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A beautiful, young married couple with three children rejoice in God's plan for the family.What exactly is true marriage? Ask this question today, and you’ll most likely get a variety of answers. Most people will probably say that marriage is a civil contract. This contract establishes a partnership between two people, usually involving the right to mutual sexual relations and the procreating and raising of children. It is presumed that the marriage will bring a significant measure of happiness.

The Catholic Church, however, has a far deeper definition of marriage that is rooted in natural law and divine revelation. According to the Church, God Himself is the author of marriage. Marriage finds both its origin and its strength in Him.

The Church contends that marriage is a sacred agreement, a covenant, solemnly made before God exclusively by one man and one woman.

Out of this covenant comes a lifelong relationship designed to benefit husband and wife, including their children. Unlike a contract, the marriage covenant can only be dissolved by the death of one of the spouses. Marriage between two baptized Christians is not only a covenant, it is also a sacrament.

What is the origin of marriage? We find the origin of marriage in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. God created Adam, the first man. But Adam needed a partner, someone who would share his life and with whom he would communicate as an equal. So God created a woman fully equal to Adam in dignity and mental and spiritual endowments. This woman was called Eve, the mother of all the living.

What is divorce? In Matthew 19:1-12, Jesus deals with divorce. In His time, there was great debate among the Jewish rabbis about this issue. Some taught that a man could divorce his wife for almost any reason. Others taught that a man could divorce his wife only if she was unfaithful. All of them, however, agreed that divorce was sometimes permitted.

After all, had not Moses, the great giver of the Law, allowed divorce? So the Pharisees bring the question to Jesus, hoping to trip him up and embarrass him in the eyes of the people.

Jesus responds by quoting from Genesis, chapters one and two: “God made them male and female. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

He goes on further to say: “So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, how can any mere human being dare to separate what Almighty God has joined together?”

Jesus says that Moses merely allowed a temporary dispensation form God’s law on marriage. Moses did this because the Israelites were hard of heart and resistant to God’s grace and teachings. Jesus the Messiah restores marriage to what God originally intended it to be. It is no longer a mere contract between a man and his wife. It is now a sacred covenant, a sacrament.

What is an annulment? Sometimes the Church allows the annulment of a marriage. Critics claim that annulments are nothing more than a Catholic version of divorce. But this is not true. An annulment can never dissolve a valid marriage. It simply declares that a truly valid marriage never existed in the first place. Annulments are often referred to as a declaration of nullity.

There are a variety of reasons for a declaration of nullity. For example, one of the spouses could have been a drug addict or a homosexual at the time of marriage and kept this fact hidden. Because this was not known up front, the other marriage partner did not have the necessary knowledge to make a free, mature decision to enter into a marriage relationship.

What is the present marriage crisis in America? The words of Jesus certainly need to be heard and heeded by modern day Americans. The United States once considered itself to be a Christian nation. Marriage and family life was held in high esteem. However, since 1986, we are infamously known for the highest divorce rate in the world, and the leader of nations in fatherless families.

One of the foremost reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was widespread divorce. History will repeat itself.

Also, there is an ever-increasing number of single-parent households, and the rise of unmarried couples living together. The situation for “Catholics,” by the way, is no better than that for the general population.

There is an ever-increasing attempt to desecrate marriage by redefining it. Redefining marriage as anything other than the union of a man and a woman is impossible because marriage has been eternally defined by God. Any declarations or laws at the state or national levels to redefine marriage will never be accepted or recognized as valid by the Catholic Church. God has already revealed His divine plan for marriage.

Unless our nation rediscovers its own Christian roots and works to restore the dignity of marriage and family, our future will indeed be bleak. +JMJ+ (Article written by Father James Beegan, M.S.F.)

October 13, 2017: Worldwide Children's Holy Hour (invitation to children from Father Chris Alar, M.I.C.)

October 13, 2017: Worldwide Children's Holy Hour (message to parents and teachers from Father Chris)

October 13, 2017: Candle Light Procession & Consecration led by Cardinal Wuerl (Washington, DC)

October 13, 2017: Children of the Eucharist with Programming by EWTN (World Apostolate of Fatima)

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