[quote="Bluegoat, post:7, topic:214668"]
Since marriage is understood by the CC to be a Sacaramet, an objective change has been made in the people who have been married - a change which cannot be undone.
THis is not true of an engagement, which is a mutual agreement, but there is no indissoluble change in the nature of the people which means it is impossible to back out.
Since being engaged is quite serious, people ought to do some soul searching before they enter that state; and if they have done so breaking it off would also involve, one imagines, serious reasons. But does anyone seriously think that it would be a good idea to carry on when serious reasons not to have been discovered? And if it has been entered into foolishly, that is perhaps an even better reason to break it off; in that case it was the entering into the engagement that was the bad action.
There was a time that breaking an engagement was considered very serious indeed, and the engagement was almost akin to what we would call the marriage vows - but that isn't how it is understood now. Some people seem to use the term to indicate vague plans to marry at some unspecified future time.
Joseph and Mary were betrothed (engaged) when he discovered her pregnancy. His plans were to divorce (break the engagement) quietly. In his dream, God told him,"Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife."
While many now have long engagements, I had been taught that it was better to know a person a long time before becoming engaged, and that the engagement itself should last a maximum of 6 months. Entering marriage is a very serious decision indeed.
The Catholic Church requires a minimum one month engagement in order to allow the reading of the bans. Some parishes require longer (six months to one year) in order to schedule the wedding Mass. Engaged couples are also required to go through pre-Cana instruction in the same way that all Catholics receive instruction before receiving any Sacrament. Couples are interviewed separately and together and the Sacrament of Reconciliation received before the wedding. Other people important in a person's life may also be interviewed.