Catholic Marriage 101


I’ve been asked to make a brief teaching on marriage for parents dropping their children off for evening RE classes at my parish. The idea is that it be something like “Catholic Marriage 101”: not too complicated or deep, and very engaging. The Catechism is the logical place to start, and I love the context that John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body gives to marriage. Has anyone ever heard a wonderful, engaging, yet pretty simple presentation on marriage? Any ideas out there for how I could structure this thing? Any great sources? I am grateful for any help!


For my Sacrament talks at the schools, I use the following outline:

What the Sacrament is. You could say something like “Marriage is the sacrament that enables a man and woman to establish a family together.”

Who the Sacrament is for. “The Sacrament of Marriage is for a man and a woman who have never been married before. In the Catholic Church it is given to Catholic men and women who have received the three Sacraments of Initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and First Holy Communion.” If there is a need for it, you can also go into a discussion of mixed marriages at this point - emphasize that all marriages are assumed to be valid, and all Christian marriages are considered Sacramental. It might also be important, depending upon your audience, to mention that non-Catholics are not bound by the laws of the Catholic Church, but Catholics are. (For example, if someone is dating a divorced non-Catholic, thinking that their marriage is null because they weren’t married in a Catholic Church.)

What graces the Sacrament imparts (you’ll find these in Theology of the Body and your other resource materials),

And finally, where to go for more information. (“Father X is available for marriage counselling by appointment, and we are having a seminar on such and such a date from this time to this time; all are welcome to attend.”)

This outline normally takes about fifteen minutes to do, because I also try to include a certain amount of story-telling in amongst the teachings, to drive home various points in an entertaining and memorable way.




Widows and widowers being allowed to marry is not an exception. The “rule” is stated wrongly.


Then how would you state it, in such a way as to make clear that divorced people cannot become re-married? :shrug:


Well, the official words work, I think:

1625 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.

My version of that would be:
The Sacrament of Marriage is for a man and a woman who are not married. A divorced person is still married in the eyes of the Church if their spouse is still living.


Marriage is for a man and a woman who are free to marry under Church law. If they are both baptized it will be a sacrament.


Okay - and to put it into one sentence you would say, “Marriage is for one man and one woman who are not married at present, and whose previous spouses, if any, are not still alive.”




great minds think alike, I have been planning a similar class as part of new “CCD for Adults” to start next year, and will ask Deacon, who handles marriage prep, or perhaps the couple who trains sponsor couples, to lend a hand.


Thanks, all.

I have a thousand things on my plate and hesitated to agree to this project, but what lit my fire was realizing that folks that would attend this presentation may not know the beautiful truth about marriage and the love of God. How many of us really do? This stuff is a treasure! So, I want to do the best possible job. Orthodox, meaningful, accessible.



Natural Marriage

marriage = a partnership of life and love

By def’n, marriage is:

  1. permanent - until the death of one of the parties
  2. exclusive - between one man and one woman
  3. open to the procreation and education of children - open to the possibility of having children in the marriage
  4. ordered to the good of the spouses - a partnership of equals

(see Gen. 2:18-25)

This definition of marriage applies to all people everywhere, all over the earth. It applies to two Catholics in Rome; two pigmies in New Guinea; two Baptists in Georgia; or two Jews in Isreal.

Why do we marry?

Gen. 1:27-28 - Be fruitful and multiply
Gen. 2:18-25 - be a suitable partner

Presuming that nothing prevents or impedes their ability to give themselves in marriage and presuming that they adhere to the community’s accepted form or manner by which they give themselves, then a man and a woman give themselves to one another in a partnership of life and love BY THEIR CONSENT.

Consent then makes marriage.

Consent requires:

  1. capacity - one must be capable psychologically of giving the consent required
  2. knowledge - one must know what marriage is and with whom they are entering the contract
  3. willingness - one must be willing to enter into marriage as definied above

Marriage as Sacrament

Thumbnail definition of a sacrament - a visible sign of God’s love in the world

Marriage is only a sacrament when it is between two baptized people. This is because in order to receive any other sacrament, one must be baptized, so both parties must be baptized.

So, when we say that marriage is a sacrament, we are really saying “A partnership of life and love IS a visible sign of God’s love in the world.” It is the “job” of each and every married person to be the person who helps their spouse get to heaven. That is the vocation.

Does that help at all… It’s the basic outline of the marriage talk that I give. When you throw in examples of different things, it can go about a half hour to 45 mins. :slight_smile:


Check out the Usccb website for their new foryourmarriage website here

good stuff there…

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