Wedding season in Ave Maria is a great opportunity to reflect on marriage. As our pope, St. John Paul the Great shared these thoughts on matrimony in Familiaris Consortio:
Christ renews the first plan that the Creator inscribed in the hearts of man and woman, and in the celebration of the sacrament of matrimony offers a “new heart”: thus the couples are not only able to overcome “hardness of heart,” but also and above all they are able to share the full and definitive love of Christ, the new and eternal Covenant made flesh. Just as the Lord Jesus is the “faithful witness,” the “yes” of the promises of God and thus the supreme realization of the unconditional faithfulness with which God loves His people, so Christian couples are called to participate truly in the irrevocable indissolubility that binds Christ to the Church His bride, loved by Him to the end.
The gift of the sacrament is at the same time a vocation and commandment for the Christian spouses, that they may remain faithful to each other forever, beyond every trial and difficulty, in generous obedience to the holy will of the Lord: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”
According to canon law, marriage, also called matrimony, is the sacramental “covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.” This is no easy task, but it is a mission that is rich and rewarding. May the Ave Maria community and university be a place where this basic yet lofty ideal is fostered, nurtured and strengthened.
CATHOLIC RITE OF MARRIAGE
Priest: My dear friends, you have come together in this church so that the Lord may seal and strengthen your love in the presence of the Church’s minister and this community. Christ abundantly blesses this love. He has already consecrated you in baptism and now he enriches and strengthens you by a special sacrament so that you may assume the duties of marriage in mutual and lasting fidelity. And so, in the presence of the Church, I ask you to state your intentions.
(Bridegroom) and (Bride), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?
Will you love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?
Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
Priest: Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, join your right hands, and declare your consent before God and his Church.
They join hands.
I, (Bridegroom), take you, (Bride), to be my wife. 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.
I, (Bride), take you, (Bridegroom), to be my 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.
Priest: You have declared your consent before the Church. May the Lord in his goodness strengthen your consent and fill you both with his blessings. What God has joined, men must not divide.
Update: I have added this quote from theologian Pater Edmund Waldstein’s blog, in which he comments on St. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body:
Marriage as the image of the eschatological union between Christ and his bride, but consecrated virginity as the anticipation of life in that union. Earthly marriage is the sign of the heavenly wedding feast, but it bears in it the mark of this passing world: the generation of new life recalls that they will one day take the place of those who generated—that is, that their parents will die. (Cf. TOB 22). Consecrated virginity on the other hand reaches out and, as it were, already realizes what is to come. Thus celibacy for the sake of the kingdom is above all a sign of hope it is substantia sperandarum rerum and argumentum non apparentium. The virgin gives up the “happy ending” in this life, because of the certain hope of a time when death will be no more and thus there will be no need for generation.