One of my favorite suggestions from the new Directory for Catechesis is that we drop the phrase “marriage prep.” In essence, this phrase has come to refer to a few “hoops” that an engaged couple has to go through in order to “qualify” for the Sacrament of Matrimony. The new Directory is urging us to move away from a programmatic approach to an approach that is characterized by true accompaniment.
Too often, after a perfunctory marriage prep session and the wedding, the next time the parish might see the newlyweds is when it is time for infant Baptism prep—another “hoop” to jump through to qualify for another sacrament.
Why do we stop talking to the young couple until the first child is on the way? We should be accompanying the young couple, not only before, but also after their wedding day! The same holds true for the time following an infant Baptism; we should continue to accompany the young family right up to the time that formal faith formation begins in pre-K, Kindergarten, or grade 1.
To assist parishes in accompanying newlyweds even before a child is on the way, I suggest inviting newly married couples to participate in the Discover phase of Loyola Press’s Springs of Faith experience. The Discover phase of Springs of Faith enables pre-evangelization of young adults who might be interested in exploring the Catholic faith, regardless of what their faith background may be. The engaging, no-pressure atmosphere of Discover makes it easy for participants to be honest and open about their own spiritual beliefs as they socialize with others who are interested in discussing faith concepts and learning about Catholic beliefs and practices.
To learn more about how to use the Discover phase of Springs of Faith, contact Customer Service at Loyola Press (800-621-1008), or contact your Loyola Press Educational Consultant. And be sure to explore Springs of Faith in its entirety to accompany young families right up to the beginning of formal faith formation.
Let’s not make young couples “jump through hoops” to “qualify” for sacraments. Instead, let’s truly accompany them on their faith journeys!