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When Dating Leads To An Engagement

Dec 20, 2007
The Engagement

After a considerable time of courtship an engagement is established. An engagement is a mutual promise to enter into marriage in the near future. The young man frequently gives the girl an engagement ring which she wears on the third finger of her left hand. There are two types of engagements: informal and formal.


While engaged couples may kiss each other on meeting and parting in a decent and chaste way, in a way that would not be considered shameful and improper in the presence of others, it is obvious that there are some kinds of kissing and embracing that by their very nature lead to intense sexual desires and feelings. Such would be close, prolonged, passionate kissing and embracing.

Without a doubt there will be severe temptations to indulge in these things for a couple who are deeply in love and looking forward to marriage. But if they truly want their marriage to be good and holy and blessed in the eyes of God, they will resist the temptation to cheat by taking in advance that which God can make lawful and virtuous for them only after they will have married. Moreover the virtue of prudence will suggest that they do not spend too much time alone and in secret together, when the very circumstances would make more acute the yearning for passionate and sinful love-making. They must deeply convince themselves that the right to such things is given by God only to the married.


On the increase in this country is the formal engagement, better known as the "solemn engagement." This is the only kind of an engagement officially recognized by the Church (Canon 1017). The ritual for the ceremony of solemn engagement is simple but meaningful, foreshadowing the day when the couple will be united sacramentally in Christ.

While there is no standard formula for the ceremony itself, in most instances the ceremony is conducted in the following manner either in conjunction with a Mass or as a candlelight ceremony in the evening.

Kneeling at the Communion rail, the couple join their right hands, and, before the priest and witnesses, promise to marry one day "according to the ordinances of God and Holy Church."

"I will keep faith and loyalty to thee, and so in thy necessities aid and comfort thee," promises the prospective bridegroom, "which things and all that a man ought to do unto his espoused I promise to do unto thee and to keep by the faith that is in me."

A similar pledge is recited by the young woman.

After the priest has blessed the engagement ring, the man places it on his fiancee's ringer, invoking the blessing of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The priest opens the Missal to the beginning of the Canon, and presents the page imprinted with the crucifix, which is kissed first by the man, and then by the woman.

The ceremony ends as the couple sign a document asserting that they "have this day promised the eventual consecration of one another in the sacrament of Matrimony." The priest and witnesses also sign the paper.

Motivation for the ceremony may be discovered in the prayer of the young people themselves, which is included in the document recording their solemn engagement. It reads;

May the Divine Spirit with His grace and manifold gifts enlighten our minds and move our wills to spend the days of our engagement soberly, piously, and justly, awaiting the blessed consummation of that union to which we have been called and to which we are solemnly pledged. In Thee, O Lord, do we put our trust. Let us nevermore be confounded.

It should be noted here that no engagement, not even a formal one, can compel a marriage if one of the parties decides not to marry. Engagement leads to marriage, but it is considerably removed from marriage because it does not bind with the same force as does marriage itself.

Because engagements are not marriages, it must be constantly noted that any display or manifestation of love between the engaged that involves the arousing of sensual desire or feeling and the danger of consenting thereto is as wrong and sinful in the engaged as for the un-engaged. In other words, there are no sexual privileges for the engaged.

The informal engagement can occur almost anywhere. This is the one that has been described in romance literature time and time again. The young man proposes to the girl in the moonlight and she says "Yes." He then places the ring on her finger and they are engaged. They then proceed to announce the fact to their relatives and friends.
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