Catholic Marriage Question

So I got stuck with this question and didn’t know how to answer:

"What makes the “sacrament” of a Catholic wedding different than a Protestant wedding . Both seek to bring God into their hearts and into their marriage? "

I guess I could have answered about it being for life (although there are annullments for some), and that it’s a sign of communion with the Church. Anything else?

Certain Sacraments can only be conferred by a priest, deacon, or bishop (one with Holy Orders). Those include Holy Orders, Confirmation, Anointing of the Sick, Eucharist, and Reconciliation. These Sacraments require the priest to do what Christ does.

Baptism has the priest, deacon, or bishop (one with Holy Orders) as the ordinary minister. However, due to the absolute importance of Baptism (i.e. its necessity for remission of Original Sin and incorporation into the Body of Christ), the Church has always taught that in the absence of a priest/deacon anyone may baptize. For Catholics, that would be in an emergency situation or in missionary territory. For non-Catholics, that means their laypeople and clergy (who are also lay people in reality). If they baptized in the Trinity, it is valid and a Sacrament, even though the non-Catholic community may reject the idea of sacraments.

God insituted marriage at the beginning of time. Christ raised it to a sacrament among the baptized. The giving and receiving of consent is done by the couple themselves. They confer the sacrament upon each other. For Catholics, the priest/deacon is the official witness of the Church, not the minister of the Sacrament. Therefore, baptized non-Catholics who are otherwise free to marry (i.e. no prior marriages and no divine law impediments) confer the sacrament upon each other when they marry, whether they recognize sacraments in their own religious beliefs or not.

So, the Catholic Church recognizes marriage between baptized non-Catholics as valid and a sacrament and indissoluable. Their marriages are the same as those between Catholics.

It also recognizes marriage between the unbaptized as valid, but not as a sacrament. A marriage between the unbaptized is called a natural marriage.

Both are Sacraments if both the man and woman are Validly Baptized, are free to enter into Marriage and do so completely and consent freely and do so lawfully. They are both Sacraments.

Exactly. Two validly baptized people in a valid marriage are IN a sacramental marriage, even if they never are Catholic.

I’d like to add that the question, really, is “what do those in the sacrament of marriage have that those not in the sacrament of marriage lack?” The answer is grace. All sacraments give grace. Therefore, among the baptized (Catholic and non-Catholic), marriage gives us sacramental grace. Marriage among the unbaptized is a natural state but lacks the character of a sacrament.

The question should not be “what makes Catholic marriage different”, it should be “why do Protestants have an incomplete understanding of the sacramental nature of marriage”?

1ke answers in large part why it is sacramental, but your question seemed to consider Catholic marriage different from Protestant marriage (between two baptized Christians).

It isn’t different. It is the Protestant sacramental theology that is incomplete or lacking in understanding concerning marriage, such that they don’t recognize it as a sacrament.

So if 2 Catholics get married but not in a Catholic church Say at a civil service or by a protestant preacher… is it a sacrament? Why is it invalid? WHat specifically is it lacking?

No, because on top of the natural law that binds all Christian marriages (for example, no attempt at Christian marriage that is bigamous would be valid) Catholics are also bound by the particular law of the Catholic Church, which requires them to marry in front of a Catholic minister.

It’s a bit like the secular laws of various countries regarding marriage. German citizens, in order to be validly married under German law, must have a civil ceremony in front of a secular official. If they want a religious ceremony they are free to have it afterwards, but it doesn’t have any bearing on the legal validity of the marriage.

Whereas US citizens can have the one ceremony, a religious one, and most often it will be considered valid under secular law as well, with no secular ceremony required.

There’s not really anything wrong or lacking in either country’s laws, just that they are different, simply because each country has the right to set its own marriage laws.

So, for example, even if a German couple married using the exact same religious ceremony as the US couple, provided they married ONLY using that ceremony it still wouldn’t be a legally valid marriage for them. This is true by virtue of the fact that they are German citizens subject to German marriage law. Whereas it would be perfectly valid for the US couple, by virtue of the fact that their country, the US, has different marriage laws.

the Catholic Church views the marriage of two baptized persons (assuming they are otherwise free to marry and exchange full free will consent) as not only valid, but sacramental, no matter who witnesses it or where it is done. Only Catholics are bound by canon law on who may witness the marriage and where it can be celebrated. so there is no difference, as you say, both seek to bring God into their hearts and marriages and the sacramental grace of Jesus Christ accomplishes that. And they have, as Christ decreed, contracted a bond that can be broken only by death.

no they are not married. 2 Catholics (or one CAtholic marrying a non-Catholic) are bound to observe proper form, and that is lacking.
Sacraments require matter (what in the created world Christ designated as the sign(s) of the sacrament ie water in baptism, the man and woman themselves in marriage, the bread and wine in Eucharist) and proper form (the words and actions of the minister and surrounding circumstances to protect the sacrament). Proper form involves the sacrament itself (the Trinitarian formula in baptism eg) and the canon law that binds Catholics (proper disposition, who may witness a marriage etc).

IF it is a valid Marriage then it is a Sacrament. Two Cattholics cannot be Married by a Justice of the Peace validly. Two Catholics cannot be Married validly by a Protestant Minister in a Protestant church, unless there are some very execeptional circumstances.

What is lacking is “valid Catholic Form”, meaning that the Marriage was not according to Catholic Canon Law which all persons Baptized as Catholics or received into union wth the Catholic Church are required to follow. (Even non-practicing Catholic or so called Ex-Catholics)

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