What We Believe: Part 18 – More About Marriage
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is very concerned that “That the parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent ; ‘to be free’ means not being under constraint; not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.”(1625).
This element of free consent is of the utmost and indispensable importance because if consent is lacking there is no marriage.
In the Latin rite the celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass. The first step for the prospective partners is to visit their parish priest. He has all the documentation and regulations that have to be completed before the marriage ceremony. Marriage is a public act requiring witnesses and official jurisdiction that the parish priest has to comply with.
If one of the parties is not a baptized Catholic, the parish priest will explain what has to be done in that or similar cases. These details are about a Catholic wedding.
The official witness of a marriage is a priest or deacon who holds a licence to marry from the local civil authority. Also, such official witnesses are very concerned that the prospective marriage partners are properly instructed in what is entailed in the contract of marriage and about the subsequent obligations that are undertaken that give reasonable assurance that such a marriage will remain intact and be blessed by God.
It is very important that the spouses realize and intend to fulfill the contract they make with each other to give oneself completely and always. If a temptation should occur about doing something that would violate the giving of self to the spouse, the fallacy of the temptation can be revealed by the test of whether what is proposed violates the norm of complete giving of self to one’s partner. If it does violate then such an action is wrong and should be rejected.
Periodic continence or abstention of intercourse can be chosen when there is a need for responsible fatherhood and motherhood. That is a method of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is iin conformity with the objective criteria of morality. (2370 & 2399)