The Covenant of Marriage
We offer our congratulations to all anticipating marriage, particularly to the parishioners of St. George. People can have a wedding and a nice party for the couple, but it takes work by both parties to have a marriage. Marriage is a very important Sacrament in the Church and as such there are requirements necessary for having a marriage in the Church. It is important to remember that marriage is a covenant made by two people with God, a very sacred time in the life of the parties. Obviously this is not something to be taken lightly.
The Latin Tradition
According to the Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church. The consent consists in a “human act by which the partners mutually give themselves to each other”: “I take you to be my wife” — “I take you to be my husband.” This consent that binds the spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two “becoming one flesh. The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever-available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity. The priest or deacon who assists at the celebration of a marriage receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessing of the Church. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1623, 1624, 1627 & 1630)
The Archdiocese requires six (6) months of preparation for couples anticipating marriage and the parties are to be married in a “sacred place”. Church law requires that both of you must be free to marry, that is, neither one of you was married before. If either one of you was married before and your former spouse is still living, you will need to obtain a declaration of nullity on the marriage from the Tribunal of the Archdiocese. The parish priest or deacon will assist you in starting the process. Under no circumstances may a date be set for the ceremony, or even a tentative date set, until the Tribunal process is complete.
In an interfaith marriage, i.e. a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic, the Catholic person makes a promise to maintain his or her own faith and to do all in his or her power to ensure that any children born of the union will be raised in the Catholic faith. The party who is not Catholic makes no promises but is aware of the promise of the Catholic. In addition, a permission/dispensation is required from the Archdiocese Chancery Office for interfaith marriages when freedom to marry has been established. The priest or deacon conducting the pre-marriage preparation/documentation will obtain this permission.
Those preparing for marriage must make an appointment with one of the Priests or Deacons six months in advance of their intended wedding date. St George utilizes the Prepare/Enrich program to assist engaged couples in exploring their expectations and fostering communication and problem solving skills. The couple will meet with the Priest or Deacon as part of their preparation and may be required or encouraged to attend one of the preparation programs offered by the Archdiocese of Atlanta. For more information or to schedule a meeting with a priest or a deacon contact the Church Office at: 770-251-5353.