This past weekend, a good friend of mine and his fiancée, both Catholic, took part in the church’s traditional marriage preparation course called Pre-Cana. What exactly is Pre-Cana? I’m glad you asked!
Dating back to simpler times, when God actually roamed the earth and all arguments about why we are here? and what it all means? were settled by going straight to the source – though of course no one ever thought to write it down, instead opting for stories about mustard seeds and fig trees (great choice there, guys) – Pre-Cana is derived from the Biblical story of The Marriage at Cana where, according to the gospel of John, one of the more reliable Evangelists, Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water into wine, thus bequeathing his proverbial “nod of approval” on all earthly celebrations of the sacrament of marriage.
One can assume that in its early form, Pre-Cana involved things like harsh admonishments, threats of damnation, the trading of cattle and a looot of kneeling. These days, Pre-Cana is a catered weekend conference, usually held in the church, where couples engaged to be married pay anywhere from $25 to $100 per person (depending on the quality of the food and the degree to which you hope God will approve your union) to be interviewed and counseled by a priest concerning their impending marriage. The priest will discuss things like kids (no), money (yes), sex (yes) and what your partner may expect of you (no). Also, the priest will encourage the couple to ask each other questions they may never have thought to ask before, such as the following:
Have you ever been arrested? (None of your business)
How much debt do you owe? (None of your business)
Have you been married before? (No.)
Have you ever been committed to an institution? (No.)
Do you have a drug problem? (None of your business)
which are, in my opinion, all great things to know. But here’s the thing: If I am getting married, do I really need a special ceremony to find out if my girlfriend has a drug problem? Shouldn’t that be something we have already shared during our three beautiful weeks together? And if it isn’t, is church really the right time?
Me: “Do you have a drug problem?”
Her: “Well I don’t think it’s really a problem.”
Priest: “Go on. God will still love you and help you through.”
Her: “Sometimes I have sex for coke.”
Priest: “Actually, God doesn’t forgive that one. Sorry.”
You see, the church is like an old friend of mine. We grew up together, so I know all about it, and even have some fond memories of it– like in third grade when I went to my first confession and, distrustful of the fact that God forgives everything decided to hedge my bets by making up a few sins and then finishing the list with, “AND I’VE LIED.”
But then the church and I grew up. And the church went on to become very successful and I went on to become very jaded and reasonable. And now we don’t get along so well. Like if we ran into each other in the grocery store, I wouldn’t punch the church in the face, but maybe I would hide behind the Entenmann’s rack to avoid having the awkward conversation:
Church: “Hello, Daniel!”
Me: “Hey, Church.”
Church: “I haven’t seen you in so long!”
Me: “I know, I’ve just been so busy . . .”
Church: “Oh? what are you doing now?”
Me: “You know, the usual. Say, how’s the proselytizing going?”
Church: “Wonderfully! I’m saving people left and right.”
Me: “That’s great.”
Church: “Gosh, really great to see you. You should stop by sometime. We’ll have the body and blood of Christ, it’ll be nice . . .”
The way I see it, if you’re going to go through all the trouble of making people talk to each other, why not at least ask the right questions? I mean, who cares how many kids she wants? Like money, she’ll have as much as you give her, and she’ll be happy with them. I have much more important things I want to know about my future wife, and you should too.
Herewith, the five things you should ask any spouse-to-be. I’ve even broken them down by Church-style category:
Would you take a bullet for me?
If we were offered the same deal as in the movie Indecent Proposal, would we take it?
List the following things in order, from most important to least: fantasy football, traveling, pizza, family, the beach, integrity, health
Would you still love me if I got fat? lost an arm? went blind?
Cool or not cool: Raising a child so that they are perfectly normal, except they lick the palm of their hand before shaking hands with someone?
Correct answers below!
EXPECTATIONS – Yes (said with no hesitation)
MONEY – No
LIFESTYLE – Order is correct
SEX – TRICK QUESTION. Sex has nothing to do with love.
KIDS – Very cool.