Marriage
Part 3 History

Chapter 31 History of Marriage

Preliminary Questions

Bibliography

1. Apostolic [0-399]

2. Patristic [400-799] 

3. Early Medieval [800-1199]

4. Medieval [1200-1299]

5. Late Medieval [1300-1499]

6. Reformation [1500-1699]

7. After Trent [1700-1899]

8. Before Vatican II [1900-1959]

9. Vatican II [1960-1975]

10. After Vatican II [1975-2050]

To Think About

Preliminary Questions

How has the Church's understanding of marriage changed over the years?  How has the Church's involvement with marriage changed over the years?

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Bibliography

Michael G. Lawler.  Marriage and the Catholic Church.  A Michael Glazier Book.  The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 2002.  ISBN 0-8146-5116-X.

Theodore Mackin. What is Marriage, New York: Paulist Press, 1982. $11.95. ISBN: 0-8091-2242-4.  [Classic text.  Now out of print.  Available used from Amazon.com for about $80.00.]

Joseph Martos.  Doors to the Sacred: A Historical Introduction to the Sacraments in the Catholic Church.  Revised and updated edition.  Liguori MO: Liguori/Triumph. 2001.  ISBN 0-76480718-8.  $21.95.

Kieran Scott and Michael Warren. Perspectives on Marriage: A Reader (Second Edition). Oxford University Press.  ISBN 0-19-513439-7.

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1. Apostolic [0-399] 

 

Luke 16:18
Mark 10:1-2
Matthew 5:31-32 19:3-9
1 Corinthians 7:10-11
Roman 7:2-3
???Athenians 5:31-3
 Peter 3:1-7
1 Timothy 5:13
1 Timothy 3:1-13
1110 CE.
Tertullian
Clement of Alexandria
300 Council of Elvira in Spain
314 Council at Arles in France
375 Basil of Ceasaria

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2. Patristic [400-799]

Differences in the Eastern Church and the Western Church
Ambrose of Milan
Pope Siricius
Augustan of Hippo
Jerome
 Pope Innocent I
 Council of Bannes in France
 506 CE Council at Agda

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3. Early Medieval [800-1199]

 

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4. Medieval [1200-1299]

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5. Late Medieval [1300-1499]

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6. Reformation [1500-1699]

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7. After Trent [1700-1899]

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8. Before Vatican II [1900-1959]

1917 May 27 Apostolic Constitution Providentissima Mater Ecclesia introducing the 1917 Codex Juris Canonici.  [Marriage = Canons 1012-1143]    Canon 1012. Christ our Lord raised the actual marriage contract between baptized persons to the dignity of a sacrament. Wherefore, there can be no valid matrimonial contract between baptized persons which is not also necessarily a sacrament.

[Commentary by Woywod]   "The Church is very emphatic and clear in her definition of the very important relation between the contract and the sacrament in marriage. She teaches that Christ transformed the contract itself into the sacrament whenever Christians make such a contract, so that no valid matrimonial contract can exist without being at the same time a sacrament. This stand of the Church with reference to marriage of Christians is absolutely logical, if one believes at all that Christ sanctified the marital union by attaching divine grace to it. If Christ did actually make marriage a sacrament, he had to make the contract – or mutual agreement of the parties to give themselves to each other as husband and wife for the purpose of marriage – the instrument by which to convey the sacramental grace, for by the contract the marital relation is created. 

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9. Vatican II [1960-1975]

1963 December 4 Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Liturgy.   (The Constitution on the Liturgy treats the Sacrament of Matrimony in article 78.)

78. Matrimony is normally to be celebrated within the Mass after the reading of the gospel and the homily and before "the prayer of the faithful."  The prayer for the bride, duly amended to remind both spouses of their equal obligation of mutual fidelity, may be said in the vernacular.  But if the sacrament of Matrimony is celebrated apart from Mass, the epistle and gospel from the nuptial Mass are to be read at the beginning of the rite, and the blessing should always be given to the spouses.

1964 August 10 Interim Ritual in Latin and English. The then current Latin ritual for the USA was translated into English by the National catholic Welfare Conference.

1964 November 21 Vatican II, Lumen gentium, The Constitution on the Church [The Constitution on the Church treats the sacraments in number 11, "The People of God": 

11.  The sacred nature and organic structure of the priestly community is brought into operation through the sacraments ... [The document then has a brief statement about Baptism, Confirmation, ... ]   Finally, Christian spouses, in virtue of the sacrament of marriage, whereby they signify and partake of the mystery of the unity and fruitful love existing between Christ and his Church (see Ephesians 5:32), help each other to attain to holiness in their married life and in the rearing and education of their children. By the reason of their state and rank in life they have their own special gift among the people of God.  From the marriage of Christians comes the family, in which new citizens of human society are born; in baptism by the grace of the Holy Spirit they are made the children of God in order to perpetuate the people of God through the ages. The family is, so to speak, the Church of the household. In it, by their word and example, parents should be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation proper to each and with special care in a vocation to a sacred state. Endowed with so many and such powerful means of salvation, all the faithful, whatever their condition or state, have from the Lord, in a way proper to each, the vocation to that perfect holiness by which the Father himself is perfect. 

