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Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her… “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.

Ephesians 5: 25, 31-32

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves an intimate communion of life and love, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. The Sacrament of Marriage signifies the union of Christ and the Church. The grace of this sacrament perfects the human love of the spouses, strengthens their indissoluble union, and sanctifies them on the journey to the kingdom of God. Husband and wife help one another attain holiness in their married life. Christ gives them strength to take up their crosses and follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens, and to love one another with tender and fruitful love. Unity, indissolubility, and openness to fertility are essential to sacramental marriage.

Divorce separates what God has joined together. Separated and divorced Catholics are not separated from the Church. Remarried couples from a living, lawful spouse stand in need of pursuing a possible annulment of the original union. An annulment attempts to prove the absence of the sacramentality of the union. Remarried Catholics (with their first spouse still living) are encouraged to participate at Mass, but they cannot receive Eucharistic communion. They are obliged to educate their children in the Catholic faith.

Catechism of the Catholic Church Numbers 1660-1665

In the Latin tradition, the spouses are the ministers of Christ’s grace mutually conferred upon each other in the sacrament of Matrimony. The Church holds the consent between the spouses as the indispensable element that makes the marriage. The marriage is based on the free consent of the spouses so they may live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. It is fitting that this sacrament be celebrated publicly in a church, before a priest (or a witness authorized by the Catholic Church), two witnesses, and the assembly of believers.

Catechism of the Catholic Church Numbers 1623, 1626, 1662, 1663

How to Prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage at the Cathedral Parish

1. Notification

Couples planning to marry at the Altoona Cathedral notify the Parish nine months prior to the proposed date of the marriage. Couple receives Marriage Preparation Handbook stating policies and directives at the Cathedral Parish; they are asked to read the Handbook.

4.Meetings with Priest or Deacon to Witness Marriage

Meeting One: Clergy and couple get acquainted. Explain norms and requirements for marriage. Give couple schedule for marriage preparation program. Administration of FOCCUS Inventory (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study).

Meeting Two: Discuss couple’s understanding of the faith and faith practice. Review results of FOCCUS Inventory. A date is set for the rehearsal the day before the wedding.

Meeting Three: Explain Church’s vision and understanding of marriage. Complete the Pre-Marital Investigation Form; couples meet individually with clergy. Recently issued baptismal certificates are presented. If baptized at church other than the Cathedral Parish, Catholic candidate for Marriage must obtain a recently issued baptismal certificate from the church of Baptism. Call that Church giving: full name, date of birth, and full name of parents.

Meeting Four: Plan the wedding liturgy. Couple received a book containing prayers and readings for the Sacrament of Matrimony at the Marriage Preparation Program. Options are reviewed: entrance procession; selection of prayers; selection of Scriptural Readings; selection of vows and nuptial blessing; and other options. NOTE: Music for the wedding is arranged with the Director of Music Ministry at the Cathedral Parish reached at 814-944-2044.

2.Setting the Wedding Date

A definite date for the wedding is set only after the priest or deacon who will witness the wedding has determined that the couple is ready and free to marry. A Contract of Understanding is signed at this time, confirming the date of the wedding and agreeing to the directives for the celebration of marriage at the Cathedral Parish.


The day prior to the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony. Couple must give the official Marriage License to the clergy at the beginning of the rehearsal.

3.Marriage Preparation Program:

Couples planning to marry must participate in an approved diocesan marriage preparation program. The following are possibilities: Engaged Encounter Weekend or Parish Based Sponsor-Couple Program (five meetings) or Marriage Preparation Sessions (three sessions offered throughout the Diocese during the year; one always offered at Cathedral Parish).

6.Wedding Day

Cathedral available following the Noon Mass around 12:45 P.M.

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