Marriage Preparation Lesson Guide
Cahall, P. “The Mystery of Marriage: A Theology of the Body and the Sacrament”. Chicago; Liturgy Training Publications. 2016, Print.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1601 – 1664
“Catholic Study Bible”. NABRE 3rd Ed. Senior, D, John Collins, Mary Ann Getty Eds. New York; Oxford UP. 2010. Print.
Hahn, S. “The Lamb’s Supper”. New York; Random House. 1999. Print.
Lewis, C.S. “The Four Loves”. New York; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1988, Print.
Martos, J. “Doors to the Sacred”. Ligouri, Ligouri/Triumph Press; 2001, Print.
“Order of Celebrating Matrimony”. United States Catholic Conference of Bishops. Collegeville, Liturgical Press. Multiple copyrights 1991 through 2016. Print.
Perry, J. “Catholic Teaching on Marriage and Annulments”. Greenville; The Augustine Institute. 2011, Audio CD.
Sri, E. A Biblical Walk Through The Mass”. West Chester; Ascension Press. 2011. Print.
Easel and Paper
Audio/Video Disp lay with computer HDMI connections
Participant Handouts – Annotated bibliography to help determine which might be a good steppingstone to further study and a list of scriptural references for study, meditation, and prayer.
This lesson guide is prepared as part of a Sacramental review of marriage in the Catholic Church. The intent is to couple this with presentations by the Parish Office of Family Life and the introductory group planning session with the Liturgical/Music minister for the couples’ planning weddings through Blessed Sacrament Parish, Clermont FL.
The outline follows a sacramental education concept of using the ritual as the background for presentation. It is set by the ritual of marriage within the context of mass. The major sections are:
- The Introductory Rites
- Liturgy of the Word
- The Celebration of Matrimony
- Liturgy of the Eucharist
- The Conclusion of the Celebration
The two major underlying concepts used in this lesson compilation are a review of the Sacraments and Saint Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. The Sacraments flow from the mass through its’s natural format. Reconciliation is accomplished in the opening prayers as the community comes together. Baptism is invoked and recommitted to through the blessing of selves with holy water at the Church entrance and in the profession of faith. Invocation of the Holy Spirit occurs by the Celebrant at the opening of the Eucharist, and the Eucharist itself, the act of receiving, is the couple and the community’s consent to following the Gospel. The marriage rite is the act of commitment to continue to build and uphold the Body of Christ which is the Church.
The Pope’s lessons run throughout. The Body of Christ that is the Church gathers together to witness and support the couple. The couple’s commitment is an effort to work together toward a renewed Original Innocence, to work to bring each other and children to heaven, and in doing so to live the Christian faith as laid down in the Gospel. Together, this new ‘being’, new person, with the Body of Christ that is Church, a new family recesses from the mass into the world, beginning their new life, now as one.
References from the written scriptures, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Pope’s theological treatise, and other resources thread throughout for the facilitator’s use.
Who We Are -The Embodied Spirit
Where we are going – Heaven
Marriage as Sacrament as a guide on the journey
The Church Gathers – “Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly.” (CCC 1348)
Coming ‘to heaven’ through the mass
Who called this gathering of Church?
Commitment to God and Praising Him
Liturgy of the Word – God Speaks to Us
The Greatest Bible Study on Earth
What will you and God teach us today?
The Celebration of Matrimony
Pietas – Fear of the Lord
The Four ‘F’s of Marriage – basis for sacramental union
Liturgy of the Eucharist
Since the Resurrection
Typology – Prefigured in the first Testament
Configured by Christ
The Eucharistic Prayer
Your assent, and your leadership-in-action
The Conclusion of the Celebration – the Church Goes Forth!
‘So What’ – Why we are gathered
Appropriate intro comments about reviewing the sacrament in the context of the community and within the social framework of the 21st century.
Facilitator Intros – method TBD
Pastor, if present
Wedding Liturgical Coordinator/Music Minister
Safety and ‘comfort’
Schedule – how much time?
Location of comfort stations,
who to see if there is a health issue
Who and what ARE we –
The Embodied Spirit; Who are we? Why were we created?
