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Congratulations! You have discerned that God is calling you to the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. This is exciting! But now what? Here are seven steps to help establish a strong foundation for your marriage. This process may take anywhere between 6-9 months. We understand that this may seem overwhelming but trust us: there is nothing better than investing in your future marriage…even before the “I do” words are spoken before the altar!
STEP 1: Prayerfully discern your vocation
When: Praying for your vocation is a lifetime process
The universal vocation of every human being is holiness. Most people are called to attain holiness through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The vocation of marriage is essential to the safeguarding and functioning of society. Marriage is the foundation on which the other vocations rest upon since other vocations generally stem from the family. The family itself is the basic cell of society. Couples who enter the marital covenant embrace a lifetime of sacrificial love by serving each other, their future children, and their parish community. Therefore, it is not a decision to be take lightly. To read more about the vocation of marriage: https://www.foryourmarriage.org/the-vocation-of-marriage/
“Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment.” – (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, no. 72)
STEP 2: Meet with your Pastor
When: BEFORE setting your wedding date
As soon as you become engaged and before setting a date for your wedding, you should contact your parish priest, deacon, or pastoral minister to let them know about your desire to receive the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. You will then be advised on the next steps. If you are not yet registered at a parish, we encourage you to do so as soon as possible before contacting the parish. Not sure what parish to attend? Here’s a list of parishes in the Diocese of San Jose: https://www.dsj.org/find-parish/
STEP 3: Take a Marriage Preparation Inventory
When: As soon as possible after the first meeting with your pastor
The next step is for couples to complete a Marriage Preparation Inventory, a series of questions designed to facilitate a good conversation about goals, habits, expectations, and values. Both the groom and bride each complete a survey. The inventory will provide a personalized profile of your relationship’s weaknesses and strengths. Your Pastor may choose one of the following inventories:
- FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study)
- Fully Engaged
STEP 4: Attend a Marriage Prep Retreat or Workshop
When: 7-8 months prior to the wedding Marriage Prep Retreats / Workshops are designed to fine tune practical skills for your marriage, such as conflict resolution, decision-making, financial management, and communication, to build on the knowledge you gained from your Marriage Inventory. We have several options for you to choose from. Note: the DSJ Marriage Prep Retreat is the only program that also includes the required NFP Intro Session. Choose from one of the following:
- DSJ Marriage Prep Retreat (Zoom)/Retiro de Preparación Matrimonial (Zoom):
- Catholic Engaged Encounter Weekend – an overnight weekend retreat.
- Parish Marriage Prep Workshop – varies from parish to parish.
STEP 5: Natural Family Planning (NFP) Intro Session
When: 2-6 months before the wedding
To better understand God’s design for marriage and spousal love, couples will have the opportunity to attend a Natural Family Planning (NFP) Intro Session. Modern Methods of NFP are versatile and are usable in any stage of a woman’s reproductive life; (regular, irregular cycles, breast feeding etc.) to either achieve or avoid pregnancy. It is based upon the couple’s own knowledge of their naturally occurring cyclic phases of fertility and infertility. Natural Family Planning is not contraception, it offers high reliability, morally acceptable and is a true means of shared family planning in which couples value, respect and understand their combined fertility.
Diocese of San Jose Fertility Care specializes in the Creighton Model System (family planning that’s completely natural). The Creighton Model System of Natural Family Planning offered through the Diocese of San Jose is also highly beneficial for those couples facing infertility concerns. To learn more or to register for a class, go here: https://www.dsj.org/evangelization/family-life/natural-family-planning/
STEP 6: Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation
When: As often as needed before your big day
We believe that our God is a God of mercy and forgiveness. Our Lord Jesus gave us the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession) so that we would restore our friendship with Him after we have committed sin. The Church encourages couples to receive this gift of mercy through frequent confession before and after their wedding. Married couples who receive this sacrament often have better odds at succeeding in their marriage.
To learn more about the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
STEP 7: Final meeting with your Pastor
When: 6-8 weeks before your wedding
You’re almost there! The purpose of his last meeting with your Pastor and/or Wedding Coordinator is to finalize the detail for the liturgical celebration of your wedding, such as readings, music, some optional prayers, and other cultural traditions.
AFTER YOUR WEDDING
Your wedding day will be one of the most important days of your life. But as important as it is, it is only a one-time event. Your marriage, on the other hand, is “until death do us part.” For this reason, it is important that you never cease to grow in love for each other and for God. Here are some resources to help you enrich your marriage and family life through the years.
Catholic Relationship Advice
Marriage and Family: Part 1
Marriage and Family: Part 2
Wait, Marriage Can Be Fun?
Date Your Spouse
Marriage and Relationships