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Chapter 21. The Sacrament of Marriage • 281

(1 Cor 7:10-11). In the Letter to the Ephesians, we read, “‘For this rea-

son a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother / and be joined to

his wife, / and the two shall become one flesh.’ / This is a great mystery,

but I speak in reference to Christ and the church” (Eph 5:31-32). Thus

the love of husband and wife reflects the love between Christ and the

Church. By Christ’s will, Marriage is one of the Seven Sacraments.


By their marriage, the couple witnesses Christ’s spousal love for the

Church. One of the Nuptial Blessings in the liturgical celebration of mar-

riage refers to this in saying, “Father, you have made the union of man

and wife so holy a mystery that it symbolizes the marriage of Christ and

his Church.” Through the liturgical celebration of marriage, husband

and wife enter into a covenant which is also a Sacrament:

The matrimonial covenant by which a man and a woman estab-

lish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is

by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the

procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between

baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dig-

nity of a sacrament. (CCC, no. 1601, citing CIC, can. 1055, and

Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches

[CCEO], can. 776)

The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenant, which is more than a

contract. Covenant always expresses a relationship between persons.

The marriage covenant refers to the relationship between the husband

and wife, a permanent union of persons capable of knowing and loving

each other and God. The celebration of marriage is also a liturgical act,

appropriately held in a public liturgy at church. Catholics are urged to

celebrate their marriage within the Eucharistic Liturgy.