Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What to Expect at the Pre-Cana / Marriage Interview with Your Priest


Startling. That was the sound that echoed throughout the court when my husband hit the shuttlecock. I watch him squint his eyes, lunge forward, and swing his racket. The umpire raises his hand a final time—they’ve won. His peers all turn to look at me with smiles on their faces.

“Inspiration,” they tell me. “Everything’s possible when you’ve got a personal cheering squad.”

A personal cheering squad. That’s me. It’s my hubby’s badminton tournament for their architect chapter, and I’m sitting at the bleachers holding his towel for him. Everybody’s reaction for the day: “You guys are married? But you look so young!”

We get that all the time, and it’s a compliment, really. In fact, that was exactly what our priest said when we went in for our marriage interview. And when you’re sitting at the parish office and your excitement is filled to the brim at the prospect of getting married, that’s really not something you expect to hear.

We were not prepared AT ALL, because we had no idea what to expect. We ended up attending two interviews with different priests and had to answer forms with “no cheating”. We really wish we’d known what would happen beforehand, so to keep anyone else from making the same mistake, here are some handy tips for you engaged couples out there:

What to Expect at the Pre-Cana Interview with Your Priest

1. Come on time.

It’s embarrassing to make a priest wait. We were asked to come 15 minutes earlier than our time slot, but in typical fashion, we arrived 5 minutes late. The priest didn’t really give us a hard time about it, but you could tell he’d been waiting for a while. That’s really not the best impression you want to make upon meeting him for the first time.

2.Review your religious history.

It was deathly quiet in the priest’s office. “Please sit,” the priest said, smiling at us. The couches were comfortable, but we certainly were not.

He gave us two copies of the same questionnaire, attached neatly on two separate clipboards. I flipped the pages. Three sheets.

My husband looked at me sitting beside him, and just as our pens began to touch the paper, the priest cleared his throat.

“You can sit here,” he gestured my husband to sit on a different chair across from me. “No looking at each other’s answers, please.”

Again, the priest was smiling.

My hubby looked like he was about to faint.

As I was scribbling away like mad on mine, he seemed like he was taking a college entrance exam. The questions were all personal, and all about our religious history. Where were we baptized? When and where do we attend Mass? What was our parochial church? Being a non-practicing Catholic only by virtue of baptism when he turned 30, my husband did not know any of the answers. He had to discreetly send a text message to his uncle asking him what his “First Communion” meant.

After a lot of nervous sweating, he did finish his form, eventually. The priest smiled at us again, reviewed the forms, and asked my husband to kindly wait outside. I was to stay for my individual interview. Here we go.

3. Prep your spouse and agree on answers.

The priest asked me a lot of things about me and my husband. How long have we been together? How did we meet? How did we decide that we wanted to get married? What is our family like? What was it that attracted me to him? Why do we want to get married?

Personal questions. He also asked me a lot about our religious and spiritual life together, which, really, wasn’t much. My hubby never went to church, so I had to come up with some small white lies. I wish we could have talked about them and synchronized our answers, because when it was my turn to wait outside and my hubby’s turn to be interviewed, he had some trouble with his replies.

4. Decide on your love story quote.

The weird thing was that when the interview was over, we were asked to come back a few weeks before our wedding date for another interview with a different priest. This time, it would be with the one who was actually going to perform the ceremony. In hindsight, we were really lucky that this second priest was going to marry us. He was much nicer and had a better sense of humor than the first one.

This time, though, he was all about our love story. He asked us everything from the moment we met to the moment we knew we were getting married. What do we love best about each other? And how did we know that he/she was the one?

We got carried away with all the casual chitchat, but when our actual wedding ceremony came, the priest used our answers as part of his homily for everyone to hear (and be captured on video, immortalized forever). We weren’t too happy with the results. We really wish we had better answers instead of the ones the priest chose to quote.

5. Be happily in love.

No matter what happens, the important thing to remember is that you are in love. That’s the unspoken aura that’s going to be obvious the moment you walk into the interview room. No matter what the priest says, there’s really nothing more heartwarming than to be enveloped in that presence, is there?

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