The former Rite of Marriage (1969) was significantly revised and updated in 1991. The English translation was rolled out a few years ago, 2016. We’ll continue a look at the introduction to the Order of Celebrating Matrimony. Today, paragraph number two sets a high ideal nearly any married person would readily embrace: spouses give and accept a permanent gift:
2. A Marriage is established by the conjugal covenant, that is, the irrevocable consent of both spouses, by which they freely give themselves to each other and accept each other. Moreover, this singular union of a man and a woman requires, and the good of the children demands, the complete fidelity of the spouses and the indissoluble unity of the bond (Gaudium et Spes 48).
To be effective, complete fidelity demands near constant attention. One point of institutional disconnect involves the comparative treatment of marriage and priesthood. Most dioceses I’ve known have some sort of communal renewal at the annual Chrism Mass, and in addition, clergy rightly celebrate ordination anniversaries. In contrast, special treatment of wedding anniversaries is reserved for big numbers like twenty-five or fifty. True, love and affection are widely celebrated and observed in secular society. It seems clear to me the institutional church gives few enough resources to bolster the “fidelity” and “unity” of spouses.