Monday, February 26, 2007

The Hundred Dollar Lunch

Last week Josh The Pilot and I attended Pre-Cana, which is a day-long marriage preparation course required by the Catholic Church. It costs one hundred American dollars. It is meant to "deepen a couple's awareness of the challenges of living together in Christian marriage." What it actually does is deepen a couple's awareness of the challenges of enduring a day-long marriage preparation course required by the Catholic Church.

This is what we learned:

1) Communication is good.

2) Credit cards are bad.

3) If you're a first-born child, you will become Hitler, but if you are a last-born child, you will merely remain in psychological diapers all the days of your life. (Birth-order psychologists have not yet bothered to draw up characteristics of middle children because they were too concerned with working on the profiles of the eldests and babies.)

4) Natural Family Planning is an extremely effective way of preventing pregnancy.
4a) Just ask our eight kids!

I have, at times, exaggerated in this-here little typing box for comedic effect. Not so today. The couple presenting the NFP workshop had eight. Children.

Josh and I edged very far apart from one another and entered the Q&A session feeling better about the credit cards.

I was looking forward to Pre-Cana as an opportunity to meet engaged couples like us, other men and women experiencing wedding stress and long-distance relationship challenges and the desire to build a solidly God-centered marriage. I was eager for my Lutheran fiance to meet Catholics our age, to show him the type of people a lifetime of Roman influence could produce, so when the Q&A started after the Physical Intimacy in Marriage session, I gazed hopefully around at these, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

After a brief, embarrassed pause, one young man shot a hand in the air.

"Sometimes," he said, "I fart during sex. Any suggestions on what I should do about that?"

There were at least two couples who had kind of gotten a head start on the whole being fruitful and multiplying thing, the chick in front of me was also a blonde, but in at least four different shades of Clairol, and the devout Catholic down the row from Josh praised God with a laudatory round of iPod Freecell during the opening prayers. I should have hooked him up with the woman two seats across from me, who, perhaps studying up on what not to do within the holy state of matrimony, had slipped a copy of US Weekly inside her Perspectives of Marriage workbook.

Then again, we were no shining example of glowing coupledom. A rental car wasn't in the budget, so we rolled up on Pre-Cana in the Truck of Crap Express. Nothing says Klass like appearing for a major life event preparation by easing into four parking spaces with a sixteen-foot Penske.

Lunch involved large vats of barbecue, one (1) bag of potato chips, and the doughnuts left over from the breakfast session. The Disparity of Worship couples, not fully punished by being digitally lumped in with the cohabiting couples on the Archdiocese of Cincinnati's website, were let out of our session last, so by the time we got to lunch, all the tables were full.

We perched on a radiator and balanced Styrofoam plates on our kept-together knees. The salad wasn't bad. For $7.50 a leaf, it should have been personally autographed by Jesus.

welcome to the family at: mb@blondechampagne.com

23 comments:

mrscrumley said...

Which is easier- spending $100 on an all day seminar with other couples or going 8 to 10 weeks just the two of you and a minister (or priest)?

We did the latter, as required by the church we went to... oh, and my dad. It was an interesting time, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for starting my Monday morning off with a laugh! You're the best, MB!!!

Anonymous said...

I ran across your blog, read this post, and couldn't help but laugh.

--
an anonymous student (who is catholic)

HelloBettyLou said...

Kind of like confirmation... with less horny teenagers.

Anonymous said...

Had to laugh when reading about your experience at Pre-Cana. When my hubby and I went through P-C, we got scared and started to twitch when the host couple (they had seven kids, I think) skipped over the negotiation and conflict-management skills needed for marriage and jumped right into how to be a good parent! Call me crazy, but don't you need negotiation skills when dealing with kids? Hmmm.

Josh The Pilot said...

She's not kidding, folks. The guy really did ask about flatulence while Doing The Deed. The sad part was the presenting couple was more shocked to hear, when we went to them privately afterwards with a slightly-more-serious question, that MB and I have never experienced such Deed.

Jcat said...

Both my parents are catholic. Mom is one of 16 kids, Dad is one of 10 kids. They wanted a big family of their own, but due to financial constraints ONLY had 4 (Mom's words, not mine). I'm the oldest, and I'm really, REALLY glad they stopped there.
Kudos to you guys for actually following your beliefs, you should get a special blessing for that (or at least an extra hit of the sacremental wine or something good).

HelloBettyLou said...

Well, you 2 are quite a rare breed. Not many people save themselves for marriage these days. Heck, one of my CCD teachers told me once that it's Ok to have sex before marriage if you intend to marry that person. And you wonder why the church is in trouble.

Anonymous said...

Hi MB, I am an 04 SMC grad. I also really enjoyed your book. It sounds like your pre cana was very similiar to ours. Our host couple had 7 kids also! Oh the miracles of natural family planning. Probably the most entertaining part of the day for us was an actual wedding showed up in the church. No one paid much attention after that. It was more like "Ooh look at her dress!" or "That's a nice limo."

