The Sacrament of Marriage
“The two shall become as one” (Matthew 19, 6)
Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: "It is not good that the man should be alone." (Gen 2:18) "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Gen 2:24) The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been "in the beginning": "So they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mt 19,6)
What is the plan of God regarding man and woman?
God who is love and who created man and woman for love has called them to love. By creating man and woman he called them to an intimate communion of life and of love in marriage: “So that they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Matthew 19:6). God said to them in blessing “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). (CCC 1601-1605)
For what ends has God instituted Matrimony?
The marital union of man and woman, which is founded and endowed with its own proper laws by the Creator, is by its very nature ordered to the communion and good of the couple and to the generation and education of children. According to the original divine plan this conjugal union is indissoluble, as Jesus Christ affirmed: “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mark 10:9). (CCC 1659-1660)
The grace of the sacrament of Matrimony
"By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God." This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children." (CCC 1641)
Planning your Marriage at Our Lady Star of the Sea Terrigal
We appreciate that you are considering Our Lady Star of the Sea as the place for your Catholic marriage. To begin the marriage preparation process or to schedule a wedding, contact the Parish Priest or the parish office. The Diocese of Broken Bay requires that we be contacted at the minimum of six months prior to the anticipated marriage date.
While there is no cost for the sacrament of matrimony itself, a donation is suggested.
Look before you leap!
Look before you leap! suggests some questions for anyone thinking about marriage.
For anyone thinking of marriage, Fr. Michael Gilbert suggests some questions to ask before you say "I do."
"Look before you leap" is an old saying but it is a wise one. Selecting the right partner is one of life's most important decisions. It is a choice which requires the utmost care. These are some areas to consider before you say, "I do."
Is my partner emotionally stable and mature?
A lack of stability and maturity is the most common cause of failed marriages.
Immaturity has many guises. Some have a poor capacity to cope with frustration or the postponement of immediate pleasure. Others allow apprehension to dominate their lives. They see the world as a threatening place; they feel that all the world is against them. Some are very indecisive, unable to make up their own minds and very reliant on the opinion of others. Some hunger for affection. No amount of affirmation is enough for them. They are the people who find it difficult to believe that they are lovable. They almost apologise for their existence. Some others try to hide their inadequacy relying on drugs or alcohol. Finally there are the cool, reserved types. They keep everyone at an arm's length and are unable to cope with intimacy and affection.
All these types are immature people. Beware of making a life with any one of them. It is a mistake to believe that you will be able to "rescue" or "convert" such people. Unless the person does some serious work on these deficiencies before marriage, think twice before you say "I do." Immature tendencies tend to persist through life.
Do we respect each other?
A modern Christian marriage is built on love and mutuality. Each partner is to be respected as an equal. Marriage cannot be truly successful if one partner dominates the other or treats him or her as an inferior.
Does my partner exhibit personal integrity?
Courtship should give you ample opportunity to assess one another's character. Ask yourself, how honest? how ethical? how respectful of others is my partner? If the answer is "not very", be on your guard. Very few partners become more ethical once they are married. Dishonesty expressed in other settings is usually carried over into relationships. The more promiscuous and dishonest a person is before marriage the more likely they are to be unfaithful after marriage.
Do I know the family background?
Family of origin has shaped your partner's life. Get to know your partner's family. You will learn a great deal by observing how they behave and how they treat one another.
Are we spiritually compatible?
In the end, mutuality in marriage is a question of spirituality. Shared values, life experience, culture help to strengthen marriages. Faith is the keystone of a Christian marriage. Very few marriages survive as Christian if faith is not present, shared and constantly developed.
How do family and friends see the relationship?
If those who know and love you best approve of your decision to marry, chances are that the relationship will work out well. If the wise counsel of family and friends is against marrying, you should be concerned that you are about to make a big mistake.
Do we know one another well enough?
It takes time to truly know a person and to form a mature judgement about them. There is a lot of evidence to suggest that people who marry before they are twenty years old are very likely to break up. Before you say "I do" you need to be sure. If you are not sure, take some more time. Don't rush into marriage.
