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Catholic Weddings

Pre-Cana

For those of you who have already done it, how was your experience? I've learned from various boards that its done in different ways in different areas. The NY Archdiocese makes you do two all day sessions (or 4 evenings or a weekend retreat) and honestly, we weren't looking forward to it. But I have to say after the first session we were happily surprised. We left there feeling we'd learned about our relationship and with knowledge of how to handle future issues. We also found more ways we could bring religion into our relationship w/o feeling weird about it. The couple that lead the session was very down to earth but their faith was a big part of their life w/o making it seem like they were religious fanatics (sorry that's the only way I can describe it). She covered NFP and I spoke with her during the lunch break. I have PCOS and we discussed how that would affect things. She was amazing, understanding and compassionate. Even gave me the name and number of a dr to contact. The couple yesterday was HORRIBLE - all they did was talk AT you and go on and on discussing bible quotes. I can honetsly say we took NOTHING away from the experience - and all the couples we were talking with said that its people like that who make others want to not participate in the church. Best part was they basically said people like me (with PCOS or endo) should just have surgery to correct our fertility issues vs. taking BCPs. The priest marrying us said mass this morning and he asked us how it went. I gave him a very brief version and he said he's heard similar reactions from other couples. Told me to focus on what we took away from the first session and build our life with that foundation. I have to say just having the few minutes to talk to him made me feel less guilty about having the feelings I had yesterday.

Re: Pre-Cana

  • meltoinemeltoine member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Comments First Answer
    edited December 2011
    I'm sorry you had a poor experience with the second day :( But at least you got some valuable insight on the first. My fiance is in the military and stationed in Ohio, though I am living in New York. So, we did our Pre-Cana with an online programme. They sent us questions and readings and we sent back answers, then they would send feedback on our answers and more questions. We enjoyed it, since it gave us a way to focus on improving communication and respect though we are far apart from one another. Our priest requires that we are also attend NFP classes, but we are having trouble finding a time to do that, since we have to be in the same place and take them together. However, we are already well-acquainted with the method since I study and work in the field of moral theology. Overall, the pre-Cana was a good experience, though some of the questions seemed redundant.
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  • edited December 2011
    sorry you are not having the best experience :(  mine was fairly quick and painless, and we actually had fun for most of it.  we were never barked at or told what to do, it was just a place to share advice.
  • mbcdefgmbcdefg member
    10000 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    We just did ours today (7-hour session). We thought, in general, it was really good. We did a lot of exercises where we had to talk about how we deal with issues, what we want out of life, what we expect from each other, etc. We were pretty much on the same page with everything, and for the things we disagreed on we already knew those things about each other (like that we disagree on exactly how we'll care for our parents as they get older, for example). We had four couples speak to us. Some were very personable, others sounded more like they were nervous and reading from a script (who can blame them, though?), so we felt like we took more away from the people we felt were more "into" it. The priest seemed nice, but he kept talking about the church's process for remarrying a divorced person, which I found very odd. IDK if there were any divorced individuals there, but there were about 60 couples and most seemed like they were in their 20s and on their first marriages. We liked the other two couples that we shared a table with, and we had to talk about certain exercises after we finished them. The bad part was that they made one couple from each table (it happened to be me and FI since I had the "lucky tag" under my chair) go to the front of the room and share what the table discussed. I thought that part was a waste of time because everyone said the same thing - "Oh, I thought the exercise was valuable and really made us think." Duh. I think it was a good experience, and FI liked it a lot better than he originally thought he would (he was definitely not feeling it before today). He just said that they should cut out a lot of the "fluff" to hold people's attention better, and that actual activities are a lot better than open-ended talking, which I also agree with.
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  • edited December 2011
    The exercises were definately helpful. We're on the same page with pretty much everything, but that's something I'd hope were the case if we were going to be getting married, kwim? But to me this is MARRIAGE prep, not bible class. Yes I know this is being run by the Catholic Church so to some extent its to be expected. And I have no issue with that. Just like I don't want someone shoving their political views down my throat, I don't want the same with religion. I would email the head of the program with my experience but unfortunately the husband part of session two runs things.
  • mbcdefgmbcdefg member
    10000 Comments 5 Love Its Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    The exercises were definately helpful. We're on the same page with pretty much everything, but that's something I'd hope were the case if we were going to be getting married, kwim?That's exactly what the people at our table said when we discussed one exercise (where we had to discuss our 2, 5, 15 and 25-year goals). One guy rolled his eyes and sarcastically (not in a mean way) said, "Well, gee, you'd assume that if people are getting married they'd TALK about stuff like this, no?"If nothing else, maybe these exercises are intended as a wake-up call to couples who've discussed NOTHING. We had one exercise where you had to sit back-to-back and held up green or red cards for certain questions, where you'd see if you agree or disagree on certain topics. FI and I didn't match up on maybe 4 out of 25 questions, but about 2 or 3 of those were because we'd interpreted the question differently. I spotted one or two couples whose answers never seemed to match, and that was a bit scary.
