As the final phase of my holy matrimony preparation in the Catholic Church, me and my fiancé had to meet with her parish priest for Canon investigation. As the day gets closer to the appointment, we’re getting a little nervous having heard testimonies of several couples having hard times, and some even have to rearrange the appointment because they couldn’t answer the question properly.
On the appointment date, we came early and prayed for a moment in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle praying for wisdom, and we went to the administration office to see if the priest is ready. Having waited for almost half hour (because we’re early), the priest greeted us and asked us to come with him. It was Fr Agustinus MSC, but I forgot his full name though.
He began by explaining that this session is a formal investigation according to the Canon law of the Catholic Church to check the validity of the marriage to be celebrated. To my curiosity, canon came from Greek word kanon, meaning “straight”, rule. He mentioned that it is “Canon” because the rule is fixed and undeniable. We proceed by making the cross-sign, and making vow on the Holy Bible that we will tell the truth. If my memory serves me well, the word goes like, “I, Ferry, shall tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God”. Kinda cool phrase, like the court witness oath. Then, the investigation began. The first three questions are to make sure that we acknowledge the characteristic of Catholic marriage, which are monogamy (one man and one woman), fruitful (open to the possibility of having children), and indissoluble (one for a lifetime and cannot be separated for any reason). Having answered this question, he asked us why we want to have Catholic Marriage? Our answer were quite similar, that we believe in a marriage, there are not one, not two, but three aspects - that is - man and woman united by God, under God, where Christ reigns and become the head of the local Church (Family is often related as local/small Church).
The next question was emphasized by the priest, so much, that he even asked us to explain our answers. The question was: Do you acknowledge that in the Catholic Church, marriage is a sacrament? He then asked us each the meaning of a sacrament. I went first to answer, that a sacrament is concrete God’s presence in our life through the Church through the participation of priests as the God’s minister on earth according to what Jesus verbally instructed his disciples to do. My fiancé described that there are 7 sacraments in the Church divided into three category: Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist), Service (Matrimony and Holy Order), and Healing (Anointing of the Sick and Penance or Reconciliation). Each person has unique calling on how they suppose to serve with their lives. Some are called to be priests and serve God’s kingdom by being the ministers; these men are called to receive the Sacrament of Holy Order. Some are called to marriage lives, and ran God’s tasks to build families and became His tool to bring new life to the world; these couples (one man and one woman) are called to receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.
It seems that he was quite happy with our answers, and he went on to ask, usually in a sacrament, there is a sign or a medium; water in Baptism, host (unleavened bread) in Eucharist. The question was: what is the form of sacrament in Matrimony. Our answer was, that in Sacrament of Matrimony, the husband and wive become sacrament to one another; the husband to the wive and vice versa. There you have it, the hard part of the interviews is over. The rest of the questions is quite basi, ensuring that the marriage is done with full consent, without force from other parties, and we were qualified to receive this sacrament, that is, having no mental illness, capable of making decisions, and meet the physical criteria.
All and all, we think that the Canon investigations are highly over-rated by many couples. In our opinion, the most important thing is to prepare mentally and spiritually, and ultimately, pray for wisdom and courage =)