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THE SACRAMENT OF MARRIAGE
Ephesians 5:31  "For this reason a man
shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and
be joined to his wife, and the two shall
become one flesh."
The institution of marriage was officially recognized as one of the Sacraments of the
Church at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215.

St. Paul [Ephesians 5:32], referred to marriage as a "mysterion" or a great mystery.  (Prof.
Scott Hahn;  Greek - mysterion, Latin - sacramentum.)    Unlike the other sacraments,
marriage was not instituted by Christ. Since it predated Christianity, the Church teaches
that Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament.

In the creation account of the Book of Genesis, the male is created first but is incomplete.
Man, is completed with the creation of the female. The scriptural account goes on to state
that the man and the woman become one flesh. The "one flesh" union refers not only to the
physical joining of the spouses but to the total human joining that comes about in marriage.
A joining in mind, heart, body & spirit. As a sacrament it is a means of encountering Christ
in a special way and of bringing about the salvation of the spouses. The theology of
Vatican II and the revised Code refer to marriage as a vocation (Canon 226.1), through
which married persons work for the building up of the Body of Christ in a special way.

The purpose of the sacrament is twofold: marriage by its nature is ordered to the good of
the spouses and the procreation and education of children (Canon 1055).

The sacrament of Marriage is also marked by certain unique attributes. These are total and
perpetual fidelity and indissolubility. Once the marriage covenant is entered into, the
spouses are obliged to remain totally faithful to each other for life. Furthermore, after the
consent has been consummated by sexual intercourse, it cannot be dissolved by any power
on earth.    

Marriage itself comes into being when the spouses express their consent to one another.
This consent is no longer referred to exclusively as a contract but also as a covenant, since
it is a reflection of the relationship of Christ to the Church, which is itself convenantal. By
"covenant" is meant a relationship that recognizes the spiritual equality of the spouses and
their capacity to enter into an agreement which demands a gift of the whole person, one to
another.


Marriage is both a legal fact and a theological reality.


From the standpoint of theology, for a fruitful sacrament, faith must be present. If it is
invalid, it does not exist, in spite of the sacramental ritual. A fruitful sacrament is one in
which, in addition to validity, there exists the possibility of fulfilling the aims of the sacrament.

The Latin word for "oath" is sacramentum. (Prof. Hahn), In Hebrew Scripture, "oath" means
"Covenant". A Vow is a "sacred promise" to God. When you swear an oath, you put yourself
under a curse. An oath subjects you to God's judgment! A blessing if you are true to the
oath and a curse if not [Lev. 26:2-40, the "blessings and the curses", see also, Deut. 28]!
To "swear an oath", in Hebrew;  literally means to "seven oneself"! In Leviticus 26:18, God
promises the Israelites that "if they will not hearken to me, ... v. 18, then I will chastise you
sevenfold."    An oath makes God the "middle man", to make sure that you do what you
say.  Whenever you swore an oath in ancient Israel, you finished by saying, Amen! Which
means, "So be it"! When you swear an oath and make a covenant it is the same thing [Lk. 1:
72-73].

FOR AN EXAMPLE READ [Deut. 32:40 - God swears an oath and makes a "judgment" upon
Israel]
"I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and
death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live,
loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you
and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to
Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them." )ME( If we maintain our covenant with
God then we are blessed, if we don't; then we curse ourselves. ie. God's protection is all
around us, (picture God's protection as an umbrella over us, following us wherever we go,
protecting us from the "rain of evil", when we step out from under that protection when we
do not keep our part of the covenant).
[excerpts from audio tapes series on the Book of Hebrews, by Prof. Scott Hahn]

The state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other:
it is a perpetual exercise of mortification.
– St. Francis de Sales

Annulment
One Flesh
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