1965 December 7 Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, The Church in the Modern World.   [This is the principal treatment of Marriage by the Second Vatican Council: Part Two: "Some More Urgent Problems", Chapter I "The Dignity of Marriage and the Family" numbers 47-52.]

1969 March 19 (Feast of St. Joseph) Decree of the Sacred Congregation of Rites introducing the new Rite of Marriage.   SACRED CONGREGATION OF RITES, Prot. n. R 23/969. The rite for celebrating marriage has been revised according to the norms of the Constitution on the Liturgy, in order that this rite might be enriched, more clearly signify the grace of the sacrament, and impart a knowledge of the obligation of the married couple. (CSL 77) This revision has been carried out by the Concilium for the Implementation of the Constitutional on the Sacred Liturgy. By his apostolic authority, Pope Paul VI has approved this rite and ordered its publication. Therefore this Congregation, acting on the express mandate of the Pope, publishes this rite and directs that it be used from July 1, 1969. Anything to the contrary notwithstanding. From the Congregation of Rites, March 19, 1969, solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Benno Card. Gut, Prefect of S.R.C., President of the Concilium. + Ferdinando Antonelli, Titular Archbishop of Idicra, Secretary of S.R.C. 1990 Second Latin Edition of the Ordo Matrimonio. 

1969 July 1  Latin Text of Rite of Marriage goes into use. 

1970 August 28  Imprimatur on English Edition of 1969 ICEL text.

1990 Second Typical Edition

2008 ? English edition approved for use

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10. After Vatican II [1975-2050]

1983 January 25 Apostolic Constitution Sacrae disciplinae leges, introducing the (1983) Codex Juris Canonici.  Marriage = Canons 1055-1165. 

2000 November 16 NCCB. Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship.  Numbers 106-108: The Rite of Marriage 

106. The Rite of Christian Marriage contains no directives about the spatial requirements for the celebration. Instead, the ritual focuses upon the consent given by the bride and the groom, the ambo from which the word of God is proclaimed, and the altar at which the couple share the Body and Blood of Christ within a nuptial Mass. 

107. The options within the Rite of Marriage provide for a procession of the priest and ministers to the door of the church to greet the wedding party, followed by an entrance procession, or the entrance of the wedding party and movement down the aisle to meet the priest celebrant at the altar. Some planners have experimented with seating arrangements that eliminate a center aisle in favor of two side aisles. Although this plan can be very useful by allowing the congregation to face the altar and the priest celebrant directly, it challenges parishes to plan how they will provide for entrance processions and recessionals, especially during wedding processions when all wish to have equal visual access to the wedding party. 

108. If it is the custom to have the bride and groom seated in the sanctuary, then the design of the sanctuary should be spacious enough to allow an arrangement of chairs and kneelers that does not impinge upon the primary furniture in the sanctuary. Many ethnic groups and local churches have additional customs for the celebration of marriage that can be honored and accommodated when they are in keeping with the spirit of the liturgy.

To Think About

1.  Were Adam and Eve two real people.  Was there a historical time before the snake and the apple?   Much of the teaching of the early Church fathers was based on the understanding of Genesis as a historical account with Adam and Eve being two actual people, the first two human beings.  If one looks at the Genesis account from a scriptural and mythological perspective, these teachings of the Fathers must be reinterpreted.  Even today, many contemporary theologians speak as though Adam and Eve were real people and that there was a historical time before the apple and snake incident.  The 1983 Catechism of the Catholic Church seems to use the texts in this way and to speak of marriage "before the Fall." 

2.  The Church Fathers used Genesis to explain the inferiority of woman to man. They used the fact that man was created first, that the woman was created from the man, etc.  to bolster this inferiority theology.  Contemporary Scripture Scholarship sees these stories in a different light.  The Hebrew touched points deliberately to the equality of the sexes.  Adam is not sexually differentiated until Eve is created.  The earthling made from the earth is not meant to be alone, therefore God creates male and female and it is in male and female together that they are the image of God.  This creation theology has not yet had much influence on the theology of marriage.  Marriage, which is still is still seen as inferior to the celibate state.

3.  When studying the history of marriage and divorce it becomes clear that the teachings are based on the understanding of the superiority of male over female.  These cultural differences probably find their origin in the superiority of male physical strength over that of the woman at a time when existence depended often on physical strength.  Now that this is no longer the case, these relationships are changing.  However, as cultural anthropologists have repeatedly told us, "when culture and religion are in conflict, culture always wins."

4.  What do you think are the most common misunderstandings about marriage that Roman Catholics have today? 

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© Copyright: Tom Richstatter, Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, Cincinnati Ohio, Order of Friars Minor. All Rights Reserved.  This page was created by Fr. Thomas Richstatter, O.F.M.  Every effort has been, and is being made, to acknowledge sources when the ideas are not my own.  Any failure to comply with the United States Copyright Act (Title 17, United States Code) will be corrected immediately should I become aware of it.  This site was updated on 03/08/10 .  Your comments on this site are welcome at tomrichs@psci.net.