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Marriage is at the center of the culture wars today, and is here covered as both a natural and supernatural institution. A good starting point for this thorny topic is the definition of marriage in Fr. Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary, which covers the essential elements of what marriage is.

At the root of contemporary confusion concerning marriage is a lack of understanding of how we are made and why. Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body gives us an inspiring perspective, setting love, courtship, marriage and moral responsibility on the right track.

Finally, it is vital to consider not only the definition of marriage but its animating principles and spiritual context. In 1969, the hierarchy of Ireland fulfilled this purpose admirably in a document which places mairtal love in the context of Divine love, Christ, the Church, sacramental life, the good of the spouses and the family as a whole.

For a more focused consideration of the the sacramental aspects of marriage, see Matrimony.

If you only have time to look at three things, LOOK AT THESE.

  1. The Definition of Marriage
  2. A Brief Guide to John Paul II's Theology of the Body
  3. The Irish Bishops on Christian Marriage

And if you've got more time...

The 2004 Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church devotes chapter 5 to the family, which originates in marriage and is essential for human flourishing: The Family, the Vital Cell of Society.

In 1998, the same man who authored the definition of marriage with which we began, Fr. John Hardon, SJ, gave a conference on marriage which covers most aspects of both the natural institution of marriage and the sacrament of matrimony in the context of the cultural challenge marriage faces today: Matrimony, The Sacrament of Fidelity and Procreation.

Also, there is a great deal in The Catechism of the Catholic Church in marriage, and it is very well organized, making it easy to pick out different aspects of marriage to gain a precise understanding of the Church's teaching about each of these aspects: Article 7: The Sacrament of Matrimony.

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