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The sacrament by which a baptized man and woman establish between themselves a lifelong partnership for their mutual good and and for the procreation and education of children.
Matrimony is marriage. Matrimony is the more appropriate term for legal and religious use, and refers more to the relationship between husband and wife than to the ceremony, which is a wedding.
The purposes of matrimony are procreative and unitive. The procreative purpose means that the married couple participates in God’s ongoing creation of souls with which He wishes to populate heaven, and to prepare these souls for heaven by raising them as the Catholic Church teaches. The unitive aspect unites, or brings together, the spouses in mutual joy as they help one another prepare for heaven.
Matrimony is called the “lay sacrament” because the parties administer it to each other. The priest as official representative of the Church is the chief witness to the sacrament. But because the Sacrament and the contract are identical, and because the matter and form are contained in the contract, the priest is not the minister of this sacrament. Rather, the man and woman themselves are the ministers of the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The matter of this sacrament is the consent of the man and the woman, expressed externally by words and signs.
The form of this sacrament is the man and woman conferring the sacrament upon each other as witnessed by the Church.
Matrimony is a sacrament of the living, since it can only be received fruitfully in the state of grace.
The Sacrament of Matrimony is one of the two sacraments of vocation. The other is Holy Orders.
Catechism of the Catholic Church § 1601-1666
Vatican documents on Marriage, Family and Sexuality
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