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Chapter 21. The Sacrament of Marriage • 285


notes that “All the members of the family exercise the priest-

hood of the baptized in a privileged way” (CCC, no. 1657).

Not all married couples are able to have children. “Spouses to whom

God has not granted children can nevertheless have a conjugal life full

of meaning. . . . [and] can radiate a fruitfulness of charity, of hospitality

and of sacrifice” (CCC, no. 1654).


The first effect of the Sacrament of Matrimony is the gift of the bond

between the spouses. “The consent by which the spouses mutually give

and receive one another is sealed by God himself” (CCC, no. 1639).

“The marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way

that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons

can never be dissolved” (CCC, no. 1640).

The grace of this Sacrament perfects the love of husband and wife,

binds them together in fidelity, and helps them welcome and care for

children. Christ is the source of this grace and he dwells with the spouses

to strengthen their covenant promises, to bear each other’s burdens with

forgiveness and kindness, and to experience ahead of time the “wedding

feast of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9).


The pastoral care of the Church for the support of marriage is shown

by a variety of programs to help men and women to know God’s plan

for marriage and the Church’s teaching. Remote preparation, which can

begin in the family, takes on a more organized character in the form

of courses in high school and college years. As engaged couples draw

closer to the celebration of marriage, there are more intense programs of

preparation (frequently called “pre-Cana programs”).

These programs are all the more necessary because cultural changes

in recent times have undermined God’s will for marriage. The so-called

sexual revolution, aided by artificial contraception, has made it more

culturally acceptable for men and women to have sexual relations with-