Review Who and What We Are the Embodied Spirit (5 min)
Genesis 2 & 3; Creation and the Fall
Formed of clay, breathed into and animated
Mind – brought to life through a mental capability to animate the body
Spirit – free will conscious of right/wrong, nurtured by learning and choice
Predestined sons and daughters of God; brothers and sisters with Jesus
Given two missions
- Gen1: “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.”
- Mt 28: 19,20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
“Who are my brothers and sisters?” (Mt 12:46 – 50)
Grafted to the vine, part of the family of Abraham (Jn15:1-10; Pauline quote)
Where We are Going…
With the aid of each other…
In the company of the Body of Christ
Today’s Journey – A look at the sacrament of marriage in the community; celebrating within the context of Mass.
The Church Gathers – the Body of Christ
The Liturgy of the Word – God Speaks to Us
The Sacrament of Marriage – A new unity of persons; from the love of others
The Eucharist – The new unity says ‘yes’ with the Body of Christ
The Church goes back out to the World
The Church Gathers – “Christians come together in one place for the Eucharistic assembly.” (CCC 1348)
“Live therefore as children of the light, being filled with the Spirit, conversing among yourselves with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making hymn s to the Lord with all your heart” (Eph 5:17 – 19, quoted by JPII, TOB 87)
Walking into heaven – The Book of Revelation holds the prayers and praises professed. The Mass is heavenly worship. (Hahn)
We remind ourselves of our Baptism and Confirmation as we enter. We touch the holy water and sign ourselves to show outwardly we are part of the committed community. We bless ourselves and others with this visible sign of our faith.
You have called the community together for this celebration. Your intention to love each other and profess this love to the community is the reason for drawing together the Body of Christ.
St. Pope John Paul the Great reminds us through Ephesians, “… Christ loved the Church and gave himself for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water accompanied by the word, so as to present his Church… all glorious.”
(Eph 5:21, quoted by JPII TOB #87)
“And how do we begin…?” The sign of the cross. From Ezekiel, to Calvary, to the Ascension and the Great Commission (Mt 26:28), Tertullian and the second century, through to today…
The Bishop/Priest/Deacon presides in the person of Christ, as in every mass, greeting the community, offering peace, with a response recognizing the working of Christ within the presider, ‘and with your Spirit’.
Reconciliation – The community presents itself in repentance. The Confiteor, our personal reflection and repentance, asking forgiveness and receiving grace that we may be prepared, removing inhibitions to listening to God’s Word and to share in the Eucharistic celebration.
The Gloria gives praise and worship to One God in the three persons.
Liturgy of the Word – God Feeds our Conscience
Our introduction included a description of who and what we are in our ‘being’. The Embodied Spirit, physical body and rational mind with the divine gift of Conscience is entirely fed through participation in the Mass. The Liturgy of the Word feeds the Conscience and reason through lessons from scripture and, through the homily, ideas about how to continue living Tradition nourish us.
The mass is the greatest bible study program on earth. Reflecting on both the First Covenant (Old Testament) and the New Covenant (New Testament), and the Gospels, the full context of the Word is covered in a three-year cycle.
“…the New Testament (is) hidden in the Old and the Old made manifest in the New.” (DeiVerbum 16). ““Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.” (Mt 5:17)
You will make one of your many decisions as ‘one person’ when you chose the readings from scripture for your wedding. You choose to share those passages that best reflect your understanding of the sacrament and your intentions for your sacrament.
You, through prayer (opening yourself to the Holy Spirit) and the counsel of your minister (priest or deacon ‘in persona Christi’, and the liturgist) are the teachers of marriage for this gathering of the Church, your wedding day.
The Celebration of Matrimony
“Pietas, fear of God [great respect for the power of the creator] springing from the profound consciousness of the mystery of Christ, must constitute the basis of the reciprocal relations between the spouses.” (TOB 87)
Before you commit yourselves to the sacrament; the four ‘F’s
FREE (CCC 1625 – 1637) – “Have you come here…without coercion, freely and whole heartedly?”
Image and Likeness of God – man and woman; together, living in communion, illustrate the nature of the Creator.
Man ‘adame’ should not be alone; woman, ‘flesh of my flesh’, the helpmate; each responsible to and for the other
God weds Israel, man and woman are the physical image of the spiritual union
In the Church, a baptized man and woman
Not under constraint;
Into impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical law
An act of ‘Will’ – remember, embodied spirits; free will / conscience; choice – “I do!”
