MARRIAGE PREPARATION COURSE
The Present Situation - The Remedy
Nine out of ten people marry sooner or later ... and probably you will be among those nine. Will you be happy in your married life? The answer to that problem rests to a very great extent in your own hands, upon how you prepare for happiness in marriage! Too many young couples expend time, money and energy in preparing solely for the wedding day, forgetting that the wedding day is but the introduction to a lifetime union. "Happily ever after..." yes, perhaps, but the "ever after" depends so largely upon the preparation and the training that have gone before. Marriage is a state of life (even more than a career) that will yield dividends in happiness only in proportion as it is prepared for and lived up to.
In this first lesson we propose to place in a clearer light the necessity of studying conscientiously the Christian idea of marriage and of preparing your soul to receive in all its abundance the grace of the Sacrament of Matrimony. To do this, we shall review together the current ideas concerning marriage. We shall consider them carefully in the light of Christian principles to decide if we should accept these ideas as they are, or reject them. Finally, we shall try to determine what is the best preparation for marriage.
I THE PRESENT SITUATION
What is the general attitude today towards marriage? Among our family, our friends and acquaintances, among our fellow workers, among people generally, what is the trend of conversation when marriage is being discussed? Do people really try to study marriage and understand its true nature? Actually, this is what happens: an observation is made concerning certain individual cases, then a general conclusion is drawn, usually unfavorable to marriage.
MARRIAGES, HAPPY AND UNHAPPY
But, then, are there no happy homes in our immediate neighborhood? If we observe closely, we discover that there are, and perhaps in greater numbers than we think but, by the very fact that they are normal, they do not draw attention. On the other hand, the unhappy homes make so much more noise with their quarrels, with the social disturbances which they provoke and the troubles they cause to those around them that we notice them more and may easily come to think that they outnumber the happy homes. Nevertheless, we must admit that there are far too many unhappy marriages. There are also, unfortunately, many marriages that are happy only in outward appearance, and other marriages that, while they could be classed as happy marriages, are too frequently marred by unnecessary bickering traceable to lack of sufficient knowledge.
But how is it that marriage, planned by God to bring earthly and even eternal happiness, instead so often brings only unhappiness and perhaps eternal damnation also? Is it not because those who enter this state are frequently not sufficiently prepared for it and, having no idea of the obligations it entails, neglect to fulfil the duties it imposes? Is it not also because they have not kept control of their passions before marriage and so bring to their partner in marriage not a pure body and a lofty soul but a body that is spent and a soul that is self-centred?
1) FALSE MAXIMS
Make a brief survey of your own locality; observe the attitudes of those around you: then, try to list the usual slogans in circulation concerning marriage in order to discover for yourself their poisonous influence. Here is what you will find...
"You are only young once" As if that makes every wrong thing right! Thus you will see mere adolescents keeping company and going steady; of course, these meetings are not called courtship, the word is too serious. Then, too, they have plenty of time to think it over! With this mentality, from the age of 15 on, they begin to flirt, inviting dangerous experiences that risk the loss of precious innocence. In all of this, they follow their instincts. But who is to blame? Who has explained to these young people that love is something beautiful, something noble? Can we expect them to realize that marriage is not a game where you try your luck, but rather something which involves Life itself and is a preparation for eternity? What example have they to follow? Their big brothers and sisters were no better trained and so ... they follow the wretched principle, "Everybody does it!"
The one who looks handsome, dresses well, and has the most material advantages is the one most sought after. Note the qualities desired in the ideal boy-friend: "I want him taller than I am, fair (or dark), with beautiful eyes, lovely teeth. He must be a good dancer, etc." "I like a girl with a nice figure, beautiful hair, a smart dresser" etc.
We cannot condemn this search for what is beautiful. It is something very natural, a means of encouraging neatness and hygiene and developing good taste. But how often this desire to please degenerates into culpable flirting. The desire to be beautiful may bring real abuses in its wake. When only the exterior counts, no one bothers with practical qualities: whether a girl knows how to sew or cook, whether she knows anything about housekeeping, is the least of one's worries. If they are noticed, these defects are readily excused in the thought that any young woman should have plenty of time to learn these things after she is married.
