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CHAPTER LXXVIIIOf the Sacrament of Matrimony

THOUGH by the Sacraments men are restored to grace, they are not immediately restored to immortality. Since then the faithful people needs to be perpetuated to the end of the world, this has to be done by generation. Now generation works to many ends: to the perpetuity of the species, to the perpetuity of the political commonwealth, and to the perpetuity of the Church. Hence it comes to be ruled and guided by different powers. As it works to the good of nature in the perpetuity of the species, it is guided to that end by nature so inclining; and in that respect it is called ‘a function of nature.’ As it works to social and political good, it is subject to the ordinance of the civil law. As it works to the good of the Church, it must be subject to Church government. But the things that are administered to the people by the ministers of the Church, are called Sacraments.10251025Again, rather a wide definition of a Sacrament. It must be borne in mind that the priest is not the minister of the Sacrament of Matrimony. The Sacrament is the contract of baptised man with baptised woman; and the contracting parties administer the Sacrament to one another in their agreement to live together perpetually as man and wife. Where the law of Trent is promulgated, the presence of the parish priest is necessary to the ecclesiastical validity of the contract, and therefore of the Sacrament. The proof that Matrimony is a Sacrament, rests on a close study of Ephesians v, 22-33, joined with the declarations of the Council of Trent. I hardly need say that the proof is not complete in the one word sacramentum, μυστήριον, (verse 32). Matrimony then, as consisting in the union of male and female, intending to beget and educate offspring to the worship of God, is a Sacrament of the Church. Hence a blessing is pronounced upon it by the ministers of the Church. And as in other Sacraments something spiritual is prefigured by external acts, so in this Sacrament, by the union of male and female, there is figuratively represented the union of Christ with His Church, according to the text of the Apostle (Eph. v, 32). And because the Sacraments effect what they represent (sacramenta efficiunt quod figurant), we must believe that grace is bestowed by this Sacrament on persons marrying, to enable them to have their part in the union of Christ with His Church; and this aid is very necessary for them, that in their application to fleshly and carnal things they may not be sepa rated from Christ and the Church.

Now the figure must correspond to the reality which it signifies. But the union of Christ with His Church is of one Bridegroom with one Bride to be kept for ever. For of the Church it is said: One is my beloved, my perfect one (Cant. vi, 8): nor ever shall Christ be parted from His Church: for so He says Himself, Lo, I am with you even to the end of the world (Matt. xxviii, 20); and so the Apostle, We shall be for ever with the Lord (1 Thess. iv, 16). Matrimony therefore, as a Sacrament of the Church, must be of one husband with one wife, to continue without separation: this is meant by the faith (or troth), whereby husband and wife are bound to one another. So then there are three goods of matrimony, as it is a Sacrament of the Church: offspring, to be reared and educated to the worship of God: faith, whereby one husband is tied to one wife: and sacramental signification by the indivisible union of the matrimonial connexion, making it a sacred sign of the union of Christ with His Church.

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