Such is the truly precious triangle that makes a man and a woman not merely one complementary reality but also one composite potential of nothing less than co-creating human lives. That “Love is the queen of all virtues” is the ardently commonly felt, experienced, and lived reality in a sealed and sanctified man-woman relationship. It begins with a meeting or encounter between them. This is followed by personal mutual acquaintance. This is succeeded by courtship or profession of love. This, in turn, develops into an engagement of exclusivity in amorous relationship. And this is ultimately crowned by marriage whereby the man and the woman give, commit and entrust one to the other – here and now, thereafter and beyond until death does them part.
Marriage is thus defined, explained and affirmed: It is nothing less than a covenant through which a man and a woman establish between themselves, a partnership of their whole life which by its very nature is ordained for the well-being of the spouses and the pro-creation and upbringing of children. (Cf. Canon 1055 par. 1 CIC). Furthermore: The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility. (Cf. Canon 1056 CIC)
In a Catholic marriage, the standard symbolic articles used to signify the nature, key attributions and finalities of the Conjugal Covenant are the following: attended to after the exchange of matrimonial consent:
a. Rings: The man and the woman give a ring to one another as a symbol of their respective self-giving to one another.
b. Arrhae: The man then gives the arrhae/tokens to the woman as a symbol of his commitment to support her, and the woman accepts the commitment.
c. Veil: The veil is thereafter placed on the couple as symbol that together they will sleep in one bed, eat from one table, live under one roof.
d. Cord: The cord is subsequently placed on the man and the woman as a symbol of their carrying together the burdens of married life.
e. Candles: The man and the woman finally light a candle each as a sign that their married life has formally began.
It is Catholic marriage that makes the following special series of actions – all in the context and spirit of love between a man and a woman, and all thus becoming dear and endearing living relational realities:
a. Love and courtship.
b. Love and engagement.
c. Love and marriage.
d. Matrimonial unity of love.
e. Matrimonial community of love.
f. Matrimonial communion of love.
g. Spousal, conjugal, parental love.
“Civil Union”: What on earth is that?