Preparation for Marriage: Parish-Based Process

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Rixmann, Lorna
Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology
The Cana Conference of Chicago offers both one-day and weekend workshops for engaged couples, and attendance at one of these fulfills a couple's required marriage preparation in many parishes of the Archdiocese of Chicago. The workshops are well-planned and provide a great deal of valuable information in such areas as financial planning, family and parenting, couple communication, sexuality and religious values, among others. Still, the large attendance at these workshops prohibits any significant personal interaction with individual couples. In light of the above statistics, it would seem that engaged couples have a right to something more. Additionally, the Revised Code of Canon Law states that it is the obligation of the parish community to adequately prepare a couple for this important vocation within the Chiral. Another dimension of this pastoral concern involves the Church's teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and the widening gap between this and the divorce rate in the United States. Life in our society's value system ill prepares young people to undertake lifelong, intimate, self-sacrificing relationships. The concept of marriage as a vocation in the Church, as a permanent covenant reflecting the love of Christ for the Church is exceedingly rare in young couples. Their reasons for marrying usually reflect typical secular, consumer-oriented values. Many have not attended church for years, and a significant number of couples have been living together for some time.