2) THE FLIRT
When a couple have no serious intentions of marriage, what purpose is served by their becoming well acquainted? Since they do not intend to marry each other, it is only to pass time away. So, they go to the movies, the theatre, fine eating places; they exchange costly gifts. A savings account or a trousseau is out of the question because their money goes so quickly. And then, it's so flattering to be able to say: "My boy friend is no miser: he can't do enough to please me!" Is love, then, to be measured by the price of a gift, or the amount one spends on his friend?
It would be bad enough if it were only a matter of spending one's money. Actually, it is one's heart that is wasted. There is a faking of love, and when real love comes along, it is turned aside simply because one is not used to being generous, to giving oneself wholly and entirely without counting the cost. And only too often it is here that the soul is wrecked. Instead of making courtship a time when each enriches the other, giving mutual examples of devotion, generosity and purity, many young couples lower themselves, cheapen themselves, and dishonour themselves.
Most courtships last too long. It would seem that many couples want to put marriage off as long as possible, very often because of selfishness, fear of the future with its responsibilities, and sometimes through disgust. These different mental states are also the result of a false education. The thought of marriage inevitably entails that of children, and, in only too many cases, it is a duty that the couple would like to escape.
3) FEAR OF CHILDREN
Today in every class of society, a really diabolical campaign is being waged against children. Among women, the fear of motherhood is invoked, suffering is feared; there is an apprehension of pain and even sometimes of death. Vanity and human respect also play their wretched part. Pregnancy is often ridiculed.
Among men, selfishness furnishes a powerful argument. All sorts of pretexts are found for practising birth-prevention; "Children are a burden; they cost a great deal; we couldn't give them the education they should have..." If children are not excluded entirely, these false principles are used to justify limiting the number of children. We even hear sometimes that large families are a source of both physical and mental inferiority. And husbands who have been loyal to their duty are seen to blush with shame before their friends who are more "up to date" and who are not bothered with scruples like that!
The very fact of announcing their approaching marriage places some of our young people in a strange position. Some of their relatives and friends will approve and be sincere in their congratulations. Others, however, will be cynically critical: "You're making a serious mistake to tie yourself down like that!" "You're foolish to get married so young!" Still others reveal their surprise and abysmal ignorance regarding marriage by exclaiming: "And to think they're such fine children!"
We have not yet finished exposing all the nonsense and exaggerations you will hear concerning married life.
Conjugal fidelity is often presumed to be and considered something absolutely impossible. Certain groups, for example, flatly deny the very possibility of husband and wife loving each other with a true and exclusive love for their whole life. If you admit their principle, you open the door to all sorts of abuses. The husband and wife, being independent, will want to continue living as they did before marriage. The wife will keep on working, as a general rule, so that she will owe nothing to her husband; each will have their own group of friends with whom they frequent their own clubs and circles. The home is deserted for all sorts of pretexts and neither the husband nor the wife has a right to complain. Little by little a breach is made until love and virtue escape through it.
It is indeed sad to note naive young women without an ounce of logic who think that they have found a remedy for this, and that in order to avoid this danger; they have only to marry a young man who has already led a rather wild life. They imagine that after marriage these young men will be ideal husbands, chaste and faithful, able and willing to settle down and make them happy. But where will they have learned these virtues?
In very many marriages the couple will have nothing to do with Christian conjugal morality. "It's the invention of priests who don't know anything about such matters ... they're not married!" Would you say that a doctor must have had every disease before he can cure patients efficiently, or that a lawyer must have been a criminal in order to understand and defend his clients? They claim also that Catholic morality is too demanding, that it is impossible to practise it. It would seem according to this reasoning that people would like to convince themselves that in marriage "everything goes" and that one must impose no restraint on one's instincts. In reality, Catholic morality is the way pointed out by God to win true happiness.
In examining these so-called modern ideas on marriage (as propounded by many secular universities and colleges), we see what a pitiful attitude modern society has on this subject. With principles, habits and a morality like this, should we be surprised if marriage is not more highly regarded, or if it so frequently causes nothing but wretchedness and disgust?
