Matrimony and Holy Orders
For those who want to save their life will lose it,
and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.
This week we are discussing the final two sacraments that consecrate people for service to the whole Church: Matrimony and Holy Orders. These are known as the sacraments of service because we are all called to make a gift of ourselves in the service to God and in the service of others. This call to holiness and self-sacrificial love is lived out through our chosen vocation. It is in how we use our gifts and talents to serve God and others where we grow in holiness.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. -1 Corinthians 12: 4-7
All vocations are a path to holiness and human flourishing. To respond to one’s calling is to find meaning in a life of character and purpose. Character involves the virtues of integrity, justice and compassion. The Vocation or calling involves hearing and responding to the “voice” which uniquely calls each of us to live purposeful lives that serve the world in all kinds of ways. A Vocation is rooted in commitment to the value of others and is about growing into a person who focuses their life beyond themselves. It is about living life in such a way to make a positive contribution to the world. There are three vocations where people are called to serve. Some are called to the single life, others are called to religious life, most are called to married life.
Through Holy Orders the mission Jesus gave his apostles is carried out in the Church until the end of time. (cf. no. 1536)
Holy Orders is the Sacrament by which a man is called to continue the apostolic ministry of Jesus Christ as a bishop, priest, or deacon. Through these men, called the clergy, Jesus guides his Church. Like Baptism and Confirmation, the sacrament of Holy Orders imparts a permanent spiritual character. Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Holy Orders at the Last Supper. The Apostles laid their hands on the heads of their successors. The line of succession for all priests and bishops can be traced back to the Apostles and therefore to Christ Himself. As with each sacrament there must be matter and form. The Minister of the sacrament is the bishop. The Matter is the laying on of hands by the bishop. The Form is the specific prayer said by the bishop depending on if he will be a priest, deacon, or bishop.
Why can only men be ordained? The priest acts in persona Christi, or in the person of Christ. He is Christ’s representative here on earth. He remains celibate to enable himself to only be married to the Church in imitation of Christ. Just as Jesus gave Himself entirely to His bride the Church, priests and bishops do the same.
There are three degrees of Holy Orders. 1.) Episcopate: A Bishop is a man who has received the fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. He has power to confer the Sacrament of Holy Orders on other men. He governs the people of a Diocese and is empowered to teach the faith and sanctify the Church. A bishop’s church is called a cathedral. To show his sign of authority a bishop wears a tall hat called a miter and carries a staff called a crosier. 2.) Presbyterate: A Priest is a man who helps the Bishops and preaches the Word of God, shepherds the faithful, administers the Sacraments (importantly Confession), and can consecrate the Holy Eucharist. When celebrating Mass and sacraments a priest wears a stole (a strip of material) around his shoulders as a symbol of his ordination. 3.) Diaconate: A Deacon is a man who assists the Bishop and Priests in service to the Church, carries out Works of Mercy, and assists at Mass, he is a servant of all duties. (Married men can become Deacons, but after ordination, deacons may not marry.) At Mass the deacon can be seen wearing a stole draped over his left shoulder. There are two types of deacons: permanent and transitional. Transitional deacons are working toward priesthood.
Matrimony is the sacrament that gives a couple the grace to love each other as Christ loves the Church and helps them to be one and to be holy. (cf. no. 1661)
Most children know a lot of married people — their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, neighbors, or teachers. To them, marriage doesn’t seem amazing, they do not know that it is a wonderful gift from God. Love is not a feeling. It is an action, a choice. We long for everlasting love because it reflects God’s divine and unconditional love. The cross is the image of the radical love that we are called to use as our model, particularly for Marriage. Throughout history and in all cultures people have married, bound together by a legal contract. Jesus raised marriage to new dignity by making it the sacrament we call matrimony.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
When possible take your children with you to weddings. Prepare them beforehand to witness the beauty and significance of this sacred ceremony by talking about the vows the bride and the groom make. Explain that when a man and a woman get married, they promise God they’ll stay together as long as they both live, no matter what. The vows of Matrimony are sacred and permanent. They are a covenant (a solemn agreement) and not a contract. This covenant is where a man and woman vow before God and witnesses to love each other and no one else with a special love that will give life and last until death. The vows are not conditional, we say “till death do us part” , making this vow is why marriage is considered Indissoluble. “What God joins together man must not separate. May the Lord confirm the consent you have given and enrich you with His blessing.” (The Rite of Marriage) A Sacramental Marriage has a specific definition. A Sacramental Marriage is between a baptized man and baptized woman who freely choose to marry one another and it often is performed during a Nuptial Mass. Anything outside of that definition is not considered a Sacramental Marriage. As with each sacrament there must be matter and form. The Minister of the sacrament is the the couple. The priest is the witness. His presence is necessary or else there is no sacramental marriage. The Matter is the exchange of vows and the marital embrace. The Form is the public consent of the bride and groom. Teach the child “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12) and explain that marriage is a relationship with three people, the bride, the groom and God. Without God, the marriage is weaker. Gather 4 pieces of string, yarn, or even rope (18 inches will be enough). Have your child test the strength of one piece by doing a mini-tug of war, hanging a weight on it, trying to rip it apart, or cutting it with child scissors. Now braid the 3 other pieces and do the same tests of strength. The braided cord should be stronger.
