When I was a child, I once heard my mother talking with a friend about sex.
Not the “oh my gosh!” kind of sex talk. You see, the woman and her husband were very devout; and her complaint was that after they had sexual relations he would pop up, kneel beside the bed, and pray. Every time.
I don’t know whether he intended it to be a prayer for forgiveness, but that’s how she took it. She felt—rightly or wrongly—that her husband considered sex to be a necessary evil, a means of conceiving children and a subject for the confessional.
Years later, as an adult with a better understanding of marital love and human relationships, I’ve sometimes chuckled about that story. I’m guessing their communication was less than open, and their evenings in their nuptial bed were… um… chaste and unremarkable.
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The story was brought to mind today, when I read about a new Prayer Book for Spouses just released by the London-based Catholic Truth Society. The 64-page prayer booklet draws on Scripture, Catholic teaching, and the Marriage Rite to encourage spouses to grow together in their prayer life, as well as in other areas of their relationship. It offers encouragement to spouses who find it difficult to work through certain areas of their relationship, and it calls spouses to renew their commitment to fidelity within the bonds of marriage.
What is sure to make headlines, though, is one selection in particular: the “Prayer Before Making Love.”
- I imagine busy mothers, tucking their children into bed, heading back to the living room where hubby has opened a new bottle of wine, giving him that “Come thither” look—and pulling out the ol’ prayer book.
- Or a loving husband, wanting to signal that he’d really like a backrub and then, who knows where it’ll go from there? Let’s just open up the prayer book and see!
- The Prayer Book for Spouses would be a great engagement gift…. But of course, the chaste fiancée would never consider opening it to THAT page until after the wedding!
I once had a bas relief of Mary which had been hung in an unfortunate spot, where she looked down onto our bed. I found it a little disconcerting. Jesus said that we should pray always; but is that what he meant? The prayer is lovely, but perhaps one would then need to refocus….
If you and your spouse are seeking to enrich your lovemaking with an opening prayer, perhaps you’ll appreciate this lovely meditation.
PRAYER BEFORE MAKING LOVE
Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts. Place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes.
Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will. Cover our poverty in the richness of your mercy and forgiveness. Clothe us in our true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, for ever and ever.
Mary, our Mother, intercede for us. Amen.