“Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5: 25, 32).
The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of Children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament.
The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church. The grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on their way to eternal life.
Marriage is based on the consent of two capable contracting parties – on their will to give themselves each other the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. Unity, indissolubility and openness to fertility are essential to marriage.
Marriage establishes a couple in a public state of life in the Church; at St. Margaret, we believe that it is fitting that the celebration of it be public, in a liturgical celebration, before a priest or deacon, witnesses, and the assembly of the faithful. Such a celebration and the lifelong commitment of marriage requires preparation and planning.
Divorce and Annulments
Divorce ultimately separates what God has joined together in an all too common occurrence in the life of the faithful. Further, the remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ; they are not separated from the Church, but those who are remarried without receiving a declaration of nullity cannot participate fully by receiving the Lord in the Eucharistic banquet.
An annulment, more properly called a declaration of invalidity, is an official Church finding that a previous marriage no longer binds a person spiritually. Issued only after a thorough evaluation, it means that the marital union never had all of the essential elements required. These essentials, according to Catholic understanding, include sufficient maturity, free choice, and emotional capability on the part of the spouses, as well as other, more technical, elements. The investigation focuses on the beginning of the marriage, since only the actual consent exchanged at that time brings about a valid matrimonial bond or not. The Church office entrusted with this special ministry of evaluation is the Tribunal. Internal Church law, known as canon law, strictly governs its procedures, which can begin after a civil divorce is final.
Unfortunately, there are many myths regarding the process of declaring a marriage invalid. Should you be interested in learning more about the annulment process, contact the Pastor or one of the Deacons at the Parish Office for more information!