Sacraments and Worship . . .

The Sacraments of Vocation and Commitment: Marriage (Matrimony)

Matrimony comes from the Latin words matris and manus, meaning the duty of motherhood. Our understanding of matrimony is rooted in Sacred Scripture, Tradition and the Teaching Magisterium of the Church. Further affirmations of the sacramental nature of matrimony were made at the Councils of Florence (1438-1445) and Trent (1545-1564) and, in more recent years, at Vatican II (1962-1965) in the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People.

From the beginning ‘male and female God created them’. (Genesis 1:27) This partnership of man and woman constitutes the first form of communion between people. For by their innermost nature men and women are social beings; and if they do not enter into relationships with others they can neither live nor develop their gifts. (Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes)

When Saint Paul spoke of marriage he compared the union of husband and wife with that of Christ and his Church: ‘You who are husbands must show love to your wives as Christ showed loved to the Church when he gave himself up on its behalf. For this reason, a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one body’. (Ephesians 5:25; 31)
When two people marry they confer the Sacrament of Matrimony one upon the other; the officiating priest, or deacon, acts in the capacity as a witness on behalf of the Church. There is no better place in which to celebrate marriage than in church, in the presence of the Lord Jesus who once graced the Wedding at Cana with his company. For a marriage to be valid there must be no impediment present and both spouses must freely consent to it. The apostles heard Jesus say: ‘What God has joined together let no man put asunder.’ (Matthew 19:6) A valid, sacramental marriage may only be ended by the death of one of the spouses. In the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, Apostolicam Actuositatem, the Council Fathers present at Vatican II reminded us that God, ‘the Creator of all made the married state the beginning and foundation of human society; by his grace he has made it a great mystery in Christ and in the Church, and so the apostolate of married persons and of families has a special importance for both Church and civil society’. The family, Ecclesia Domestica, or the domestic church, is the ideal environment in which a married couple will bring up any children they may have. By observing and following the good example of their parents, children will grow in the practise of their faith and learn to love God and their neighbour. United Christian families are a sign that love, unity and peace are possible. (Jean Vanier, Man and Woman He Made Them)

Couples intending to marry at the Cathedral, Saint Augustine’s or Our Lady and Saint Patrick’s are required to attend a Marriage Preparation Course. These courses are held at the Cathedral Hall, at regular times during the year.

Further information about Catholic Marriage can be obtained from the Cathedral Office:
Tel: 0115 9539839 email:

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