|Two essential matters of preparation.|
When you consider the fact that postulants and seminarians prepare for years before fully entering into their vocations, engaged couples have it pretty easy. You go on a retreat or to a few meetings, and your marriage prep box is officially checked off. Though I've actually never been to one of these more public prep sessions (instead, we had a few one-on-one meetings with a couple we knew), a few of my friends have told me they leave a little something to be desired. That's not to knock the Church or anything like that; it seems like Pre-Cana classes and Engaged Encounters do a good job focusing on the sacramentality of marriage and Catholic moral teaching in a broad sense. But what about well-formed couples who already have the basics down and want to go a little deeper? It seems that they usually have to take the initiative to do more reading and discussion on their own.
I don't mean to be all Debbie Downer. Thankfully, there's plenty of reading material as you prepare for your marriage. I love getting practical, candid advice about communication, sexuality, and setting up your home together, but every once in a while it's really nice to add some solid theological stuff into the mix. That's where this great catch comes in. A few weeks ago, I didn't even know it existed, but it turns out the Pontifical Council for the Family wrote a Preparation For the Sacrament of Marriage. Drawing from encyclicals like Familiaris Consortio and Evangelium Vitae, it breaks down of every step of marriage prep, from knowing yourself and cultivating an active prayer life before and during dating, all the way up to diving into the rite of marriage. By doing all that, this document completely fulfills its goal of encouraging engaged couples to profess the New Evangelization with their witnesses of joy, hope, and pure love.
Reading this, I was struck by the weightiness of marriage- not in a burdensome way, but in a way that really made me feel the magnitude of the sacrament and all that it entails. It's so amazing the way our individual vocations show us God's love in the best way and point us towards Heaven! The council also emphasizes the role of a married couple as parents; when all you're focusing on is your wedding day preparations, I know that your future family might not always be the first thing on your mind. This is such a beautiful reminder of how marriage and the family go together. If you need more convincing that you should read this, give this passage a try:
This preparation...can deepen the strength of the Holy Father's affirmation: "The family is the heart of the New Evangelization." The preparation itself "is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift."
A little hefty, but phenomenal, right? The best part is that you can view or print the whole document for free! Read it here.
What has your marriage prep experience been like?
Next up: Use your words.