Embracing the Commitment of Marriage

By Kimberly Hahn

Ephesians 5, wives be subject to your husbands, Church teaching on marriage

When a man and a woman discern the vocation of marriage, they move from a private promise to each other—I am my beloved’s, and he is mine—to a public engagement. They approach the Church, at least six months before their hoped-for wedding date, to formalize their commitment. They prepare by learning more about what the Church teaches regarding marriage, for “marriage introduces one into an ecclesial order, and creates rights and duties in the Church between the spouses and towards their children” (CCC 1631). When they marry they do not simply become a churchgoing couple but are an integral part of the mission of the Church based on their sacramental union.  

When bride and groom state their vows as freely consenting adults, they confer the sacrament of Matrimony on each other (see CCC 1623). They consent to live their vocation in conformity to the Church’s teaching, and the priest receives their consent and blesses them on behalf of the Church. This is more than a special blessing: It is nothing less than the epiclesis of the Holy Spirit, which bride and groom receive “as the communion of love of Christ and the Church” (CCC 1624).  

It is most fitting for the couple to say their vows in the midst of the Mass, celebrating both sacraments of union and Communion. Mass is the life-giving sacrifice of the Bridegroom for his bride, the Church, to strengthen her faithfulness and fruitfulness. Likewise, the newly married couple pledge themselves to each other in faithfulness and fruitfulness. They approach the inner sanctum of the marriage bed, ready to receive the gift of the other in joy and purity and to receive children, should God bless their union with new life. This is their covenant renewal of union and communion, which strengthens their faithfulness and fruitfulness.  

Embracing the commitment of marriage entails embracing God’s design for the act of marriage. Committed men and women know the value and joy of that act. They give themselves solely to their spouses and thereby experience God’s beautiful design for sexual intercourse: It strengthens their bond of love, gives deeply peaceful and joyful expression to their love and makes them cooperators with God in the creation of new life.  

If you talked about consecrated wine, you would not describe it as really good wine. Even if you said it was great wine, you would miss the mark. Why? Because consecrated wine is holy, consecrated for sacred use. Similarly, the marriage act reveals that our bodies are consecrated for sacred use. The husband as priest of the home is received into the temple of his wife’s body; they reflect the unity conferred on them through the sacrament. This is why the act of marriage is saved for marriage: It is holy.  

In the committed relationship of marriage, the act of marriage bonds and blesses husband and wife.  

Kimberly Hahn is a Catholic speaker and author who for decades has shared her wisdom with other wives and mothers. Married to Scott for more than forty years, they have six children and nineteen grandchildren. After homeschooling for twenty-six years, Kimberly now serves as Council-at-Large in Steubenville, OH, and hosts the St. Paul Center podcast Beloved and Blessed.

You Might Also Like

Proverbs 31 paints a picture of a woman resplendent with virtue, “far more precious than jewels.” In Chosen and Cherished, a Bible study based on Proverbs 31, beloved author Kimberly Hahn highlights this radiant image as a model for all wives and provides lessons on marriage for each season of life.

Based on the wisdom of Scripture, especially Proverbs 31, the Beloved and Blessed podcast speaks to the desires and strengths of women in all walks of life.