States of Christian Life and Vocation, According to the Doctors and Theologians of the Church/Part 1/Section 1/Article 1

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Article 1: Marriage[edit]

Let us open this subject with the grave and remarkable words of the catechism of the Council of Trent, whose high authority no one will call into question: "Since the pastors of souls ought always to have in view the happy and perfect life of Christians, they should wish, above all, what the apostle wished for himself. Writing to the Corinthians, he says to them : I wish that all men were like myself: namely: that all should practise continence, or perfect chastity. Indeed, the most blessed thing for a Christian in this life is, to have his mind free from all the distractions and solicitudes of the world, to reign over his passions, subdued, and almost extinct, through virtue, and to repose blissfully in the practice of piety arid in holy thoughts of heaven.

"But, as marriage has been enriched by God with a multitude of gifts, ... it is clear that the faithful should be instructed in what relates to that state."[1] This is what we are about to do. Marriage is the conjugal, legitimate, and indissoluble union of man and woman, raised by our Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.

"Jesus Christ himself merited for us, by his passion, the grace which sanctifies spouses, perfects their mutual love, and strengthens the indissolubility of their union."[2] "If any one says that marriage is not, truly and properly, one of the seven sacraments of the New Law, and that it does not confer grace, let him be anathema."[3] Thus the Church speaks through the holy Council of Trent.

On the subject of marriage, we shall answer only the following questions, which appear to us best to suit our purpose : 1. Is marriage a holy state? 2. Is it obligatory? 3. Is it counselled ? 4. What ends should be had in view by those who enter it? 5. What are the chief cases in which marriage is unlawful or invalid ?


  1. Catechismus adparockos, de matrimonio, n. I.
  2. Council of Trent, sess. 24.
  3. Ibid., sess. 24, can. I.