Marriage in the Catholic Church
Marriage is a sacred institution, a wholesome way of life, the way most men and women will know personal happiness and accomplishment in this life. Each marriage is unique. There are no duplicates. Once a marriage ends, it never will be again. No mold is ever made. Each marriage is unique because each person who enters marriage is unique. No two persons are exactly alike. Yet each person is made in the image and likeness of God. He/She mirrors and reflects who God is. It is in this very creating of man and woman that God speaks of marriage, of the two being joined into one flesh. It is then, in the very act of creating persons that God creates marriage.
In his Letter to the Ephesians St. Paul says that marriage foreshadows and reflects Christ's love for the Church, and the Church's love for Christ. The loving couple are intimately joined and linked together in an unbreakable love relationship, and being in love, they would never seek to have it broken. It would be asking love to stop being love.
Just as each marriage is unique, those entering marriage are uniquely united to Christ when they say their vows on their wedding day. In love, they say: "I want to get to heaven through you. In and through you I see my salvation, because in you I see God's image and likeness speaking to me, guiding and directing my life. If we really love one another, we will not want love to end at death. I will want that person to live in heaven with me." This is the kind of dignity and esteem spouses should have towards one another. This kind of faith is not fantasy or an unrealistic ideal.
The uniqueness of person and the uniqueness of marriage are also bound up in the uniqueness of the gift, a baby, the giving of new life. A child exemplifies and manifests this life of love. For a man and woman create the body of a person, but God creates the person, the soul, that which makes a person a person. For man can only create what is his nature, he cannot create someone in God's image and likeness. Only God can. Thus, the child born to them is God's personal gift of creation, the person God has ordained to be raised and educated by them.
The beauty and awe of all this was expressed by Jesus at the Last Supper:
(John 15:4-9; 11-12; 16-17)
Live on in me, as I do in you. No more than a branch can bear fruit of itself apart from the vine, can you bear fruit apart from me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who lives in me and I in him, will produce abundantly, for apart from me you can do nothing. A man who does not live in me is like a withered, rejected branch, picked up to be thrown in the fire and burnt. If you live in me, and my words stay part of you, you may ask what you will, and it will be done for you. My Father has been glorified in your bearing much fruit and becoming my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Live on in my love.... All this I tell you that my joy may be yours and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.... It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit. Your fruit must endure so that all you ask the Father in my name he will give you. The command I give you is this: that you love one another.