A Bride, a Mother, a Home and a Hearth
The image of the Church as the Bride of Christ calls attention to relations: our relation to God and our relation to one another. In the Form of Solemnization of Matrimony on page 303, the BCP declares that Christian matrimony is a shared state of being of one man and one woman that represents “the spiritual marriage and unity betwixt Christ and the Church…” The Church decided centuries ago that the word matrimony best defined what today has come to be called marriage. The word matrimony comes from the Latin matrimonium, which was derived from the word for material or substance. Substance is simply that from which things are made. The Latin mater, which is translated as mother, means the same thing. All of us were made from our mothers. In the Nicene Creed we profess that Jesus Christ “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary” and by professing the “of,” we declare our belief that the very material or substance of Christ’s humanity came from his mother Mary. Matrimony means Motherhood. It is important to note that the man and the woman enter a state matrimony, not patrimony. According to the logic of the liturgy of the BCP a maiden (how quaint is that word!) enters the state of motherhood when she is married, not when (and if) she actually, biologically, conceives and bears children. The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony bestows the grace of motherhood, so that she may walk faithfully in that vocation. Children do not make a mother; God makes the mother so that children have a mother to come to. This brings us back to one of the more extraordinary titles for the Church: by virtue of her standing as the Bride of Christ, she is also Holy Mother Church and this illuminates her vocation in the world.