By Michael Gilbert, C.Ss.R. Copyright © 2001, The Redemptorists' Majellan Publications.
Preparing for a Catholic Marriage
Everyone wanting to marry is required to give the celebrant one month's notice of their intention to marry. While one months notice is obligatory by law, the church suggests six month's notice to allow time for serious marriage preparation.
Couples are encouraged to attend a marriage preparation course and will be assisted by the priest to prepare their wedding ceremony.
Documents required for marriage in the Catholic Church
The Notification of Intention to Marry Form, available from your parish priest, must be signed no more than six months and no less than one month prior to the wedding day.
Each person must obtain the following documents:
- a birth certificate - available from Registrar of Births & Deaths; and
- a baptism certificate - available from the parish priest where you were baptised.
If either party has been married before:
- a death certificate of former spouse or
- a civil divorce and a decree of nullity (from the Catholic Marriage Tribunal);
A Natural marriage is one where one party is a Catholic and the other party is not a Catholic, whether baptised or not.
Permission is always given for a Catholic to marry one who is not a Catholic, provided that the Catholic promises to safeguard their own Catholic faith and to do all in their power to have the children of the marriage baptised and brought up as Catholic.
The partner who is not a Catholic is not required to make any promises but is informed of the expectations the Church has of the Catholic partner.
Place of Marriage
Since the celebration of the sacrament of marriage has an important religious meaning it is celebrated in the Catholic Church.
Where one of the partners is not a Catholic and has a strong connection to his or her own Church, the Bishop may give permission for the marriage to take place in the other Church.
In exceptional circumstances permission may also be given for a marriage to take place elsewhere than in a Church.
The official Diocesan Catholic welfare agency, CatholicCare Broken Bay, is accredited by the Australian Attorney-General under the provision of the Family Law Act, to assist couples when a marital relationship is at risk, and to help in the resolution of custody and maintenance questions when a separation is inevitable.
CatholicCare employs staff who are well skilled in the counselling process and who are familiar with the Catholic teachings and traditions about marriage and divorce. They are able to be of significant help in times of marital disharmony and imminent separation.
CatholicCare marriage counselling programs are available to couples or individuals, Catholics and non-Catholics.
Marriage Preparation Courses
1. Smart Loving Engaged
This is an online course of five sessions that can be self-directed, done with a sponsor couple or a SmartLoving coach.
It is highly recommended.
For more information go to SmartLoving Engaged.
A Marriage Encounter is a weekend away, offering married couples a special kind of "time out", - a different kind of "weekend getaway". It is an opportunity to recharge your relationship batteries and more deeply explore the precious nature of your marriage. It offers a gentle, nurturing environment, away from the pressures and distractions of daily living. Thus, it allows you both to share your feelings, hopes and dreams with each other in ways that normal, daily living tends to inhibit.
3. Partners for Life and FOCCUS
CatholicCare Diocese of Broken Bay offers two programs of marriage preparation for couples, Catholic and non-Catholic:
- Partners for Life:
This is a group program conducted by CatholicCare Broken Bay. It is designed to assist couples to build and sustain a meaningful relationship in their marriage.
This is a ‘couple’ program. FOCCUS is an in-depth user-friendly questionnaire designed to help you and your partner learn more about yourselves and your unique relationship. The sessions are facilitated by an accredited Relationship Educator in a confidential environment - available by appointment only. Ideally, Focus is completed before a pre-marriage course.
Church law about the annulment of marriages can sometimes be complex and specialist advice may be required. For further information, please contact your local parish priest or the Marriage Tribunal.
Marriage Tribunal - Diocese of Broken Bay
133 Liverpool Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: 9307 8309
Retrouvaille: A programme to help couples heal and renew their own marriage relationship.
Catholic Society for Marriage Education
Catholic Society for Marriage Education: The aim of the Society is to promote and support marriage and family life in the Catholic vision by encouraging marriage and relationship education for couples considering marriage and for married couples, throughout Australia.
The site also contains links to other marriage sites in Australia and overseas.
Also see our resources available for Marriage on our Related Links page.