Allison Salerno has some observations about marriage preparation in general, and one couple in particular:
A 78-year-old widower I know, married to his first wife for 55 years, tomorrow will wed a never-married, lifelong Catholic in her sixties. They planned to marry in the Catholic Church. Instead, they are hoofing it across the street to his Lutheran church.
What prompted this change of plans? The priest’s insistence this older couple attend PreCana classes, classes designed for folks in their 20s and offering information ranging from Natural Family Planning to how to manage a household budget.
This makes me sad. It makes me angry. It’s an example of a Christian – in this case a member of the clergy – placing a greater priority on rules than on the Resurrection. This at a time when the Church is making great noise politically about the need to protect traditional marriage.
I don’t fault the Church as an institution for this couple’s rejection. I know at least a handful of wonderful priests who would have found a way to make sure the couple understood the awesome commitment they are making in this sacrament, without forcing them to fulfill a requirement designed for an entirely different demographic.
But my question is: what’s the big deal? Really. In my diocese, pre-Cana can take up a weekend, or just a Saturday afternoon. Did this couple, even in their advanced age, not think it was worthwhile to spend a few hours thinking deeply about the relationship they would be starting at this moment in their lives? When my wife and I attended pre-Cana a quarter century ago, it was focused on things like communication and time management — universal challenges facing every couple. Couldn’t they have benefited from that? Was a day or two really an unreasonable demand?
Looked at another way: did they consider, maybe, the wisdom they might be able to impart to other, younger couples who would also be taking part in pre-Cana? Could they not see this requirement as less of a problem, and more of an opportunity?
I’m a bit baffled about why they would consider having to attend pre-Cana a deal-breaker.