Catholic Engaged Encounter - a surprisingly enlightening weekend
We finished the Engagement Encounter this afternoon and I have to say that, much to my surprise, I found it really valuable. Topics covered included how to fight fair, forgiveness, sexual intimacy, family planning, values, planning and setting goals for our marriage, and creating our betrothal pledge.
Travis and I had already spoken about a lot of these topics, and there weren’t any major surprises, but I really enjoyed having dedicated time for us to explore these topics with no interruption. We were forced to be really focused, which was exhausting, but in the end very worthwhile.
I think we both took a lot of things away from the encounter, but for me the biggest thing I took away was a new found respect for marriage. I’ve been struggling with the question why do people get married?
Of course, I love Travis and want to spend my life with him. I want to have children with him and for legality reasons I figured getting married made that easier and less complicated. I certainly don’t have the pressures that my mother or grandmother faced when it came to marriage. I know I can support myself financially. Romantic right?
I hadn’t thought a lot about the way that God played into our relationship until this weekend. Suddenly, our relationship and our future marriage have a lot more significance.
Before I met Travis I had been single for quite awhile with no serious boyfriends or prospects. So it got to the point where I prayed one really simple prayer, “God please bring me one good man. Just one.”
I hadn’t thought about this in a long time, but the prayer was answered, and not just with a good man, but a great man.
Let me back up and explain for a second why we are having a Catholic wedding or at least why we thought we were having a Catholic wedding.
Religion has always been a part of my life and I’m what is called a Cradle Catholic. I spent my childhood in CCD classes and Sundays at church. Throughout my life religion has played a role in significant ways – when my mom had cancer I relied on my faith and prayer, when I faced my own health issues I prayed and prayed that things would get better, when my heart was broken I prayed and found solace in knowing that there was purpose behind my pain, when I have a tough decision to make I pray for guidance.
I haven’t always been devout or perfect. There have been times when I don’t feel particularly connected to God.
When we got engaged I found myself at a crossroads. Having a non-secular wedding would certainly be easier, but my gut said that having a traditional wedding was important to me.
Here is how I rationalized it:
- Tradition – My family has practiced this religion for generations.
- Travis didn’t have a preference.
- I knew that I wanted to have a ceremony that was meaningful.
After spending the weekend talking about marriage I realized what makes a Catholic marriage different from a normal civil service. In the Catholic religion marriage is seen as a Sacrament. This means that in the church, marriage is the same honor as becoming a priest or nun. It is seen as a calling and has a purpose.
The calling begins when two people fall in love. I truly believe that when Travis and I met we were brought together by a force greater than cupid.com. When a couple make the choice to marry, they choose to have that calling recognized, cemented and celebrated by their community of family, friends and church.
Then it is the couple’s responsibility to share their love with that community and to be role models for a strong marriage. Not to go too JC on you, but it is our responsibilty to demonstrate God’s love through our relationship.
This purpose makes it that much more sacred and special to me. I had never thought of the marriage as greater than Travis and I. I had imagined us having a family together, but never that our marriage would matter to anyone else.
I hope this is making sense? I feel a lot of emotion about this topic and hope that I’m not boring you with all of these thoughts. This was what Oprah would call an A-Ha! moment.
Anyway, more to come about the encounter, but I would highly recommend it to anyone who is considering having a Catholic wedding. And if you aren’t Catholic, but you feel that tug in your heart that is telling you that your wedding ceremony should be sacred than I would encourage you to seek out a similiar program of your own faith.
Love is a powerful thing and it’s our responsibility to show that love to the world.