Ex. pregnancy out of wedlock, one or the other is already married; betrothed by parents at birth, ‘shotgun’ wedding
FAITHFUL / FIDELITY (CCC 1638 – 1651) – “Are you prepared, as you follow the path of Marriage, to love and honor each other…”
A bond, physically, mentally, consciously (two embodies spirits become one)
A ‘covenant’ relationship – 100% / 100%
“help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children”
Ecclesial responsibilities and Christ given grace to carry them out
FOREVER (CCC 1627, 1628, 1642) – “…for long as you both shall live?”
The ‘free-will’ act is committed to daily, sometimes hourly as we move through the events of our lives. A one-time public ‘I do’ becomes a life-long commitment to the decision.
Nature of a covenant commitment
We remain free to choose, and we choose the ‘other’ over, and over, and over again…7 x 77 times we choose
Christ is the source of grace to keep the commitment; WE ARE NEVER ‘ALONE’; though one or the other breaks the covenant, God’s grace and presence remains with each, providing opportunity for reconciliation and renewal of the covenant bond.
bound for life, becomes witness to the world of God’s faithfulness to each of us by being that faithfulness to the other.
FRUITFUL (CCC 1652 – 1658) “Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?”
The divine gift – love the other so intently and intimately to partner with God and create new life
‘open to fertility’ – the crux of Humana Vitae
Beyond Eros, the care and raising of the new life; caring for the children, educating them in the divine and natural laws
YOU become the sacramental sign to each other and all your witnesses.
YOU administer the ‘sign’ of the sacrament, a baptized Christian man and woman, through your exchange of mutual consent (TOB 103:2) by which you swear a covenantal oath to each other.
YOU are the outward, visible sign of the invisible spiritual reality of “.bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh:” (Gen 2:23). Free, faithful, fruitful, and forever. The four ‘F’s of sacramental marriage.
Liturgy of the Eucharist – God feeds our soul and body
Jesus’ instruction to ‘do this in memory of me’ (Lk 22:19) was first carried out in Emmaus on the evening of His resurrection, where “…while he was with them at table, he took bread said the blessing, broke it, and give it to them. With that their eyes were opened, and they recognized him,” (Luke 24:30, 31).
The story was first written in scripture by Paul. “For I receive from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was handed over, took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1Cor 11:23, 24)
We are prepared for the Eucharist through the Old Testament and celebrate it throughout the New Testament scriptures. Genesis 14 presents the story of the Priest King of Jerusalem, Melchizedek, bringing out bread and wine, blessing the most high God and his servant Abram. Melchizedek is praised again in Psalm 110. God gives Moses the instructions for the Passover in Egypt, the use of unleavened bread in a meal and the sacrifice of the Lamb (Ex 12). Manna is presented to Israel in the desert (Ex 16), and Moses is given instructions on how to build a meeting tent (Ex 25), directions which still today inform us of how to build our sanctuaries for worship, including
Jesus is the sacrificial Passover Lamb in the Gospel. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke he is the Paschal Lamb sacrificed on the cross. John writes to us of the spiritual Lamb, the Bread of Life.
As above, Jesus is recognized in this blessing and eating of bread on the night of his resurrection. That same night he appears in the Upper Room again and asks for something to eat to show the Apostles he is truly alive. Later, in Acts, the story of loaves and fishes on the shores of the lake is told. Paul relays his blessing vision, and it is in the Pauline inspired book of Hebrews where Melchizedek comes once again to be the precursor of and Jesus the fulfillment of God’s revelation.
The Eucharist takes place at the ancient altar of sacrifice. We, the Church, through the example of Revelation, call down the Spirit of God to our table. “Holy, holy, holy…” we sing. Our priest holds his hands over the ‘works of human hands’, the bread and wine, and invokes the Holy Spirit. He repeats the words and actions ‘in persona Christ’, and these gifts become the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. We confirm our faith in this divine action; “We proclaim your death, O Lord, and profess your resurrection, until you come again.” The priest continues and reminds us that this action has continued, from Apostolic times to today, and we pray for those who lead us, and who have passed on before us. And we affirm all of this with a great ‘Amen!’
