A Catholic Wedding

Mary’s getting married.

She’s not converting to Catholicism but she is getting married in a Catholic church, which means she must go through the Pre-Cana, the “course” one takes when getting married in the Church.

… Here are the ten steps, as listed by the Archdiocese of Chicago:

Step 1: Introductory meeting with the priest or pastoral minister.
Step 2: Premarital evaluation and discussion.
Step 3: Follow-up discussion.
Step 4: Participation in parish-based or Archdiocesan marriage preparation class.
Step 5: Christian Sexuality class or Introductory Natural Family Planning class.
Step 6: Consultation with pastoral minister.
Step 7: Wedding rehearsal and marriage license.
Step 8: Wedding day.
Step 9: Newly married continuing education workshops in the first year of marriage.
Step 10: Repeat Step 9.

I’m not sure I’d ever want to go through with any of this, but Mary’s being a good sport about it. She’ll go through the motions.

One of them, however, stands out to her more than the others:

The fifth step gets under my skin slightly. It would be impossible for it not to, being the Thoroughly Modern Millie that I am. We’ll see. I fear Father Joe will tell me that if I have six babies in six years then, well, that’s just God’s will. I trust God’s will. I would not trust myself with six infants. But I’m projecting. I’ll wait and see what he says about all that when we talk about it in person.

I plan to have an army of little Hemants.

It’s all part of the master plan.

Any takers?

Good.

Glad we’re on the same page.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Catholicism, wedding, marriage[/tags]

  • cautious

    If she’s lucky, she’ll get to meet actual, live, baby factories.

    Since when God said to be fruitful and multiply, he wasn’t kidding!

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    Father Joe will tell me that if I have six babies in six years then, well, that’s just God’s will. I trust God’s will. I would not trust myself with six infants.

    If she had six babies in six years, she wouldn’t have six infants, at least not at once. Unless the catholic church has a spell to slow their maturity and growth.

  • JimboB

    I spy with my little eye: 8 reasons why I’m not getting married in a church.

  • http://bruisescolours.wordpress.com/ bruisescolours

    I had a friend who got married in the church. The priest was one of the brides family members, and he gave them a cassette tape (in 2005!!) called “Why not sex!” If it had a ? instead of a ! I suspect the tape would have been far more interesting and perhaps only marginally more awkward.

  • Karen

    Two historical tales of non-Catholics marrying Catholics:

    1. Feb. 1944: He was nominally Lutheran, but not a churchgoer, at an army base, about to be deployed overseas in WWII. He invited her to take a full day’s bus ride to the camp to stay a couple of days and see him off. He proposed, and they were married the next day in the base chapel. Supposedly the marriage required the local bishop’s approval, but during the war this was apparently a rubber-stamp procedure (at least with that bishop) and the priest took care of all the paperwork. He eventually returned from the war intact. They stayed happily married until the end, in 2003, when she died. He missed her greatly and followed her in 2006. These were my parents.

    2. June 1980: They were both students at university; he was nominally a member of the Nazarene Church, but not a churchgoer. She wasn’t much of a churchgoer either. In order to get the bishop’s approval, they had to attend some counseling sessions with the priest. He wanted some token reassurance that they were both practicing Christians (and their answers were not lies, though they didn’t mention ongoing doubts). Other than that, he was worried about the kinds of things that derail new marriages: did they agree on how they dealt with money, were they okay with each other’s family, did they agree on when to start a family. He did not inquire as to whether they were sleeping together, and his only instruction regarding sex was that anything they did in the privacy of their bedroom together was sanctioned by God. This was my husband and me. We’re still contentedly married, and contentedly atheist.

    I’m the last person to confuse multiple anecdotes with data, but I’ve heard over and over again that the Catholic church has imposed all the current rigamarole on interfaith (and even in-faith) marriages to reduce the likelihood of divorce. To which I reply: HUH?

  • Jason

    If possible, I’d opt for the Natural Family Planning portion of step 5. It’s a course on how to track fertility and such. While it is taught from a Christian perspective of “Look, God does want you to be fruitful” it does have a large amount of science behind it, along with loads of supporting statistical data. Much will be learned about the woman’s body in this course and it is a good thing for all couples to learn, even non-religious. I’d love to see something like this offered to everyone without the religious slant because many fertility issues can be solved or lessened when the contents of this course are applied. Probably the most “offensive” part of the course to any non-Catholic is going to be the use of NFP as opposed to any other form of contraception.