II THE CHRISTIAN IDEAL
Married life, as we often see it, is certainly not always edifying. The reason for this is very simple: there has been a departure from Christian principles. People now wish to live according to their whims and fancies, according to their own selfish ways; they reject the teachings of Christ and His Church, preferring instead the erroneous Barabbas-like ideas of the modern world. The result is that they are miserable on earth and often are preparing for a similar eternity.
On the other hand, let's take a look around us at the homes prepared and conducted according to the Christian teachings on marriage. These marriages are still numerous although they tend to diminish under the pagan and materialistic influence of modern ideas. The sight of happy marriages is most gratifying. There are difficulties here as well (Who is ever without them?)-but they are happy because happiness is to be found only where duties are generously fulfilled. It is the picture of a happy home that we would draw for you in the light of the doctrine of Christ and the Church.
The attraction which draws two people of different sexes into an intimate union and which leads them to give themselves entirely to each other forever in marriage ... is a gift from heaven. God Himself who is all love, creates this conjugal love, modelled after His own, in order to transmit natural life down the centuries. Since we are made up of body, mind and soul, conjugal love should partake of these, three elements and be simultaneously physical, spiritual, and supernatural. The physical element is necessary for conjugal love and will make possible sexual relations which transmit life. Friendship will unite their characters and will blend the two souls into one. By this is gauged the solidity of the union. Love, which unites the two souls living in the state of grace, will not only supernaturalize this noble human love and give it a meritorious and sanctifying value, but it will also establish the union of the husband and wife on a divine foundation that is indestructible. The union of two persons in Christian marriage is something unique on the face of the earth, something that cannot be compared to any natural union, nor to any other marriage.
The beauty, the grandeur and nobility of such love blends these two souls and bodies into one soul and one body. It is not a selfish, self-seeking love in which each thinks of self first and of the other only when there is no sacrifice demanded. Rather it is a love which is a total giving o f self to another, a living only for the one loved, being ready to make any sacrifice for the one loved. A love like this spreads joy and happiness; it begets life whereas selfish love kills it. It is made up of respect and admiration. It is a love which elevates two beings to a fuller life, radiating joy, and leading them to heaven and to God.
Inspired by a love like this, courtship assumes a new aspect that is characteristically Christian. Young people meet each other, not exclusively to enjoy each other (which might become very dangerous), but rather to become better acquainted in view o f a possible future marriage. They are indeed fortunate who enter marriage with all the freshness of innocence still in their soul! These are marriages that nothing can break up. Unhappy, by contrast, are those who have wasted their youth in flirtation and in insincere love; they are tired of life and unable to love in the true sense of the word.
Intimate acquaintance and sympathetic understanding of each other should be the aim of the interested parties in honourable courtship. If you see clearly that such a young man would not be a good husband for you, or that such a girl could not be a good wife for you, that you would not care to have this individual as the father, or mother, of your children, then you have the obligation to break off these meetings which are no longer justifiable. If, on the other hand, you do discover your "true love", you ought to spare no effort to acquire a deep knowledge of this person, to help in the correction of defects, until you are definitely decided that in God's Providence you were destined to be united in Matrimony. Courtship should continue for the length of time needed to make this momentous decision. It is dangerous to shorten or lengthen this important period without serious reason.
Engagement is the mutual promise of a man and woman to marry. As mentioned above, the time between engagement and marriage should not be lengthened without serious reason as it may become an occasion of sin.
The purpose of courtship is that the future husband and wife may become better acquainted. Engagement should consequently bring about a greater union of souls which marriage will ratify forever. Hence, the couple should make every effort to foster the same Christian ideal regarding marriage, to share the same ideas, the same tastes, in short one and the same life, so that marriage will only have to consecrate by an eternal pledge this fusion of soul which is already an accomplished fact.
On the wedding day, God Himself will deign to sanctify this union of a young man and a young woman in the Sacrament of Matrimony. "They shall be two in one flesh," we read in .Sacred Scripture. At this moment a family is founded in the eyes of God. Just as Christ is wed to His Church, so the husband is joined to his wife. Both will be mutually faithful to each other, and together, with the help of God's grace, they will confidently set out on their new life. If God gives them the blessing of children, their home will be peopled with lovely and lovable little creatures who, under the guidance of their parents, will become true Christians and worthy citizens.
