Holy Matrimony (Marriage)

For Catholics, the Sacrament of Marriage is a partnership between a man and a woman “of the whole of life (totius vitae consortium) and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (see Code of Canon Law, Can 1055 no1). The Catholic Church considers marriage as a covenant that has been raised by Christ our Lord to the dignity of a sacrament, one of seven sacraments in the Church. The effect of the sacrament is an increase in sanctifying grace for the spouses, a participation in the divine life of God Himself. Marriage is not simply a legality but a vocation.

This sanctifying grace helps each spouse to help the other advance in holiness, and it helps them together to cooperate in God’s plan of redemption by raising up children in the Faith.

In this way, sacramental marriage is more than a union of a man and a woman; it is, in fact, a type and symbol of the divine union between Christ, the Bridegroom, and His Church, the Bride.  As married Christians, open to the creation of new life and committed to our mutual salvation, we participate not only in God’s creative act but in the redemptive act of Christ.

If you have recently become engaged and are seeking information about getting married in the parish church of St Thomas of Canterbury, congratulations! In asking to be married in the Catholic Church, you and your future spouse are publicly proclaiming your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and asking to live as disciples of Christ in the Sacrament of Marriage. The sacred liturgy of your wedding, which begins your married life by the solemn exchange of marital consent, is above all else an act of worship; and we will help you prepare both for that happy day and for the lifetime of marriage that follows your nuptial liturgy.

Much confusion exists about marrying in the Catholic Church, which is unfortunate, since the requirements are relatively straightforward:

In the UK, you and your spouse must be unrelated to one another as forbidden by law and over the age of 16. If you have not yet reached your 18th birthday, then your parents’ permission is necessary as well as your birth certificate. You must also be of sufficiently sound mind in order to understand what marriage entails and the nature of the marriage contract.

To marry in St Thomas’ Parish Church, one of the spouses should be a practising Catholic and registered parishioner who attends mass regularly. Also, if one of the spouses has a connection to St Thomas’ and has moved away, then marriage here is still possible as long as the spouse is a practising Catholic. Diocesan guidelines stipulate you will need to contact the parish priest at least six months prior to the intended date of your marriage.

Catholics can marry non-Catholics. The Church does require baptized Catholics to marry in a Catholic Church whether the spouse is Catholic or not. The person the Catholic is marrying does not have to become a Catholic, since it would be wrong for someone simply to convert to Catholicism simply in order to marry.

With regard to Catholics marrying someone who has been married before, then speak to the parish priest as to marrying in Church. There are all sorts of different situations that arise and the Church as specific answers to them. It is best to see the priest about your specific situation.

The Church requires that engaged couples attend a pre-nuptial weekend course in the six months prior to their marriage.

The best plan of action is to contact one of the priests at least six months beforehand to discuss your marriage plans and to complete the attached form.