St. Bernard of Clairvaux Catholic Church

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Sacraments » Marriage

Marriage

Understanding the

Sacrament of Matrimony

Marriage is a beautiful institution from the hand of God.  In fact, the Church often refers to herself as the Bride of Jesus Christ.  (Eph 5).  In light of the Church’s teaching and that of Sacred Scripture, the following are quotes setting forth some of the key principles of marriage.  These principles help us remain grounded in a balanced approach to marriage so that the love of marriage may have all the beauty that God designed it to have. 

The Sacrament of Matrimony

God himself is the author of marriage (GS 48).  The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.  Marriage is not a purely human institution (CCC1603).

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament. (CCC1601)

 

 
   
   

Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter. . .it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility (CCC1643).

 

 
   
 By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory (CCC1652).

  The Effects of the Sacrament of Marriage

 The Marriage Bond

From a valid marriage arise a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive.  The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.  Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself.

 . . .a marriage. . .between baptized persons can never be dissolved
 (CCC 1638 – 1640).

 The Grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony

By this grace they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children.”(LG 11, CC1641). 

 Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear another’s burdens, to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  (Eph. 5:21, CCC1642)

 The Goods and Requirements of Conjugal Love

 Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter. . .it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility (CCC1643).

Two Shall Become One

 You are about to make a life-long commitment of love for one another—a decision which you should approach with great seriousness, as well as joyful hearts.  Marriage--the union of two individuals for life--is regarded as a sacrament in the Catholic Church and as with all sacraments, some preparation is needed by both the bride and the groom.  This brochure serves as an overview to help you prepare appropriately.

 In general, please allow AT LEAST SIX MONTHS in advance of the wedding date for preparation.  If one or both of you are under the age of 19, please allow for an additional month or so for professional evaluation.  A check list is provided in this brochure to plan ahead. 

 GETTING STARTED

Call the Rectory to arrange an interview with a priest (both bride and groom must attend).  Assuming no problems are anticipated, the priest will set your wedding date (see checklist for what to bring), at which time a deposit is required (see Fees) and confirm what other preparation is required.

 Once a date has been set, please contact our Wedding Coordinators, Jeanne and Fred Clifford, to schedule participation in Marriage Preparation Classes and Natural Family Planning Classes.  A nominal fee is charged for each class and both must be completed 30 days prior to the wedding.  Once you have your classes scheduled, please contact our Music Director, to coordinate your music.  It is extremely important that you coordinate all aspects of your ceremony with St. Bernard in order to comply with church policy and ensure a successful wedding ceremony.

 PLANNING YOUR CEREMONY

Couples may make their ceremony as personal as possible within the guidelines of the Church.  It is important to remember the presence of Christ and the Blessed Sacrament in the church.  Therefore, the music before, during and after the ceremony should be liturgical (see music), and all members of the wedding party, including the bride, should plan for modest attire (no strapless or off the shoulder gowns or revealing necklines are allowed).  To maintain liturgical reverence, please coordinate all arrangements for music, organist, vocalist, video, photography and church flowers in advance with our coordinator and music director (see check list).

 Music

The main consultant regarding music selection and musicians is our music director.  We do not allow CD's or popular music to be played or sung in the ceremony.  Be advised that a fee is required for each contracted liturgical musician.  Should you contract other musicians (vocalist or instrumentalist), it is required that our music director meet with you to approve music selections and provide rehearsals to help things run smoothly. 

 Decoration

Rice, flowers, birdseeds, or any other material is not allowed to be thrown.  If decorating pews, keep in mind that tape is NOT allowed.  Flowers are to be secured with clamps provided by a florist.  Runners are allowed and are available through most florists. 

 If the bride wishes to carry out the colors of the wedding party, she may purchase the arrangements for the Blessed Sacrament Altar from the Altar Society, but those flowers must then remain on the altar.  The couple may desire to make additional arrangements for flowers with the Altar Society as desired.  Please place the order one or two months before the date of the wedding. 

