The Latin word sacramentum means “a sign of the sacred.” In the Catholic Church, the seven sacraments are ceremonies that point to what is sacred, significant and important for Christians. They are special occasions for experiencing God’s saving presence. That’s what theologians mean when they say that sacraments are at the same time signs and instruments of God’s grace.
There are seven sacraments in the Church: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Matrimony, and Holy Orders. The purpose of each one is to make people holy, to build up the body of Christ, and finally, to give worship to God; but being signs, they also have a teaching function. They not only presuppose faith, but by words and object, they also nourish, strengthen, and express it. That is why they are called sacraments of faith.–Catholic.org
This blog is about one of the sacraments, the Sacrament of Marriage, and how it can lead us toward holiness.
Marriage is meant to be a lifelong union with the purpose of creating holiness in a man and a woman. In marriage each spouse gives up some rights over his or her life in exchange for rights over the life of the other spouse.
As Fr. John Hardon explains in his Pocket Catholic Dictionary, there are four elements common to natural marriage throughout history:
1. It is a union of opposite sexes.
2. It is a lifelong union, ending only with the death of one spouse.
3. It excludes a union with any other person so long as the marriage exists.
4. Its lifelong nature and exclusiveness are guaranteed by contract.
So, even at a natural level, divorce, adultery, and “homosexual marriage” are not compatible with marriage, and a lack of commitment means that no marriage has taken place.
It is important to remember, however, that the opposite occurrence of any of these points does not keep God from loving that person as if he/she were the only person in the world–He does. Neither does it keep God from continuing His offer of grace to all.
As a sacrament, Marriage is truly a vocation. But there will be ups and downs. Sometimes those ups and downs will be terribly exhausting, and seemingly unsolvable. But then, out of commitment, comes divine grace.
Marriage is a vehicle for God’s grace, his sanctifying grace which helps each spouse to help the other advance in holiness, as well as helping them together to cooperate in God’s plan of redemption by raising up children in the Faith.
In this way, sacramental marriage is more than a union of a man and a woman; it is, in fact, a type and symbol of the divine union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride. As married Christians, open to the creation of new life and committed to our mutual salvation, we participate not only in God’s creative act but in the redemptive act of Christ.–Aboutreligion.com