    As far as the other parts of the marriage prep goes, stay open minded and wade through some of the religious slant to them. In all honesty, there are some great things in the Catholic marriage prep program – stuff that many people don’t talk about and consider prior to getting married. There’s usually even a multiple choice test the couples take individually and results are compared – this is to uncover problem points that could arise in the marriage and force them out in the open for discussion. These problem points consisting of money issues, wanting children, religious issues, etc.

  • http://billpg.me.uk/ Bill P. Godfrey

    Be fruitful and exponentiate, shirley?

  • http://micketymoc.bluechronicles.net/ micketymoc

    I went through pre-Cana myself, and I also feared the worst. (Background: culturally Catholic; my wife and I couldn’t care less, but we had to make the marriage “official” for the family.)

    But the facilitators were quite easygoing – the natural family planning lecture wasn’t phrased as if “if you don’t do this, you’re going to Hell!”. We freely admitted that we lived together before getting married, and this didn’t bother anyone. (There were a few heavily pregnant brides-to-be in there with us, too.)

    Catholicism isn’t uniformly a monolithic you-must-have-babies damn-the-fornicators judgmental church – the Jesuits are famously liberal, and a lot of Catholic organizations are run with far more understanding and tolerance than we often give them credit for. I had a good Jesuit education, and I might still call myself a Catholic if that it weren’t for that little thing about not believing in God. ;)

  • Jen

    Christian Sexuality class

    Don’t do it, Mary! Or go, and then report all the details to us so we can giggle.

    I plan to have an army of little Hemants.

    And this is, of course, right after the list of birthday wishes. Hmmm…

    the Jesuits are famously liberal… I had a good Jesuit education,

    So did I. They are liberal only compared to other Catholics. It was a great educational experience, but there were all sorts of nasty ways they shut down students from expressing themselves in ways that violated the church. Ohh, and one priest said I was in league with the devil.

  • http://www.what-the-hec.com Rod

    I’m going through all of that right now. I’m an atheist, my fiancee is a lapsed catholic (essentially a diest/agnostic), but her enormous family is all catholic, so the catholic wedding this is important.

    This means classes with a priest regularly. We had to fill out a questionnaire that was meant to evaluate how compatible Julia and I are. It asked questions like “I am comfortable asking my future spouse to pray with me” and “I believe God’s power can help us through difficult times” with agree/uncertain/disagree as options.

    I haven’t told the guy I’m an atheist (since he probably just wouldn’t allow the marriage), but I’ve been approaching the questions/process as the version of me that I was in high school – someone who still calls himself ‘christian’ but doesn’t follow nearly any of the tenets of the religion. I spent a long time in that stage, so I have a good handle on how I’d respond to things.

    What cracked me up was that recently we went through the questionnaire answers, and he told us we scored poorly on “sanctity of marriage” questions. The questions above were within that category. He asked us to reveal how we felt about God helping us through arguments and stuff, and I said I disagreed, and asked, somewhat surprised, if Julia put a different answer. He said “oh no, you both put disagree, but that’s the wrong answer.”

    The whole time, I had been expecting the ‘compatibility’ to be based on if she and I gave the SAME answers, but it was actually based on if we gave the SAME ANSWERS AS THE QUESTIONNAIRE WANTED. So naturally we did poorly on the religious sections.

    We have more meetings with the guy coming up. It’s a real pain in the ass.

    The whole ‘point’ of this process is to facilitate communication between my fiancee and I, but he basically spent the whole time arguing with me when I explained that I don’t believe God interferes with the actions of people, as that violates free will. I shut him up by just saying “well that’s really interesting to think about” whenever he would talk, which seems to keep him satisfied enough to allow us to continue with this obnoxious formality.

    I’m a computer scientist and software developer. Julia has a master’s in applied mathematics and a business degree. We’re both extremely mathematical, logical, rational people. The priest essentially told us that he’s never dealt with people like us before.

    I believe it. He probably gets normal, every-day folk parishoners who just want to get hitched, and now he’s dealing with people who can dance circles around him logically and philosophically. The guy paints. He’s so screwed.

    Anyway, yeah, the process sucks and I can’t wait until it’s over.

