I am trying to find a good answer for my 23 year old daughter as to why the Church requires a marriage ceremony to be held in a parish church. She feels that as long as a priest is present and that “God is everywhere”, it shouldn’t matter where it takes place. Can you articulate the reasons behind the Church’s requirement? Thanks.
It is true that God is everywhere. However, the Church does require that marriages be celebrated in a church. Place does matter. The “house of God” is a powerful and sacred symbol of our Catholic faith.
“In the old Testament the revelation of the Kingdom is often conveyed by means of metaphors.
Often the Church has also been called the building of God. The Lord Himself compared Himself to the stone which the builders rejected, but which was made into the cornerstone. On this foundation the Church is built by the apostles, and from it the Church receives durability and consolidation. This edifice has many names to describe it: the house of God in which dwells His family; the household of God in the Spirit; the dwelling place of God among men; and, especially, the holy temple. This Temple, symbolized in places of worship built out of stone, is praised by the Holy Fathers and, not without reason, is compared in the liturgy to the Holy City, the New Jerusalem. As living stones we here on earth are built into it. John contemplates this holy city coming down from heaven at the renewal of the world as a bride made ready and adorned for her husband."
*Lumen Gentium * 6
It’s also under the sacred roof of the church (“Household of God”) that Christian marriage “becomes an efficacious sign, the sacrament of the covenant of Christ and the Church." And, "Since it signifies and communicates grace, marriage between baptized persons is a true sacrament of the New Covenant.” (*Catechism of the Catholic Church * no. 1617)
The Catechism (no. 1621) goes on to say that “The celebration of marriage between two Catholic faithful normally takes place during Holy Mass, because of the connection of all the sacraments with the Paschal mystery of Christ. In the Eucharist the memorial of the New Covenant is realized, the New Covenant in which Christ has united himself for ever to the Church, his beloved bride for whom he gave himself up. It is therefore fitting that the spouses should seal their consent to give themselves to each other through the offering of their own lives by uniting it to the offering of Christ for his Church made present in the Eucharistic sacrifice, and by receiving the Eucharist so that, communicating in the same Body and the same Blood of Christ, they may form but “one body” in Christ."
This would make a wonderful gift for your daughter:
*Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride *
byAlice von Hildebrand
Code of Canon Law 1115-1118
(note: the form of the celebration of marriage) ourladyswarriors.org/canon/c0840-1165.htm#par2279