5) MUTUAL SUPPORT
Trials and difficulties are to be found in marriage just as elsewhere. Earth is unquestionably a vale of tears and so difficulties await even the most Christian homes. Yet, in such homes trials are accepted patiently and generously because mutual love, a sense of duty, and the sacramental grace constitute a strong defence against all the forces which tend to break up a home. Moreover, difficulties and misfortunes, being mutually shared, will strengthen this union that is based on the fulfilment of duty and on fidelity to the vocation of marriage.
No home, even among the best, is completely sheltered from misunderstandings, misapprehensions and mistakes. It is often said that marriage is a state of life in which each goes half way. In the Christian home, this truth is well grasped and marriage is entered into with the clear understanding that one must give rather than receive. Self-sacrifice is the best proof o f true love.
At the foot of the altar both parties pronounce a solemn vow of mutual fidelity. Resting on the authority of God Himself, this vow is inviolable. The vigorous religious life of the husband and wife gives all possible assurance to human frailty that this vow of fidelity will be kept until death. By cooperating with God's grace, fidelity is possible; for those who come to marriage with hearts fresh and pure, it is quite easy. One's past life of virtue is a guarantee for future fidelity.
What profound happiness is enjoyed by the husband and wife who can live together with unfaltering confidence in each other: This is the reward of marriage prepared for and lived in accordance with Christian principles.
7) COOPERATING WITH GOD
With confidence in each other, and at peace with God, Christian spouses enter marriage with a sincere, firm resolution to keep the laws of God, which will guarantee their true happiness. These laws will have become familiar to them through the earnest preparation that introduces them to their new vocation. They are resolved to observe them in every detail despite difficulty and temptation, because they see therein the road to that true happiness which is relatively easy to attain with the help of God's grace. What consolation and what peace are theirs, living like this in the grace of God and the tranquillity of pure and generous souls!
Marriage gives the right to sexual relations. The Christian husband and wife understand the grandeur and nobility of this act. Accomplished in the state of grace, for love of God and of one's partner, this act assumes a supernatural character and becomes meritorious. It is a gift of self so complete that it is explained only by a profound love. It is a necessary cooperation in the creative work o f God Who creates an immortal soul to animate the body formed by the act of the parents.
8) THE CHILD - A GIFT OF HEAVEN
The child is, then, a living replica or resume of the father and mother, just as it is a kind of continuation of their life. That is why the child is so lovable. It is the' wonderful fruit of the flesh and blood of the father and mother; a sort of incarnation of their love. Regenerated in Baptism, the little creature becomes a child of God and of the Church. The parents have given a soul to God, a citizen to the state, a Christian to the Church, and a saint to our Lord. For this reason in truly Christian families the child is not merely accepted, but eagerly desired. Parents live only for their children. They fully realize that herein is happiness, for true love begets life.
9) FAMILY LIFE
Christian education should be the natural "follow-up" to the procreation of the child. What joy to hear that baby voice pronounce the names of papa and mama, after that of Jesus; to be loved by that child who depends on you for everything. Later on, when his personality is developing, you can recognize in his character family traits which unite you even more closely to this other self. What happiness may be yours to see your child embrace perhaps a life of devotedness and generous sacrifice like that of the priesthood, the religious life, a missionary career, or a profoundly Christian life in Catholic Action or in social action.
Could there be any spectacle more beautiful than that of the family in which the father, mother, and child, form an earthly trinity! There you have the real reward for the many sacrifices which must be made by the parents. And, according to the plan of God, this reward will increase in direct proportion to the number of children in the home.
10) SACRAMENTAL GRACE
A marriage that is well prepared is a happy marriage. Let difficulties come, the Sacrament of Matrimony is there to meet them. "Matrimony is the Sacrament by which a baptized man and a baptized woman bind themselves for life in a lawful marriage and receive the grace to discharge their duties." Marriage is not only a Sacrament with passing effects; it is a state of life produced and established by a Sacrament, the effects of which last as long as the marriage itself. Thus, in a Christian home recourse is often made to the sacramental grace, the source of which was received on that memorable wedding day.
From one point of view, this sacramental grace is a supernatural insurance policy, containing all the necessary helps to meet the difficulties of married life. In fact, it is an insurance against quarrels, ill-humour, etc. Happy are those married Christians who know how to draw all possible supernatural profit from their Sacrament.
