Little Catechism On Marriage

02-13-2022Weekly Reflection

1. What is the importance of marriage today? Marriage is the fundamental building block for all other human relationships. If there is a single cause for most of today’s evils, both religious and secular, it is the weakening of marriages and family.

2. What kind of marriage will succeed today? Only a counter-cultural marriage. The present culture is often alien and hostile to marriage. It exalts the individual before the good of a spouse or family or children. It is an environment of selfishness and materialism. Only couples with strong values based on the things of God will thrive in this culture.

3. What are the two radically different views of marriage? Marriage is part of the natural order rooted in the human nature of the man and woman. It was not “invented” by human beings. In the our world today many deny this and claim marriage is whatever the individual or government says it is or decides it is. This second claim is based on something called relativism that all things are relative to the individual so it is simply personal preference than truth. The Church rejects this latter view as false as harmful to the human person and society. Catholic social teaching reminds us that the nuclear family, that is, father, mother and children in the institution of marriage is the basic building block of society and the Church.

4. How is sex interpreted in today’s world? In the present culture man and woman and marriage are interpreted in terms of sex. Here love is simply sex. The true and more complete view interprets sex and marriage in terms of the nature of man and woman where sexual pleasure and attraction is meant to serve and be part a higher love of friendship, self-sacrifice, and commitment to the opposite sex for life.

5. What is the history of marriage? It begins in God Himself, Who is the Author of marriage. God the Blessed Trinity is family. God created man and woman in His image and likeness. The institution of marriage was written into human nature: man and woman are to be fruitful and multiply and be faithful to each in other in mutual friendship and support as one flesh. Marriage as God intended it was wounded by original sin. Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament. It now becomes an image of Christ’s marriage to us His Church.

6. What are the goods of marriage? The goods of marriage are three: children, the mutual fidelity of the spouses and the sacrament.

7. What are the effects of marriage? There are two: unity and indissolubility. Christ gives couples actual grace to live out their vocation as a couple and to make any sacrifices necessary to preserve their marriage.

8. Why is sacrifice necessary in marriage? The true test of love is giving or self-sacrifice. Many marriages fail, because the spouses refused to make sacrifices. The marriage vows teach that spouses vow to love for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health until death. This is real: there will be worse and better; sickness and health until death. Life cannot avoid the need for sacrifice, which is a sign of real love.

9. Is marriage indissoluble? Yes, Christ teaches clearly that marriage is permanent. (Matt. 19:6). Since marriage is an image of God’s love, the Blessed Trinity, the notion of divorce is impossible. The union of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit can never separated. Couples are to live in mutual and lasting fidelity.

10. What is the sacrament of marriage? Christ raised the natural institution to a sacrament to image His self-sacrificing marriage to His Church. The Christian couple is called the domestic church, the image of the church in miniature. Christ as in all sacraments gives the couple an increase in sanctifying grace, where the Christian shares the life of the Blessed Trinity and actual graces to live out their marriage as God intends it in the sacrament.

11. Are Catholics who divorce and remarry cut off from Church? Catholics who divorce and remarry, are in a situation, which objectively goes against God’s law. They may not receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists. However they are not cut off from the Church. Such Christians are encouraged to pray, to assist at Mass, to take part in the life of the Church as best they can. They should discuss their situation with their parish priest. Sometimes couples must live separately for serious reasons, for example physical or emotional abuse, and this is permitted by the Church.

12. Why no sex outside marriage? Sex outside of marriage is the serious sin of fornication in the case of the unmarried and adultery in the case of those who are already married. The deepest cause of sexual promiscuity is that the human spirit, made in God’s image, longs for infinite and lasting love. There is a tendency to expect from a human being and sexual love what only God can give. Because human beings do not often know God with a personal love they lack spiritual joy and seek fulfillment in sexual pleasure alone. This “idolatry” of human flesh is a serious sin.

13. Must all sexual relations be open to procreation? Sexuality has a procreative meaning and a unitive meaning. Marriage by its very nature is ordered to the procreation and education of children. All sexual relations must respect those meanings; thus sexual relations must be open to procreation.

14. Is it wrong to practice birth control? Catholics for a serious reason may decide to postpone or space out births in their marriage. Serious reasons would exclude things inconsistent with being a follower of Christ like materialism or selfishness. However, in spacing out or postponing births the couple must cooperate with the procreative meaning of their bodies. The use of contraceptives is seriously sinful, since they negate the procreative meaning of marriage. Some so-called contraceptives cause abortions and are really abortifacients.

15. What is Natural Family Planning (NFP)? Natural Family Planning is a morally good way to space out or achieve pregnancy within marriage according to the teachings of the Church. This is not the outdated so-called “rhythm method,” which depended on a woman’s monthly cycles. This is a scientific method 99% effective, which uses changes in the woman’s body which can be measured and observed indicating fertility and non-fertility.

16. What is an annulment? An annulment is a judicial declaration by a church-tribunal that a marriage never existed because one of its essential preconditions was missing, for example, openness to having children. This is not divorce. Divorce is the attempt to dissolve a valid, existing marriage.

17. What is a mixed marriage? Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic is a mixed marriage. This may take place with the permission of the Church.

18. What is a marriage with disparity of cult? Marriage between a Catholic and an unbaptized person is a marriage with disparity of cult. This type of marriage may only take place with a dispensation from the Church.

19. Are there difficulties in mixed marriages and disparity of cult marriages? There are potential difficulties and these must not be underestimated. The separation of Christians has not yet been overcome and this can become a cause of dissension and conflict in the home because of the lack of religious unity. Marriage with an unbaptized person increases the potential risk of disharmony because there is no religious unity.

20. What are a Catholic’s obligations in a mixed or disparity of cult marriage? The Catholic must promise to do all in his or her power to raise the children Catholic and he or she must witness to their Faith and the truth of Christ and the Catholic Faith.

21. Is there a right to have children? There is no such thing as a right to have children. There are rights to things not people. Parents do not own or design or create their children. Such attitudes violate the dignity of the child, who is in his or her own right, a person made in the image and likeness of God. This dignity begins at conception.

Pope Francis on family, the human condition, and forgiveness:

"There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents, we are not perfect, we do not marry a perfect person or have perfect children. We have complaints about each other. We have deceived each other. Therefore, there is no healthy marriage and healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes a theater of conflict and a bastion of grievances. Without forgiveness the family gets sick. Forgiveness sterilizes the soul, cleansing the mind and freeing the heart. He who doesn't forgive has no peace of mind nor communion with God. Pain is a poison that intoxicates and kills. To keep a wound in one's heart is a self-devouring gesture. It is autophagy. He who doesn't forgive, becomes physically, emotionally and spiritually ill. That's why the family must be a place of life and not of death; territory of healing, not disease; stage of forgiveness and not guilt. Forgiveness brings joy where there was sorrow pain; and healing, where the disease has caused pain. "