Planning a wedding is undoubtedly an exciting time. Yet, in the busyness of wedding planning, it’s critical not to overlook what is most important — the Sacrament of Marriage. Marriage Prep is key to entering this lifelong commitment with a solid foundation.
“The statistics bear out that those who marry in the Church and those who participate in the Catholic marriage preparation process have happier marriages and fewer divorces,” says Fr. Brian O’Brien. “Marriage preparation allows a couple to talk through various issues, whether they be financial, communication, family history, sexuality, or whatever. These are important things that need to be discussed before a wedding.”
At St. Francis Xavier, Marriage Prep has three basic requirements. Each couple will meet with the priest or deacon. These meetings will cover various topics and will include identifying any obstacles to the marriage, such as a previous marriage that has not been annulled. The meetings will also cover the FOCCUS test which helps couples identify areas of strength and topics they should discuss further. After witnessing over 200 weddings, Fr. O’Brien can say with certainty that these discussions are necessary.
“Marriage preparation makes a big difference,” Fr. O’Brien says. “It creates a culture within the marriage where opinions can be expressed and where the couple plays to their specific strengths.”
Before the wedding, couples will attend a Catholic Engaged Encounter retreat. This retreat is offered by the Diocese of Tulsa and similar options are available in neighboring dioceses. The retreat gives the couple one-on-one time to discuss topics such as communication, intimacy, and their family backgrounds.
The last major component of Marriage Prep is a Natural Family Planning class. NFP gives a couple the moral and scientific tools they need to approach their marriage with an openness to life and strong communication.
“Marriage is a lifelong covenant between a man and a woman,” Fr. O’Brien says. “Just that basic definition flies in the face of cultural conventions. When a couple gets married in the Catholic Church, they need to commit to being open to the possibility of children, to be married until death, and to ‘love and honor each other’ for the rest of their lives. Culturally, marriage has become an institution that seems pliable and temporary. The Catholic Church wants it to be the opposite.”
These three steps will mark the time between a couple’s engagement and their wedding, helping them approach the much-anticipated wedding day prepared for the many years to come. From the engagement to the wedding and beyond, our parish is here to support you and your family through hardships and blessings.
“Families are the fundamental cell of human society,” Fr. O’Brien says. “If our families are strong, our parish will be strong. Families are also the primary place of evangelization and so if marriages are strong, then our mission of evangelization will be lived out in a fuller way.”
The first step to Marriage Prep is to contact the parish at 405-372-6886 and meet with the priest. More details can be found at www.sfxstillwater.org/marriage.