11) THE REWARD
Happiness is the immediate reward of a Christian life in marriage: happiness on earth in a family and in conjugal life generously lived, happiness in heaven where the soul which has been faithful to the divine law will receive the reward of full and superabundant life.
This is the picture of married life as it is when lived according to Christian principles. It bears with it every guarantee of true happiness. The contracting parties in Christian marriage, by generously accepting life with all life's responsibilities, find true happiness. On the other hand, there is no resemblance between truly Christian marriage and that unnatural pagan promiscuity which does not even deserve the name of marriage. The latter class, shirking even the necessary sacrifices, leads a self-centred selfish life which in turn destroys happiness.
Which of these two ideals do you prefer? Your answer is obvious - a Christian marriage. The problem, then, is: How can you assure a truly Christian marriage for yourself? We shall discuss this point immediately.
III THE REMEDY
All that we have just seen about the present situation regarding marriage and the real nature of marriage proves that we really should make serious preparation before crossing the threshold of this new state of life which we anticipate. It will not be sufficient preparation for us to merely read over the text of this and following lessons; we must also become firmly convinced of the truths explained and transform our own lives accordingly. We must also in some sort meditate and consider the text seriously, going back over each little point to convince ourselves of the force of the arguments. Above all we must have the sincere wish to live according to our convictions. In this way, as we advance in the Course, we shall feel the need of changing a certain way of thinking or acting, of giving up such and such a habit, of correcting a certain defect.
We must realize well, and this is especially important, that we shall never prepare ourselves for a happy and fruitful marriage merely by an intellectual grasp of the moral dangers which surround us and of the means to safeguard ourselves against them. We must, in addition, be ever on our guard against dangers, by prayer, through frequent reception of the Sacraments and sincere and constant efforts to practise virtue.
1) THE CHURCH DESIRES THIS PREPARATION
Here is what His Holiness Pius XI recommends in his encyclical Casti Connubii
"Consequently, since everything must be referred to the law and mind of God, in order to bring about the universal and permanent restoration of marriage, it is indeed of the utmost importance that the faithful should be well instructed concerning matrimony; both by word of mouth and by the written word, not cursorily but often and fully, by means of plain and weighty arguments, so that these truths will strike the intellect and will be deeply engraved on their hearts. Let them realize and diligently reflect upon the great wisdom, kindness and bounty God has shown towards the human race, not only by the institution of marriage, but also, and quite as much, by upholding it with sacred laws; still more, in wonderfully raising it to the dignity of a Sacrament by which such an abundant fountain of graces has been opened to those joined in Christian wedlock for their own welfare and for that of their children, of the community and also for that of human relationship.
"Certainly, if the latter day subverters of marriage are entirely devoted to misleading the minds of men and corrupting their hearts, to making a mockery of matrimonial purity and extolling the filthiest of vices by means of books and pamphlets and other innumerable methods, much more ought you, Venerable Brethren ... to give yourselves wholly to this, that through yourselves and through the priests subject to you, and moreover through the laity welded together by Catholic Action, so much desired, and recommended by Us, into a power of hierarchical apostolate, you may, by every fitting means, oppose error by truth, vice by the excellent dignity of chastity, the slavery of covetousness by the liberty of the sons of God, that disastrous ease in obtaining divorce by an enduring love in the bond of marriage and by the inviolate pledge of fidelity given even to death."
2) WHAT THE CHURCH IS DOING
To carry out this program, the Church pays the greatest attention to the preparation of young couples for marriage. Priests are bound to investigate as to how well prepared are their subjects who are about to marry. Matrimony is a Sacrament, and the legislation on it obliges the pastor of the parish or the priest delegated by him, not only to inquire into the dispositions of the engaged couple, but also to examine their knowledge of marriage itself, when they come to inform him of their intended marriage. In case of ignorance or wrong ideas, the priest must instruct the future husband and wife about their rights and duties, showing them the grandeur and nobility of the sacrament which they are going to receive for life, teaching them the means of fulfilling all their obligations well.
