Ask A Catholic: Sacramental Marriage

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By Mitch Finley

If my fiancé and I have both been baptized and get married before becoming Catholic, then will the Catholic church accept our marriage as a sacramental marriage?

Yes, absolutely.  It’s both spouses being baptized that makes a marriage sacramental.  All marriages between Catholics are sacramental because you can’t be Catholic without being baptized. Indeed, a marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic is sacramental, while a marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized person is not.

All this begs the question, “What does it mean to say that a marriage is sacramental?”  One way to explain this is to say that in a sacramental marriage, in virtue of being baptized the relationship between husband and wife brings the two of them into a special intimacy with the risen Christ.  In such marriages, the primary way they go about living their faith is by being married to each other.  For them, the first “neighbor” Christ calls each to love is the other.  

Finally, it’s good to understand that a priest or deacon is not the one who “marries” the couple; rather, the couple themselves are the celebrants of the sacrament of marriage.  To quote the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

According to the Latin tradition, the spouses as ministers of Christ’s grace mutually confer upon each other the sacrament of Matrimony by expressing their consent before the Church .


About Mitch Finley

Mitch Finley is the author of 30+ books on Roman Catholic theological topics and spirituality, all written to appeal to both non-academic and academic readers. Mitch holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University and an M.A. in Theology from Marquette University. He and Kathy Finley have been married since 1974 and are the parents of three grown sons. To learn more visit mitchandkathyfinley.com.

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