This week Jesus deals with the Pharisees who, once again, are trying to trap him – this time by using Moses against Him. They ask about divorce and Jesus takes this opportunity to answer the real question – What is Marriage?
This is a controversial topic nowadays, but it is one the Church will never waver from because she can’t. Jesus defines marriage quite specifically in this answer to the rather foolish looking Pharisees. Much like many look today when they try to define Holy Matrimony with the laws of the state. There are two meanings to Marriage, and the one the Church teaches is God’s meaning. Let Caesar have what is Caesar’s – man’s law.
We answer to a higher power, and this discussion and activity explain that, and help anyone truly interested (and not just looking for a fight) learn what Marriage is, what Catholics understand it to mean, and why it is Holy Matrimony.
There is a great activity that will prove Marriage is from God, which includes some storytelling, and lots of resources including a podcast episode we did about Marriage and Marriage Preparation.
What is Marriage?
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Catechesis At Home – Twenty-seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year B
What is Marriage?
DISCUSSION – What is Marriage? Flesh of my flesh, bone of my bones
This week the readings teach us about the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which is generally shortened by everyone to “Marriage.” God created Man and Woman to be together. Biologically and spiritually. The creation of Eve from the rib of Adam tells us something profound about the relationship of husband and wife – and men and women in general. She was not formed from a bone in Adam’s head – she is not above him; she was not formed from a bone in Adam’s foot – he is not above her. She was formed from a rib, taken from Adam’s side – they are equal partners.
Jesus answers the question about divorce by answering the real question: What is Marriage? When a man “leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife” they become “one flesh” and are partners in the marriage. This begins at the ceremony. The Rite of Marriage, the wedding: by exchanging vows the woman and man are the only celebrants of this Sacrament, conferring the Sacrament upon each other. The priest or deacon is only a witness. He does not confer the Sacrament as he does with all other Sacraments. Holy Matrimony is a very unique relationship and one that God planned from the beginning of Creation. It is a mirror of the relationship of the Holy Trinity. The union of man and woman in Holy Matrimony reflects the union of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. One God in Three Persons. In marriage Two become One. If God so ordains, the love that is shared between them will be fruitful by creating new life in the form of natural children or bringing to them the joy of adopting, or both.
God IS love. It is this love that He has for each and every individual He creates that makes it possible for the human race to continue. And He loves us so much that, when Adam and Eve disobeyed, He could not let us remain separated from Him. He sent His Son who sacrificed for us and consecrated us to Him (see Hebrews 2:11). To be consecrated means to be made sacred, to be set apart for holiness. God’s perfection is holiness. This is what each of us is called to become through Baptism.
What is Marriage? Like every sacrament, it gives us sanctifying grace – it makes us holy. To be brought to perfection in Him is to live a sacramental life. We participate in the perfecting of our souls through frequent Confession and Eucharist. We help our spouses reach their potential holiness by praying for and with them, helping them overcome their faults, forgiving and asking for forgiveness, growing in virtue and remaining faithful to our vows. We help our children reach heaven by raising them within this “holy family” educating them in virtuous living, forming them in the faith, participating in the life of the Church together.
ACTIVITY – What is Marriage? God’s Love is Brought to Perfection in Us
This week talk with your family and others about the “successful” marriages you know and admire. What are some of those qualities that make the marriage a Holy matrimony? What common themes and outward signs do the married couples have that you can readily identify? What does that tell you about their private lives and the way their marriage and family is when they are alone? What is the one, big common strength each of these couples share with each other, no matter how long they have been married, where they live, or the challenges their marriages have endured? Without exception, you will discover that the common bond they each have is a constant desire and work toward loving God before the husband and wife love each other.
Married couples, take time to recall your wedding and express to one another a positive way you have each helped the other grow in holiness, virtue, and love. Make sure you do this in the presence of your children if you can, and other couples, especially newlyweds or engaged couples. Take this opportunity to share with children exactly what it means to be married, how God and the Church define marriage as Holy Matrimony, not a license from the state.
FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITY – What is Marriage? Explore our resources
Marriage can be a hot-button issue when it is not understood. At Holy Owned and Operated, we discuss and explore Holy Matrimony, which is called “marriage,” but is a completely different and separate thing from civil marriage, where all the controversy seems to swirl regularly. Keep these resources below handy and go over them – they will help you make sense in your own heart and mind, and when others engage you, you will have sensible, reasoned and loving answers to show that “What is Marriage?” has to be answered with a question, “Which one – God’s marriage, or Caesar’s?”
LISTEN – We Answer the Question, “What is Marriage” and Discuss the Importance of Marriage Preparation in This Episode of Our Podcast, On The Road to Perfection
LEARN MORE – Other What is Marriage? resources from Holy Owned and Operated:
Links open in a new tab or window according to your settings so that you can compare and continue in this lesson’s theme.
Podcast: Marriage Preparation – Episode 40
Podcast: Love – Episode 30
Video: Fruits of the Spirit: Love
TWMWU: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph
TWMWU: Consecrated In Truth
Article: What is Love?
Article: Eros – Sexual Romantic Love
Article: Eros – Sexual Romantic Love In The Single Life
What is Marriage to you? Is that what Holy Matrimony is? How do you know?
by Beth & Kristofer Cowles
Other Help on HOO
Why Does The Catholic Church Not Believe In Cremation? Beth and Kristofer do not accept the premise.
Does the Church discourage cremation? Sure.
But it also accepts the occasional necessity of cremation, and when chosen prudently it is not a sin.
But when done for the wrong reasons, it is a grave sin. No pun intended!
Listen to understand the nuances of the Church’s teaching on this sensitive and often gut-wrenching topic.