Alpha | Catholic Context 

Review: The Marriage Course and the Marriage Prep Course

Nicky and Sila Lee, the speakers, are not Catholic, but they offer these two courses which are wonderful, non-threatening ways of introducing couples to Christian living through their marriage.

Both of these resources come from Holy Trinity Brompton, the founding church of Alpha, and like Alpha they are designed to be non-threatening to outsiders and engaging so they are wonderful resources for reaching people outside of the church.

The content of both courses is excellent and relevant so they are also fine resources for those who are already Christians, and often these resources are especially helpful when the couple is not at the same place spiritually. Many times one spouse or fiancé will have taken the Alpha course, so the Marriage Course or the Marriage Prep Course may be a non-threatening way to introduce faith to their partner (although both courses introduce prayer and faith, neither course introduces the Gospel and Christian living in the explicit way that the Alpha course does; Alpha is a recommended follow up to either of the courses to introduce the Gospel).

Both courses also introduce sexuality and many of the basic elements of the Catholic theology of the body such as chastity before marriage, the unitive and procreative aspects of marriage, and holy living, etc. Since these are both basic courses and meant for outreach, Catholics will want to consider when and how they would like to introduce the more advanced and unique elements of Catholic teaching on these subjects.

The Marriage Course begins with an introductory session which is an opportunity for couples to try out the course before signing up for the whole course. After the intro week, there are seven sessions:
1) Building Strong Foundations including a couple exercise on evaluating the state of the marriage,
2) The Art of Communication
3) Resolving Conflict
4) The Power of Forgiveness
5) Parents and In-laws
6) Good Sex (which we find to be a very balanced presentation from the perspective of the husband and wife and coincidentally it has the highest rate of attendance!)
7) Love in Action which is based on “The Five Languages of Love” by Gary Chapman.

The Marriage Course has resources for the facilitating couple and workbooks for the guest couples. There is a network of US leaders and website resources that are available to help with questions.

Order The Marriage Course resources here.

The Marriage Prep Course is most often taken by the engaged couple who are meeting with a mentoring couple, though in a larger church it could be offered to a group of engaged couples. The Marriage Prep Course also recommends using Pre-Cana as a marriage prep inventory. The five sessions are:
1) Communication
2) Commitment
3) Resolving Conflict
4) Keeping Love Alive
5) Shared Goals and Value

One of the strengths of the course is how it handles the reality of cohabitation. In the session on “Keeping Love Alive” sexuality is introduced and it includes interviews with a number of couples who share either how they were thankful that they waited to be together until they were married, or how they regretted not waiting. Because of this, the Marriage Prep Course does an excellent job introducing sexual purity without being judgmental or alienating.

Order The Marriage Prep Course resources here.