There is really not a comparable course in all of Christendom. The Roman Catholic pre-marriage course “Pre-Cana” is a tremendous program that offers partners substantial preparation for the ebb and flow of married life.
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So, to answer your questions ‘is Pre Cana required’ and ‘what are Pre Cana classes’, here is presented a piece of advice to get done with all your doubts and queries regarding Pre Cana requirements.
In the piece below, we take a look at what the Catholic pre-marriage course has to offer – including a pre-marriage course online (Pre-Cana online)– to truly investigate the ways that it is impactful for couples.
Background on the movement
Referring to the Roman Catholic Catechism, Vatican II documents assert:
“By reason of their state and of their order, (Christian spouses) have their own special gifts in the People of God.” This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple’s love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity.
By this grace, they “help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children” (CCC, 1641).
So, what is Pre Cana and what happens at Pre Cana?
Inasmuch, Pre-Cana is a tool by which the Roman Catholic Church offers engaged couples lessons on spirituality while providing partners with practical skills in communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution and the like.
Building upon “give and take” communication, Pre-Cana assists couples in establishing clear and realistic goals about issues like work, sexuality, parenthood, and religious expression. Simply put, Pre-Cana classes offers its participants a transparent vision of what could be encountered by the couple as they begin their life together.
Pre-Cana classes online or face to face, seeks to mold its participants into mature, Christian adults.
With an emphasis on building and maintaining commitments to God, Church, society, family, and neighbors, the Catholic pre-marriage counseling wants its “graduates” to take seriously the demands of the Great Commandment.
Approaches to the Catholic Pre-Marriage Course (Pre-Cana)
The Roman Catholic Church is a large body spanning every continent and every culture. Pre-Cana is designed to honor this intrinsic diversity in the Roman Catholic Church that makes it truly catholic, that is, universal.
Approaches to Pre-Cana classes and requirements tend to vary among Catholic dioceses and parishes. Typically for this Catholic premarital counseling, dioceses require that participants complete six-month sessions that are taught by a priest, nun, or deacon.
It is also commonplace in Pre-Cana to have instruction supplemented by the “rubber meets the road” support of a married Catholic couple.
Many Pre-Cana experiences or online Pre Cana classes are held during weekends, allowing couples with hectic work schedules an opportunity to meet and recharge in an outdoor retreat setting. Within the weekend paradigm, the movement offers:
Catholic couples Pre-Cana
This Catholic Pre-Marriage Course is designed for couples where the bride and groom are both Roman Catholic and do not have previous marriages.
This pre-marriage course also allows couples married in a civil union to come into compliance with the doctrine of the Church.
Interfaith-interchurch couples Pre-Cana
Many times the Roman Catholic Church addresses interfaith marriages and holds a catholic class before marriage.
The Interfaith-Interchurch Catholic Pre-Marriage Course allows couples, merging the influence of Roman Catholicism and other faith traditions to talk about how this diversity dynamic will unfold within the course of the marriage.
It should come as no surprise that second and subsequent marriages are now part of the tapestry of Roman Catholic Pre-Cana.
For couples where either the bride or the groom –or both- have been previously married and have obtained an annulment from an Ecclesiastical Tribunal, Re-Marriage Pre-Cana allows the new couple to honor the current relationship while honoring the pain that lingers from the earlier relationship.
Re-Marriage Pre-Cana is a Catholic Pre-Marriage Course that also benefits those who seek to remarry within the Catholic tradition after they have experienced the death of a spouse and are widows or widowers.
Pre-Cana Online programs
Even before the arrival of Pope Francis, the Church developed online programs to benefit individuals who prefer to receive their instruction on a digital platform. For couples and parishes that are geographically isolated or have limited resources, online programs offer an excellent compromise.
Pre-Cana’s online presence is especially beneficial to military couples who seek the benefit of the Church’s teaching but maybe deployed far from an environment prepared to offer a “bricks and mortar” version of the course.
Using Skype, email, or cellular phone, Pre-Cana’s participants converse with instructors after completing digital learning components and worksheets with their partners.
The creators of the online offerings state, “This heuristic process allows them to stay engaged in the subject being discussed and helps them own the knowledge that is being passed on.”
Their instructors will then complete the couple’s answers with the teachings of the Church in the customized answer key.
The online course also provides its participants with substantial time savings. While the course specifies a minimum of 20 hours of online engagement, most couples finish the work within 6 weeks.
At the completion of this Catholic Pre-Marriage Course, a certificate is presented to the “graduates” so that they can demonstrate to their diocese that they have successfully completed the requisite requirements.
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Subject matter in Pre-Cana
The Roman Catholic Church consistently recognizes uniformity as a hallmark of the “Catholic Way.” Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that the US expression of Catholicism has adopted specific expectations for the teaching of Pre-Cana material.
These expectations, while not explicitly codified, are meant to guide instructors down a path that will ensure that the most pressing issues are considered during the allotted time.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops considers the following topics as “must-have conversations” before couples marry:
Conflict Resolution Skills
Further, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops encourages Pre-Cana facilitators to explore the following areas:
Family of Origin
Marriage as a Sacrament
Natural Family Planning
Theology of the Body
Unique Challenges of Military Couples
Children of Divorce
There is no way to minimize the significance of the Roman Catholic Church’s Pre-Cana movement. The movement celebrates the diversity of couples within the church, while also placing sturdy expectations upon them.
The intent of Pre-Cana or the Catholic Pre-Marriage Course is not to scare couples into ending the relationship or “getting spiritual,” but rather to foster open, consistent, communication. When communication is an established hallmark of a relationship, the other healthy components tend to fall in line.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Rachael Pace is a noted relationship writer associated with Marriage.com. She provides inspiration, support, and empowerment in the form of motivational articles and essays. Rachael enjoys studying the evolution of loving partnerships and is passionate about writing on them. She believes that everyone should make room for love in their lives and encourages couples to work on overcoming their challenges together.