Today’s Catechism sections discuss the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Supporting material comes from the Pastoral Constitution, “Gaudium et Spes”.
IV. The Effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony
1638 "From a valid marriage arises a bond between the spouses which by its very nature is perpetual and exclusive; furthermore, in a Christian marriage the spouses are strengthened and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and the dignity of their state by a special sacrament."140
The marriage bond
1639 The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself.141 From their covenant arises "an institution, confirmed by the divine law, . . . even in the eyes of society."142 The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God's covenant with man: "Authentic married love is caught up into divine love."143
1640 Thus the marriage bond has been established by God himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. This bond, which results from the free human act of the spouses and their consummation of the marriage, is a reality, henceforth irrevocable, and gives rise to a covenant guaranteed by God's fidelity. The Church does not have the power to contravene this disposition of divine wisdom.144
The grace of the sacrament of Matrimony
1641 "By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God."145 This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children."146
1642 Christ is the source of this grace. "Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony."147 Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,"148 and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb:
How can I ever express the happiness of a marriage joined by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels, and ratified by the Father? . . . How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service! They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit.149
The Pastoral Constitution, “Gaudium et Spes” (48) discusses the effects of the Sacrament of Matrimony.
Christ the Lord abundantly blessed this many-faceted love, welling up as it does from the fountain of divine love and structured as it is on the model of His union with His Church. For as God of old made Himself present(3) to His people through a covenant of love and fidelity, so now the Savior of men and the Spouse(4) of the Church comes into the lives of married Christians through the sacrament of matrimony. He abides with them thereafter so that just as He loved the Church and handed Himself over on her behalf,(6) the spouses may love each other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-bestowal.
140 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 1134.
141 Cf. ⇒ Mk 10:9.
142 GS 48 # 1.
143 GS 48 # 2.
144 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 1141.
145 LG 11 # 2.
146 LG 11 # 2; cf. LG 41.
147 GS 48 # 2.
148 ⇒ Eph 5:21; cf. ⇒ Gal 6:2.
149 Tertullian, Ad uxorem. 2, 8, 6-7: PL 1, 1412-1413; cf. FC 13.