I am blessed that my Catholic faith requires extensive marriage preparation before the Church will allow us to be married. This marriage preparation is essential to addressing and confirming that both future spouses understand the teachings of the Church, the struggles and temptations they will face in their married life, and how they can fight the good fight against the Devil. As G. K. Chesterton so aptly put it,
The family is the foundation of all society, and marriage is the battleground of the family. The Devil wants to see the world tumble around our heads, and he is cunning. He doesn't strike the strong, stalwart defenses. He looks for the cracks in our armor. The wounds or chinks that leave an opening, however small, for him to slip in. This is why couples MUST prepare for their marriage continually. This preparation is absolutely more important than the perfect wedding. A wedding is one day. Yes, it is an important day since it is the day you and your future spouse stand up in front of God and your loved ones and declare your fidelity to one another. It is the day that your souls are knit together and bound for life. It is the beginning of your marriage, but it is only one day. Your marriage is the rest of your life.Marriage is a duel to the death which no man of honour should decline.
If we kept things in perspective, we'd do better at preparing for marriage and not just our wedding. And right there, that's where the devil sneaks in . . . even before you're married. He's in your head raising questions about wedding details and stressing you out about guest lists and finances. Anything to keep you distracted from the fact that you're getting MARRIED and to keep you from preparing your defenses so that you can have a holy and sacred marriage.
My fiance and I have been attending our marriage preparation meetings with our priest for 6 months. During those sessions, we've discussed various issues including birth control, the roles of the parents, discipline, children, finances, religion, economics, and so much more. We read Casti Connubbi and are working our way through Three to Get Married by Fulton J. Sheen (there will be posts on those soon). We have been doing a holy hour once a week together where we pray for ourselves, for each other, for our marriage preparation, and for our married life. I cherish this time together because it continues to build the rock solid spiritual foundation that will get us through those rough times that inevitably arise since we are fallen human beings in a world constantly under attack.
As we enter our 40 days before marriage, we've mutually decided to increase our zeal and vigor in preparation for marriage during these last 6 weeks. As the wedding preparation stress heightens, our reliance on prayer shall increase. Prayer and preparation during this "Lenten" journey of ours will help us keep perspective on what truly matters. In the grand scheme of life on earth and our Heavenly goal, it doesn't matter if the food doesn't taste exquisite, if the guests don't RSVP, if the flowers go flat, if the stress multiplies tenfold for no reason.
This is our guide - the battle plan for marriage. It is the rule for our lives as husband and wife. If we follow it faithfully, God's blessings and grace will strengthen us in our fight against the Devil.
If you are preparing for marriage yourself, or you know someone who is, I encourage you to ponder the gravity, mystery, and wonder of what you've decided to enter into. Marriage is not a picnic. It is not a walk in the park. It is a struggle and a harrowing journey, and you will not emerge without being changed. But it is a beautiful, joyous, and wonderful change. And the struggles lighten when you place God at the center of your marriage and take His scriptures and teachings as your guide.
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalms 27:1