Marriage is a sacrament given to the Church by Christ. Christ did not create marriage after he became one of us, but he raised it to a new level. By participating in family life, by his presence at the wedding feast of Cana, and by his solemn declarations concerning the fidelity and permanence of marriage, Christ touched marriage with the grace of God in such a way that Paul could describe it as a great mystery “in reference to Christ in the Church” (Ephesians 5:32).
From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.”
“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.”
The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself. From their covenant arises “an institution, confirmed by the divine law,…even in the eyes of society.” The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.”
“By reason of their state in life and of their order, [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God.” 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 education their children.”
St. Angela of Foligno
This Sacrament really contains You, O my God, You whom the angels adore, in whose presence the spirits and mighty powers tremble. Oh! if we could only see You clearly as they do, with what reverence would we approach this sacrament, with what humility would we receive You.
He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.
Can. 1055 §1 The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and upbringing of children, has, between the baptised, been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
§2 Consequently, a valid marriage contract cannot exist between baptised persons without its being by that very fact a sacrament.
Can. 1056 The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility; in christian marriage they acquire a distinctive firmness by reason of the sacrament.