How long should preparation for the simple blessing of a marriage take?


I know someone who was married in a civil union, not a church. Her and her husband were both agnostics at the time. Neither was previously married. The woman has come back to her Catholic roots where she received all of the sacraments through confirmation. Her still-agnostic husband is fine with her pursuing her faith. She went to confession and aknowledged the agnostic state, used a good list for examination of conscience running through many years worth of sins, and was made aware (by me) that the priest may tell her that she would need to abstain from sex until the marriage is blessed (something her husband is agreeing to). She was fine with that and explained the “conditions” laid out by the priest to her husband. At the time, she thought it would be a matter of two weeks or so, not realizing it would be much longer.

She asked me if I could find out from that same priest (my parish) what the process is and I gave her the info after talking to him: 6 weeks of marriage counseling and the archdiocese would need to review her case.

A second priest, in another parish (same archdiocese) is telling her that she does not need any marriage classes and to just come back on a certain date they agreed to and he will bless the marriage. He didn’t seem to care if they engaged in sex, provided she did not look to use the sacraments.

Can you comment on this please? What is the norm? And, isn’t that last statement kind of like telling a young couple its ok to have “premarital sex”, but just don’t use the sacraments until they are married?


Dear Lux,

The second priest is correct in that you do not need the archdiocese to handle the matter. The parish priest can do it. He does have the right to require some form of marriage preparation if he discerns that it is necessary.

However, his lack of concern over whether the couple engages in “premarital sex” flies in the face of the evil of turning completely away from God which is the essence of mortal sin.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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