With all the publicity on marriage in recent times, I felt an inclination to write an article on the Catholic teaching regarding the sacrament of marriage, but I did not feel that I had the ability to adequately express it. So I did some research on recent pamphlets and came across an excellent article in a pamphlet entitled, “True Marriage a Lifelong Sacrament,” written by Bishop Richard Smith, who is the bishop of Pembroke and president of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops. I contacted Bishop Smith and he kindly gave me permission to publish the article. So “herewith” …
People of different faiths and cultures have, since time immemorial, recognized marriage to be the very cornerstone of society.
It may be celebrated differently in various cultures and it may be surrounded by varying customs, but there are some common and permanent characteristics: it is the union of a man and a woman – that is to say, a union based on sexual differentiation and complementarity; it is a union for life which is forever faithful; and it is open to the gift of new life, which issues from the mutual self-gift of husband and wife.
From the beginning, marriage has been an essential part of God’s plan of creation. The human being is created by an act of God’s love and is called to love. Spouses are called by God to be fruitful, to multiply and to be the agents of his ongoing creative action. Marital love is intended by God to be the stable environment in which new life is created and nurtured.
Marriage also participates in God’s plan of salvation. The self-sacrificial love of Christ for the church is often expressed in Scripture by analogy with the marital love of husband and wife. Christ is the bridegroom, the church his bride. On the Cross, Christ sacrificed himself for the sake of his bride, the church. By his death and resurrection, he conquered the power of sin and death. His loving self-sacrifice brought forth life, eternal life for the world.
Husband and wife, by remaining faithful to the promises they make to one another, by lovingly sacrificing themselves for one another and by allowing their love to bring new life to birth, proclaim to the world God’s saving love, revealed in Christ.
Throughout their years of married life, husband and wife are enabled by God’s grace to rejoice in the gift of their love and the wonder of their children. God also strengthens them to face with faith and courage the challenges of family life. May this same grace of God inspire and help all of us to protect and strengthen marriage and family in our day.
Thank you, Bishop Smith.