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February 3, 1961     The Observer
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February 3, 1961
 

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PAGE 12 THE OBSERVER FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 1961 THEOLOGY FOR EVERY MAN e The following commentary on the Church's laws on Matri-[tural purpose. It is through marriage, as it has been sanctified ,zo~y was prepared at St. Joi~,'s Seminary, Brighton, Mass. lby Christ, that the Church increases and multiplies As St. It is reprbttcd fro,z the Boston PiLot. John saw in prophetic vision the entire Church coming forth * * * to meet Christ, he fittingly described the Church as the new In the Mass 'of the Second Sunday after the Epiphany the Jerusalem. 'Prepared as a bride adorned to meet her husband.' Gospel related the Marriage at Cana and the manifestation of (Apocalypse, 21, 2.) Christ in His first public miracle. Ever since this first Chris-,$ I fian emphasis on the hgliness of m~irriagc, the Church has los- IN OUR OWN DAY IT IS IMPORTANT that the sacred tered its sanctity. Are the Church's laws on Matrimony as character of marriage, among those who have been baptized, important today as in other ages? should be reaffirmed and emphasized. It is not enough to pro-I * * *,claim the natural immorality of birth prevention, divorce and WItAT IS MEANT BY THE TEACIIING that marria~,e is a adulterous remarriage. For Christians these naturally immoral type or symbol of the union between Christ and His Church? 'acts become sacrilegious, in their violation of the sacred union When God made man male and female, He intended that between .Christ and His Church which is shared in by all who the human race should increase and multiply, and that it should have become regenerated in baptism. For Christian marriage be sinless and happy. When our first parents fell into sin and not only symbolizes the union between Christ and His Church, involved us all in their misfortune. God promised a Redeemer but also affords the natural support which makes this union Who would be born of the chosen family of Abraham. Marriage ?ossible. It is for this reason that St. Paul exhorts husbands, thus came to have a spirtual meaning; women who wer~ un- and wives to love one another, as Chrlst loved the Church and i able to have children regarded themselves as spiritually defici- delivered Himself for it. eat. Marriage became even more spiritually significant when the Redeemer was born of a virgin mother under the protection WHEN WE SAY THAT MARRIAGE is a sacrament, we mean of her marriage with St. Joseph. And when the Redeemer was that it is an outward sign instituted by Christ, and that it not: about to begin His public life. He blessed a marriage by beifig only symbolizes the ptresence of grace in our souls, but actually causes it to be there. We cannot be certain that the sacramental present at it. and by working His first miracle in favor of the nature of marriage is explicitly indicated in Sacred Scripture. newly married couple. We are quite certain, however, from the infallible authority of THE CLOSENESS OF THE UNION BETWEEN husband and the Church that Matrimony is one of the seven sacraments ~rife is paralleled by that of the union of the Son of God with and that it confers grace in virtue of its sacramental efficacy. human nature. As husband and wife share in each other's be- It is of the essence of a sacrament to be an external sign ins and resources, so, in becoming man Christ makes it possible As God adapted Himself to our human weakness by becoming to have some share of His own divine life. Divine life flows man, He facilitates our sharing in the fruits of the Incarna- from Christ as God through His sacred humanity to all who tion and Redemption by instituting visible signs by which in- share in the fruits of His Redemption. Christ so loved the world visible grace is brought to our souls. The external sign whch that He took man's nature to Himself, Through the mystery constitutes the sacrament of Matrimony ~s the contract, validly of the Incarnation the divine inseparably united in a single made by a man and a woman, to live together as man and divine Person. wife until death. Whenever two baptized persons enter into the contract of marriage validly, the contract itself becomes the IN THE STATE OF MATRIMONY there is a similar union sacrament. between man and woman. Husband and wife became united as a single principle of generation. Each shares in the joys and ~ "k "k sorrows of the other. They are joined together 'for better or for IN EVERY CONTRACT THERE is an offer and an accep- worse, for richer or for poorer,' until death. So also'the Son of tance. A bilateral contract, in which each party offers-the other God. being rich, became poor for our sakes, that by His poverty something which the other accepts, does not come into exis- we might become rich. i