patibility. “I was surprised andnstunned,” said one bride-to-be who ultimatelynwas not. “When we took thentests, I never anticipated what wouldnhappen. About a week after my fiancenand I took the tests, the priest brought innour scores. Based on our scores, henrefiised to marry us. We had alreadynmade wedding plans, and we callednthem off because we didn’t want tonmarry outside of the Church.”nCheat sheets, anyone?nFinally, some couples report thatnthey longed to have closer relationshipsnwith their priests so that their pastorncould teach and counsel them withnpersonal knowledge of their weaknessesnand strengths. Instead, what sometimesnoccurred was that counseling was dispensednbased on social and scientificndata by priests whom the couples hadnnever met. Modern methodology hadnreplaced intimate pastoral conversationnand fellowship.nOnce the hopefully-still-engagedncouples pass the requisite tests, theynthen must agree to meet with marriedncouples for mandator)’ classes, counselingnsessions, or a weekend retreat. Sincenthe married “facilitators” are volunteers,nthe experiences vary. Many couplesnfind that the “encounters” are verynvaluable, while others discover that theynmust brave yet another ordeal.nThe idea behind the retreat is annappealing one. The prospective bridenand groom can escape from the exigenciesnof modern life — from the television,nthe newspapers, the telephone —nto a refuge where they can focus onneach other and on marriage, learn fromna priest and experienced married couples,nand reflect on spiritual things. Yet antypical program consists of multiplengroup sharing sessions. The marriednleaders make presentations, assign essaynquestions to the engaged couples, andnthen sequester each man and woman innseparate rooms for the writing of thenessays. After 30 to 45 minutes, as onencouple described it, a cowbell would benrung to signal the end of the writingnsession. The couples are then reunitednand allowed 30 minutes to discuss theirnanswers in private, after which the cowbellnwould again be rung and the couplesnwould be herded back to the group;nthis lecturing, writing, discussing, herding,nand dispersing traditionally lasts fornthree days. Occasionally, the focus ofnthe program becomes obscured. Insteadn48/CHRONICLESnof escaping from modern life, modernityninvades again — in the form of quasiencounterngroup discussions or psychologicalnand sociological theorizing aboutncommon concerns.nOne engaged couple attending anretreat was surprised when, in the midstnof conducting the sessions, the leadersnbroke down crying while telling theirnpersonal stories:nI think everyone sympathizednwith the grief or joy the leadersnwere feeling, but . . . particulariynwhen it got to the sixthntime, we could not help butnwonder whether suchnoccurrences were not muchnmore cathartic and enlighteningnand emotionally cleansing fornthe leaders than helpful to thenengaged couples who witnessednthem. . . . We could not helpnbut conclude that this emotionalismnhad the effect of movingnthe spotlight of the weekendnaway from the engaged couplesnand onto the leaders themselves,nthe very antithesis of thenretreat’s purpose.nThe attendees found the session onnsexuality to be particularly offensive,nwith its “discussions of orgasms, foreplay,nthe importance of experimentingnwith lovemaking positions, the role simultaneousnclimax has played in thisnparticular couple’s marriage, and newsnfrom ‘Tim’ that ‘Missy’ fantasizes aboutn’doing it in the hay’ and that ‘Wayne’nhas recendy been quite successful innbringing ‘Roxie’ to orgasm.” The program,nsaid the couple, “had more inncommon with a seminar conducted bynDr. Ruth than it did a Churchsponsorednretreat for engaged couples.”nWhen the pair then attempted tonleave the retreat, they were told thatnthey must remain in order to receiventheir diploma. Of course, presentationnof the retreat diploma is another compulsorynprerequisite for the marriagencereinony. The couple added: “Tonforce everyone to be a party to this sortnof information—to strip individuals ofnthe right not to listen to a couple’snbedroom experiences — at a mandatorynretreat is both degrading and embarrassing.nClearly, couples who want to discussnsuch things could do so in private,nand in private with their priest.” Thengroom later asked: “Considering thatnnnengaged couples are now required tonmeet with married couples prior tonbeing wed, are we to conclude thatnindividuals are now required to suffernthe degrading experience of listening tona couple’s discourse on foreplay andnclimax in order to be married in thenCatholic Church?”nIndeed. It is time to dispense withnrequiring intended couples to run thenpsychosocial gauntlet—and in its placenrestore prudent, time-tested norms ofnuplifting preaching, charitable solicitude,nand commonsense preparation tonhelp new couples. Yea, verily, what Godnhas joined together let no behavioralnscientist put asunder.nAnne Marie Morgan writes fromnChesterfield, Virginia.nMy Aunt &nUnamunonby Ralph de ToledanonIn the summer of 1929, my auntnZarita Nahon, a philologist andnteacher of languages, traveled fromnBiarritz to Hendaye, en route to Tangiernto collect the medieval Spanishnballadry, lost in Spain but still extant innthe coastal cities of Morocco, for thenanthropologist Franz Boas. She wasnmaking a detour to visit Miguel denUnamuno — scholar, poet, and philosopher—whonhad chosen Hendaye ville,nas poor and barren as Hendaye plagenwas rich and elegant, for his exile.n