3) THE ROLE OF CATHOLIC ACTION
In answer to the desires of Pope Pius XI, groups engaged in Catholic Action have also wished to do their part by instructing their members in the Christian doctrine on marriage. The initiative for this movement belongs to the YCW (Young Christian Workers). In 1938, the leaders of the movement studied the encyclical "Casti Connubii" on Christian marriage, in order to acquire a thorough knowledge and firm conviction on this subject with a view to communicating these to the working class. While making this study, they conducted an extensive enquiry regarding the ideas on marriage that were prevalent among their fellow workers. The facts which they discovered showed them how ignorant the masses of the people are concerning the Christian ideal of married life and how greatly they are being influenced by present-day paganism and materialism.
We have at hand some very interesting figures of the study made by the Young Christian Worker groups. During the year 1938-39, the Christian doctrine on marriage was studied and discussed in: 16,464 directors' meetings (committees); 79,392 leaders' meetings (study circles); 6,756 meetings of members; 600 mass meetings; 115 study days; 14 study weeks.
As a conclusion to this year of study and enquiry, the YCW prepared the "Hundred Marriages" which everyone will recall. There was a great deal written and said about this ceremony. It possessed, in fact, something of the spectacular. But we must remember that each one of these marriages had been prepared for by prayer and study under the direction of zealous priests. In addition, most of the brides and grooms made a retreat in preparation for their marriage. The effect of thus grouping around the same altar more than one hundred couples in the presence of many bishops and many thousands of spectators, was that the event received extraordinary national and international publicity. The Hundred Marriages constituted a simple but at the same time a powerful and eloquent sermon on Christian marriage. They marked the introduction to the new interest we now witness in the question of Christian marriage, and in the care which the Church takes to prepare her children well for this holy state.
MARRIAGE PREPARATION SERVICES
Having discovered the immense need of the working class for a Christian preparation for marriage, the YCW planned to organize immediately a permanent service for this purpose. The war delayed the realization of this plan on a nationwide scale but, in 1940 and 1941, some experiments were made by different isolated groups which served as the basis for the technique finally adopted by Marriage-Preparation Services, and which is now functioning throughout the world. Everywhere, youth follow the course of these instructions with enthusiasm, interest and gratitude.
ORGANIZATION OF THE SERVICE:
The Pontifical and Civil University of Ottawa has organized an extension department known as "The Catholic Centre". This department acts as a "social laboratory" where actual Christian problems of the people are studied and research is made as to their practical, easy and efficient solution. This research is made through study and consultations as well as through suggestions coming from the people themselves. Data are assembled, analyzed, classified, and then developed into what is called a "Service" of the Catholic Centre.
In the development of such vital undertakings, the Catholic Centre has been more than fortunate in obtaining active, enthusiastic help in the form of ideas and suggestions contributed by thousands of pastors and of the faithful. Even more than that, these .many thousands have gladly and voluntarily placed themselves at the disposal of the Catholic Centre as the agents who test, in the various circumstances of everyday living, the findings of the different Services. As the result of such experimentation in the midst of actual conditions, the Catholic Centre is enabled to present, not theoretical solutions to problems submitted, but rather solutions that have been tried and found truly effective. Such has been the case for Marriage-Preparation Services; the following are the various techniques that have been evolved as a result:
1) CORRESPONDENCE COURSES :
The authorities of the University of Ottawa are firmly convinced that a university should not limit its instruction and social formation to only those fortunate enough to be able to be present at the university itself. Rather, it is their belief that a university exists for the good of all the people and, therefore, that these institutions should do everything possible to go to the people, diffusing religious and social truth for all.
Thus, in close cooperation with Catholic Action movements, the Catholic Centre, as an extension department of the University of Ottawa, has organized the Correspondence Course of Marriage-Preparation Services in order to reach the largest number of young people, especially those for whom discussion groups are not available. Those, then, who are prevented by distance or working hours from regular attendance at discussion group sessions, may nevertheless still prepare for future happiness in marriage by following the Course of Preparation for Marriage under the Correspondence method.
The lessons are written by specialists in spiritual matters, in law, in psychology, in biology and medicine. Shunning the sensational which seeks to provoke the passions, these lessons have been prepared and arranged in such a manner as to place the various elements of married life in their proper perspective and to provide pure, sound direction and training for happiness in marriage.