MB said...

Hee! So glad you dropped in, my fellow SMC-- thanks for the kind words :)

Anonymous said...

Now see, my sisters laugh at me when I tell them my 20 year old daughter is still a virgin. She is living her values and I get made fun of because I believe her. Now I have someone to whom I can refer to my daughter as a role model. So thanks, MB and JTP!

red pill junkie said...

That's the catholic church for ya!

Last saturday I went to my cousin's wedding, and apparently the priest was in such a hurry he couldn't WAIT for my cousin's mother to arrive (the people who were taking her got lost), so he started the ceremony without her!! afterwards I wondered what would have happened if the groom had come missing? would the priest have married my cousin with the first guy that would have raised his hand??

Bah! we should have just given that moron an extra $500 pesos to appeal to his "patience"...

classickelly21 said...

8 kids. Did they not know how to read the NFP calendar? Did they really need those tax deductions, cause other stuff is deductible too.

I hope you and JTP have a semi fruitful marrage and are "blessed" within reason.(Reason meaning you can count them on one hand.)

Josh The Pilot said...

Thanks for the wish, classickelly, however our wish is for financial blessing first so we can support a child blessing, if we are so bleseed. We'll try NFP after we meet a couple who successfully used it to delay being blessed.

Anonymous said...

Now I am admittedly average than the smarter bear, but I'm not sure I understand what the Disparity of Faith page is saying. It's a lot of big words. Is it saying that the Church doesn't recognize the marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic? Any non-Catholic, or just a non-Christian?

my kidz mom said...

"We'll try NFP after we meet a couple who successfully used it"

Consider yourself met, JTP. It did work for us; we are the proud parents of 2 blessings. Also, I was 34, he was 32, and we waited. W*O*R*T*H IT! BTW, to hellobettylou, I am also a CCD teacher and am appalled at the advice you got.

MB said...

Anon, the Church is seldom known for its written clarity :) It does indeed recognize marriage between Catholics and non-Catholics AND non-Christians, AS LONG AS that marriage takes place in a Catholic ceremony and the non-Catholic spouse pledges to not get all up in the Catholic's grill about being Catholic. Translation: Don't mess wit' Jesus, and we won't mess with you.

MB said...

And for the other anon with the 20 year old daughter who is still hanging in with the Hymen Gang-- good for her, and good for you. Give her my email address if need be. Thanks for the kind words.

Scherza said...

We did an Engaged Encounter weekend, and my husband and I were probably the only couple on the retreat who didn't shuffle rooms so that we could sleep together. Southern Baptist Husband was a little shocked by this turn of events.

During the anonymously-submitted-questions session on Saturday night, almost all of the questions were some variation on "why can't we live together and have sex like bunnies before we're married?" Although those questions stopped REALLY quickly when the priest entered the room...

Anyhow. Disparity of Faith just means that you are marrying someone who is not Catholic. Disparity of cult = baptized non-Catholic Christian (must be baptized in the name of the Trinity). Disparity of creed = non-Christian. Marriages with disparity of cult are fully valid and sacramental marriages; the Catholic Church recognizes all marriages between baptized Christians as sacramental, which is why previously married non-Catholic Christians may have to seek annulments if they're marrying in the Catholic Church. Marriages with disparity of creed, though, are fully valid and blessed but generally not considered fully sacramental (theologians don't agree on whether or not the Catholic party receives the sacrament, though they do agree that any marriage in the Church is sacred and indissoluble). In practice, all marriages with disparity of creed or cult require the permission of a local ordinary, which just involves more paperwork. Disparity of cult involves a full dispensation, while disparity of creed requires simple permission. (All of which is probably more catechism and canon law than any sane person wants to know about.)

JTP, most of the couples I know who use NFP have three or fewer children, including my own parents. The parents were attempting to conceive when they got pregnant, which isn't the case with several couples I know who used artificial contraception (my sister-in-law and a good friend both got pregnant while on the Pill!) Teaching couples generally have larger families for whatever reason.

Toni said...

Here's my pre-marital counseling story. For those interested, it takes place in the Episcopal Church. Chris and I set a date for summer 2004, and were already in counseling when we decided to have a last-minute ceremony in summer 2003, which obviously required us to go seek approval from The Reverend.

Rev: Why have you chosen to move your wedding date up a year?
Us: Well, if we're legally married, then I can be on his health insurance.
Rev: You want to get married so you're not living the next year in sin?
Us: Yes, that one.
Rev: Ok then.

MB said...

Oh good. I'm not the only one getting married for the health insurance ;)

Hollee said...

People who use the rythm method are called parents. Is that how you spell rythm? Hmm . . . lemme look it up . . . brb . . .oopsy--it should be rhythm. Sheesh--and I call myself a wordsmith.
Anywho, funny stuff dearheart. You are the queen.

John B. said...

MB...
Be happy, be very happy, ours was an entire weekend retreat at Fatima in South Bend.

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