THE ENGAGEMENT PERIOD
(H.G. Bishop Moussa)
The engagement period starts with the agreement to get married and ends by actual marriage. It is a very important period because it gives the chance to get to know each other deeply and to grow in Christian love, to sense the potential for fulfilling the engagement with a happy marriage. Just as the couple needs to get to know each other, so every family member pulls together for the building up of a marriage that will be blessed. The engagement period provides a chance for bother parties to speak out openly and frankly.
THE BETROTHAL ORDINANCES
Are brief. They comprise:
1. The triple sign
The sign of the cross is made three times on both the
engaged couple and the marriage rings (as the rings mark a
covenant of love and firm union). The priest says:
O "In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
O "Blessed is the Father, Almighty. Amen!"
O "Blessed is His Holy Son our Lord Jesus Christ!"
O "Blessed is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Amen!"
This is how the One and Only God, Father, Son and Holy
Spirit blesses this project, based upon the acceptance of
both the fiances and barring any legal impediments, or other
2. Prayer of Thanksgiving
In which the priest offers everybody's thanks to the Lord
for the blessing of the establishment of a new family as a
small church. This new church family will, with God's
blessing, bring children into the Lord's house to complete
the body of Jesus and the number of the saints.
3. Prayers of Counsel
These aim at explaining the dimensions of engagement to the
engaged couple, asking the Lord for the completion of that
project at the appropriate time, for their salvation and
While uplifting anthems are sung, the rings are put on as a
symbol of the covenant. Then the priest commands the
engaged couple to live a holy, chaste life, to read the Bible at every opportunity and end the reading with prayers,
in order that their engagement might be made holy and mark a
chaste beginning to a blessed marriage.
OBJECTIVES OF THE ENGAGEMENT PERIOD
1. Each party recognizes the characteristics of the future
partner: thoughts, opinions, aspirations and life-style.
2. Both the fiances may grow in a holy spiritual life,
where they are taught how to fight against sensualities, how
to acquire chaste manners and how to achieve spiritual
fullness as the only way to a sacred marriage.
3. Both families are introduced. This promotes the spirit
of love and understanding, cooperation and care for the
growth of the new plant.
4. Everybody cooperates for meeting all the needs of the
newly formed household in a truly Christian spirit. This
means shunning all extreme behavior such as showing off,
sulking, secretiveness, crookedness, annoying the other
partner, or failing to keep promises.
BASIC PRINCIPLES FOR THAT PERIOD
The relationship between the two fiances often suffers
severe fluctuations, instead of tightening up and becoming
stronger. There are many crucial factors that both of them
should watch out for if they really want their relationship
to continue and be transformed into a sacred marriage.
1. One of the critical causes of failure is blind jealousy
between the engaged couple, i.e. if one sees the other
paying some attention to a third person the former
misunderstands and consequently starts to make trouble,
expressing doubts and quarrelling. Just as it is essential
for each of them to be firmly loyal to the other, so it is
essential for both of them to get rid of that jealousy that
only indicates selfishness and awful self-centeredness.
Paying attentions to a third person may have only been done
out of politeness and good manners, or it may have been done
in good faith, although jealousy would see it as betrayal.
The more people are attracted to Jesus, the closer they get
to each other in a proper Christian way, free of all forms
of excessive possessiveness.
2. Another factor that could ruin the relationship between
the two fiances is the tight feelings of love between the
parents of one partner and their son or daughter. This
leads to the suspicion that the other partner will deprive
them of that love. So they would tend not to give their son
or daughter the appropriate advice that would make their
lives easier. The fear of testing out the probabilities
even magnifies situations and so complicated ordinary,
3. A third pitfall is when one partner asks about the past
of the other partner. Although this may be done out of goodwill, yet dragging up an affair that is over and done
with, may only lead to jealousy and psychological
disturbances. It may even give rise to the suspicion of one
partner that the other might easily fall into temptation.
That is why we advice them to avoid the following:
a. Revealing old bad experiences that one has already
confessed; as they are no longer a part of our lives.
b. Going along with any sort of flirtation or physical
contact however slight, as this only creates doubts between
the two of them.
c. Asking the other partner repeatedly about past
experiences or sins in a stiff way that will only lead to
lying, or the admission of facts that might ruin the
engagement. Christ has forgotten all our sins, so let us
all forget the past and look forward to the future.
4. Disagreement on financial matters is a common reason for
the breaking of engagements. That is why it is preferable
to agree to all the details before the engagement: the
marriage rings, the new house, its furnishing and each
party's contribution to it, ceremonies, and all other
aspects. As Christian believers, we should avoid all
showing-off and extravagance in the engagement ceremonies or
overburdening one partner more than the other. We hope that
the rising generations would be able to break all those
obsolete habits so that marriage would no longer require
large amounts of money. Why should not economize on the
ceremonies? Why have candy boxes? Wouldn't a religious
picture card do? Why not economize on the furniture so that
it is no longer heavy, impractical, very tiring to buy, to
clean and to maintain. A simple, cozy sitting room, a dining room, multi-purpose beds etc... could be more practical.
The most important thing is that each partner should act in
a spirit of cooperation, frankness, honesty and commitment
to fulfill obligations, so as to maintain goodwill, without
avoiding any obligations or cheating the other partner in a
way that may disturb the existing amity or give an
impression of deceit.
Breaking off the Engagement
If it becomes impossible to go through with the marriage for
any reason, then either both parties or whoever feels unable
to continue must break it off in a proper way, as follows:
1. Exchanging all civil rights and referring any
disagreement to their priest.
2. The withdrawing party leaving the marriage rings, all
the non consumable presents and the money to the other
party. This is without taking into account food and
clothing and so on.
3. Each party keeping - forever - all the secrets of the other party. God has a special punishment for the betrayer.
4. The priest issuing an official report as a final
settlement - civil and canonical.
5. If the engaged couple disagree on civil matters the
engagement is broken canonically - even at the request of
only one party and, at the same time, maintaining the civil
rights to both parties.
Nowadays people are in the habit of breaking engagements at
the drop of a hat, and this only goes to show how hasty they
are in making decisions. They rush into decisions without
bringing them to the Lord due to their spiritual shallowness
Let's develop our lives in the Lord, asking His divine guidance at every step. Let's deal with the other partner in a generous, loving spirit. The Lord Himself is the secret of blessing and joy: He is the foundation for success and unity.
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