The Sacrament of Matrimony is a covenant relationship by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life. By its very nature, sacramental marriage is ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. This covenant relationship or the call by God of a man and a woman to marriage is understood to be a means of personal and communal holiness. Baptized spouses enter this Sacramental Marriage freely, and with clear understanding that they will try to live their married lives after the manner of Christ’s love for us. This love is unconditional, sacrificial and until the death of one of the spouses. Sacramental Marriage, marriage in the Church, is not just a legal relationship, but a deeply spiritual one as well. It is this spiritual relationship that is desired by the couple when they come to be married in the Church.
Sacramental marriage is possible for persons who are free to marry and not bound by any impediments which would prevent a valid marriage in the Church (e.g., a previous valid marriage, religious vows, age). Ordinarily, couples should be at least 21 years of age and have the proper maturity to freely enter a lifetime commitment to another person.
Couples can be married in either the parish Church of the Bride (customarily) or the parish Church of the groom. Another parish may be chosen with proper permissions.
Matter and Form of the Sacrament
The Sacrament of Matrimony is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love.
Effects of the Sacrament
- gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church
- perfects the human love of the spouses
- strengthens their indissoluble unity
- sanctifies them on the way to eternal life
Interfaith marriages (marriages between a baptized Catholic and a baptized person of another denomination) are permitted, but permission from the local bishop is necessary. Marriages between a baptized Catholic and a non-baptized person are also permitted with a dispensation from the local bishop. Ordinarily, marriage for two Catholic persons is entered into during the Eucharistic Liturgy. Other marriages between a Catholic party and another non-Catholic or non-baptized person take place in the church following a Liturgy of the Word. Eucharist (Mass) is not celebrated. Marriages outdoors or in other places other than the parish Church are not permitted in the Diocese of Harrisburg. For more information concerning Marriage refer to www.hbgdiocese.org.
Persons wishing to be married at St. Joseph Church or in another Catholic Church should first contact the Pastor or one of the priests for an initial appointment. No other arrangements should be made before this meeting. The purpose of this initial appointment is to set a time and date for the wedding, to make sure couples are free to be married in the Church and to begin the formation process leading to the marriage. Besides this initial interview, other pre-marital preparations include: FOCCUS Inventory, Marriage Prep Workshop and God's Plan for a Joy-filled Marriage Seminar. Naturally, there is also paper work involved. The paper work includes: Pre-Marital Questionnaire and Intention paper, witness affidavits for both Bride and Groom, recent baptismal certificate and if necessary, permission and dispensation from the Diocese for marriage to take place in the Catholic Church.
Click here to view 4-minute movies on the Sacraments.