Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marriage: Validity & Indissolubility Revisited

After reading my last posts (part 1 & part 2), a friend asked me about the change involved in a married couple. She wondered if the change was, in fact, ontological. She mentioned that she only remembered an ontological change occurring at Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. Is the change in Holy Matrimony ontological or is it some other sort of alteration?

That's a good question, I thought. I had assumed that the change in a married couple was ontological, but I hadn't considered it deeply enough. One thing I did know was that there was no indellible character impressed on the souls of the newly married, like there is in Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders. If one has ever received one of those sacraments, one has an unchageable distinction to his/her soul. Nothing can remove the character of Baptism on my soul, nor that of Confirmation--they will be there forever. Marriage, on the other hand, is not an indellible mark because it ends at death.

Granted, there is no character impressed on the soul, but there is a major change: the couple is now bonded to each other, they are a family, they have entered into the covenant, they are also able to properly engage in the marital act (whereas before, it would have been fornication). There is some sort of major change. I cannot help but wonder: is this change ontological, or is it some other sort of alteration, such that the souls of married people are married? Does it depend on whether the marriage is natural or sacramental? I've been looking into finding an answer, but I haven't found anything concrete yet. If anyone has any particular knowledge in this regard, please feel free to share.

Whether the change should be determined as ontological or otherwise, the point I was portraying in those previous two posts still perdures: valid marriage vows bring about a bond between the persons so strong that only death destroys it.

Still searching for an answer,
- Casey

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