“Love is patient; Love is kind; Love is not jealous … Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13)
Christian marriage is a journey of faith and love, and as a vocation it is also one way of living a life of commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When a married couple attempts to grow in love through the practical concerns of each day, they make the love of Christ real and present in our world. This is why Christian marriage is a sacrament; it is a living symbol of Christ’s faithful, steadfast love the Church.
If you are intending to be married at Holy Spirit Parish, information on wedding guidelines and processes can be found by clicking on this link: Wedding Guidelines Booklet.
Please keep in mind that the marriage guidelines for the Diocese of Richmond require that a couple contact a parish priest or deacon at least 6 months prior to the proposed wedding date.
The parish community of Holy Spirit, through its many ministries, is here to assist and support couples in their exciting and challenging journey of married life.
VALIDATION OF MARRIAGE
Since the Church teaches that marriage is a sacrament and an outward sign of grace, Christ authorized the Church through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to determine the requirements for the validity of the sacraments, including the Sacrament of Marriage. According to the Church teachings, it is a requirement for Catholics to be married according to the “form” (the proper rites) of the celebration of this sacrament.
The Church seeks that all members of the Church be in marriages recognized, blessed and “convalidated” by the Church. Couples may seek to have their union officially recognized by the Church.
1. This form requires that the marriage of Catholics be contracted in the presence of a bishop, priest or deacon. Exceptions can be made in certain circumstances, but only at the discretion of authorities of the Catholic Church. (Canon 1108) Only Catholics are bound by this form. If a Catholic party marries outside of this form and without permission, the couple needs to request the convalidation of their marriage.
2. The Catholic Church does recognize the validity of marriages by non-Catholics with each other, but they are not held to this form. The Church considers the marriage between two baptized Christians (non-Catholic) as sacramental and there is no need for convalidation in this case.
3. Catholics who are not living in marriages recognized (convalidated) by the Church should not receive Holy Communion. The remarriage of persons divorced from a living, lawful spouse contravenes the plan and law of God as taught by Christ. They are not separated from the Church, but they cannot receive Eucharistic Communion. (CCC #1665).
The Church presumes that all marriages are valid, binding spouses for life. However, when couples separate and divorce, the Church examines in detail their marriage to determine, if right from the beginning, some essential element was missing in their relationship. If that fact is established, it means that the spouses did not have the kind of sacred marital bond that binds them together for life.
The Church offers the opportunity for a divorced person to have his/her previous marriage examined in terms of the essential elements of the marital bond. If an essential element is missing, then the Church issues a declaration of nullity (annulment) or invalidity and both parties to the previous marriage are free to marry in the eyes of the Catholic Church.
Since the Church views all marriage with respect, anyone, whether Catholic or not, who seeks to be married in the Church and is divorced must have his or her previous marriage annulled.
If you are divorced and would like to petition the Church to have your previous marriage annulled or declared invalid by the Church, you may contact Deacon Bob Smithberger or Fr. Sonny for information on the process.
If annulment is declared, the petitioner is free to celebrate a marriage in the Catholic Church or have an existing marriage “blessed” or recognized with the Church. If the petitioner is in an existing marriage, he or she is then able to participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church.
NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife.
NFP is a way of following God’s plan for achieving and/or avoiding pregnancy. It consists of ways to achieve or to avoid pregnancy using the physical means that God has built into human nature.
For more information on NFP, please contact the Diocesan Coordinator for NFP at
THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY