Symbolon Sundays: Matrimony and Holy Orders

Holy Matrimony and Order

Hey guys! So we had another interesting Symbolon session. We watched the dvd episode on Matrimony and Holy Orders. Contrary to popular belief, the marriage isn’t all about the bride sigh. Nevertheless, we learnt some great stuff which was a good follow up from last week. The summary is below and references can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) with the paragraph numbers:

  • Marriage is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Christ. Christ raised marriage to the dignity of a Sacrament, and it is validly contracted between two baptized people (CCC 1601).
  • Marriage is a covenant given by God for the good of the couple and for the procreation and upbringing of children. (CCC 1650, 1652).
  • Marriage is a sacrament in which couples are called to signify the unions of Christ and the Church (CCC 1616-1617, 1659).
  • The sacrament of Matrimony helps couples in their daily lives to grow in sacrificial love and unity, giving couples the grace to love each other with the love of Christ for his Church (CCC 1660).
  • Christian marriage can be seen as having four key aspects that are reflected in the wedding rite. Marriage involves a free, total, faithful and fruitful gift of ones self. Like Christ love for the Church, marriage is based on free consent, total self-giving, life-long commitment, and fruitfulness seen in a willingness to accept children as a gift from God (CCC 1625, 628 ff.).
  • Marriage is indissoluble, meaning it is life-long and no human power can break its bonds (CCC 1644).
  • In the sacrament of Holy Orders, the mission entrusted by Christ to his Apostles continues to be exercised in the Church today through ordained ministers of bishops, priests and deacons (CCC 1536).

We did also discussed other serious topics such as:

Annulment of a marriage:

  • A Catholic annulment, also known as a declaration of nullity or invalidity, is the procedure, governed by the Church’s canon law, which determines the marriage to be void at its inception.
  • It is not “Catholic divorce,” as some have called it, since divorce looks at the moment the relationship broke down and says, “A marriage existed, and now we are ending it.” The annulment process says, on the other hand, “From the very beginning, something was lacking that was necessary for this relationship to be called a marriage.”
  • Quite often, what is lacking at the time of the civil contract is one of the essential elements or properties of marriage we have noted i.e the 4 key aspects. For example, a marriage between siblings or relatives even (if the relationship is only by law), or if one of the persons is already married etc. The marriage is not valid in the eyes of God and therefore can be annulled. More on impediments here.


  • The Church teaches that marriage is permanent. If a sacramental marriage is created, no human power can separate what God has joined together (see Mt 19:6). The spiritual bonds of marriage, if formed, cannot be ended by civil divorce. In the eyes of the Church, divorce ends the various civil, financial, and legal bonds previously contracted between spouses, but not the spiritual bonds.

Church’s explanation on prohibition of the use of contraception:

  • Sex is a gift from the Creator intended for couples to enjoy inside the sacrament of marriage only.
  • There are two elements that must be present with every sexual act. The act must be both ‘procreative’ (meaning ‘open to life’) and unitive (meaning ‘the actual physical union of man and wife’). Any interruption of these two basic guidelines deliberately takes the Will of God out of it. It steps outside the rules of the Church, which are inspired by God Himself.
  • Every act of sexual intercourse must be open to the transmission of human life. That is why barrier protection (condoms and spermicides), withdrawal before the completion of the act, and all forms of hormonal contraception and abortifacient drugs are forbidden. More on birth control. Instead of contraception, there are natural family planning methods that the church approves of.


  • Catholic teaching prohibits in vitro fertilization, maintaining that a child has the right to be conceived in the marital embrace of his parents. Human sexuality has two components, the unitive and procreative; IVF separates these components and makes the procreative its only goal.
  • There are other issues involved:
    • IVF makes the child a commodity produced in a laboratory, and makes doctors, technicians, and even business people part of the conception process.
    • The sperm used is usually obtained by masturbation, which the Church teaches is immoral. The sperm or eggs used may not come from the couple desiring the child; because one of the spouses may be infertile, it may be necessary to use the sperm or eggs from an outsider.
    • Most of the embryos conceived—which the Church holds should be respected new human lives—die, are frozen indefinitely for later implantation, are used for research, or are discarded. Children conceived through IVF also have a greater incidence of birth defects.
  • The bottom line is that the Church views the child as a gift from God, not a right (although the child has rights). For more information on Catholic teaching on the issue, read the Catechism of the Catholic Churchparagraphs 2373-2379.

Inter-religious or inter-denomination marriages and whether the couple receives the graces of the sacrament:

  • In scenarios such as Catholic – Muslim, Catholic – Christian (Non-Catholic) marriages what happens? Are these marriages valid in the eyes of God? We didn’t exactly come to a conclusion on this one so we plan on clarifying with a priest and some research.

All in all, this was a very informative session, we realised that to properly serve God we must be and endeavour to be informed. God made us to know, to love and to serve him. And so we have to know him and part of that is learning, understanding and abiding by the teachings of his Church.

As always if you have any questions please email us at or post a comment. Have a blessed week!

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