The Sacrament of Matrimony
(From "Standards for Marriage Preparation and Formation" in the Archdiocese of Dubuque
“Christian marriage, as a reflection of the union between Christ and his Church, is fully realized in the union between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other in a free, faithful and exclusive love, who belong to each other until death and are open to the transmission of life, and are consecrated by the sacrament, which grants them the grace to become a domestic church and a leaven of new life for society.” (Amoris Laetita 292)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, “God himself is the author of marriage. … Marriage is not a
purely human institution” (CCC 1603). Thus, marriage is much more than a civil contract; it is, rather, a sacred
covenantal bond between a man and a woman. God created marriage as the foundation of the family, which
serves as the building block of human society. Strong marriages are, therefore, essential to having a strong
Church and society. In fact, “the future of the world and of the Church passes through the family” (FC 75).
Jesus Christ raised marriage to “the dignity of a sacrament” (CCC 1601). Marriage is a sacrament at the service
of the community of faith as a sign and an instrument of God’s grace and love. In addition to being a sacrament,
marriage is a vocation—a calling from God to a distinct state in life that serves as each person’s path to holiness
and heaven. In this vocation, married couples are called to image the spousal love between Christ and the
Church to the world (cf. Eph. 5:21-32), along with reflecting the relationship of love in the Holy Trinity.
In marriage, a man and woman commit themselves to a permanent and exclusive relationship of self-donative
love that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. The bond established in a valid marriage is indissoluble, for as Jesus
Himself taught, “They are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human
being must separate” (Mt. 19:6).