  • http://micketymoc.bluechronicles.net/ micketymoc

    there were all sorts of nasty ways they shut down students from expressing themselves in ways that violated the church.

    My experience there was mixed – we staged Waiting for Godot and replaced one insult in the script with “Jesuit!”; after I graduated, the dramatics org staged Lysistrata with big penises and vaginas onstage with no problem. But a few years after that, one spinster Theology teacher (not a Jesuit) shut down a planned staging of The Vagina Monologues. So I can’t really claim their record is perfect – but I’m happy with the education I got.

    Ohh, and one priest said I was in league with the devil.

    Who knows, maybe the priest was on to something? I keed, I keed ! :)

  • Maria

    I went through pre-Cana myself, and I also feared the worst. (Background: culturally Catholic; my wife and I couldn’t care less, but we had to make the marriage “official” for the family.)

    But the facilitators were quite easygoing – the natural family planning lecture wasn’t phrased as if “if you don’t do this, you’re going to Hell!”. We freely admitted that we lived together before getting married, and this didn’t bother anyone. (There were a few heavily pregnant brides-to-be in there with us, too.)

    true enough. I had some friends who went through it to please their families, and they basically said the same thing. I don’t think people should be required to go through it to get married in the church though. It should be optional, or at least parts of it should be.

    Catholicism isn’t uniformly a monolithic you-must-have-babies damn-the-fornicators judgmental church – the Jesuits are famously liberal, and a lot of Catholic organizations are run with far more understanding and tolerance than we often give them credit for. I had a good Jesuit education, and I might still call myself a Catholic if that it weren’t for that little thing about not believing in God

    that’s true, I had a pretty liberal upbringing in it too. ironically that made it easier to leave in some ways. there are some very liberal spots in it, but there are unfortunately more conservatives than liberals-and I see the conservatives growing. it scares me.

  • Jason W

    Just echoing what several others have said here. My wife and I were married in the catholic church. I am an atheist now but when we got married I was extremely skeptical and no longer practiced catholicism. She still calls herself catholic but she rarely goes to church or prays.

    I don’t have a problem with the church requiring their course. If you want to get married in their facility under their traditions then you should be willing to play by their rules. If you don’t want to play then you can just as easily get married at the courthouse. Remember, catholics don’t just call it marriage. They call it the sacrament of matrimony and they place a great deal of spiritual meaning in the union.

    We were both skeptical of the NFP program but after hearing that it was backed up by scientific studies and education about fertility we both saw it as a benefit. It has an extremely high success rate if used correctly and you don’t have to worry about introducing hormones into her body with birth control. I would also like to see a secular institution pushing this education without the religious slant. It’s a good option for anyone willing to try.

    The pre-cana class itself was good for us. They weren’t that preachy and the questions and activities did force us to take a look at ourselves and what getting married meant. We were on the same page 95% of the time so we felt reassured by the class. What worries me is that so many people get married without ever thinking about those questions. Not about religion but on finance, raising children, resolving disputes.

  • Vincent

    My parents got to step 6 before the priest bothered to ask dad if he’d been married before. His answer: yes,but it didn’t stick.

    Being good Catholics they delayed the marriage for 10 years! waiting for the Vatican to annul a marriage that only lasted 4 months and during which my dad was 18, a cocaine addict, and committed to an asylum for psychiatric evaluation. (anulments are easier now than they were in the 1950s)

  • John H

    Number 5 is the best. I got married as a Catholic and a couple came in to discuss natural family planning. They had 5 kids. The childrens ages were 25, 22, 19, 17, and, get this 5!
    They said that we could ask any questions that we wanted. Nothing was taboo. Of course, my religious yet realist wife asked the question everyone wanted to know. “Was your last child planned?”
    The answer was “That is a very personal question and not really any of your business.” To which I replied, “By volunteering and saying that no question was taboo, you opened it up to that obvious question.” They were actually getting angry at us! The priest finally took the discussion in another direction, since he knows so much about marriage and bringing up a family and all…..

  • Lisa Ann Schofield

    Hello I read a book that sad back in 1937 people could not get married in the Catholic Church if it was lent. I have ask my Mother about this and she said my grandmom could not get married in the Catholic Church because it was lent at the time she wanted to get married and the Church would not lot her. Has the church change since then. If you wished to get married and it was lent.


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