did marriage become a sacrament?
Marriage was around a long time before Jesus. His parents were married,
and at least some of the apostles were married. For example, in
all three of the synoptic Gospels we hear of Peter's mother-in-law
(Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38). In the early Church, Christians
got married like anyone else in the cultures where they lived. Gradually,
Christians began to see that the loving union of husband and wife
spoke to them not only about family values but also about God's
Historically speaking, it was not until the 12th
century that marriage took its place among the other ritual actions
which we now name the seven sacraments. Throughout the Middle Ages
there was no singular wedding rite for Christians. The Catholic
wedding ceremony that you might witness today dates in large part
from about the 16th century.
Adapted from Sacrament
of Marriage: Sign of Faithful Love, by Rev. Thomas Richstatter,
do we celebrate weddings in churches?
A weddings location says something important
about a couple, in what context they are pledging their undying
love and who has a stake in the success of their marriage. Most
Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States have a regulation that
the bishops permission is needed for a wedding outside a church
Marriage is a lifelong commitment, which the larger
faith community has a responsibility to nurture. Linking weddings
to buildings used by the faith community is one way of making that
point. Weddings are usually celebrated in church buildings for the
same reason that Baptisms are celebrated there: That is where the
faith community most often gathers.
People are obviously more important than buildings.
Once you move weddings out of a church building, however, you face
potential questions about having them on a roller coaster or Ferris
wheel, while scuba diving or skydiving, or in some other location
which the couple considers ideal.
How do such locations favor or discourage participation
by the larger faith community? That community certainly has a stake
in the success of every marriage its members enter.
Adapted from Ask
A Franciscan, a monthly feature in St. Anthony Messenger.
does a wedding between a Catholic and a non-Catholic Christian differ
from a wedding between two Catholics?
Celebrating the Eucharist is the norm for a marriage between two
Catholics, but many dioceses advise against Mass in interchurch
marriages. One priest observes that having a Mass in such a situation
presents an inherent contradiction: "joined then divided."
He explains: "We have two baptized persons being united as
they celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony; then, because of a division
between Churches, they're not joined in the Sacrament of the Eucharist."
If the couple nevertheless chooses to celebrate
their marriage in the context of Mass, they can invite the Protestant
minister to offer a greeting, a blessing or a prayer. If no Eucharist
is involved, the minister, with permission of the local ordinary,
can read a Scripture lesson or preach.
In some cases, a dispensation can be obtained
from the Catholic "form of marriage" and the ceremony
may take place before a minister of another Church or even before
a civil official. The Apostolic Letter on Mixed Marriages lists
the following as reasonable causes allowing for this: "to achieve
family harmony or to avoid family alienation; to obtain parental
agreement to the marriage; to recognize the significant claims of
relationship or special friendship with a non-Catholic minister;
to permit the marriage in a church that has particular importance
to the non-Catholics."
Adapted from Interchurch
Marriages: How to Help Them Succeed, by Elizabeth Bookser
Friar Jack's Inbox
respond to Friar Jack's reflections on St. Anthony of Padua
"Dear Friar Jack: Loved your sketch
of St. Anthony! 'Tis a big relief (in Catholic periodicals and elsewhere)
not to be hearing about church sinners for a change, though the
abuse problem is horrendous and must be solved. Give us more uplifting
"Dear Friar Jack: So good to hear from you again. St.
Anthony is a great saint. He has not failed me yet in finding stuff.
He knows before I do that I will need to find something and when
I finally figure it out and say "Here we go againBig
guy," it shows up. He is also someone who helps me remain calm
and comfortable in my own skin. God bless you now and always."
"Dear Friar Jack: Pax et bonum! Thanks so much for all
the information re: St. Anthony of Padua. My parish is named for
this great guy. Information re: his life seems difficult to obtain
and I will be passing on your newsletter to my fellow parishioners.
I love your e-mail commentaries and I thank you for all your efforts.
Being a Secular Franciscan for over 30 years I appreciate your insights
and have shared them with my Secular Franciscan family. We are praying
for you! God bless!"
"Dear Friar Jack: Thank you for your
message on St. Anthony. I have been in the Basilica at Padua, with
the sublime Donatello sculptures, whereif my memory does not treason
methe tongue of the saint is exposed in a reliquary...Your prayer
to St. Anthony is just beautiful. I will pray to him in your words."
Thank you, Dr. M.
Friar Jack responds: It is true that St. Anthony's
tongue is displayed in a reliquary at his basilica in Padua, Italy.
I have seen it myself. Though the idea may seen a bit grotesque
to modern sensibilities, a little historical background can help
us better see the special meaning behind this relic. In the year
1263 (32 years after Anthony's death), Anthony's tomb was opened
on the occasion of the transferral of his body. It was discovered
that Anthony's tongue, amazingly, had not decayed but had kept its
fresh, living appearance. Present at this ceremony, St. Bonaventure
proclaimed the discovery to be a miraculous affirmation of St. Anthony's
sublime skills as a preacher of God's word. May we all seek Anthony's
gift of "proclaiming the glory of God!"
Got an opinion? Due to strong reader interest in the topic,
we've set up an online
forum on clergy sexual abuse at AmericanCatholic.org. Read others'
opinions and submit your own comments there for everyone to see!