Colette Gas, who was engaged in an SSP parish a few years ago, explained to me that the engagement ceremony had helped her and her current husband prepare for their marriage: the Church recognized the engagement as a perfectly valid and legitimate contract at the beginning of the third century at the latest. In the fourth century, at least in Africa, according to the testimony of St. Augustine (Sermo viii, 18; Sermo xxxvii, 7; Sermo cccxxxii, 4, etc.), written endorsements were contractually agreed, the document (tabulae) signed by the bishop being read publicly. At the same time, the dowry, if any, was given or wedding gifts were exchanged. Pope Benedict I (573-577), who wrote to the Patriarch of Gran, explained that it was the known sexual intercourse that made two, that the simple commitment would not prevent a man from marrying the sister of his fiancée. The question of the relationship that arose from the employment contract has already been discussed at this early stage. Gregory the Great (590-603) allowed a betrothed woman to break off her engagement to enter a monastery (Bk. VI, Ep. xx). During their engagement, the couple gets their hands on the crucifix and promises to dedicate this period of their lives to preparation for the sacrament of marriage and, if all goes according to plan, to get married. Commitment is a formal way for us to bring our relationship with Christ so that He can guide us through this very important step. An engagement ceremony emphasizes to us and our parish that marriage is a sacred obligation similar to the priesthood and religious life.
Just as steps such as makeshift vows and diaconate are blessed and formalized by the Church to prepare an aspirant for final vows, engagement also helps prepare the couple for marriage. After the priest is assigned, the couple closes their hands and pronounces the vow to one day be united in marriage. The priest then places the ends of his stole on his hands in the form of a cross and testifies to his vows, officially declaring her engaged and blessing the engagement ring. Jewish and Roman laws and customs must have influenced early Church practice and engagement. The Jewish laws of marriage, and therefore of engagement, were based to a large extent on the assumption that it was a purchase. In the law of Moses, there are certain provisions that respect the condition of the virgin betrothed, but nothing that refers specifically to the act of engagement. Selden`s “Uxor Hebraica” gives the schedule of subsequent Hebrew engagement contracts. If the contract was written, it was written by the man in front of witnesses and given to the woman, who must know its meaning. Rome, on the other hand, had ceased to regard marriage as a purchase of a woman at the beginning of the Christian era. Marriage, and even more so betrothal, was a purely civil pact, concluded verbally. Under later Roman law, which formed a basis for our ecclesiastical legislation, the engagement was simply considered a future marriage contract, which was in fact stronger than the engagement, since the conclusion of a second engagement contract was considered as notorious as bigamy itself. No legal form was prescribed for the first Roman engagement, but the pact was usually accompanied by the man who sent the woman the iron engagement ring (annulus pronubus).
As the Empire grew in importance, the contract of engagement grew in importance, while more often fulfilling its obligations. Therefore, the practice of giving serious money or promises of loyalty (arrhoe) was highlighted; Another step led to the parties giving gifts one after the other. The kiss, the joining of the hands and the witness certificate were other elements that were introduced. Formal engagements of this kind were also common in England until the time of the Reformation. However, when barbaric influence began to influence the Empire, the engagement took on the appearance of a woman`s purchase. We emphasize once again that we focus only on conjugal cohabitation, which is based on the obligation to marry. Nothing we are saying applies to non-marital cohabitation. Sexual intercourse, which was practiced by engaged couples in pre-Tridentine times, was firmly based on the intention to marry. Only conjugal partners with an equally firm intention to marry are our concern here. There are many ways to integrate the rite of commitment into the time of engagement. Weston Boardman, a college friend of McPhearson`s, who told him about the rite, decided with his fiancée Michaela Wuycheck to wait a few months to get engaged.
Being involved in the Catholic Church is a more formal obligation than a mere obligation. While engagement indicates intention to get married, engagement is a contractual promise to get married. In ancient times, this was the time when families negotiated the details of the marriage contract, such as the exchange of land and property. Breaking an engagement is therefore more serious than cancelling an engagement, and its structure reflects the future marriage. My sister, Margaret Schuhriemen, just got engaged to her fiancé last weekend. She emphasized for me the deeply centered emphasis on vocation and Christ that a commitment gives to a couple: after all, the Blessed Virgin Mary was engaged to her husband Joseph, and the Holy Family is our model and example for creating healthy and happy Catholic families. When Kaitlynn Schenk accompanied her boyfriend to Eucharistic adoration on a summer afternoon, she didn`t expect to be not only engaged, but officially engaged. “During the ceremony, a priest begins the rite with a prescribed prayer and invites the couple to shake hands. The man and the woman repeat one after the other after the priest the words of their promise to marry.