Find accurate definitions of over 5,000 Catholic terms and phrases (including abbreviations). Based on Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.
The sacrament that bestows on a baptized man and woman who have made the required contract the graces that will enable them to fulfill their marital obligations.
The marital contract is an agreement, that is freely made but that, once made, imposes a serious obligation to share the rights and duties of the married state. The agreement or consent must be internal (sincere), simultaneous with the making of the contract, externally manifested and perfectly voluntary.
Moreover, the contract must be made lawfully. Both the man and woman must be baptized, and they must be free from invalidating impediments and also from illicit impediments.
Husband and wife receive actual graces to fulfill their matrimonial obligations. These duties arise from the very nature of matrimony and cannot be altered by any subjective ideas of the contracting parties. They are the procreation of children and the fostering of mutual love between husband and wife to meet their respective material and spiritual needs.