THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY
The perfect love that should exist between spouses demands total self-sacrifice and absolute commitment. However, this beautiful ideal is humanly impossible. Therefore, Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Matrimony in which he gives spouses the capacity to love in a way that would be otherwise impossible. In this sacrament Jesus strengthens the bond of marriage so that in their mutual love spouses welcome children and educate them in holiness. In this way they become a reflection of Jesus' love for the Church.
THE MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROCESS
To ensure that engaged couples have adequate time to prepare for the sacrament in a serious way, they must contact the St. Peter Rectory (985.892.2422) at least six months in advance of the wedding date, and conclude the formal preparation process no closer than one month prior to the wedding date. Nine months to one year is ideal. This preparation time is not just a “waiting period” for the ceremony, but rather an important, teachable moment in preparation for the lifetime journey on which the couple is about to embark.
If a couple is preparing for marriage and the engaged couple, together with the celebrant, choose to particiapte in the "In-Home Marriage Preparation Process", the marriage preparation process will include:
First Meeting: When a request is made to schedule a wedding,the engaged couple should communicate with the celebrant to arrange an initial appointment to meet. The assessment process begins with the initial contact between the celebrant and the engaged couple. To evaluate the readiness of the couple to be married in the Catholic Church, the celebrant will interview the couple sufficiently so that he becomes acquainted with them. The goals of this initial interview include:
- Establishing a good rapport with the couple that will facilitate the rest of the preparation process.
- Reinforcing the sacred nature of marriage for the couple.
- Emphasize the focus of preparation process on the whole of married life, not just the ceremony.
- Identify any special circumstance that needs to be addressed during the preparation process
- Thoroughly explain of the components of the marriage preparation process as well as identify the documentation that must be obtained.
At the conclusion of the initial interview and assessment,the celebrant will
administer the approved Premarital Assessment Inventory (FOCUS) to the engaged couple.
Second Meeting: Approximately two weeks after the initial meeting, the couple will meet once again with the priest to begin to explore the results of the Premarital Assessment Inventory. This assessment tool helps facilitate the crucial dialogue through which the couple explores the significant issues that affect marriage. Further, the assessment allows the priest, in collaboration with the ministerial team, to tailor marriage preparation to the couple’s specific strengths and weaknesses. Finally, the use of the instrument can support the effectiveness of the couple’s experience in the formal educational program designed by the parish.
By the time of the second meeting, the couple will have already received a letter from the St. Peter Parish Office of Marriage and Family Life (985.892.9353) assigning them a married couple for In Home Marriage Preparation. Our married couples are well trained and are considered an essential part of the marriage preparation process.
Third – Seventh Meetings: The next five meetings will take place in the mentor couple’s home as they journey with the engaged couple through the In Home Marriage Preparation Program. Each evening will encourage the engaged couple to reflect on a different aspect of marriage and family life. The results of the Premarital Assessment Inventory (FOCUS) will help the mentor couple to tailor their meetings to the specific needs of the engaged couple. During meeting seven,the celebrant may join both the engaged couple and their mentor couple for a discussion on the sacramentality of marriage.
Eighth Meeting: The final meeting with the celebrant will be the designated time to discuss the details of the Nuptial Liturgy. The engaged couple will be asked to complete the Liturgy Planning Guide prior to this meeting. They will also be asked to compile a listing of all the participants in the wedding party. This final meeting should take place at least one month prior to the wedding.
It will be the responsibility of the couple to bring the civil marriage license
to the Rectory at least one week prior to the rehearsal date.
Natural Family Planning: As part of the Marriage Preparation Process, engaged couples are encouraged to attend Natural Family Planning evenings. NFP is a method for following God’s plan for achieving pregnancy by using the physical means that God has built into human nature. “While reflecting the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, NFP promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife.” (Standards for Diocesan Natural Family Planning Ministry, p. 23)
The St. Peter Parish Office of Marriage and Family Life will provide the engaged couple with additional information about these classes. All sessions are held at St. Peter Parish.