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Holy Matrimony

Holy Matrimony

The Holy Sacrament of Matrimony

Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church is the “covenant by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring and which has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.” There are requirements of the intended spouses prior to marriage in order to ensure a licit or valid sacramental marriage.  The four elements are:
1.The spouses are free to marry.
2.They freely exchange their consent.
3.In consenting to marry, they have intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another and to be open to children.
4.Their consent is given in the Canonical Form: in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized church minister (ordained priest or deacon).
In addition to these four requirements, the church also goes deeper into the spouses’ status of their freedom to marry through the examination of potential impediments.  Examples of impediments are:
  • A prior bond or marriage.
  • Disparity of Cult: one party is not baptized in the Trinitarian sense (the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit) and immersed in water.

While some impediments will not ultimately prevent a sacramental marriage, the church requires that these impediments are assessed and treated in the most appropriate way to meet the expectations that the church’s Canon Law requires.

This brings us to the subject of marriage preparation or Pre-Cana. The church expects the parties to commit about 12 months for marriage preparation. Not only is this time spent assessing that the parties are free to marry, but this time is also viewed as prayerful discernment together, to fully understand the sanctity of the commitment to a faithful and faith-filled marriage.
Here at St. John Neumann Parish, our marriage preparation program requires at least 6 months of the engaged couple’s time if both parties are baptized Roman Catholics. If one of the couple is a non- Catholic, SJN requires the couple to plan at least a year for marriage preparation.  The non-Catholic person will likely have to go through RCIA(Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program as part of the pre-marriage requirement.  Going through RCIA may not necessarily apply to all couples. This decision will be determined by the pastor depending on the couple’s circumstances.
All engaged couples that require special permissions or dispensations depending on their pre-marriage situation, will need the close care of the pastor or deacon who is assigned to their marriage preparation. Permissions and dispensations are submitted to the Archbishop’s office for approval.  Requesting for permissions and dispensations requires time and consideration before submitting the request and the time it will take for the Archbishop’s office to make a decision.  A wedding cannot take place until all necessary dispensations and approvals have been granted by the appropriate governing bishop.  Again, our priests and deacons work hard to ensure that all of the pre-marriage requirements are met for the engaged couple to ensure that they will ultimately their Catholic sacramental marriage is licit.
To begin Marriage Preparation or for more information, contact Pia Carli at or 734-455-5910