Congratulations! You are preparing to marry in the Catholic Church.
Now more than ever, we are witnessing an accentuated deterioration of the family and of the values of marriage. Marriage is usually celebrated at a later age, the number of divorces and separations are increasing, and co-habitation is the norm of today’s society. This is a great pastoral concern for the Catholic Church. A question that confronts us: Are the couples really prepared for marriage and the life that follows it?
Marriage preparation is a lifelong process marked by three stages – remote, proximate, and immediate. The Church offers assistance in each of these three stages of marital preparation as well as support and enrichment for married couples.
Remote stage of marriage preparation begins “in the womb” and continues throughout childhood, adolescence, and up to the period of engagement. It is based primarily in the family with the assistance of the Church. What they received from their family should prepare them to know themselves and to make a full and definitive commitment. Those best prepared for marriage are probably those who learned what Christian marriage is from their own parents, who chose each other unconditionally and daily renew this decision. During this period of preparation, children learn to give and receive love through spiritual and catechetical formation focusing on vocational choices. The Church helps families to hand down the faith, through Catholic Schools and parish faith formation programs.
When couples get engaged they move into the proximate stage of marriage preparation. The Church helps the couple build a foundation for marriage by providing a more specific preparation for the sacrament through participation in marriage preparation programs including relationship inventories such as FOCCUS and PREPARE, a Pre-nuptial investigation to help ensure that the couple is free to marry, and the Pre-Cana Program.
Pre-Cana Marriage enables couples to have an opportunity to share honestly with each other the strengths and gifts they will each bring to the marriage. The couples will also look at the challenges and opportunities that come with married life. The topics that will facilitate this discussion will be about family living, communication, finances, Christian sexuality, parenting, Natural Family Planning and the Sacrament of Matrimony.
The immediate stage of marriage preparation is about 10 weeks before the ceremony. This stage of preparation includes Catechesis on the Rite of Marriage, Liturgy planning, Rehearsal, and invitation to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and the completion of all paperwork and canonical requirements.
Marriage enrichment is a way to provide assistance and support to married couples so that they may achieve a holier and fuller family life.
For more information about marriage preparation and enrichment, contact:
Henry and Dayna Leader