first sacrament.  Adam and Eve were married in the Garden of Eden.

Plus, we can’t forget about civil marriage.  Even if you tied the knot in Las Vegas with the ceremony conducted by a pirate or an Elvis look-alike, in the eyes of the law, you are married.  In the eyes of the Church, not so much.  Every church marriage is also a civil marriage.  As a Catholic deacon, I’m empowered by the Church to celebrate the sacrament and I’m empowered by the state of Missouri to perform the civil marriage.  I am not empowered to celebrate a wedding in an Elvis costume.  Alb and dalmatic are the only choice.

So, what’s so special about a Catholic marriage?  Well, for one thing, it’s permanent.  Once you’re married in the Catholic Church, you’re married for life.  Even if you get a civil divorce, you’re still married in the eyes of God and the Church.  That’s why you don’t just walk into a Catholic Church and announce that you’d like to be married tomorrow.  We want to to all we can to you make sure (1) that you’re ready to be married and (2) that you’ve found the right person to spend the rest of your life with.  Normally this process takes from six to twelve months.

I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty of the process in this short post.  I’m taking a course on marriage preparation at the local seminary and the class runs from February to early May.  I can only hit the high points here.  The main points are the two in the last paragraph.  Please understand that we want you to be married (to the right person).  We want you to stay together for life.  We want you to practice your Catholic faith together.  If you aren’t both Catholics, we want you (the Catholic party) to practice your Catholic faith.  How your spouse expresses their faith is always up to them.  We do ask the Catholic party to agree to try to raise any children as Catholics.

Let’s spend just a few words on those children.  The reason God created marriage was so that a husband and wife, together, will have and raise children.  I know all the jokes about Catholics having huge families.  That used to be true.  Today, sadly, even Catholic husbands and wives feel like it’s up to them to decide how many kids they want to have and when to have them.  If God created marriage for the purpose of raising a family, I’m not sure where we got the idea that we could introduce man-made chemicals into our wives’ bodies to interfere with God’s plan.  That’s just wrong!

There are natural ways to plan on when we want to have kids.  In fact, it’s called “Natural Family Planning”.  It involves no chemicals, no financial cost, and no risk to the mother.  What it does involve is planning and sometimes sacrifice.  There are just a few days each month when the wife must say “no” to her husband.  What makes it all work is the husband’s willingness to set aside his sexual urges on those days.  It also requires that the husband and wife actually talk to each other about something more important than the daily news.  I might mention that couples who practice NFP have a substantially lower divorce rate than other couples (2.3%).  That alone should make it every couple’s first choice.

To sum it all up.  Marriage is a sacrament created by God.  You get married to care for your spouse and to raise children.  Marriage is “until death do us part”.  Jesus put his stamp of approval on marriage when He decided to be born of a married woman.  He didn’t have to do that but He obviously thought it was not a good thing for the Son of God to be raised by a single mother.

What makes Catholic marriage special is that we go to great lengths to make sure that this is the proper step for the couple at this time, that they really know and love each other, and that they’re prepared to go the distance.  Catholic weddings are performed in church, not in a park or a casino, or on top of a hill somewhere among the trees.  As Mr. West said above, “Christ raised marriage to the level of a sacrament.”  What more appropriate place to celebrate the sacrament than in God’s house?

Catholic marriage is forever and that’s really, really cool.

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One Response

  1. Yes you do.

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