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Title: A Marital Catechumenate
Subtitle: A Proposal
Author(s): LAWLER, Michael G.
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 13    Issue: 2   Date: 2007   
Pages: 161-177
DOI: 10.2143/INT.13.2.2024086

Abstract :
The baptismal catechumenate enshrined in the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults is well-established, and demonstated to be successful in growing faith-filled Christians. This essay proposes alongside the baptismal catechumenate another, marital catechumenate which, qua catechumenate, has the same ritual stuctures and effects as the baptismal catechumenate. Without making the judgment that cohabitation is moral or immoral, but only the judgment that it is, the essay advances the marital catechumenate as a fruitful pastoral approach to educating for marriage those Catholic nuptial cohabitors who have already committed to marrying one another but who have chosen, for whatever reasons, to cohabit prior to their wedding ceremony. The baptismal catechumenate educates catechumens for Christian faith, which includes knowledge of God’s saving action in Christ, confidence in God’s word revealed in Christ, submission and self-surrender to God in Christ, fellowship in life with Christ, and the unconditional falling in love with God that is conversion and the entry into a life that is genuinely Christian. The marital catechumenate proposed here does all those things for nuptial cohabitors, whose commitment to one another is to be recognized as their first step on the road to their marriage. It educates and prepares them for specifically Christian marital life. The intensive marriage preparation the marital catechumenate requires and provides enables couples planning to marry to focus on their marriage rather than on their wedding and offers them a more focused way to do that than the present system of marriage education in the Catholic Church, which too immediately precedes their wedding and, therefore, is consistently distracted by the more pressing concerns of that wedding.

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