Date of Award

Spring April 2015

Access Restriction

Campus Access only Research Projects

Degree Name

Master of Arts



School or College

Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Brett C. Hoover


In my work in a diocesan marriage tribunal I have observed that many couples who are planning their weddings are influenced greatly by the superficial focus of our culture. In fact, there is statistical and sociological evidence that culture is highly influential in much Catholic wedding planning. Presented in this paper is evidence of how little Catholics know about the sacramental nature of marriage and how their married life affects themselves and others around them. This paper presents a theological reflection on the sacrament of marriage; an analysis of how the Rite of Marriage is usually perceived and carried out; a study of how the attitude of brides and grooms at the time of their wedding effects their life thereafter and, by association, the greater family and community; and it offers an explanation of how instructing couples on the theology behind the Rite of Marriage as prima theologia can better prepare them to live their marriage sacramentally. The pre-marital classes in the Diocese of Orange are currently comprised of mostly practical information on how to live successfully as a married couple, but they neglect to also consider the most important issue for them as Catholics: how to live out a sacramental marriage. It is proposed in this document that a diocesan-wide premarital handbook be designed and employed which provides greater emphasis on the ecclesial aspect of marriage as well as the practical advice of seasoned mentors.