Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall

The Church in her legislation has always been cognizant of the sacred nature of marriage as a sacrament. To safeguard the common good of all who are involved in this marriage, the Church has established the appropriate canonical form, that is, the consent expressed in the vows. When this form is appropriately executed by the couple, the validity and specific effects of the marriage take place. The Church has simplified this juridical consent expressed in the marriage vows while retaining all the essential elements. She has selected a form of consent that comprises “the statement of intentions” and “the declaration of consent” and “the exchange of rings.” Marriage involves two mature adults – a man and a woman – who accept each other for the rest of their lives in the presence of two witnesses and the officiating Church. This signifies the “marriage covenant” as the “marriage contract.”

Since the marriage vows have legal implications, nobody should attempt to rewrite these vows or tamper with them or exclude any part of them: otherwise, it may lead to an invalid marriage. There is a Roman law that indicates: “consent makes marriage.” Marital consent is a mutual juridical act elicited by the couple. In the eyes of the Church, this consent contains all that is necessary to effect a valid sacramental marriage binding on the spouses. This marital consent is a pivotal moment in their lives, an important choice that opens up a new pathway for their interpersonal relationship. Do not take it lightly. Be enthused for the marriage prep.

The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage; no other human power is able to supply this consent [c. 1057, §1]. Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage [c. 1057, §2]. All persons who are not prohibited by law can contract marriage [c. 1058]. The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which in Christian marriage obtain a special firmness by reason of the sacrament [c. 1056].

Juridically speaking, consent is a vast subject. Let us try to explain a few important features in a nutshell. Consent is a human act that can only originate in the will and is impossible to supply. Nothing else can take its place. It is exclusive to the particular person. The “object” of consent signifies the self-donation of each spouse to the other in a conjugal dimension. In this matter, the proper task of the will is to elicit that act of consent, not a mere thought of personalities. This consent is one – not two – reminding us of unity, though indeed two persons, a man and a woman, will mutually exchange this consensual act. They have to be legally capable, without impediments.

The marital covenant is dignified as sacrament for it is elevated by Christ. The partnership of the whole of life is intimately connected to the special conjugal bond of the parties who constitute themselves as spouses. Marriage is ordained for its specific ends: for the good of the spouses, and for the procreation and education of children. Unity and indissolubility are essential properties. Unity denotes one conjugal bond of fidelity and logically speaking, if a couple rejects unity or indissolubility or any other part of the consent, they do not want marriage. Consent must be manifested externally. A bride and groom have to take these into consideration when they mutually consent to marry.

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