What makes a true marriage?

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The WORD in other words (2021) by Fr. Alan Meechan, SVD (Sta Rosa de Lima Mission Area, Aurora, Naujan, Oriental Mindoro)

Wedding people photo created by prostooleh – www.freepik.com

When I was a child, a priest said in a sermon about something I did not fully understand then: “There is a saying ‘It takes two to make a marriage,’ but this is not true.  In fact, it takes three to make a marriage!  Jesus must be there also!”

 Many years later, as a priest myself, awed by the responsibility thrust unto me to officiate the sacrament of matrimony, I remembered that priest’s words with more meaningful significance. I understood that as a priest and Divine Word Missionary, I stood in place of Christ. I was not worthy of doing so in the liturgy, but this was what I had been called to do.  Jesus has to be brought to the people!  

The words of the sacrament of matrimony, unlike those in the other sacraments, are not uttered by the priest, but by the couple who are getting married.  They speak these words with hands clasped together, but as the priest, I put my hand on top of theirs.  Just as the bride and groom are giving themselves to each other, I am giving myself to them as Christ’s witness.  Or rather, Christ is giving himself to them through me.

I sometimes think of registrars who marry couples on a purely legal level, after which it is relatively easy for them to obtain a divorce.  Even in our own country, many couples tragically separate.  However, when I visit Calapan and even Manila, people I do not at first recognize, often approach me and remind me happily that I was the one who married them.  Their marriage is sacred to them, and they have not allowed any human being to separate what God has joined together. 

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