Marriage: A lasting covenant
“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Matthew 19:6).
What is marriage?
Marriage (matrimony) is a sacrament in which a man and a woman unite themselves in a covenant relationship with God. It is a joyful time to celebrate, and because it is a sacrament of the Church, it should be entered into with great reverence, discernment and preparation. As a wife and husband bind themselves to each other, they are called to be a living example of the loving covenant and sacrificial relationship between Christ and His Church.
Every parish in the Diocese of Charlotte requires a couple be registered as active members in their parish for at least 6 months before seeking the sacrament of marriage. For marriage preparation guidelines and information about scheduling and planning your wedding, please see the general information below and then contact the parish where you wish to be married.
Marriage between two baptized Catholics or a Catholic and Christian is more than a social event – it is an important moment in the life of the Church. The couple commits themselves to each other as well as to the good of the church community. Only a local bishop can approve a Catholic wedding in a location other than a Catholic church.
Marriage is a gift from God and between two Christians is elevated to a sacrament. Through classes, retreats, prayer and counseling, a couple is invited to accept the grace, gifts and responsibility of including holiness in their union. Typical class topics include: the meaning of marriage as a sacrament; faith, prayer and the Church; roles in marriage; communication and conflict resolution; children, parenthood and Natural Family Planning; finances; and family of origin.
The Catholic Church calls these “mixed marriages” and special permission is needed depending on the circumstances. Refer to the Requirements information above for details. If the non-Catholic spouse wants to become Catholic, he or she can enroll in Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) classes. Contact your local parish for more information.
Fees can vary as well as what is included, as there are often fees associated with preparation materials, wedding coordinators, etc. Contact the parish where you wish to get married for details.
For a marriage to be considered valid by the Catholic Church, it is required that:
- the spouses are free to marry,
- they are capable of giving their consent to marry,
- they freely exchange their consent,
- in consenting to marry, they have the intention to marry for life, to be faithful to one another, and be open to children,
- they intend the good of each other,
- their consent is given in the presence of two witnesses and before a properly authorized minister.
Please see the list of resources below for ways you and your spouse can grow closer together no matter what stage of life you are in.
An annulment – more precisely called a “declaration of nullity” – is a determination by the Church that a marriage was not validly entered into. The annulment process examines the events leading up to, and at the time of, the wedding ceremony, in an effort to determine whether what was required for a valid marriage was ever brought about. Learn more here.
Separated Catholics or divorced Catholics, or those in irregular unions, are encouraged to remain active in the life of their local parish. (The degree of sacramental participation may vary in each case, so please seek guidance from a priest.) You are most welcome, and we are here to help you on your journey to healing. Besides your local parish, these independently-run resources are available:
Retrouvaille: For married couples struggling with challenges in their relationship, not communicating well, or considering separation or divorce. This confidential program has helped tens of thousands of couples at all stages of disillusionment or misery in their marriage. Find more information at www.helpourmarriage.org. Call 800-470-2230 or email email@example.com.
Separated & Divorced Healing Ministry: Carolyn Klika, founder of Abounding Joy Life Coaching, Charlotte, N.C. www.aboundingjoyministry.com, 608-547-9484
Divorced Catholic: An independent website that offers programs, books and workshops (fees apply).