The sacrament of marriage is a visible sign of God’s love for the Church. When a man and a woman are married in the Church, they receive the grace needed for a lifelong bond of unity.

Marriage is a Covenant

The Sacrament of Marriage is a covenantal union in the image of the covenants between God and his people with Abraham and later with Moses at Mt. Sinai. This divine covenant can never be broken. In this way, marriage is a union that bonds spouses together during their entire lifetime.

The sacrament of Matrimony signifies the union of Christ and the Church. It gives spouses the grace to love each other with the love with which Christ has loved his Church; the grace of the sacrament thus perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble unity, and sanctifies them on the way to eternal life. (CCC 1661)

The love in a married relationship is exemplified in the total gift of one’s self to another. It’s this self-giving and self-sacrificing love that we see in our other model of marriage, the relationship between Christ and the Church.

Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. (CCC 1662)

The Church takes the lifelong nature of the Sacrament of Marriage seriously. The Church teaches that a break in this covenant goes against the natural law of God:

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. They will lead Christian lives especially by educating their children in the faith. (CCC 1665)

Marriage Reflects the Holy Trinity

We believe that God exists in eternal communion. Together, Father, Son and Holy Spirit are united in one being with no beginning and no end. Human beings, likewise, were created by God in God’s image for the purpose of communion with another human being.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit” (CCC 2205). The Sacrament of Marriage is “unitive, indissoluble and calls us to be completely open to fertility.” Christian marriage at its finest is a reflection of God’s self-giving love expressed between the love of two people.

Guidelines for Marriage Preparation

1. One must be 19 years of age in order to celebrate the sacrament of marriage.  Anyone younger than 19 must fulfill other guidelines set down by the Bishops of Texas for assessing their maturity and readiness for marriage.
2. One must be "free to marry".  This means that neither partner can have a previous marriage which is recognized as valid and binding by the Catholic church.  If there has been a previous marriage, couples should discuss this with the priest or deacon before setting a date for a wedding.
3. Couples who are "free to marry" should meet with the parish priest or deacon to schedule their wedding at least six months in advance, in order to have adequate time for marriage preparation.  If you are not registered members of St. Gertrude Parish, you must have a letter of permission from your pastor, in order to marry at St. Gertrude Church.
4. Baptized Catholics must obtain a recent copy of their baptismal certificate.  Baptized non-Catholics, when possible, should also obtain some documentation verifying their baptism.
5. For the Catholic party, it is recommended that he or she should have already received all three Sacraments of Initiation - Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist.  If not, then the priest or deacon will assess what can be done.
6. Couples entering the Sacrament of Marriage should be able to affirm that they have the following intentions: that they are acting freely, that they intend a life-long marriage, that they intend to be faithful to their spouse, and that they intend to give their spouse the right to have children, when this is possible.
7. In cases where a Catholic is marrying a non-Catholic Christian or a non-baptized person, the Catholic party must also have the intention of continuing to practice the Catholic faith and willingness to do all within his or her power to have their children baptized and raised as Catholics.  Their future spouse also needs to be aware of this intention.
8. As part of their marriage preparation, every couple will be asked to take and review with the priest or deacon a marriage preparation survey call FOCCUS.  They must also attend one of the following:
Pre-Cana, required for all by the Bishop
Engaged Encounter Weekend (Through the Diocese)
Sponsor Couple (Through the parish)
The times for weddings at St. Gertrude Parish are anytime on a weekday, not in conflict with an already scheduled Mass, or on Saturdays at 10:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. or 7:00 p.m.  The subject and fee will be discussed at the initial meeting.
For questions about any of the above, or any other questions, please speak with one of the parish priests or deacons.

Sacrament of Marriage for Those Already Civilly Married

The Catholic church teaches that a baptized Catholic is obliged to be married in front of a priest or deacon and two witnesses in order to contract a valid, sacramental marriage.  Therefore, a Catholic who marries in front of a Justice of the Peace, judge or other civil magistrate is not considered validly married.  A Catholic who marries in front of a non-Catholic minister is also not considered validly married, unless a special dispensation has been given by the Diocesan Bishop for such a marriage.

Getting your civil marriage blessed by the Church is not that difficult.  It requires getting copies of the baptismal certificates for the Catholic party or parties, a period of marriage preparation and a ceremony. 

When there has been a previous marriage by a non-Catholic party outside the Catholic Church, then there may be a need to begin an investigation for grounds of nullity to the previous marriage.  This can only by assessed after visiting with one of the parish priests or deacons. 




God created man and woman out of love and commanded them to imitate his love in their relations with each other. Man and woman were created for each other…Woman and man are equal in human dignity, and in marriage both are united in an unbreakable bond. (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, Ch. 21, p. 279)

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