From Plain Talks on Marriage by Rev. Fulgence Meyer, O.F.M., 1927
The Nature of Marriage
Instructing the first Christian married men and women with regard to marriage, St. Paul said: “This is a great sacrament: but I speak in Christ, and in the Church.( Eph. 5:32).
Outside of the Church, notably in our country, matrimony is not only not treated as a sacrament, but it has really been degraded to a sort of a joke or a farce. Yet the Church upholds its sacredness as much as ever in the face of the neglect and ridicule of the world.
The God-Given Helpmate
God Himself instituted matrimony as the first and most binding human contract at the very beginning of the race. After He created Adam and placed him in paradise, He said: “It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself” (Gen. 2, 18); and He created Eve to be Adam’s helpmate.
She was to help him attain his highest natural happiness and perfection, mentally, bodily, spiritually, emotionally, religiously, socially and in every other way; and he on his part was to render the same service to her.
God intended this service to be bilateral, correlative and reactive: each one was to achieve happiness and perfection by assisting the other party towards them.
God made man and woman different from each other in body and mind, but not antagonistic; they were not to be mutually hostile and combative, but helpful and supplementary to one another: the one was to supply what the other lacked, not only as regards the body but also the soul.
Where husband and wife have this correct conception of their relations and closely live up to them, they reach the greatest height of natural goodness, contentment, peace and happiness.
This is what God meant when He said: “It is not good for man to be alone: let us make him a help like unto himself.”
How utterly sad, that in so many instances the persons, who have been destined to be the grandest help and sweetest solace to one another, are mutually the heaviest handicap and the greatest kill-joy to each other!
Nature’s Greatest Love
When God presented Eve to Adam as his wife, the latter grew inspired and exclaimed: “This now is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh….Wherefore a man shall leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they shall be two in one flesh” (Gen. 2, 23-24).
In these words Adam, speaking as the spokesman of God, evidently declares, that the love between husband and wife is to be the strongest, the deepest, the most sacred, tender and lasting love of nature.
It was even to surpass the love of children for their parents. It was to be the God-given cement of the most holy and binding natural contract, which would give it the perpetuity and tenacity God intended it should have, namely, until death.
How puny and insignificant are not all the other contracts of men aside of this sacred pact!
In other contracts there is question of money, lands or cattle: in this contract here is a deal covering immortal beings in the most intimate and personal elements of life; and not only are the contracting parties concerned in the deal, but there enter into it ever so many possible other immortal beings that are likely to spring directly or indirectly from this momentous union.
A Great Sacrament
In paradise God instituted marriage merely as a contract, but when our Lord came down upon this earth He elevated it to the dignity of a Sacrament.
He made it one of the seven sacred channels thorough which His saving Blood was to flow upon the souls of men in order to sanctify them.
As a Sacrament, then, Matrimony is holy as is Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Holy Orders.
Our Holy Mother, the Church, evinces her high appreciation of Matrimony by endowing its reception with a certain special solemnity.
Baptism is usually administered outside the communion rail; so is penance; and when you receive Holy Communion or Confirmation you kneel outside the sanctuary.
But at marriage, provided it is celebrated in conjunction with Holy Mass, as I am supposing, the Church throws open the gates of the sanctuary, and introduces the candidates into the Holy of Holies, to the very spot where are offered the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
“Love and friendship are the remnants of the earthly paradise. In this vale of tears, when we encounter so many difficulties, to have people you can call friends is such a joy, such a comfort, such a gift.” -Dietrich von Hildebrand