The Nuptial Blessing reaffirms the sacramental witness of the Church (the presider and your guests) and calls down the power of the Creator God to bless and strengthen you with His grace.
Then, and only then, does the community walk up and accepting the gift of Eucharist, with you leading the way. Your first public act of affirmation to the Gospel. The two persons, now one in being, join with the Son of God through the acknowledgement and physical reception of the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus. You have been, as baptized Christians, a part of the Body of Christ. Now, you are a new union, a new proclamation of that same Body, laying down a foundation for continuing to build a free, faithful, fruitful part of the Body proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Eucharist IS the New Testament, a new testament of faith in God, through Jesus Christ. Participation in the Eucharist is the act of affirming our commitment as Church to His Divine laws, to the “good news” that is the Gospel we’ve come to know.
The Conclusion of the Celebration – the Church Goes Forth!
We end as we began. The Priest/Presider invokes God’s blessing and grace onto the community of Church you gathered together for your celebration and for the greater Church Body.
The dismissal of the community begins the celebration of new life that you have become. You invited the community together to be nourished and renewed. You proclaimed new life through your sacrament. You led the community to the Eucharistic table. Now, you lead the community back into the world to proclaim the Gospel. Strengthened by each other, bolstered by the understanding of your part in the broader communion of Church, hopeful for the future in the Kingdom of God you have professed to help bring your partner to know.
Summary – Where We’ve Been
Sacrament of Marriage Study information
Provided for your continued consideration. What time we have in class is necessarily limited and only simple introductions. Our responsibility to teach our children and support our own and our family/friends in living marriage fully requires continued study. Our communities’ betrothed should know what we believe before and especially during their own discernment. The following is provided for your own use as you see fit and make time to review.
Cahall, P. “The Mystery of Marriage: A Theology of the Body and the Sacrament”. Chicago; Liturgy Training Publications. 2016, Print. Most important to you immediately will be Part IV, Living the Mystery of Marriage. We (his class of 2015) encouraged him to make Chs 17 – 20 a separate publication in addition to this one. The commentary is practical daily advice for living the Sacrament and can be immediately applied.
“Catechism of the Catholic Church” (CCC) 1601 – 1664 As you have probably already read/reviewed as part of your interview cycle with the Pastor and/or your FOCCUS couple. This provides straight forward information with scriptural and Tradition references for fundamental review of the Sacrament of marriage.
“Catholic Study Bible”. NABRE 3rd Ed. Senior, D, John Collins, Mary Ann Getty Eds. New York; Oxford UP. 2010. Print. Make sure you are studying scripture with a recommended study bible. New American Bible Revised Edition may be found under the St Joseph title as well.
Chapman, G. “Toward a Growing Marriage”. Chicago; Moody Press. 1996. Print. Chapman uses ordinary chores and arguments for divorce to build up reasons and methods for building charitable love as the foundation of Christian marriage. Useful as a teaching aid for teens, pre-marriage preparation, and anyone trying to ‘beef up the romance’ of their covenant love.
Chapmen, G. “The Five Love Languages”. Chicago; Northfield Publishing. 2015. Print. Chapman uses social observations and condenses the actions of persons to five broad categories of how people demonstrate their love. He discusses how to recognize your own and your spouse’s primary and secondary ways of telling each other ‘I love you’.
Lewis, C.S. “The Four Loves”. New York; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 1988, Print. Lewis’ practical consideration of the Greek as a foundation for our western society was written at the time the Feminist and Sexual Revolution movements were breaking out. A quiet book, it is a practical review of what is truth about fundamental relationships. An easy read for a Sunday afternoon, with lessons our children and grandchildren need to understand.
Perry, J. “Catholic Teaching on Marriage and Annulments”. Greenville; The Augustine Institute. 2011, Audio CD. This is provided as a starting point for those interested in the topic. Bishop Perry’s experience as an adjudicator is far beyond anything presentable in our intro level courses. Provided here for those who need a starting point for their own situations.
Wojtyla, K. [Saint Pope John Paul II] “Love and Responsibility”. San Francisco; Ignatius Press. English translation 1981. Print. John Paul shares a vision of true marriage and responsibility of the sacrament though his eyes as a pastor and bishop of more than thirty years. He uses the examples set before him by his parishioners and relates those actions to the principles of sacramental marriage.