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  • edited December 2011
    You're right, it varied from diocese to diocese, parish to parish and even priest to priest.We're using a priest from the church I went to when I was in college and get married in a church in the closest big city. We've had two meetings with our priest so far (got engaged in June) and have one scheduled for December. So far it's mainly been filling out forms, but we chit chat and get comfortable with each other too.We have to do a sponsor couple program through the church where our priest is marrying us. They'll register us for the Focus test and then we'll take it online and they'll go over everything with us sometime later. Our priest says they're pretty nice people, and he's awesome so I trust him.Then we just have to do one 4-6 hour retreat in the city where we are getting married. Our priest said they would mainly talk about NFP, christian love, etc. etc. He's also pretty liberal and told us to remember that we are allowed to be ourselves and freethinkers :) just in case there is a super zealous couple/priest leading it. I'm enjoying the meetings so far. We'll see how our one day retreat goes!
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    priest just had us meet with him three times, one hour each time.  we didnt have to do any weekends, nfp classes, etc.  he said we were welcome to if we wanted, but he wasnt going to require it.  ours was good.  he really focused on the sacrament and the life we should try to leave as a married couple.  we didnt do foccus or any of that stuff.   it was very faith based versus "are we compatible" based.   however,  i will note that we were both catholic, attend church regularly, and we were older at the time of our engagement (31 adn 34).  had we been younger or not as involved in our church/faith, it may have been more extensive.
  • edited December 2011
    we had to do a one day (all day) class about the sacrament, then an engaged encounter weekend (we could have done 4 sunday afternoon classes instead) and an NFP class. The sacrament class was okay...I don't think I really learned anything from it though.Engaged Encounter was awesome! i LOVED it. It really focused on life skills,  communication, and problem solving. It was great to have one weekend to really focus on our relationship, and forget about the outside world.I hated NFP class. Our teachers were very judgemental, and frankly, super boring. It was like a high school sex ed class. They never once deviated from the CCL script, and definitely said "every time you take a BCP, you're having an abortion!!" Way too many scare tactics. I liked the concept of NFP, and DH & I practice FAM (NFP with a barrier method), but the class itself was just heinous.
  • edited December 2011
    OMG I can't believe they said it was the equivalent of an abortion!I really wish my body worked like "normal" so I could in fact use NFP - it would make life so much easier.  But that's not my case so please don't make me feel worse than I already do about it all.
  • edited December 2011
    Laura, don't feel bad, I am also going to continue to use the Pill. We did our pre-Cana weekend this weekend also. We enjoyed it and found a lot of info useful.  We didn't do too much in the workbook, but FI & I are going to do some of the exercises because we did find them interesting.  The hardest time I had was when the priest was presenting and talked about artificial contraception being evil and if you won't have kids, you are selfish.  FI & I for several reasons do not want children, and that whole "do you freely accept children" question during the ceremony stresses me out already, because I know what I want to say, but know it's not the "right" answer. Anyway, my experience, my opinion (can you tell I am liberal? LOL) but I totally understand the stress/guilt over that kind of stuff.
    Crosswalk
  • edited December 2011
    I went to Catholic school all my life - do I believe EVERYTHING the church preaches? No. I do try to lead a good life, I try to incorprate the basic fundamentals into my daily life. While I'm on the train to/from work I'll say some of the rosary, same with laying in bed at night. Is every aspect of my life agreed upon by the church? No. I have an almost 10yo daughter from a previous relationship. We got engaged b/c "it was the right thing to do" but it would have been a bad life for her. So no we didn't make it down the aisle. Yes I live with my FI and I'll admit its purely financial - he's a super in an apt building so we pay no rent. Yes I take BCPs for primarily medical reasons but yes I do take them to prevent pregnancy. I liked the thought behind marriage prep class but I think it should be just that - I spent 12 years in religion class in school I didn't need another full day of it. And like you I was asked questions and knew what I wanted to say but wasn't sure if I should answer that way.
  • edited December 2011
    Laura, I am the same way.  Try to live a good life, but I know that some aspects the Church doesn't agree with, and I also don't agree with some of the teachings/opinions of the church.  I am sure I will feel better after I talk to my priest. He is really cool and I think he may help reduce the anxiety I have about some of this.
