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he Sacrament of Matrimony.
INSTRUCTIONS. The holy state of Matrimony was instituted by the Almighty in the beginning of the world, and under the law of nature had a particular blessing annexed to it. God created man to his own image: male and female he created them. And God blessed them, saying, Increase and multiply, and fill the earth. (Gen. i. 27, 28.) Under the Mosaic law the Almighty more distinctly announced its dignity and obligations. Afterwards, under the Christian law, our divine Redeemer sanctified this state still more, and from a natural and civil contract raised it to the dignity of a sacrament. And St. Paul declared it to be a representation of that sacred union which Jesus Christ had formed with his spouse the Church. This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the Church. (Ephes. v. 32.)
This sacrament was instituted by Jesus Christ, in order to bestow on those who enter into the married state a particular grace, to enable them to discharge all the duties required of them. It enables them to live together in union, peace, and love. It strengthens and purifies that natural affection, which, founded on virtue, and sanctioned by religion, can alone constitute the happiness of a married life. It corrects the inconstancy of the human heart; it softens down the asperities of temper, and enables each party to bear with each other's defects, with the same indulgence as if they were their own. It causes them to entertain sentiments of mutual respect, to preserve inviolable fidelity towards each other, and to vanquish every unlawful desire. It gives grace to subdue or regulate the motions of concupiscence, and to avoid every impropriety inconsistent with the sanctity of their state. For there is an innocence and purity as necessary in a married, as in a single life. It moreover gives them grace to discharge well that most important duty of training up their children in the fear and love of God. For these duties annexed to the married state cannot be fulfilled without great exertions, nor will those exertions be successful without the blessing and grace of God.
Therefore they who intend to enter into this state ought to proceed with the greatest prudence, and make the best possible preparation, that they may obtain these precious and abundant graces from the Almighty.
1. They ought to implore the Divine assistance, by fervent and devout prayer, to guide them in their choice of a proper person; for on the prudent choice which they make will very much depend their happiness, both in this life and in the next. They should be guided by the good character and virtuous dispositions of the person of their choice, rather than by riches, beauty, or any other worldly considerations, which ought to be but secondary motives.
2. They ought to enter into this holy state with the pure intention of promoting the honour and glory of God, and the sanctification of their own souls; and not from any merely earthly motive, or for sensual gratification.
3. They ought, moreover, to select a person of their own religion ; for the Catholic Church has always, by every means in her power, discouraged mixed marriages; and experience shews, that a want of union in faith between the husband and wife is frequently attended with the worst consequences, both to themselves and to their children. A Catholic, on marrying a person of another religion, cannot be allowed to enter into an agreement that any of the children shall be brought up in any other than the Catholic faith.
4. Before they make any advance in a matter of such great importance, they ought to ascertain whether there be any impediment to prevent their lawful union; and parents are in duty bound to prevent too great an intimacy between their children and relations within the prohibited degrees of kindred. First, second, and third cousins are within the prohibited degrees.
5. They who intend to marry ought to ask the advice of their parents or guardians, &c.
6. Those who keep company with a view to marriage should be careful never to take or allow any indecent familiarities; for these are sinful, and draw down upon them the just indignation of God, in place of that blessing of which they then stand so much in need.
7. It is also advisable, some time previous to their marriage, to inform their Director of their intentions, that so he may have time and opportunity to point out to them the preparation most useful for them, and instruct them in the duties and obligations of the state of life into which they propose to enter.
8. They must obtain the pardon of their sins by worthily approaching the sacrament of penance; for should they receive Matrimony without purity of conscience, they would deprive themselves of the grace of the sacrament, and be guilty of a sacrilegious profanation of this holy institution.
9. The Church, in the General Council of Trent, sess. 24, c. i., ever
solicitous for the welfare of her children, exhorts the faithful before their marriage to receive with devotion the Holy Communion.
10. At the time of marriage, they ought to approach the altar with the greatest decorum and reverence; (for there, in the presence of God and his Church, they are about to enter into a solemn contract and engagement, not to be broken but by death;) and receive the benediction of God's minister with humble and sincere devotion
11. When the married couple leave the church, they ought to carry with them feelings of respect for the holy sacrament which they have received, and of gratitude to God for his mercies. They should spend the day in such a manner as not to lose the blessing which they received in the morning. They ought to celebrate their marriage, like holy Tobias, in the fear of the Lord, and strive to conduct themselves amongst their friends with as much sanctity and decorum, as if Jesus Christ were a guest among them, as he was at the marriage-feast at Cana. They should be particularly careful not to profane the day of their marriage by dissipation or intemperance, or any sinful diversions or indelicate allusions, which are unbecoming at all times, but more particularly on so important and sacred an occasion.
