Lesson 35: The vocation of Holy Matrimony
1. Who created marriage?
God created marriage in the same moment that He created Adam and Eve.
2. For what purposes did God establish marriage?
God established marriage for:
- The procreation and education of children; and
- The mutual help of husband and wife
The married couple is called to procreate and educate children:“God blessed them, saying to them: ‘Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.’” (Genesis 1:28)
The married man or woman is called to help his or her spouse.“Then the Lord God said, ‘it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him’” (Genesis 2:18)
3. What are the two properties of marriage?
The two properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility.
Unity means that a man is to have only one wife and a woman is to have only one husband. They are to remain faithful to one another.“For this reason, a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
Indissolubility means that husband and wife are to stay together and remain faithful to one another until death.“A woman is bound as long as her husband is alive, but if her husband dies, she is free. Let her marry whom she pleases, only let it be in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39)
4. Did Christ elevate marriage to a Sacrament?
Yes, Christ made marriage a sacrament.
5. What are the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony?
The effects of Matrimony are:
- An increase in Sanctifying Grace; and
- The Sacrament grace to participate in the love of Christ for his Church and to be a symbol of that love. This love enables the couple to love one another, help one another grow in holiness, and to raise their children to be good Catholics.
“Husbands, love our wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her.” (Ephesians 5:25)
Cathlics who are married by a justice of the peace are not married in the eyes of God. Every time they have marital relations they are committing a mortal sin. For a Catholic to be married in the eyes of God he must receive the Sacrament of Matrimony in the Catholic Church.
6. What is necessary for a Catholic to be validly married?
To be validly married a man and a woman, who are legally capable of marrying, must feely consent to give themselves to each other fo the purpose of establishing a marriage:
- In the presence of a bishop, priest, or deacon; and
- In the presence of 2 other witnesses.
If Catholics are married in a civil ceremony nothing happens. They are not really married in the eyes of God and commit a mortal sin every time they have sexual relations together. Such a couple must either separate or be married in the presence of a Catholic priest.
7. Is any power in this world able to break a sacramental marriage?
No, no power in this world is able to break a Sacramental marriage.
The state does not have the power to divorce a couple who have a sacramental marriage. If the man or woman joined by the Sacrament of Matrimony divorce and marry someone else in a civil ceremony, they commit adultery.
“Therefore, what God has joined together no man must separate.” (Mark 10:9)
8. What should Catholics do to prepare for a holy and happy marriage?
To prepare for a holy and happy marriage, Catholics should:
- Pray that God may direct their choice;
- Seek the advice of their parents and confessors;
- Practice the virtues, especially chastity;
- Consecrate themselves to Mary, and say the daily rosary; and
- Frequently receive the sacraments of Confession, and the Eucharist.
9. Is it possible for a couple to have a good marriage without prayer?
No, it is not possible for a couple to have a good marriage without much prayer. There are even statistics on this.
- While 50% of the couples in the USA who are just civilly married have marriage s that end in divorce;
- And 33% of couples who are married in the Catholic Church have marriages that end in divorce;
- Couples, who are married in the Catholic Church, pray together every day, go to Mass every Sunday, and practice NFP (meaning that they do not use any form of artificial contraception) have less than 1% divorce.
10. Is it good to marry a non-Catholic?
No, generally it is not good to marry a non-Catholic. These marriages have greater divorce rates, and the Catholic party often lessens the practice f his or her faith. Such a situation is also a source of confusion for their children.
11. Is marriage really a vocation from God?
Yes marriage is a vocation from God. “Do not be afraid; for she was set apart for you before the world existed.” (Tobit 6:18) The archangel St. Raphael said these words to Tobiah, who was called by God to marry Sarah. St. Raphael was sent by God from heaven to arrange the marriage. Between Tobiah and Sarah.
12. What is the purpose of honest courtship?
The purpose of honest courtship is to find the person that God wants you to marry. The man and woman who are dating are getting to know one another, and reflecting and praying to find out if god wishes them to enter into marriage for the rest of their lives.
13. Is honest courtship (dating) also a proximate occasion of sin?
Yes, dating exclusively and steadily someone that you are sexually attracted to is a proximate occasion of sin. A proximate occasion of sin may only be entered into if there is a very serious reason. Thinking that you probably want to marry this person is the only serious reason that can justify dating someone exclusively and for a long time. If you know that you are not going to marry this person, and you are tempted to sin, you have a serious obligation to break off the relationship.
