God’s Plan for Marriage
Marriage exists in every place and in every time because it is a very natural thing and is written into our very nature. The account of Creation in the book of Genesis reaches its high point where God creates man and woman to live together in communion. It’s clear from the Scriptures that marriage is between one man and one woman, and that this union is permanent and enduring until one of the spouses dies. It is exclusive and ordered to the reproduction of the human race. God had no sooner joined the first couple when “God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). So sexual union in marriage is a holy thing in which husbands and wives are called to be co-creators with God. St Francis de Sales said that marriage is to fill the earth with good citizens and people Heaven with saints. Marriage is also indissoluble or unbreakable, partly because of love, but also for the good of the children, who need the stability of home life and of having a mother and a father. In the long term this has to be good for society as a whole.
Although marriage is a natural thing, JESUS elevated it to being one of the Seven Sacraments, making it a means to holiness for the couple and for their children. It was at the marriage of Cana recorded in St John’s Gospel (2:1-11) that Our Lord, at the request of His Mother, worked His first miracle. By changing water into not just any old wine, but the very best of wine, He signalled that He was the Divine Son of God, and also by doing this within the context of a wedding, that this natural coming together of a man and a woman would be raised to new heights and would be a means of grace and holiness, helping each other and their offspring to get to Heaven.
In today’s Gospel (Mark 10:2-16), JESUS states that no one has the right to separate those God has joined together. So the Catholic Church doesn’t recognise divorce because JESUS didn’t allow it. The Church also insists on marriage being between one man and one woman and declares adultery or infidelity in marriage to be a grave sin as well as any sexual activity outside of marriage. These rules are not invented by the Church but are divinely revealed truths expressing the Will of God. Although this might seem very strict, the Church can never abandon the teachings of her Divine Founder. And as God is very merciful, so is the Church. Divorced and remarried Catholics are always very welcome at Mass, and if they undergo the annulment process they can once again receive Holy Communion. Annulment is a declaration by the Church after due investigation, that due to some impediment, the marriage was null and void from the beginning.
Of course, commitment to marriage is not always easy, neither is being single or being a priest or a religious brother or sister. Due to Original Sin we can often find the path we have to walk painful, but due to Christ’s gift of salvation, whether life is happy or sad, it can be transformed by the power of Christ into moments of grace and of a deepening relationship with God. If anyone wishes to discuss any marital problems or divorce or annulment procedures with one of the priests, please get in touch.
Fr Paul Gillham, IC