Marriage is one of the seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church.
It is really the first Covenant between Adam and Eve (Covenant of marriage).
Genesis 2:23-24 states, “the man said: ‘This one at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called woman, for out of her man this one has been taken’. That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body”.
In the Old Testament, a Covenant is an exchange of persons in contrast to a contract which is an exchange of things.
Marriage fits this perfectly as it mirrors the Covenant God makes with his people.
It is interesting that God referred to Israel’s unfaithfulness to Him as adultery when they chose to follow false gods.
The Israelite were allowed to marry anyone they pleased, “provided they marry into a clan of their ancestral tribe so that no heritage of the Israelite will pass from one tribe to another, but all the Israelite will retain their own ancestral heritage” (Numbers 36:6-7).
Moses will eventually grant a written bill of divorce because of the hardness of heart.
Deuteronomy 24:1-4 states, “When a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, and therefore he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house: if on leaving his house she goes and becomes the wife of another man, and the second husband, too, comes to dislike her and dismisses her from his house by handing her a written bill of divorce; or if this second man who has married her, dies; then her former husband, who dismissed her, may not again take her as his wife after she has become defiled. That would be an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring such guilt upon the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage”.
Jesus responds to some Pharisees who were challenging Him on the question of divorce.
Jesus responded, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate. They said to Him, ‘Then why did Moses command that a man give the woman a bill of divorcee and dismiss her’? He said to them, ‘Because of the hardness of your hearts Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. I say to you, whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery” (Matthew 19:3-9).
This is a very important scripture here! Who is it that declares a marriage “unlawful”?
Can any husband call his marriage unlawful?
No, he or she cannot make that claim. The “annulment” of a marriage is not a divorce, it is a marriage that is dissolved because it was found to be unlawful. It was never a true Sacramental marriage.
What is the process to obtain an annulment?
What is the base for having an annulment?
A man or woman is not capable of declaring whether a marriage is annulled or not. It has to come from the Catholic Church who provides a tribunal to investigate if a marriage can be annulled.
Matthew 18:15-18 states, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother. If he does not listen to you, so that ‘every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church. If he refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector. Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”.
A marriage is truly meant to be a Covenant, much like the Covenant God makes with His people. What happens is when there is deception or something that one or both of the Marriage spouses conceals before a marriage. Or the marriage might not be valid before God such as a marriage given through the Justice of the peace. That might be a marriage recognized by civil law, but not by Canon Law.
You take the matter to the Church and the tribunal will decide. Today, there are allot of annulments taking place, it is like Canon Lawyers have taken this scripture “unlawful marriage” and builds each case just like a regular case in court.
It has a feel very much like a court. You have a Canon Lawyer who defends the marriage while you have an advocate who tries to prove your case based on the evidence. It can take sometimes more than a year or longer for such a decision.
If there has been no remarriage, the individuals involved are not banned from the Sacraments. If there has already been a “remarriage” the individuals cannot receive the Sacraments until a positive decision has been reached and the current marriage validated.
We are living at a time when marriage is being attacked as divorce is more than 50% in the United States, there are Socialistic teachers and followers who are wanting to change what marriage is.
There are liberal Judges who are legislating from the bench trying to justify homosexual marriage.
This is becoming a threat to the Sacrament of marriage.
Pope Pius XII in 1950 at the canonization of St. Maria Goretti warned that in the future the attacks on marriage would be great. The creation of the Birth Control Pill had much to do with the advent of the sexual revolution.
Pope Paul VI recognized the threat as the attack on the family became evident. Not all marriages are blessed as many are conducted outside the Church. Jesus warns, “For as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. In those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day that Noah entered the ark. They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away. So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man”.
We know that Jesus blesses valid marriages such as the wedding feast of Cana (John 2:1-12). Jesus is clearly referring to a secular humanistic condition of many in the last days.
Many times I have spoken to couples encouraging them with my triangle formula. Christ is at the top of the triangle, both spouses are at either end of the other two points.
The closer they move towards Jesus, the closer they move to each other building that foundation that will help them through any valley or any mountain they have to cross over.
Not a day goes by that my wife and I tell each other of our love for each other. She is God’s greatest gift to me.
To many times people are quick to abandon their vows. Marriage is a gift to His people. It is the perversion of this gift that is the problem. The Lord wants to bless you abundantly but many times because of our hardness of hearts, we fall into sin many times leading us into a spiritual condition where we are out of the Church.
There are those who have abandoned the Catholic Faith because they are divorced and remarried who rejects the authority of the Church. There are those who forsake marriage for a life of immorality, for orgies, and the like.
There are those who want to make homosexual union a “marriage” which is an abomination against God.
All of this us unlawful, St. Paul warns, “We know that the law is good, provided that one uses it as law, with the understanding that the law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly, the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, sodomites (homosexuals), kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which I have been entrusted” (1 Timothy 1:8-11).
The gospel St. Paul was entrusted has been given to us through this ministry. The (Catholic) bishops today is the authority for us to believe the gospel message. Let us pray for all Christian men and women that their marriages will be built upon the foundation of the gospel of peace. That children will be raised in loving households being shown good examples of what a father and mother should be. Let forgiveness be center for all of our faults.
Just as Jesus and Mary were invited by the bridegroom at the wedding of Cana, so too it would be the goal of all Christian marriages to do the same.
You may find that in doing so, you will receive something better than the water turned to wine.
The Lord's blessing upon your marriage is a great sign to be seen for all generations.
Proverbs 18:22 states, “He who finds a wife finds happiness; it is a favor he receives from the Lord”.