Q: Why is it important for couples to go through marriage preparation?
A: Each engaged couple is unique and their situations are particular to each case. Some come with a strong religious background and with full support from their families and parish communities. For these couples, the course is a great refresher. These couples are the exception. Most engaged couples have a desire for the truth but for many reasons don’t have the full knowledge of what a sacramentally valid marriage means. In these cases, the course is a time of evangelization and catechesis. For every couple marriage preparation is an opportunity for conversion and a deeper understanding of their faith.
Q: The Denver Archdiocese offers four different marriage prep programs, including yours, CatholicMarriagePrep.com, which is offered both in live classes and online. What’s covered in your program?
A: The program began 15 years ago in the Archdiocese of Denver. Ten years ago we launched the online version.
The course is anchored in St. John Paul II’s theology of the body, Scripture, the teachings and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and encyclicals. Every live session begins and ends in prayer. A specific prayer is suggested for the couples preparing online as well.
The couples embark on a profound spiritual and human journey that begins with Genesis and God’s plan for humanity. They learn about the sacraments, specifically the sacrament of matrimony, and the theological reasons behind natural family planning. The last session is dedicated to prayer and life skills. The archdiocese has asked us to hold monthly classes at the St. John Paul II Center, starting in July. Couples can register at www.archden.org/eflm/marriage.
Q: What is the secret to a lifelong marriage?
A: A Christ-centered marriage. The couple needs to have a strong prayer life, they should pray together and for each other, and participate in the sacraments and their parish. Spouses need to learn how to live a selfless, self-giving life, and the importance of forgiveness. They should support their marriage by going on spiritual retreats. They should never take each other for granted. Finally, they should revise their expectations on a regular basis.
Q: Is there anything you would like to add?
A: The commonly accepted statistic for divorce is around 40 to 50 percent (the latter being much cited by the media), but it’s much lower for Catholic couples, just 28 percent. This is still too high, of course, but for Catholic couples practicing their faith and natural family planning, the divorce rate is under 5 percent. Today the majority of the engaged couples don’t realize that cohabitation (80 percent of engaged couples cohabit) and pre-marital sex (90 percent of engaged couples have pre-marital sexual relations) are grave sins, but when they hear the truth and after they have completed the CatholicMarriagePrep.com (live or online) program, 80 percent of the couples decide to abstain from sexual relations, while 18 percent say they wanted to discuss it further. That shows the importance of marriage preparation.
To find out more about how to prepare for marriage in the Denver Archdiocese:
Call: Carrie Keating at 303-715-3259