12. They ought frequently to reflect on their duties and obligations, as inculcated in the word of God.
" Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the Church, and delivered himself up for it. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.” (Ephes. v. 25, 28.) “ Dwelling with them according to knowledge, giving honour to the female as to the weaker vessel, and as to the co-heirs of the grace of life.” (1 Peter iii. 7.)
"Let women be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord. Because the husband is the head of the wife; as Christ is the head of the Church. Therefore, as the Church is subject to Christ, so also let the wives be subject to their husbands in all things.” (Ephes. v. 22-24.)
The Ritual for the Celebration of Matrimony. The Priest, vested in a surplice and white stole, accompanied by
at least one Clerk, to carry the book and a vessel of holy water, and by two or three witnesses, asks the man and the woman separately, as follows, in the vulgar tongue, concerning their consent. And first he asks the Bridegroom, who must stand at the right hand of the woman :
N., wilt thou take N., here present, for thy lawful wife, according to the rite of our holy Mother the Church?
R. I will.
Then the Priest asks the Bride : N., wilt thou take N., here present, for thy lawful husband, according to the rite of our holy Mother the Church?
R. I will. Then the woman is given away by her father or friend; and, if
she has never been married before, she has her hand uncovered ; but if she is a widow, she has it covered. The man receives her to keep in God's faith and his own; and, holding her by the right hand in his own right hand, plights her his troth, saying after the Priest as follows:
I, N., take thee, N., to my wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, if holy Church will it permit; and thereto I plight thee my troth. Then they loose their hands; and, joining them again, the
woman says after the Priest : I, N., take thee, N., to my wedded husband, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death us do part, if holy Church will it permit; and thereto I plight thee my troth. Their troth being thus pledged to each other on both sides, and
their right hands joined, the Priest says: Ego conjungo vos in matri- I join you together in marmonium, in nomine Patris, * riage, in the name of the Faet Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. ther,+ and of the Son, and of Amen.
the Holy Ghost. Amen. Then he sprinkles them with holy water. This done, the Bridegroom places upon the book gold and silver
(which are presently to be delivered into the hands of the Bride), and also a ring, which the Priest blesses, saying :
V. Adjutorium nostrum in V. Our help is in the name nomine Domini.
of the Lord. R. Qui fecit cælum et ter- R. Who hath made heaven ram.
and earth. V. Domine, exaudi ora- V. O Lord, hear my prayer. tionem meam.
R. Et clamor meus ad te R. And let my cry come veniat.
unto thee. V. Dominus vobiscum.
V. The Lord be with you. R. Et cum spiritu tuo.
R. And with thy spirit.
Let us pray. Benedic, + Domine, annu- Bless, + O Lord, this ring, lum hunc, quem nos in tuo no- which we bless - in thy name, mine benedicimus, of ut quæ that she who shall wear it, eum gestaverit, fidelitatem in- keeping true faith unto her tegram suo sponso tenens, in spouse, may abide in thy peace pace et voluntate tua perma- and will, and ever live in muneat, atque in mutua charitate tual charity. Through Christ semper vivat. Per Christum' our Lord. Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.
R. Amen. Then the Priest sprinkles the ring with holy water, in the form of a Cross; and the Bridegroom, having received the ring from the hand of the Priest, gives gold and silver to the Bride, and says:
With this ring I thee wed; this gold and silver I thee give; with my body I thee worship; and with all my worldly goods I thee endow. Then the Bridegroom places the ring on the thumb of the left hand of the Bride, saying : In the name of the Father; then on the second finger, saying : and of the Son; then on the third finger, saying: and of the Holy Ghost; lastly, on the fourth finger, saying: Amen. And there he leaves the ring.
This done, the Priest adds: V. Confirma hoc, Deus, V. Confirm, O God, that quod operatus es in nobis. which thou hast wrought in us.
R. A templo sancto tuo R. From thy holy temple quod est in Jerusalem. which is in Jerusalem. Kyrie eleison.
Lord have mercy. Christe eleison.
Christ have mercy. Kyrie eleison.
Lord have mercy. Pater noster, &c. Et ne Our Father, &c. And lead nos inducas in tentationem. us not into temptation.
R. Sed libera nos a malo. R. But deliver us from evil. V. Salvos fac servos tuos. V. Save thy servants.
R. Deus meus, sperantes R. Who hope in thee, O in te.
my God. V. Mitte eis, Domine, auxi- "V. Send them help, O Lord, lium de sancto.
from the sanctuary. R. Et de Sion tuere eos. R. And defend them out of
Sion. V. Esto eis, Domine, turris V. Be unto them, O Lord, a fortitudinis
tower of strength. R. A facie inimici.
R. From the face of the enemy.