 Rehearsal

Please call the rectory to schedule the wedding rehearsal date.  During rehearsal, you will need to bring your Marriage License, Unity Candle, and Runner (if used). 

 CHECK LIST

Six Months Prior to Desired Wedding Date

o Schedule Interview Appointment with a priest.

·       Bring recent (within six months) copy of baptismal, Confirmation and Communion certificates to Rectory.

·       DO NOT RESERVE A HALL FOR THE RECEPTION UNTIL YOUR WEDDING DATE IS SCHEDULED BY A PRIEST.

·       Follow priests instructions for follow up actions required (e.g. confession, 2nd interview, letter from home parish, etc.)

o Weddings are scheduled for Saturdays only at 10am, 12noon, or 2pm

·       This allows for ½ hour for preparation and ½ hour for photography following the ceremony.

o Donations are appreciated to offset church expenses.

o Call the Wedding Coordinator to schedule your mandatory classes for:

·       Marriage Preparation (reservations are required well in advance to secure a spot in the class)

·       Natural Family Planning

o Call the Music Director to plan Music

·       The fees for vocalist and organist are payable in advance as directed.

o Once a wedding date is confirmed, you may reserve a hall for your reception.  We are not liable for any cancellation fees if the desired wedding date is not available or possible. 

o When ordering/planning your wedding attire (and attire of wedding party) keep in mind that it should be modest in design--no strapless or spaghetti-strapped or revealing gowns will be permitted without some type of covering while in the church

 Two Months Prior to Confirmed Wedding Date

o Confirm reservations with Rectory for scheduled wedding date.

o Confirm final music plans (selections, musicians, fees paid, etc.) with Music Director.

o Remind wedding party of church's policy of appropriate attire in the church.

o Notify friends and family as appropriate of policy regarding no rice or bird seed being thrown after the wedding and pew decorating restrictions (no tape).

o Call the Altar Society to order flowers for the altar (if desired) and review fees required.

o Obtain a county-issued Marriage License from the County Clerk’s office

o Purchase a Unity Candle and holder for use during the ceremony (and runner if desired)

o Bring to the Priests the certificates of  attendance of  the Marriage Preparation and Natural Family Planning Classes. Schedule a rehearsal date. 

o Notify wedding party of date/time of rehearsal.

o Verify transportation & reception plans/reservations.

 One Month Prior to Confirmed Wedding Date

o Call wedding coordinator to confirm all final plans.  Deliver a copy of your marriage license to wedding coordinator.

o If desired, wedding programs may be published.  Wedding coordinator may be able to suggest ideasTwo Weeks Prior to Wedding

o Confirm rehearsal plans (date/time) with wedding party

o Remind family and friends regarding church policy on pew decoration and birdseed/rice/flower throwing.

o Confirm final plans with Music Director, Photographer, Videographer, Florist

 Rehearsal Night

o Please bring unity candle, holder, runner to rehearsal. 

o Since parishioners are in the church 24 hours a day/7 days a week adoring the Blessed Sacrament, we must exhibit reverent behavior inside the church during rehearsal.  Please instruct all members of your wedding party to observe proper etiquette in front of the Blessed Sacrament (reverence, modest attire, no disruptive behavior, gum chewing, food, or drink).

o To minimize disruption, rehearsal is reviewed in front of the church first and then we enter the church if still possible to perform the rehearsal (please be sure to arrive promptly to prevent running into a scheduled Mass). 

 Wedding Day

o Wedding party must arrive 30 minutes prior to wedding to insure prompt start time as weddings are scheduled 2 hours apart.

o Bring marriage license.

o Enjoy God's blessing on your marriage. . .

  The marriage bond:  From a valid marriage arise a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive.  The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.  Thus the marriage bond has been established by God Himself. . .a marriage. . .between baptized persons can never be dissolved. (CCC 1638-1640)  Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ."
(Eph. 5:21, CCC 1642)