Marriage Preparation


First and foremost: Contact your parish and your diocese to determine the required marriage preparation procedures (sometimes called Pre-Cana). Typically, Catholic dioceses and parishes require some or all of the following:

  • 6 months’ notice before your wedding
  • meeting(s) with the pastor of your parish
  • a workshop/retreat with your diocese
  • FOCCUS Survey
  • a workshop on Natural Family Planning

Below are supplemental materials about Catholic marriage, and the domestic life. This list is not comprehensive, and ranges from academic tomes to early 20th century pamphlets to recent social media campaigns.


Leo XIII, Pope. “Arcanum Divinae,” February 10, 1880.

Pius XI, Pope. “Divini Illius Magistri,” December 31, 1929.

Sheen, F.J. Three to Get Married. Catholic Insight Series. Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1951.

Von Hildebrand, Alice. By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride. Sophia Institute Press, 1997.


Holy Matrimony.” Fish Eaters (blog). Accessed June 3, 2019.

On the Sacrament of Matrimony.” Catechism of the Council of Trent, pp. 225-236.

The Sacrament of Matrimony.” Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1601-1666. Accessed February 11, 2020.

Cassidy, Norma Cronin. The Nuptial Mass. New York: Paulist Press, 1957.

Holy Mass And More. “The Seven Sacraments and Their Liturgies, Part 7: Marriage,” August 23, 2018.

Klauder, Alexander Laurence Alphonsus. Catholic Practice at Church and at Home. The Parishioner’s Little Rule Book, a Guide for Catholics in the External Practice of Their Holy Religion, pp. 114-133. Boston, Mass., Angel guardian press, 1898.

Heuser, Herman J. (Herman Joseph). The Parish Priest on Duty: A Practical Manual for Pastors, Curates, and Theological Students Preparing for the Mission. New York: Benziger Brothers, 1904.

Kelly, George Anthony. The Catholic Marriage Manual. Random House, 1958.

Relyea, Father Isaac Mary. Honorable Courtship: The Way to a Happy Marriage. Fatima Youth Conference: Cleveland, OH: The Fatima Center, 2019.

Semmler, Nerius. For Bride and Groom: A Pre-Nuptial Instruction Based on the Encyclical Letter of Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, December 31, 1930 /. Our Sunday Visitor, 1950.

Solaro della Margherita, Giulia, and Charles Constantine Pise. The Catholic Bride; or Moral Letters Addressed to Julia, Daughter of Count Solaro Della Margarita, on the Occasion of Her Marriage with Count E. Demorri Di Castelmagno. by C. C. Pise. Baltimore, 1868.

Vuarin, M. Familiar Instructions on the Holiness and Dignity of the Sacrament of Matrimony: Addressed to Parents and Christian Youth. Philadelphia : H. & C. McGrath, 1851.

Walter Jewell. Tell Her You’re a Catholic, 1949.

Bugg, Lelia Hardin. The Correct Thing For Catholics. New York, Cincinnati Benziger Bros., 1892.

Page 41 is missing, with the crucial heading, “It is not the correct thing to…". Page 45 is also missing. There is good practical advice in here, but with a heavy caveat that the author had some strong materialistic opinions, like the reception and the engagement ring should be as expensive as possible.

The Domestic Realm

The Christian Home: A Guide to Happiness in the Home: Chapter I.” Fish Eaters (blog). Accessed June 3, 2019.

The Domestic Church: The Catholic Home.” Fish Eaters (blog). Accessed June 3, 2019.

_Carrots for Michaelmas _(blog). Accessed July 29, 2019.

Ellis, Alice Thomas. Home Life. Royal National Institute of the Blind, 2004.

Trapp, Maria Augusta von. Around the Year with the Von Trapp Family. Sophia Institute Press, 2018.

Fertility, Health, & Intimacy

Allay Women and Family Resources.” Accessed June 3, 2019.

Jerabek, Father. “The Marital Debt.Dilexi Decorem Domus Domini (blog), May 23, 2019.

Miriano, Costanza. Marry Her and Die for Her. TAN Books, 2017.

———. Marry Him and Be Submissive. ST BENEDICT, 2016.

Weschler, T. Taking Charge of Your Fertility Revised Edition: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control and Pregnancy Achievement. HarperCollins, 2001.


Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. What’s Wrong with the World. Cassell, 1912.

Pieper, Josef. Happiness and Contemplation. Regnery, 1966.

Louise Cowan, “Marriage As a Creative Work,” Newsletter of the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts 21 (November 2003),

Books and Pamphlets from the International Catholic Truth Society

The Marriage Service and the Nuptial Mass. Catholic Truth Society, 1961.

A Catholic Woman Doctor. “A Talk to Catholic Wives.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1953.

Coakley, Thomas F. 1880-1951. “How Catholics Get Married: The Nuptial Mass Explained.” International Catholic Truth Society, n.d.

Gits, SJ, A. “A Marriage Handbook.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1947.

Godfrey, Cardinal William. “The Holiness of Married Life.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1953.

Jarrett, OP, Bede. “The Catholic Mother.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1958.

Jewell, Walter. “To Those Getting Married.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1946.

McEvoy, SJ, Hubert. “Before You Wed.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1947.

Pope Pius XII. “The Pope Speaks to Mothers.” International Catholic Truth Society, 1956.

Mixed Marriages

A mixed marriage is a marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic. Before the 1960s, mixed marriages were strongly discouraged across the board by the Church, and required a dispensation. The 1917 Code of Canon Law lists additional requirements (commonly called “The Promises”), such as: a promise from the non-Catholic spouse that any future children would be raised Catholic with no interference, and a promise that the Catholic spouse would do their best to convert the non-Catholic spouse. These conditions, albeit significantly watered down, still appear in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

A wonderful example of how grave mixed marriages were considered can be found in Walter Jewell’s book (citation below).

Walter Jewell. Tell Her You’re a Catholic, 1949.

Fish Eater also includes a discussion of mixed marriages on their “Holy Matrimony” page.

Holy Matrimony.” Fish Eaters (blog). Accessed June 3, 2019.


Ayrinhac, H. A. (Henry Amans), and P. J. (Patrick Joseph) Lydon. Marriage Legislation in the New Code of Canon Law. New York : Benziger Brothers, [c1918].

Boyle, David J. The Juridic Effects of Moral Certitude on Pre‑Nuptial Guarantees. The Catholic University of America Press, 2014.

White, Robert J. “Canonical Ante-Nuptial Promises and the Civil Law: An Historical Synopsis and Commentary.” Catholic University of America, 1934.

White, Robert J. The Legal Effect of Ante-Nuptial Promises in Mixed Marriages. American Ecclesiastical Review, 1932.