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September 09, 2009

A Prayer Before Loving

Iíve sat on this article for a while, debating how and if I wanted to write on it. I find the topic too serious, and the treatment of it too disrespectful, to simply toss off something about it. And yes, my seminary training gives me a bit of a different perspective on it than some others, so I feel I have to have a go at it.

Roman Catholic couples are being encouraged to pray together before they have sex.

A book published by a prominent Church group invites those setting out on married life to recite the specially-composed Prayer Before Making Love.

It is aimed at 'purifying their intentions' so that the act is not about selfishness or hedonism.

The prayer, which appears in the Prayer Book for Spouses, implores God 'to 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'.

It adds: '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 true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, for ever and ever.'

I can hear the thought process of the author of the article now -- Oh, the horror! Love, tenderness, self-offering truthfulness, dignity -- what sort of sick, sick people came up with such a notion? Donít they know that sex is supposed to be a dirty, smutty, selfish solely for oneís pleasure?

But think about it Ė if one believes that sex is a beautiful thing that enables us to express love and cooperate in Godís creative work, why shouldnít we seek to sanctify it? Whatís wrong with seeking to make the physical union something truly spiritual?

Back during my seminary days, I had a wonderful older priest teaching a moral theology course that dealt with human sexuality. Here was a man who was celibate, talking about the ideal of sexual intercourse being something more than the rutting of a couple of animals. Moreover, he argued that the sort of spiritual union that the sexual aspect of conjugal love should engender should spill over into the rest of a coupleís life, so that ironing a shirt, cooking dinner, or taking out the garbage would be but one more expression of that conjugal love. It is an insight that has returned to me frequently in recent years, as I have come to see the act of pushing my wifeís wheelchair as every bit an act of self-giving and unifying love as our activities in the bedroom have ever been. And yes, I pray for my wife at those times, too, and offer up what I am doing for her as an act of love that I hope magnifies Godís love for us in our daily lives.

So for those who mock the idea contained in that prayer Ė I urge you to rethink your notion of love and sex, and to consider that they can and should be something more.





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NAME: Greg
AGE: 50-ish
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LOCATION: Seabrook, TX
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