I am on a group Signal thread with a couple getting married and they asked me on that thread about how to explain the sacrament of marriage to a group of believers and non-believers:
The audience will be people attending the wedding ceremony. Many of them aren’t Catholic or even Christian. The goal is to explain what they are seeing today and why it is important. Part of the explanation is going to be about Christian Marriage as a permanent union of man and woman. The union was made sacred when Christ raised it to the dignity of a Sacrament. The Sacrament of Matrimony is the essential element of the celebration of marriage. In the Marriage Service, the Sacrament of Matrimony is given? Conferred? Ratified?
I rather liked my on-the-fly response to them both, and they couple gave me permission to publish it, so here’s the description of marriage that I texted them back:
I would say that what most people don’t today understand about marriage is that it is a bond is formed that can only be broken at death because love endures all things. Catholic Marriage is a sacrament meaning that the vows of natural love taken at the altar get galvanized into a supernatural bond of love, which in one sense is a definition of a sacrament. This reflects Christ’s love of the Church who put the Church before Himself to the point of dying for her. And this is why Christian marriage is misunderstood by secular society, because it’s about commitment more than happiness. But ironically it is commitment that leads to happiness, even when that costs a lot, just as we see what the Church cost Christ on the cross. Christian marriage reflects this in the promises taken at the altar because only love is stronger than death, as it says in Wisdom literature. And that is why marriage ends at death, but our love of God does not.
Also, marriage ends at death. Obviously, God’s love doesn’t. Traditionalists usually leave it at that to show celibacy is higher. And they’re correct if you look at Lk 20:34-36. But most trads don’t realize every friendship we have on earth (including marriage) continues in heaven MORE INTENSELY and even at the specific level than here on earth. Most trads think of the beatific vision as only seeing God (which would certainly be enough, for sure!) but we will also love any saved family and friends in heaven more intensely and even specifically than we did on earth… MEANING I have to come to the conclusion that because “love is strong as death” (Canticle 8:6.) then SOMETHING of marriage continues in heaven, of course not the sex. But we will have our physical bodies in a celibate state of love and eternal charity. So, at the very least, we can say that even though there’s no marriage in heaven (Mt 22:30) the fruit of each Christian marriage (children) endures into heaven, if their children saved.