What does it symbolize/mean?
The Sacrament of Catholic Marriage
Marriage is a common practice in all cultures throughout history. For Catholics marriage is the union of male and female for the purpose of procreation. Couples should not have sex before marriage. Marriage is a divine institution, one of the church’s seven sacraments (that include baptism, confirmation etc.) that can never be broken, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder”. Therefore, even when partners are legally divorced, the Church considers them bound together by God, as long as they are both alive.
Principles of Catholic Marriage
It is common for Catholics to enter into a marriage with a non-Catholic. This is possible if the couple agree the following principles:
1. They have chosen to marry of their own accord with no external pressure
2. They intend to remain together or life
3. They intend to be faithful to each other
4. They intend to have children if the bride is of childbearing age
Before a marriage takes place, a couple must spend time with the priest to talk about the sanctity of marriage and their role within the church in preparation for their life together. Questions concerning family and children, money issues, lifestyle choices and religion will be asked.
The Marriage Ceremony
There are two types of Catholic marriage ceremony. One is with Mass and celebrates the Eucharist. This service lasts for about an hour. The other is without Mass and takes about 20 minutes.
The ceremony including Mass is as follows:
1.Entrance rite: there is a procession, which may include a hymn. The priest greets the congregation then the Penitential rite, a form of general confession, followed by opening prayers are said.
2.Liturgy of the Word: Bible readings, one from the Old Testament, a New Testament reading, a Gospel acclamation, a Gospel reading and a practical, not theological, sermon.
3.The rite of marriage: questions are asked about the couples’ faithfulness to one another and their willingness to bring up children. Then the vows are made and the rings are exchanged. The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.
4.Liturgy of the Eucharist: gifts of cash are presented and the altar is prepared. Then the Eucharist prayer is said.
5.Communion rite: The Lord’s Prayer is said which is followed by a nuptial blessing. Then follows the Sign of Peace and a Communion Hymn.
6.Concluding rite: The final blessing is made, there is a dismissal and the couple kiss. There is a recessional hymn which accompanies everyone out of the church.
In a wedding without Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is missed out.