The various liturgies abound in prayers of blessing and
epiclesis asking God’s grace and blessing on the new couple,
especially the bride. In the epiclesis of this sacrament the spouses
receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the
The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever-
available source of their love and the strength to renew their
The parties to a marriage covenant are a baptized man and
woman, free to contract marriage, who freely express their consent;
“to be free” means:
— not being under constraint;
— not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law.
The Church holds the exchange of consent between the
spouses to be the indispensable element that “makes the mar-
If consent is lacking there is no marriage.
The consent consists in a “human act by which the partners
mutually give themselves to each other”: “I take you to be my wife”
—“I take you to be my husband.”
This consent that binds the
spouses to each other finds its fulfillment in the two “becoming one
The consent must be an act of the will of each of the
contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear.
human power can substitute for this consent.
If this freedom is
lacking the marriage is invalid.
For this reason (or for other reasons that render the marriage null
and void) the Church, after an examination of the situation by the compe-
tent ecclesiastical tribunal, can declare the nullity of a marriage, i.e., that
the marriage never existed.
In this case the contracting parties are free
to marry, provided the natural obligations of a previous union are dis-
127 CIC, can. 1057 § 1.
48 § 1;
45; cf. CIC, can. 1057 § 2.
130 Cf. CIC, can. 1103.
131 Cf. CIC, can. 1057 § 1.
132 Cf. CIC, cann. 1095-1107.
133 Cf. CIC, can. 1071.