BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (161): What are the effects of matrimony?

Rev José Mario O Mandía 

The Compendium (346) summarizes the two effects of the Sacrament. 


“The sacrament of Matrimony establishes a perpetual and exclusive bond between the spouses. God himself seals the consent of the spouses. Therefore, a marriage which is ratified and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved” (CCCC 346). 

What do the terms “ratified” and “consummated” mean? Canon 1061 of the Code of Canon Law defines them as follows:

“Section 1. A valid marriage between the baptized is called ratum tantum [“ratified only”] if it has not been consummated; it is called ratum et consummatum [“ratified and consummated”] if the spouses have performed between themselves in a human fashion a conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring, to which marriage is ordered by its nature and by which the spouses become one flesh.

“Section 2. After a marriage has been celebrated, if the spouses have lived together consummation is presumed until the contrary is proven.

“Section 3. An invalid marriage is called ‘putative’ if at least one party celebrated it in good faith, until both parties become certain of its nullity.”


“Furthermore, this sacrament bestows upon the spouses the grace necessary to attain holiness in their married life and to accept responsibly the gift of children and provide for their education”  (CCCC 346).

Pope Francis explains: “Matrimony responds to a specific vocation and must be considered as a consecration (cf. Gaudium et Spes no 48: Familiaris Consortio no 56). It is a consecration: the man and woman are consecrated in their love” (General Audience, 2 April 2014).

This consecration calls them to strive for holiness in their married and family life. St Josemaría constantly hammered on this idea.

“Christian couples should be aware that they are called to sanctity themselves and to sanctify others, that they are called to be apostles and that their first apostolate is in the home. They should understand that founding a family, educating their children, and exercising a Christian influence in society, are supernatural tasks. The effectiveness and the success of their life – their happiness – depends to a great extent on their awareness of their specific mission.

“But they mustn’t forget that the secret of married happiness lies in everyday things, not in daydreams. It lies in finding the hidden joy of coming home in the evening, in affectionate relations with their children, in the everyday work in which the whole family cooperates; in good humor in the face of difficulties that should be met with a sporting spirit; in making the best use of all the advantages that civilisation offers to help us rear children, to make the house pleasant and life more simple.

“I constantly tell those who have been called by God to form a home to love one another always, to love each other with the love of their youth. Any one who thinks that love ends when the worries and difficulties that life brings with it begin, has a poor idea of marriage, which is a sacrament and an ideal and a vocation. It is precisely then that love grows strong. Torrents of worries and difficulties are incapable of drowning true love because people who sacrifice themselves generously together are brought closer by their sacrifice. As Scripture says, aquae multae (a host of difficulties, physical and moral) non potuerunt extinguere caritatem (cannot extinguish love) (Song 8:7)” (St Josemaría, Conversations, 91).