Reflect on the following quote from Pope St. John Paul II: “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family—a domestic church.”
There are 4 attributes of marriage. 1.) It must be free – no one can force you into marriage. 2.) It must be faithful – you can only have one spouse. 3.) It must be forever – this is a permanent sacrament (indissoluble). 4.) It must be fruitful – you must be welcoming to children as they are a gift from God.
Many may be asking: Why do we need to teach our children about marriage? Marriage is something that may happen far off into their future why discuss it now?
As parents we need to teach our children about marriage because if we fail to do so they will learn by what society teaches them. All you have to do is turn on the T.V. or radio for a couple minutes to see that the media is giving an untrue and skewed version of what marriage is and should be. There are so many more negative perspectives of marriage than there are positive examples. Drama sells and unfortunately that is what fills the screens these days. We can give our children the proper perspective and view on marriage that they so desperately need. Start talking to them when they are young about the importance of strong, happy marriages. Short, simple conversations over time will build a strong foundation of knowledge. As your children get older just keep adding more information to your discussions. A great place to start is celebrating your anniversary every year. Make them a part of your celebration. They should be! Your children are the result of your fruitful love and the family you have created. Show them your wedding pictures or watch your wedding video together. Who was at the church? Who helped celebrate? What special things did people do to celebrate? What do you remember most? What about that cake? (kids love cake!) Show your your wedding rings. What can you tell them about your rings? Tell them your love story and how you knew your spouse was the right one for you. It’s not just a love story it’s the history of your family!
While we are discussing marriage many may wonder about divorce. As secular society functions with members of all religious backgrounds the reality of divorce is one that happens. It may even be a question your own children have asked about particularly if they know a peer who is experiencing a new family structure as a result of a divorce. Talk about divorce in the most tender of terms. When sin hardens our hearts Mark 10:2-5, we can hurt the ones we are supposed to love the most. Help your children learn how God cares for those who are hurting. Psalm 34:18, Isaiah 40:11.
Divorce is a civil status that is handled within your state and its guidelines. The Church does not encourage divorce, remember the Church considers marriage Indissoluble, because of this there are specific guidelines with regard to divorce. Divorced persons remain in good standing with the Church and are free to receive any of the sacraments if no sinful behavior stands in the way. For example: If a divorced person attempts remarriage without getting an annulment or a statement that the previous sacramental marriage was not valid, then this will result in that person not being able to participate in the sacraments, specifically communion. Annulments are “declarations of nullity.” After a long period of inquiry, the Church determines if all requirements of the sacrament of matrimony were present at the time the vows were made (Free, Faithful, Forever, Fruitful). Again, as with divorce, the process of annulment has specific guidelines and procedures.
As the secular societal customs have changed we are now seeing different types of marriage. This would be non-sacramental marriages. Some people think that marriage can be between two men or two women, or that a husband can have more than one wife. You can help young children understand that each country has its own laws about marriage. Talk to your children about marriage laws in your country. It would be wise to introduce same-sex marriage very carefully. Be very clear that these laws are not always the same as God’s laws about sacramental marriage.
See slide 26 for more resource information.
Vocabulary words to discuss with your child: vocation, holy orders, sacramental marriage, covenant
Saint of the Week: Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini. Also known as Mother Cabrini she is the patron saint of immigrants. During our Easter break we visited her shrine outside of Golden, Colorado. We have attached a copy of the her shrine’s document about her life and legacy. Her vocation made a big difference in America and we think she is great saint for this session’s vocation topic. She was born in Italy and became a teacher with the Daughters of the Sacred Heart. It was there that her calling to be a missionary grew. Her bishop sent her to America where during her time here she established the 67 institutions: hospitals, schools and orphanages, of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Her dedication to children and their well being provided a basis for her philosophy on education. To her being an educator was an act of love. She believed that to teach as an act of love requires first and foremost a strong relationship with Jesus Christ. When grounded in prayer, educators naturally become role models of a God-directed life, and are able to teach with their actions as well as their words. Her feast day is November 13.