tence until the mutual exchange of rights and obligations is It thus appears that the natural purpose of marriage, the completed. The external sign, therefore, which constitutes the generation of children, has been supplemented by a superna- sacrament of Matrimony, is the mutual agreement, externally tural purpose, that the children of men should be raised by expressed, of a man and a woman to live as husband and wife, grace to become sons of God. It is easy to see the part which and to exchange the riqhts and obligations wt~ich pertain to Christian parenthood plays in the realization of this superna- the. contract of marriage. It is not theologically correct to interpret the text of St. Paul that 'marriage is a great sacrament' (Ephesians 5, 32) as refer-i ring direcly to the sacramental character of marriage. What is "Just Across Jrom World Fatned Blackhawk Statue" (l Mile North" of U. S. Hwy. 64 off Ill. Hwy. 2) HOURS OF SERVING Daily" 11:30 A.M. to 8:00 P.M. (Closed Mondays) SMORGASBORD SERVED WED. & THURS. For Banquet Party or Meeting Reservations Phone: ORegon 2.6761 - - John Maxon, Owner -- MEMBER AAA AND DUNCAN HINES -- meant here is rather that marriage is something sacred and mysterious. Yet what St. Paul has in mind is not difficult to think of as in correspondence with the sacramental character of marriage. When he speaks of marriage as analogous with the union of Christ and His Church, he is certainly thinking of the grace-bestowing power which belongs to the sacrament of marriage. All the sacraments are instruments in the hands of Christ. In the case of the sacrament of Matrimony, the union between Christ and His Church which is the source of all grace is not only brought about, but beautifully symbolized. THE PRIMARY CAUSE OF THE EFFECT brought about the sacraments is Christ. Christ is,' therefore, the author and the principal m~ister of the sacrament of Matrimony. For all the sacraments, however, visible ministers are required, and they are deputed to act in Christ's Name. At one time it was thought that the minister of the sacra- ment of Matrimony is the officiating priest. For those who sub- scribed to this view, the contract of marriage, entered into by a man and a woman, was regarded as the m~/tter of the sacra-i meat, and the blessing of the priest as the form. This opinion was developed, or at least strengthened, by an historic decree of the Council of Trent which required the presence of a parish i priest and two witnesses for the validity of marriages of Catho- lics. -. Closer examination, however, will reveal that this opinion is incorrect Today all theologians are agreed that the essence of the sacrament is to be found entirely in the contract of marriage i I$1$E Jt l And since the contract is entered into by the husband and wife, and not by the officiating priest, it follows that the husband and the wife, and not the priest, must be regarded as the min- isters of the sacrament, each one giving it to the other. -k -k ~r MOREOVER, IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN HELD that, in certain exceptional cases, the presence of the priest at the marriage of Catholics may be dispensed with. If the blessing of the priest entered essentially into the sacrament of Matrimony, these ex- ceptional cases would be impossible to explain. On the other hand, it remains true that the presence of a priest is required, as a general rule, as a condition for the valid- ity of both the sacrament and the contract of marriage when one of the parties is a Catholic. The Church is within its power in establishing this condition, since there is question of a sacra- ment, and since the fact of baptism brings Catholics, in relation to the contracting of marriage, under the jurisdiction of the Church. THE LEGISLATION OF THE COUNCIL of Trent which made the validity of marriage dependent on the presence of a parish priest or bishop in his own territory, was enacted to prevent the abuses connected with clandestine marriages, that is, those catered into by privately exchanged consent, apart from any external solemnity. Civil legislation likewise came to recognize the evils of purely consensual marriages. Today most jurisdic- tions have.abandoned the provision of the common law which admitted the validity of conscnsual marriages and a religious or legal ceremony is demanded almost everywhere as a condi- tion for validity. According to Church law, however, the priest is present merely as a witness and is not demanded because i he is thought of as entering into the sacrament of Matrimony in any essential way. AS WE HAVE ALREADY SUGGESTED, the law 'makes pro- vision for situations in which a competent priest is not avail- able. When there is danger of death, first of all, a marriage contract between two persons who are otherwise capable of entering into it, is valid provided two witnesses are present. This 'provision of law has in mind the predicament of a "couple who are not validly married according to the laws of the Church, and who wish to become rcconciled to the Church and gain the graces of the sacrament of Matrimony before they die. Their problem should, of course, be handled by a priest if one is available. If this is impossible, they m~y exchange matrimonial consent in the presence of two witnesses: APART FROM THE DANGER OF death, marriage n?ay be cpntracted~in a similar manner if there is grave inconvenience in delay and there iS no likelihood that a priest may be available within a month. This problem might arise, for example, in the case of two Catholics in a Communist-dominated area where priests are not allowed to function. Their marriage would be recognized as valid by the Church if it were entered into before two witnesses, and if there were evidence to support the facts in the case. Those who may have contracted marriage in this way should report the fact as soon as possible to a parish priest A MISSION TO FORMOSA--Thomas Cardinal Tien, S.V.D Apostolic Administrator of Taipei, Formosa, receives Msgr. A cure for rheumatoid arthri, tis, which is under study through March of Dimes grants, w~uld relieve the suffering of 30,000 children and adolescents in the United States annually. Edward G. Murray of the Boston archdiocese at the Cardinal's residence in Taipei. Msgr. Murray, pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Roslindale, Mass conveyed the good wishes of NEW ECONOMY BOTTLE NO DEPOSIT NO RETURN t Blue Ribbon Distributors, RoCkford - Dixon 'John Knobel ~ Son Freeport. Ill. Richard Cardinal Cushing, ArchbiRhop of Boston, to the Chinese Cardinal. Cardinal Cushing is conducting a drive to raise $900,000 to assist in the construction of Formosa's Fujen Catholic University. MODERN PLATING CORPORATION Complete Electroplating Service GENERAL OFFICE AND PLANT 121-129 SO. HANCOCK AVENUE FREEPORT, ILLINOIS TELEPHONE: ADams 2-6139 J BRANCH I LANT - 2500 N. MAIN STREET ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS TELEPHONE: WOodland 2-6451 write or Phone Us ]or Details and Estimates PURE I IlK HEI.P ,HIM TO REACH HIS GOAL In our Divine V)ord Seminaries in India, Philippines and Japan, we have a number of students preparing for the priesthood. MANY ARE VERY POOR and need finan- cial help to continua their studios. MAIL TO who will have jurisdiction over them, and who will take steps towards having the pertinent facts made a matter of official ecclesiastical record. IT IS FULLY UNDERSTANDABLE that, in modern times, the state should find it necessary to legislate in regard to the civil effects of marriage. Laws of the state which are in con- flict with the laws of the Church, or with the law of God, are, of course, incapable of justification. State laws, however, which aim to protect the sacredness of the marriage contract, or to guard against the evils of clandestine marriages, must certain- ly be regarded' as just and must be observed. Otherwise there would be unnecessary conflict between the Church and the state. In some countries state laws demand that all marriages be entered into before an authorized civil official. Such a ceremony, however, cannot be recognized by the Church as a valid mar- riage, save in the exceptional cases noted above. It is wrong, therefore, for a Catholic to live in marital union unless his marriage has been entered into according to the prescribed ecclesiastical form, even if a marriage' ceremony which is rec- ognized by the state as valid has been gone through. IN OUR OWN COUNTRY THE LAW recognizes the right of priests, as ministers of religion, to witness marriages, and the record of an ecclesiastical marriage is accepted by the state as sufficient for its purpose as well, provided a civil marriage li- cense has been procured. It is the duty of Catholics who have not been married by a priest to have their marital union vali- dated as soon as possible according to the law of the Church. There can be no question about the teaching of the Church that the marriages of Catholics are not valid until this formality has been fulfilled. As for state laws which allow divorce, these are obviously against the law of God, and no Catholic may re- gard a civil divorce from a valid marriage as justification for attempting a new marriage contract. NOR DOES THE STATE HAVE THE RIGHT to set up matri- monial impediments beyor~d those which are indicated in the law of nature. The state is within its rights in forbidding mar- riages under certain conditions which seem to be dangerous for the common good Thus the state might forbid marriages to persons suffering "from certain forms of disease when there would be good reason for fearing that grave harm might re- sult to the community. The state does not have the right, how- ever, to legislate regarding the essence itself of the marriage contract as it is indicated in natural law. 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