SIX VOLUMES IN ONE
BY THE DISTINGUISHED EXPONENTS OF CATHOLICISM
REV. HENRY DODRIDGE, D. D.
REV. HENRY EDWARD MANNING, D. D.
REV. F. LEWIS, of Granada
REV. STEPHEN KEENAN
REV. BERNARD VAUGHAN, S. J.
REV. THOMAS N. BURKE, O. P.
Q. What is matrimony ?
A. It is a lawful contract between a man and a woman, Whereby they deliver up a right to each other's bodies, in order t6 propagate their species.
Q. When was this contract first instituted ?
A. It was first instituted by Almighty God, between our first parents in the earthly paradise, Gen. ii. And this institution was confirmed by Jesus Christ, in the New Testament, where he says, What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder, St. Matt. xix. 4, 5, 6. And our blessed Saviour, in order to show that this state is holy, and not to be condemned, or despised, was pleased to honor it with his first miracle wrought at the marriage of Cana in Galilee; St. John ii.
Q. For what end was matrimony instituted ?
A. For the procreation of children, which may serve God here, and people heaven hereafter; as also for a remedy against concupiscence: and for the benefit of conjugal society, that man and wife may mutually help one another, and contribute to one another's salvation.
Q. Is matrimony a sacrament ?
Q. How do you prove it to be a sacrament ?
A. Because it is a conjunction made and sanctified by God himself, and not to be dissolved by any power of man; as being a sacred sign, or mysterious representation, of the indissoluble union of Christ and his Church. Hence, St. Paul expressly calls it a great sacrament, Eph. v. 31, 32 ; or mystery; with regard to Christ and his Church. And the holy fathers all agree, it confers grace for the purposes above mentioned ; see St. Ambrose, and St. Augustine
Q. Was matrimony always a sacrament ?
A. No; not till it was elevated to that dignity, by Christ in the law of grace.
Q. Is marriage between Jews and infidels, and persons unbaptized, a sacrament ?.
A. No: yet it is a natural contract among them, and obliges the parties as such.
Q. What is the matter and form of this sacrament ?
A. As the Church has not decided this point, there are two opinions concerning it: the one is, that the matter is the mutual delivery of their bodies; and the form, the words, or outward signs, whereby this delivery is accepted. Others, especially Melchior Cano, Estius, and Sylvius, think the delivery, or contract, to be the matter; but the form to be the words of the priest, I join you together in matrimony, etc., or some other words equivalent. Now, the difference in these opinions is; the former make the contractors to be the ministers of the sacrament. But the latter make the priest to be the minister of the sacrament, and the contractors only ministers of the civil contract.
Q. What is the effect of this sacrament ?
A. It gives a special grace for the religious educating of children, and bearing with the difficulties, and complying with the obligations of the state, and to be faithful and loving to each other.
Q. How comes it then, that so many marriages are unhappy, if matrimony be a sacrament which gives so great a grace?
A. Because, the greatest part do not receive it in the dispositions they ought: they consult not God in their choice, but only their own lust or temporal interest; they prepare not themselves for it, by putting themselves in the state of grace; and too often are guilty of freedoms before marriage, which are not allowable by the law of God.
Q. In what dispositions ought persons to receive this sacrament?
A. They ought to be in the state of grace, by confession; their intention ought to be pure, viz.: To embrace this holy state for the ends for which God instituted it; and if they be under the care of parents, etc., they ought to consult them, and do nothing in this kind without their consent.
Q. What are the obligations of the married couple ?
A. First, to be united and live together during life; St. Mark x. Secondly, to be faithful to one another, as they have promised in marriage; i Corinthians vii. 4, etc. Thirdly, to assist one another in their distress; to bear patiently the indiscretion, weakness and burdens of each other; Galatians vi. 2 ; Colossians iii. Fourthly, to get their children baptized as soon as possible; and to instruct and bring them up Christian-like; Ephesians vi. Fifthly, to give good example to their children, and to their whole family, and to engage all to serve God, and pray to him, especially morning and evening; 2 Corinthians xii. 14. Hence, all jealousies, bitterness, hatred, reproaches, contentions, scolding, fretfulness, abuses and excessive love of their children and the world, are to be avoided; as also, all immoderate affection, without reason or decency, for one another, whereby they make slight account of the law and love of God; St. Peter iii. 1. Again, the wife is obliged to be submissive, and obedient to her husband in all things that are not contrary to the law of God; for the man is the head of the woman, as Christ is the head of the Church; Ephesians v. She must likewise be careful that she does not miscarry through her own fault; nor must she let the infant sleep in the same bed with her, or its nurse, for the space of a twelve month, for fear it should be overlaid; Rom. Rit. The husband is obliged to be loving and careful of his wife, and provide for her and his family; Ephesians v. 28, etc.