Prayer of the Week: Work on aspirations, brief prayers are a small act of faith. Some good examples of common aspirations:
“Lord, have mercy!”
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” “Angels and saints, be with me!”
“Mother of God, pray for us!”
“I believe, Lord, help my unbelief!”
“Blessed be Christ Jesus in the Holy Tabernacle”
“Praise to the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar.”
“Blessed be the most holy Name of Jesus without end!” “Come Holy Spirit”
“Sacred Heart of Jesus I trust thee”
“For I know that my Redeemer lives”
“Jesus who died for us upon the cross”
All assessments are due no later than April 30, 2021.
Homework First Year Sacramental Prep: Continue to practice the following prayers with your child: Sign of the Cross, Angel of God, Hail Mary, Glory Be, the Our Father, Grace Before Meals and the Morning Offering Prayer. Introduce them to holy couples in the Bible.
Homework Second Year Sacramental Prep: Complete Spirit of Truth pages 118-119, 123-126, 130-131, 134-138. These pages must be handed in by APRIL 30!!! By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Keep practicing these every night. Introduce them to holy couples in the Bible.
Homework Years 3-6th Grades: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Read from The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism: Lesson 34, pages 211-214 and Lesson 35, pages 216-220. Read under the pictures on p. 219 with your child as the teaching of the Church has softened in this area. Also read on the bottom of p. 217 with your child, as they should know the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage. By now your child should know The Sign of the Cross, the Angel of God, the Glory Be, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the 10 Commandments, and an Act of Contrition. Start memorizing the Apostles’ Creed. Introduce them to holy couples in the Bible. Use the Friendship Forever worksheet to help your child understand the interrelationship between friendship and marriage.
Watch grades 1-6: The story of the Wedding Feast of Cana with your child and teach them that it was at this event that Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Marriage. Share the story of Queen Esther and King Xerxes to teach how one spouse can lead the other spouse to holiness. Share the story of Abraham and Sarah to teach how sometimes God asks big things from ordinary couples and works through them to do His work in the world. Share the story of Isaac and Rebekah to teach how God can bring people together in surprising ways! With Ruth and Boaz you will have to teach your child about the reality of poverty and slavery so that they will understand the great act of mercy that Boaz showed Ruth.
Activity Ideas: While we are not going to see many crafting activities for the sacraments regarding the theme of this session we have a few suggestions. The Doubting Thomas craft, The Kissing Hands, Water to wine miracle, and another water to wine.
Make a ‘Thank You’ note for our parish priests to tell them that you are grateful for saying “yes” to God’s call to the priesthood. It is a generous gift of self giving love. Our priests give up having a family and instead care for the bigger family of God.
You can help your children understand that when a man and a woman marry, God doesn’t see two “me’s” anymore He see one “us”. You could illustrate it this way: make two large paper hearts to symbolize two people in love who get married. Glue them together and let it dry overnight. The next day, try to separate them. The two have become one. You can’t separate them without hurting both.
- Choose ONE of these married couples who have been beatified or canonized a saint and find out how they lived their lives in the service of God and others. Record what you find on the Models of Virtuous Married Life Worksheet.
Adopt an engaged couple! Contact the office and get the names of someone preparing for marriage and pray for them daily until their wedding day.
Make an effort to attend one of our HT Date Nights which are on the 3rd Saturday of each month 7-9pm in Our Lady’s Hall. Check out the bulletin for details.
Adult Summer Reading: The story of Father James Coyle is one many do not know. It was among the most notorious criminal cases of its day. On August 11, 1921, in Birmingham, Alabama, a Methodist minister named Edwin Stephenson shot and killed a Catholic priest, James Coyle, in broad daylight and in front of numerous witnesses. The killer’s motive? The priest had married Stephenson’s eighteen-year-old daughter Ruth to Pedro Gussman, a Puerto Rican migrant and practicing Catholic. Sharon Davies’s Rising Road resurrects the murder of Father Coyle and the trial of his killer.
“Give. Give till it hurts then and only then is there sacrifice.” – Father Coyle