What is the sacrament of Holy Matrimony?
The Code of Canon Law states, “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (can. 1055). In the Catholic Church, the spouses themselves confer the Sacrament of Matrimony upon each other through expressing their consent before the Church to enter into a marriage covenant. In a sense, the freely given consent between the spouses “makes the marriage.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1626). The priest or deacon receives the mutual consent of the spouses in the name of the Church.
What are the requirements for reception of Holy Matrimony?
Your wedding ceremony is challenging and exciting to plan. These guidelines are offered to each couple preparing for marriage in the Diocese of Scranton. They provide both an outline and a starting point for your preparation process.
Unlike a civil ceremony, your wedding is a RELIGIOUS CELEBRATION. The Christian community celebrates in faith your commitment and love for one another as well as God’s love for us.
The framework of the Roman Catholic Order of Celebrating Matrimony helps you to prepare a religious celebration that expresses the dimensions of your love. You will want to discuss the possible selections with the parish priest/deacon who will preside (and preach) at your marriage. Their experience can be very helpful to you.
The wedding ceremony is not a performance for passive spectators. It is a COMMUNITY CELEBRATION and should involve your guests as active participants. Well-prepared congregational singing invites everyone to participate. Individuals should be selected to participate at appropriate times, for instance, by proclaiming the Scripture readings, in the presentation of the gifts (wine, hosts…), etc.
There are three forms of the marriage ceremony:
- Order of Celebrating Matrimony within Mass
- Order of Celebrating Matrimony without Mass
- Order of Celebrating Matrimony between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a Non-Christian
When two Catholics are married, the ceremony would normally take place within Mass. The marriage of a Catholic and a baptized person of another church, or a Catholic and a person who is not baptized, will normally take place without Mass. The decision of the form of celebration for your marriage should be made in consultation with the priest.
On certain days of the liturgical year that have great solemnity (e.g. Easter, Christmas, holy days), the Nuptial Mass is not permitted or appropriate. In that case, Matrimony is celebrated within the Mass of the day.
Final approval for your liturgical selections will be given by the parish priest/deacon who will preside (and preach) at your marriage. Please make regular contact with these parish representatives throughout your ceremony planning.
What are the parish requirements and protocols for marriage liturgies?
If possible, please begin the process of preparing for marriage by contacting the parish office 9-12 months in advance of the wedding date at 570-785-3838 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This will give you enough time to 1) prepare yourselves spiritually, 2) grow in your relationship, recognizing the gifts you bring and your particular challenges, and 3) complete the paperwork and preparation process.
During preparation for marriage in the Diocese of Scranton, you can expect to:
- Meet one or more times with the parish priest to discuss the sacrament of marriage and your relationship, to learn about guidelines and procedures, to gather information needed for Church records and to set a tentative wedding date.
- Plan your wedding liturgy with the assistance of a priest or deacon.
You will be asked to:
- Attend the enrichment program the priest specifies. It may include a Pre-Cana Day of Reflection, sessions with a Sponsor Couple, online Marriage Preparation, or Engaged Encounter.
- Take the FOCCUS survey, or a similar premarital inventory. This is a series of questions that you and your fiancé answer separately; your answers are compared in a report, which you will go over with the person preparing you for marriage. By comparing and contrasting your views on a wide range of topics pertinent to married life you can explore your relationship, think about what each of you is bringing to marriage, and become more aware of your strengths and challenges.
- Obtain Natural Family Planning (NFP) instruction.