Questions liturgiques / Studies in Liturgy vol:89 issue:4 pages:219-237
The traditional theology of the marital sacrament does not pay much attention to the relational dynamic and growth along the spouses’ shared trajectory, both before and after the entry into formal marriage. Contemporary couples, however, increasingly realize and experience that enduring relationships grow over time, pass through various processes and stages, and therefore are prone to fragility and disruption. This causes problems in the pastoral field where pastors are confronted both with the wide-spread phenomenon of prenuptial cohabitation and with couples whose relationship break up over time. The article explores the canonical and theological grounds on which the static and instantaneous view of the marital sacrament is based. While canon law focuses on the moment of consent (both in its juridical and liturgical aspects) as the constitutive element in realizing the marital sacrament, traditional sacramental theology has not yet sufficiently developed the concept of a “permanent sacrament”. Finally, the article reviews a number of more recent approaches in the theology of marriage in which, albeit in a limited or incomplete way, the developmental character of enduring partner relations is taken into consideration.