MATRIMONY

“The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1601)

Married couples, in virtue of their Sacrament of Matrimony, express and share in the mystery of marital love that exists between Christ and the Church. Through your preparation and entering into this holy vocation as married persons you are a symbol of unconditional love and intimate communion between Jesus, (the Groom) and the Church (His bride).

To witness the love of a man and woman made holy in the Sacrament of Matrimony is to see concretely the love between Christ and His Church. Marriage fills us with great joy and gratitude. That is why we take the preparation and celebration of this sacrament seriously.

To get started in your preparation process, please call the parish office at least six months before your wedding date.

Marriage in the Catholic Church is more than the celebration of a couple’s love for each other. While the Church rejoices in your love, we also recognize the One who is the author of your love. These guidelines have been established so that this time of joy will not only be an experience filled with happiness but also one that expresses faith and reverence in God in whose love we have been created.

MAY I BE MARRIED AT SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST?
If you would like to have your wedding here at Saint John the Baptist, we ask that either the bride or groom be a registered active parishioner before arranging a date for your marriage. If neither of you live in our parish, then it is necessary to have permission of your own pastor (of the parish where you now reside) before we can celebrate your wedding. Exceptions may be made for those in temporary living conditions, college, the military, etc.

The Sacrament of Matrimony requires special preparation for couples who want to enter into marriage. A public celebration of the Sacrament of Marriage should reflect a willingness on the part of the couple to practice a Christian way of life. If the couple is cohabitating before marriage, they will be encouraged to find living accommodations, more suitable for a Christian couple, preparing to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.

A common policy throughout all five dioceses in Wisconsin is that couples allow at least six months for preparation.

>> Marriage Form

ANNULMENTS
Often individuals are not fully participating in the life of the church because of divorce and remarriage. Others, civilly divorced, have questions regarding the previous marriage. The Pastor would happily meet with you to discuss the status and possibilities of these particular situations. If one person has been previously married, the couple should contact the parish office much earlier than six months to secure, if possible, the necessary annulment for the upcoming marriage.

THE PREPARATION PROGRAM INCLUDES:
1) The initial contact with the Pastor which involves gathering BASIC INFORMATION from the couple. He will give out a marriage booklet and needed information to the couple. Copies of the baptismal certificates for persons not baptized at Saint John Parish are required, so it would be helpful to bring them to this meeting.

2) The completion of the FOCCUS INVENTORY with a trained Married couple of our parish. The Pastor will give the couple the needed information.

3) Involvement in a PRE-MARRIAGE PREPARATION DAY. The Pastor will give the couple a schedule with the contact information for all the Marriage Preparation Days in the Diocese of La Crosse. The couple will sign up and attend one of them.

4) The couple will meet with the Pastor to go over the WEDDING CEREMONY PLANS.

In cases where both the Bride and the Groom are Catholic the wedding Ceremony usually takes place within the celebration of Mass.

In cases where one spouse is not Catholic, Mass is usually not celebrated (regardless of family preferences), as the Eucharist would be a sign of disunity between the couple during a ceremony of unity.

Because of the 4:00pm Mass on Saturday and Confessions at 3:00pm, the Wedding Ceremony begins at 1:00pm or earlier.

As Bishop Sheen reminded us years ago, and reminds us today; “It takes three to get married . . . the third person being God.” As Catholics we celebrate Marriage-in-Christ.

NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
What is NFP anyway? Ask the average American for a description of Natural Family Planning (NFP), and you will probably get a blank look or a reference to calendar rhythm. Natural Family Planning (NFP) is an umbrella term for certain methods used to achieve and avoid pregnancies. These methods are based on observation of the naturally occurring signs and symptoms of the fertile and infertile phases of a woman’s menstrual cycle. Couples using NFP to avoid pregnancy abstain from intercourse and genital contact during the fertile phase of the woman’s cycle. No drugs, devices, or surgical procedures are used to avoid pregnancy. NFP reflects the dignity of the human person within the context of marriage and family life, promotes openness to life, and recognizes the value of the child. By respecting the love-giving and life-giving natures of marriage, NFP can enrich the bond between husband and wife.

The Top 10 Reasons to Use Natural Family Planning (NFP)
1) It unravels the mystery of the woman. NFP gives both spouses an understanding of the changing hormones of the woman and how that impacts her energy, moods, fertility.

2) NFP is health conscious. NFP does not harm the body. It poses no risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, vision changes, weight gain, sporadic bleeding or depression.

3) NFP has planning possibilities. With NFP you can time when you want to have children. Because you know when you are fertile you can truly plan for each pregnancy and birth. No guess work. This is so important for couples who are having difficulty conceiving. Most doctors will recommend NFP to couples when they are not conceiving.

4) NFP is a “both / and” system. With NFP you can both avoid as well as achieve a pregnancy. It allows you the freedom to choose which is best for you cycle by cycle. And it is good not only for your body, but also for your minds and spirits. It is marriage insurance.

5) NFP is a communication machine. Nothing is taken for granted when a couples uses NFP. As we often say, if a couple can discuss cervical mucus and decide how to handle it, they can certainly discuss the check book balance and how to handle that.

6) NFP teaches marital intimacy. When a couple practices NFP, they learn to love both within the marital act as well as outside the act of physical unity. Husbands who know their wife’s cycle are more able to love without expecting something in return. Because there are no chemical or latex barriers used in NFP, the couple can truly give themselves completely to each other. This enhances the romance!

7) NFP encourages Christ-like love. Every spouse wants to experience total, faithful and fruitful love. NFP sets the stage for this. It is true that couples who practice NFP practice chastity and make decisions to forego physical intimacy for a few days if they are choosing to avoid a pregnancy. But, in that sacrificial giving, the couple learns how to be of service to each other and, ultimately, to God.

8) NFP is open to life. Couples practicing NFP experience the joy and awe of conception, pregnancy and child birth. They have a deeper understanding of children as a supreme gift from God to them. And, they have a greater commitment to be responsible parents.

9) NFP is Popular. NFP is the morally upright teaching of the Catholic Church. The Church teaches that NFP is the right way to plan a family because it honors how we were made. NFP unites family to marriage.

10) NFP is green and organic. NFP promotes good health. It doesn’t pollute the human body or our earthly environment. It enhances self discipline in all walks of life. It follows natural law as well as natural moral law.

Diocese of La Crosse Office for Marriage & Family Life, Phone: 715-235-6226, Director: Alice B. Heinzen, PO Box 4004, La Crosse, WI 54602-4004. nfp@diolc.org

Parish NFP Contact Person: Nancy Hackel: Parish Office: (715) 352-3011
>> Marriage Form