14. At what point should a person begin honest courtship (dating)?
Since dating is about finding the person you want to marry, a person may begin dating when he or she is ready to marry. In practice, this means:
- After you have finished schooling, ideally even college. For every year of schooling people have before marriage, there is less divorce. For every year of schooling that people have after marriage, divorce increases.
- After you have a good job
- After you are spiritually and emotionally mature. About 80% of people who get married before the age of 20 have marriages that end in divorce. About 80% of people who get married at the age of 25 or 26 have marriages that last. Thus most people should not start dating steadily and exclusively one person until at least the age of 20. The Church in Los Angeles does not permit people to get married before the age of 20 without a special dispensation. The best age to begin marrying is 25 or 26.
“Complete your outdoor tasks, and arrange your work in the field; afterward you can establish your house.” (Proverbs 24:27)
15. What about dating for high school students?
Dating exclusively and steadily one person while in high school is a very bad idea. Don’t do it.
Most High School students who date steadily and exclusively one person normally commit mortal sins, and deeply regret their mistakes later in life.
Since dating is about finding the person you want to marry, and high school students are too young to marry, dating steadily and exclusively one person should not be done in high school. There is no reason to commit yourself “artificially” to one person. Group dating is a much better idea. You should have groups of friends of both sexes and spend time together as a group, so that you can get to know a lot of members of the opposite sex in an informal, low-pressure way.
16. What actions are immoral while dating?
Any word, way of dressing, acting, or touching while directly seeks to bring forth sexual pleasure in oneself or the other person is objectively a mortal sin.
If a couple is together and unintentionally becomes aroused, they have the duty to back off from each other.
Some actions, such as open mouth kissing and intentionally touching sexual areas of the other person’s body, by their very nature bring forth sexual pleasure and thus are mortal sins. These actions prepare the body for sexual intercourse, and thus are permissible only in the context of the sacrament of matrimony.
Alcoholic beverages should never be consumed while dating. Many people who were really committed to remaining pure ended up having sex because they were drinking. Obviously the same holds true for drugs.
The use of pornography, which is a mortal sin, almost inevitably leads to other mortal sins. When someone who is dating is viewing pornography, it is almost impossible to avoid serious sin in the dating relationship. The person who uses pornography is more tempted than others to sin against purity.
17. What are the best ways for those in honest courtship to show their love for one another?
The ideal is not to kiss or touch. When passions are aroused, it is very difficult to stop. For those in honest courtship, the best way to show love or one another is by speaking kindly, listening to one another, being kind and helpful, giving gifts, and praying for and with one another etc. This is an art that has to be learned, and the better it is learned before the marriage begins, the strong the marriage will be.
18. What effects does purity have on dating relationship?
Honest Courtship practice with purity is a source of joy, and the perfect preparation for a holy and happy marriage. If the couple does eventually break up because marriage was not God’s will, they are profoundly grateful that they never sinned. A person clearly sees then what a tragedy it would have been.
Sexual immorality on the other hand produces misery, tension, and fighting.
19. What normally happens when unmarried couples start to have sex?
When unmarried couples have sex, they normally begin to fight.
Why? Because sexual activity creates a deep emotional bonding and expresses the complete gift of one’s life to another. When this happens outside of marriage ti becomes a source of anxiety. They have given themselves completely to this other person, but they are not in a relationship where that gift can be protected. They could eventually break up – in this case the total gift of self would mean a total rejection of self. This realization leads to insecurity and fear. This insecurity and fear leads to jealousy, possessiveness, and clinginess. This leads to fighting, where he is often mad, and she is often crying. Only a sacramental marriage can safeguard and protect that complete gift of self that is symbolized by the sexual act.
20. How does premarital sex hurt a person’s future marriage?
Through premarital sex the person has emotionally bonded with someone else. Breaking up is thus very painful, and the capacity to bond as deeply with someone else, including one’s future spouse, diminishes.
This emotional, heart-felt bonding is greatest in the person’s first willed sexual relation. God created he human person in this way. God meant the first sexual relation of a person to be with his or her spouse in the sacrament of marriage. This is a gift from God to help the couples to be united to one another in the depths of their hearts and to be faithful to one another for the rest of their lives.
If someone has made a mistake in this area, there is secondary virginity. God always forgives, and a person can make the proposal to begin again.
21. How does premarital sex hurt a couple’s capacity to discern God’s will?
The emotional bonding produced by sexual relations clouds a person’s judgment. His or her heart is attached to the person, even though good judgement would clearly exclude her or him as a person to marry. For example, a woman in a horrible dating relationship with a man who is abusive an alcoholic, without work, and irresponsible will at times want to continue with him, or will convince herself that she can change him. She makes these bad judgments because of the emotional attachment that sexual relations produce.
