Monday, March 13, 2006
I'm feeling rather pleased with myself. I have not only survived the journée de préparation au mariage with the priest but I rather enjoyed it!
Frog and I trooped off to the new parish centre at 10 am yesterday. Frog and been sent to buy a baguette and we had a carrier bag with food that I'd been cooking till midnight the night before. The invitation had said that we needed to bring something savoury and something sweet to share as a picnic with the other young couples who would be gathering to spend the day together.
My first fear had been that during this day with the Catholic priest, older married couples from the church and other engaged couples, I would stick out as the non-Catholic (and foreigner). My second fear was that we would have to bear our souls about our faith and our relationships. My final fear was that I was going to have to do all of this in French.
So. Working backwards ... I am extremely proud of overcoming my final fear. I spoke in French all day, I participated fully (and as Frog said, 'If you spoke that much in French, I can only be glad that it wasn't in English. You'd have never shut up'). It helped that we were a smallish group of seven young couples and two older married couples. The only time I really found difficult was right at the end, when we were asked to sum up our thoughts on the day. This meant I had to, on the spot, pull together some fairly complicated thoughts into French. I don't think I've gone so red in the face since my A-Level French oral exams.
Second fear - that we would have to bear our souls. Well, yes ... compared to stories of fairly muted preparation days in the UK (both Anglican and Catholic) we did have to talk about how we met, explore our fears and worries about the endurance of marriage. But that was okay, and even Frog 'fessed up. The matter of our personal faith was left very relaxed - the line given was 'we are all on our own separate paths, some in different places than others'. The role and importance of the Christian church in our marriage was discussed - and that is something Frog and I already knew we were both in agreement about.
So, finally, I wasn't the only non-Catholic. There was another Protestant, originally from Strasbourg who confessed that he was also terrified about a day with Catholic doctrine. And I wasn't the only foreigner. There was a Lebanese guy and a woman who was half American, half French and had only moved to France, from her life in Connecticut, when she was 20 years old.
We finished up by going to the evening Mass and then almost all of us went for a drink afterwards. There I discovered there are others who are new to Reims and don't know many people (of the whole group only Frog and one other guy were originally Rémois, the other, an arrogant lawyer type, of whom I may write a story another day when I'm feeling a little evil again).
So, we're all meeting up again next Sunday evening at Mass.
Who would have thought it, eh?
And finally - my chicken dish was the hit of the picnic. Thanks to Nigel, I overturned at least one stereotype about the English!