The Dormition Parish Marriage Preparation Course will take place over two weekends:
Part 1: Friday-Saturday, February 9-10, 2024; and
Part 2: Friday-Saturday, February 23-24, 2024
To register, please click the following link to obtain the registration form:
2024 Marriage Preparation Registration Form
Friday, February 9, 2024
Session 1: “Created in the Image and Likeness of God”
We will go back to the very beginning to look at the First Creation Story (Gen 1). Man and woman are created by God in His own image and likeness (Gen 1:27). The image is to be found in every individual person, in the communion of marriage, and in its fullness – in the Church. Every human being is a precious and unique image of God. The goal of marriage is to recognise and embrace one another as unique and precious “images of God” created by God, and to help nurture one another to grow in the “likeness to God.”
To help discover and appreciate similarities and differences in who we are as persons, we will look at: The Traditional Catholic Theory of Four Temperaments, Extraversion and Introversion, Four Psychological Functions, Myers-Briggs Personality Types, Gender Differences, Family Origins, Personal Rules and Values.
Saturday, February 10, 2024
Session 2 – God’s Plan for Marriage
To gain a deeper understanding about God’s plan for marriage, we will review the Second Story of Creation (Gen 2:4-25). God is the Author of Marriage. He established marriage as a “communion of persons” and an indissoluble bond of unity. Humans are created by God to be social beings, a “self gift” to others, living in community with God and others. Every human being by nature desires to be a self-gift. God, who created man out of love, also calls him to love – the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. What is love? How is it expressed?
We will look at Four Authentic Loves, based on the four different Greek words for love: Familial Love (storge), Friendship (philia), Romantic Love (eros), and Sacrificial Love (agape). We will also discuss how love is communicated, based on work of Dr. Gary Chapman, a Christian counsellor and author of the book, “The Five Languages of Love.” Couples will become familiar with the five different ways in which people communicate love. Learning to love is a process that requires personal effort and continual growth.
Session 3 – The Fall and the Effects on Marriage.
We will review the Fall of the first man and woman, as described in Genesis, Chapter 3. We will discuss the consequences of the Fall, how the relationship between God and man changed, how the relationship between husband and wife changed, and how marriage in general was affected. After the Fall, every person struggles with concupiscence, which is the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the human heart. It is defined as the “lust of the flesh” (desire to satisfy the body), “lust of the eyes” (desire to have, own, rule), and “pride of life” (desire to be recognized, praised, elevated, exalted). The battle for genuine love in marriage to this day is a life-long battle against concupiscence. Couples will be given an exercise in which they will review to what extend they are guarding and preserving their love for one another. Under the regime of sin, trust is broken. The original ideal for marriage according to God’s plan is further eroded by the introduction of polygamy, adultery and divorce. Marriage is no longer seen strictly as a covenant of love, but very often as a contract between two persons. Nevertheless, the order of creation persists. Even after the Fall, marriage continues to be an important vocation, written into the very nature of man and woman, ordered towards their good. Turning to the Holy Scriptures, we will look at a true love story, the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah (Gen 24), lived out according to God’s plan.
Session 4 – Marriage Under the Law | Marriage in Christ
What is a Covenant? Couples will gain a deeper understanding of covenant, and the differences between a covenant and a contract. Turning to the Holy Scriptures, we will look at the Decalogue and the Covenant established by God with his people on Mount Sinai. We will then look at the Order of Marriage under the Law: The Betrothal, the Marriage Ceremony and the Feast.
By His presence at the wedding in Cana, Jesus confirms that marriage is good, and that the lawful marriage and its procreation are his will. Jesus restores marriage to God’s original plan and promises to the source of grace to live out marriage as indissoluble covenant bond of love. Christ raises marriage to the level of a sacramental mystery. Marriage becomes a visible of his presence in the world. In the understanding of the Christian East, the husband and wife are joined in marriage by God himself. We will turn to the Holy Scriptures to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the readings used at wedding services. In summary, marriage in Christ is understood to be: a gift, a covenant, a communion, a vocation, a school of love, a journey or pilgrimage, a path to holiness, and a sacramental mystery.
Session 5 – The Celebration of Marriage (Crowning)
The wedding service will be explained to couples in detail. The following will be discussed: wedding garments, spiritual preparation, confession, the importance of parental blessings, the betrothal service and exchange of rings, the procession into church, the consent, the binding of the hands, the vows, the crowning with crowns or wreaths, the candles, the readings, the common cup, the procession around the Gospel, the final blessing, the wedding feast, receiving Holy Communion for the first time as a married couple.
Friday, March 1, 2024
Session 6 – Finances and Good Stewardship
Money, possessions and time are precious gifts from God. In the communion of marriage, husband and wife are called to be good stewards of the gifts God has provided. Practical advice on money matters; finances and budgeting; saving money; keeping out of debt; buying a new home and mortgages; Tax Free Accounts, RRSP’s, RESP’s.
Session 7 – Marriage, Sexuality and the Dignity of Human Life
Sexuality is a gift from God. It marks not only the body, but also a person’s soul and spirit. Any selfish exploitation of another person as a means of obtaining sexual pleasure contradicts God’s gift of love and deforms the essence of sexuality. True marital love is fruitful love; therefore, the bodily union of spouses is open to procreation. The sexual act has a double aspect: unitive and procreative. The problem of artificial fertilisation. Artificial contraception vs. natural family planning.
Saturday, March 2, 2024
Session 8 – Sexual Intimacy and Natural Family Planning
Sex is a sacred gift from God, by which husband and wife renew their covenant of love and their “self-gift” to one another, and through which God creates new life; the sacredness of sex within marriage and openness to God and new life; the destructiveness of pornography and adultery; chastity – an important virtue for those who are married, those who are single, and those preparing for marriage. Information will be provided to couples about natural family planning and the various methods currently available.
What happens if a couple is not able to conceive? The benefits of natural family planning will be discussed. Also, in seeking medical intervention, what procedures are compatible with Church teaching and what procedures are contrary to Church teaching.
Session 9 – Communication in Marriage
Good communication is an essential skill and for building a great marriage and family; the presentation will provide concrete tools and principles to help couples grow in intimacy. The following five important keys to effective communication will be discussed: effective listening, effective talking, identifying non-verbal messages, dealing with issues, and effective checking.
We will also look at destructive patterns in communication and the problems caused by criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and withdrawal.
Session 10 – Putting God First
Advice on how to live out marriage as a sacrament by putting God first. Practical ways to nurture faith, spiritual growth, and to build a strong foundation for marriage and family life: the importance of personal and family prayer; the family icon corner; reading Holy Scripture; the Sunday Divine Liturgy; making a good confession; blessings; celebrating feast days, being part of a parish family etc.
A brief overview and explanation of the Divine Liturgy.