Matrimony | What You Need to Know
While the nature of matrimony as both a natural and supernatural institution is covered in the entry on Marriage, matrimony can also be considered primarily from the point of view of its sacramental celebration and the nature of the sacramental bond.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
provides a very well-organized presentation of two key aspects of the sacrament considered in and of itself. The first aspect is what the sacrament is and does: its celebration, the nature of the matrimonial consent, and the effects of the sacrament.
The second aspect is a consideration of the goods and requirements of conjugal love that are proper not only to matrimony in theory but also in practice to a successful lifelong union. Every couple should reflect on these goods as part of their marriage preparation, and make a deep commitment to develop them throughout the years of their marriage.
Finally, since so many couples find it difficult to maintain their mutual commitment in our culture today, questions of divorce, annulment and remarriage constantly arise. It is important to understand both that a real marriage is indissoluble and that sometimes the wedding ceremony does not bring about a real marriage owing to some impediment. In such cases, the marriage is null, a fact that can be ratified by Church authority through a decree of nullity (annulment). Therefore, some understanding of the grounds of nullity is essential to a full understanding of marriage itself.
- Celebration, Consent and Sacramental Effects of Matrimony
- The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love
- Marriage, Divorce and the Pauline Privilege
Readers should be aware that in the late 20th century, something of a scandal developed, particularly in American ecclesiastical courts, in which annulments began to be issued in surprisingly large numbers and with suspiciously little grounds. In 2005, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts issued a major clarification on the handling of marriage cases in an effort to bring current practice throughout the Church of the Roman Rite into conformity with canon law: Instruction in Handling Causes of the Nullity of Marriage . Note: This is a highly technical and very long legislative document, primarily of interest to specialists.