In the Catholic Church a very important step in the marriage process is Pre Cana. According to the United States Catholic of Conference Bishops, the point of Pre Cana is to “help couples develop a better understanding of the sacrament; to evaluate and deepen their readiness to live married life; and to gain insights into themselves as individuals and as a couple.”
How Pre Cana is offered depends on your specific Diocese and/or Church. Some of the different types of program options offered are a marriage preparation course offered for multiple couples that lasts around eight hours, a few shorter private meeting with a “sponsor couple” from your parish, or possibly even a couples retreat. Again, the type of program you and your spouse will be doing for Pre Cana depends on your individual parish. The reason why Pre Cana is required by the Catholic Church is to make sure that those entering into the sacrament of Holy Matrimony have all the tools to fully prepare and understand that the wedding is only a day but your marriage is a lifetime!
When it was time for my husband and I to figure out what we would be doing for Pre Cana I was very nervous! We wanted to make sure we were making the selection of programs offered for what was going to be right for us. When it came down to it we had two options: join a program with a “sponsor couple” from our hometown parish or attend the eight hour marriage preparation course put on through our Diocese. Since my husband has varying work hours we decided that committing to just a one day program would work best for us. As we were checking in we received a folder with some information about natural family planning, a workbook to be used throughout the day, and a name tag for each of us. We found our seats and then went to grab some breakfast that the couples teaching for the day had set up in the other room. Once we were back at our seats, we flipped through the workbook to get an idea about what we would be doing throughout the day. The teaching couples started our program by explaining how the day would work, they would summarize a lesson then give each couple the time to respond in the workbook, and once responses were recorded the couples had time to reflect with one another.
Overall, my husband and I truly enjoyed the day much more than we had anticipated. By the time we were finished with our Pre Cana we realized how much closer we had become! We were affirmed, through our program, that we had been on the same page regarding important decisions for our marriage and our future family. We learned a lot about Natural Family Planning which we were pretty much in the dark before hand and even more so, we learned that when it does come time to start a family sometimes God calls upon to adopt rather than blessing us with biological children of our own. We were pleasantly surprised by our enriching experience through the Pre Cana program and are happy that we have the foundation of a strong faithful marriage: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).