Under the correspondence plan, students may also submit their problems to the Catholic Centre with the assurance that these will be given confidential consideration and treatment by a staff of priests, laymen and laywomen who have been trained for this task.
2) DISCUSSION GROUPS:
Groups of young men or of young women are organized to participate actively in study groups, which delve into every aspect of marriage: religious, moral, medical, psychological, economic, social, legal. Subjects which require special professional training for their adequate treatment are explained in a talk given by specialists in the matter priests, doctors, nurses, psychologists, notaries, lawyers.
The texts of the lessons are the same as those used in the correspondence method and are presented in the same numerical arrangement. Thus, the complete Course as given in discussion groups also consists of fifteen study sessions which has been found to be a convenient length. These discussion groups may be organized on a parochial, an inter-parochial, or a diocesan basis. Problems of students are dealt with by the chaplain in charge of the individual group.
3) CLOSED RETREATS :
Marriage-Preparation Services urges that closed retreats specifically designed to help prepare for marriage should be organized while the discussion group is still studying the Course and at intervals after its completion. The usual program during these retreats is a study of the various aspects of marriage through informative instructions given by a priest or other competent lecturer. The prayer and reflection which are added to these instructions make for a serious preparation for marriage. Those who follow the Course under the Correspondence Plan are' well advised to make provision for one or more closed retreats, if at all possible, in order to give serious consideration to the thoughts contained in this Course. They will find it a most profitable undertaking: "I will withdraw her into the solitude and there I will speak to her soul."
4) FORUMS AND PUBLIC DEBATES:
These are friendly meetings open to all the young people in a parish in order to discuss some subject relating to marriage: courtship, engagement, etc. These forums constitute a remote preparation for the younger element or for those who are not keeping company seriously.
Following is the list of subjects treated in both the discussion group and correspondence course:
The Present Situation with regard to Marriage. What young people think of it. The Christian ideal of marriage. How to prepare for it.
The Ideal Husband - The Ideal Wife. The qualities to look for in your future partner. Defects to be avoided. The correction of faults.
Love and Happiness in Marriage. Love. Its elements. True love and sham love. True happiness in marriage. Differences in conjugal love.
Courtship and Engagement. The nature, purpose, qualities, place of courtship. Subjects to be discussed and settled during courtship. Engagements.
Masculine and Feminine Psychology. For men: how to understand women; for women: how to understand men. The psychological problem. Man's vocation; woman's vocation. Physical, intellectual, emotional aspects.
Economic Preparations (Masculine). Management of the home. Economic organization of family life. The budget, model budget. Revenues, expenditures.
Economic Preparation (Feminine). Nature and importance of economic preparation. The budget, Buying the trousseau, list of items. The family budget, division of responsibilities.
The Spirituality of Marriage. The vocation. The Sacrament. The purposes and qualities of marriage. Mistaken notions, consequences. God's call within marriage. The sacramental grace. The role of husband; the role of wife. The way to happiness.
Church Laws concerning Marriage. Prenuptial enquiry. Impediments to marriage. Publication of the banns. Conditions required for validity.
Civil Laws concerning Marriage. Legal formalities. Impediments. Nuptial agreement. Annulment, separation, divorce. Last will and testament.
The Marriage Ceremony. Liturgical explanation. Events before and after the ceremony. Showers, wedding outfit. Reception. Honeymoon.
Masculine and Feminine Anatomy and Physiology. God's Plan.
Reproductive organs of the male, of the female. The personal and social role of purity.
Relations between Husband and Wife, Pregnancy, Birth, Nursing. The mystery of the transmission of life. Practical instructions for these times.
Hygiene. General and sexual hygiene. Venereal diseases. Practice of individual sex hygiene, for men, for women. Necessity of conjugal sex hygiene. Hygiene of relations.
What is allowed: What is forbidden in Marriage. The moral aspect. Continence. Birth Control. Planned Parenthood. The Rhythm System.
The First Months of Marriage. The first relations. Physical, intellectual, moral adaptation. The Child. Summing up.
These are all the aspects of marriage which we shall study together. Let us put our whole heart and soul into this study in order to derive from it the greatest possible profit. It will prove itself to have been a very profitable investment for you. It will pay high dividends in future conjugal love and happiness.