In choosing the person to marry, it is necessary to use, not just the heart, but also the mind. “Can I live with this person for the rest of my life?” “Does he share my faith and my values?” “What is his or her family like?” “What kind of mother or father will this person be?” With the bond already formed through sexual activity, the heart and feelings cloud the mind’s capacity to make good judgements.
When couples are chaste their minds are clearer to reflect on whether this is the proper person to marry and have a family with for the rest of their lives.
22. Can a certain bonding take place even when there is a sexual activity short of sexual intercourse?
A certain emotional bonding takes place even in sexual activity which falls short of intercourse. Mary Beth Bonacci notes the following: “Most single people have, at one point or another, started dating someone and thought immediately, ‘This is not the right one.’ Then, after that first passionate kiss, they say to themselves, ‘Well, maybe this cold work ut after all.’ Six months later they are still In this relationship that isn’t working, and they realize they had been right in the first place.” The passions cloud the mind.
RULES OF CHIVALRY
23. What is meant by chivalry?
Chivalry meant the art of being a knight at the service of a King or Queen. It gradually came to mean a noble and courteous way for men to act in their relations with women.
- What are some rules on how guys should treat girls or women?
- Guys should never speak in a coarse way about girls or women, or refer to girls or women as sex objects. They must reverence them as persons created in the image and likeness of God.
- Guys should NEVER hit a girl under any circumstance.
- Guys should never yell and shout at girls.
- Not only should a guy not hurt a girl, he should protect her whenever she is threatened.
- When walking with a girl on the street, the guys should walk on the outside, nearer the cars. This is symbolic of his responsibility to take care of her.
- When he is on a date, the guy should pay for her food and entertainment.
- Girls should not call guys on the telephone – at least not until a committed relationship has developed. Guys must be the initiators, planning the dates and asking for the girl’s company.
- Guys should open doors for girls and help them with their coats or their chairs in a restaurant. They should help the girls to carry any heavy load that she may be bearing.
- At formal occasions guys should stand when a woman leaves the room or the table when she returns. This is a way of showing respect.
- When the time for honest courtship begins, the guy should show his love by kind words, listening and respect. He should reserve kissing and fondling for marriage. Kissing and fondling easily lead to something more, and it becomes very difficult to stop. These actions prepare the body for conjugal relations, which are only good and holy in the Sacrament of Marriage.
- If you treat her like a lady, she will treat you like a man.
Venerable Louis (1823-1894) and Zelie Martin (1831-1877)
Louis Martin and Elie Guerin had a great love for God and thus for purity and virginity when they were young Purity is often seen as a big “No,” but it is actually a big “Yes” to the dignity of the other person. To do this a person has to say “No” to his or her selfish desires. There is no real love without purity.
Both Louis and Zelie in their youth had wanted to become religious. Louis was not accepted by the monastery because of his poor knowledge of Latin, and Zelie was not accepted in the convent because of her poor health. God had another vocation for them. Both of them prayed to know God’s will and Zelie in particular entrusted the finding of her vocation to Our Blessed Mother.
One day while crossing the bridge of St. Leonard, Zelie saw Louis for the first time. Upon seeing him she heard in her heart, “This is he whom I have prepared for you.” A meeting between the two was arranged by the mother of Louis. The two did not take long to recognize that god was calling them to marriage. As St. Raphael the archangel had told Tobiah concerning his future wife Sarah: “Do not be afraid; for she was set apart for you before the world existed.” (Tobit 6:18)
In the period before his marriage Louis studied a great deal about the Sacrament of Matrimony. HE and Zelie, after some discussion and prayer, decided to live a virginal matrimony like St. Joseph and the Blessed Virgin had done. Having had such a chaste dating period, the couple found much peace and joy in their relationship. Tis way of beginning their marriage – like Joseph and Mary- was a providential preparation for the birth of their children, who would be deeply united to Christ.
After living their marriage for 10 months without sexual relations God began to place within their hearts another holy desire. As Zelie later wrote: “I wished to have many (children) in order to bring the up to Heaven.” With the help of a priest they came to recognize this as God’s will.
Each child was baptized either on the day of birth or the day after, in order to ensure that the child would enter into Heaven even if he or she died prematurely. The couple had much to suffer. Although they had nine children, four died as children or infants. Having been baptized they soon had four little saints in heaven. Only five girls grew to adulthood. All five girls entered religious life, and were noted for their holiness. One of them became St. Therese of Lisieux.