    Crosswalk
  • edited December 2011
    Mine was great and definitely not that conservative. I probably would have walked out of that.
  • edited December 2011
    Thanks ladies - this (and you) all made me feel better about everything.  Funny enough to some extent it really makes me want to get involved in the process and try to get through to some of "those" couples and tell them (nicely of course, not in a nasty way) that they are really doing more harm than good.  FI thinks IF I were to look into it I should wait till after the wedding before "getting into trouble with the church"  lol
  • edited December 2011
    Ours doesn't seem to be liberal or conservative (we've done one half of it, the second half is tomorrow).  Instead, they have so far ignored issues of religion for the most part, being almost overly diplomatic about interfaith couples and explaining how they don't want to make the class very Catholic because of that.  Honestly, why get married in the Catholic Church if you can't handle discussion of the faith?FI and I are very traditionally minded (we're having a Latin wedding Mass) so it's very much a culture shock to us to have faith barely mentioned at a Catholic class.They haven't gotten into family planning issues or intimacy yet...so we'll see how things go there.
  • edited December 2011
    Our pre cana was about our relationship, not our faith. Yes it was mentioned, but I agree with it not being the main topic. Thats what religious classes are for.
  • SnowBabe516SnowBabe516 member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Fi and I didn't really get anything out of our precana.  It was all topics we had already discussed over the 5 years we have been dating.  We both felt that it was designed for people still fresh in their relationship and haven't been together very long, or for people that are new to the faith. 
    Trying to Conceive Ticker
  • edited December 2011
    IrishBride- I was under the impression that it was about both...ie about having a Catholic marriage.   Not about being Catholic only or being married only, but about living a married vocation in the Catholic sense.
  • edited December 2011
    Of course catholicism is part of it, but the main purpose is your relationship. Its not primarly or mostly about faith. Its more of a side thing.Dh and I are one of the couples that give the talks :D
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    I was under the impression that it was about both...ie about having a Catholic marriage. Not about being Catholic only or being married only, but about living a married vocation in the Catholic sense.i agree, that's how ours was.  but ours was also with the priest, who i also think is the appropriate person to do pre-cana.  i dont think lay persons should be instructing people on catholic marriage and the sacrament.  but tha'ts just my personal opinion.  our priest didnt make us do the foccus test (or any other test for that matter).  it seems like many (not all, but many) of the class leaders today dont know their faith themselves, and therefore really shouldnt be attempting to teach it to others.
  • edited December 2011
    i'm sorry you had a bad experience! we only had to go for one full saturday (ending with evening mass) and i have to say the experience totally exceeded my expectations. i thought it would be boring and awkward, but it was exactly like what you described your first day. we both felt very empowered that we have what it takes to have a successful marriage. definately learned many worthwhile things. one was just like what you said: "We also found more ways we could bring religion into our relationship w/o feeling weird about it." my mom is religious and my dad never ever went to church (he's totally atheist) so my parents didn't have faith in their marriage. the experience at pre-cana really helped me see how fi and i can have that extra level of depth in our relationship. i was also really happy because fi is not catholic, but wants to convert, and he was just as interested in my faith and participating in church as i am. it was totally worthwhile.
  • edited December 2011
    "I was under the impression that it was about both...ie about having a Catholic marriage. Not about being Catholic only or being married only, but about living a married vocation in the Catholic sense." totally agree with this, at least our experience was that way.
  • edited December 2011
    Themidge-our experience wasn't that way, sadly.  Luckily we are both Catechists at the confirmation/high school level, so we do know our faith.  It was just very weird (to say the least) for us to go into a church run class that barely talked about faith, Our Lord, or the Church.
  • edited December 2011
    agree, that's how ours was. but ours was also with the priest, who i also think is the appropriate person to do pre-cana. i dont think lay persons should be instructing people on catholic marriage and the sacrament. See and I feel its just the opposite. On our first day the priest came in after the lunch break and discussed marriage as a sacrament - something a lay person can't really do. And in reverse I can't see myself relating to a priest when it comes to marriage issues. How can he KNOW what its like when he's never been married. He can't put himself in our shoes, kwim? To me pre-cana is a marriage preparation course. Of course its something required by the church so naturally religion is going to be SOME part of it. But it shouldn't be the entire focus.
  • edited December 2011
    Lap where did you take your pre-cana? I would love to get into that Engagement excercise :) We live quite far from the church we will get married in and the priest said that we should be ok taking it wherever is more convenient... I expect to hate the NFP class, but at least I have a clear conscience for not taking a pill, so it will prolly not annoy me as much as most... unless they say something bad about condoms :)
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