Q. Can man and wife separate or break the marriage contract, so as to be at liberty to marry another?
A. There are several cases wherein they may separate, as to cohabitation, with the approbation of the Church; but the contract can never be broke or annulled, so as to have liberty to marry again, as the council of Trent has defined against late heretics, who allow of parting and re-marrying, in case of adultery.
Q. Can marriage be dissolved (quoad vinculum) by a person's entering into religion?
A. The council of Trent f has declared, that if the marriage be not consummated, it may be annulled, by entering into religion; and the reason is, because, as yet, they are not one flesh.
Q. Were not the Jews accustomed to break the marriage contract, and marry again?
A. Such a custom was permitted by their law, (upon account of the hardness of their hearts,) St. Matthew xix. 8, and a bill of divorce granted in some cases; but they abused the law, extending it to cases not allowed of; besides, it was not approved of, but only permitted by divine appointment; however, our Saviour recalled that law; St. Mark x.
Q. Is it lawful to have more wives than one ?
A. No; for it is expressly forbid by the law of God. See St. Matt xix.; St. Mark x.; St. Luke xvi.; 1 Cor. vi.
Q. Did not the ancient patriarchs keep several wives at the same time?
A. This was done by.divine dispensation, as the council of Trent (following St. Augustine, etc.,) declares. Polygamy not being against a first, but only a secondary precept of the law of nature, which God can dispense with. However, it never was permitted for a woman to have more husbands than one, this being against the first precept of the law of nature, viz.: The procreation of children, which would be obstructed thereby.
Q. Are all persons qualified to enter into the contract of marriage?
A. No; because sometimes the contract may be against the law of nature, the law of God, and human laws, both civil and ecclesiastical.
Q. Is the contract void where persons lie under incapacity from those laws ?
A. Impediments are of two kinds, some annul the contract; others only render the contract unlawful.
Q. Has the Church power to appoint those impediments?
A. Yes; for so it is expressly defined in the council of Trent.
Q. Which are the chief impediments rendering the contract of marriage illegal ?
A. A simple vow of chastity, or to become religious. Secondly, espousals with another, or a mutual promise of future marriage. Thirdly, to solemnize marriage on days prohibited by the Church.
Q. In what cases are espousals dissolvable ?
A. By mutual c6nsent; by marriage; by entrance into religion; a long absence, not returning at the time appointed, or thereabouts; want of age; affinity or consanguinity supervening ; a notable deformity of body happening after; fornication, heresy supervening; if any condition promised is not fulfilled; a capital crime; holy orders; an insupportable cruel temper; if anything happens after, which would have hindered the promise. Yet in all these cases the Church is to be consulted.
Q. At what time is marriage prohibited by the Church ?
A. From the first Sunday in Advent, till the Epiphany, or Twelfth-Day be past; or from Ash-Wednesday, till after Low-Sunday.
Q. Which are the chief impediments that render the contract of marriage null ?
A. Holy orders, or solemn profession in any religious order; or if the contract is between persons a-kin, either in affinity or consanguinity, viz. : Within the fourth degree : again, if either party be not baptized; as also clandestine marriages, that is without the parish priest or one deputed by him, and at least two witnesses, but this is only an impediment where the council of Trent is received.
Q. How far is the consent of parents requisite in marriage?
A. It is a great sin to marry without their knowledge and consent, unless there be plain reasons not to ask it: for the Scripture every where mentions, parents giving their children in marriage. However, the council of Trent has decreed, that marriage without their consent is valid.
Q. Does the Catholic Church allow those of her communion to marry with those who are of a different communion ?
A. She has often prohibited such marriages, as may be seen in the councils of Illiberis, Laodica, Chalcedon, Agde, etc. And the reason is, first, because she would not have her children communicate in sacred things, such as matrimony is, with those that are out of her communion. Secondly, because such marriages are apt to give occasion to disturbances in families, whilst one of the parties draws one way, and the other another. Thirdly, because there is a danger of the Catholic party being perverted, or at least of not being allowed the free exercise of religion. Fourthly, because there is a danger of the children being brought up in error, of which we have seen several bad instances. However, sometimes, and in some places, the pastors of the Church for weighty reasons have been forced to dispense with this law, and tolerate such marriages. But it is to be observed, that these bargains are by no means to be allowed of, by which the contracting parties agree to have the boys brought up in the religion of the father, and the girls to follow the mother; for God and his Church will have no such division, nor give up their right to any one.