Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Catholic Diocese of Spokane: Policy for Marriage Preparation
the Inland Register
(From the Jan. 18, 2007 edition of the Inland Register)
1. Pastors are responsible to insure that engaged couples are provided with adequate marriage preparation. Normally at least four months of formal preparation should be offered. Marriage preparation is not judged by the passing of time, but by the offering of a time of reflection, maturation, activities and interaction with the parish pastoral team. The commitment to a wedding date presupposes the willingness of the couple to engage in the formal marriage preparation process offered by the parish.
2. The date for a wedding can be set only when the pastoral minister has established the freedom of the parties to marry in the Church and has the necessary documentation in hand if a previous marriage has taken place.
3. Several pre-marriage evaluation programs are available. Proper pastoral ministry requires that couples review and discuss the results offered by one of these pastoral tools. A copy of the inventory should remain a part of the permanent file of the marriage preparation.
4. Pastoral ministers are urged to include sessions led by experienced married couples of mature faith and deep commitment to their marriages. This formation may be provided by a couple to couple program in the parish or by participation in the Diocesan Marriage Preparation Weekend, or by participation in Engaged Encounter.
5. Marriage preparation should help couples to interrelate the celebration of their marriage in the Church with the spiritual nature of the relationship to which they are committing themselves.
6. The pre-nuptial investigation is more than the gathering of data from the couple. It is an exploration of their faith experience, their families of origin, how their experience has already formed their understanding of marriage, and of how this understanding may be affirmed and challenged.
7. The marriage celebration takes place in the context of a community of faith. The Rite of Marriage is an act of worship in which the couple is united with the faith community in celebrating the mystery of Godís love for them and in them. Their participation in the preparation of the marriage ceremony is an opportunity to deepen their understanding of this mystery.
8. The Celebration of the Blessing of an Engaged Couple (Book of Blessings, nn. 195 ff.) is an opportunity to invite the faith community to pray for the couple as they prepare for the celebration of their marriage. This Rite is an appropriate part of Sunday worship, at the time of the preparation weekend, or as a special celebration with the families of the couple.