Published Sunday, September 13, 2009, 9:44 PM
This is how great Irish jokes, as well as great children, are born:
Roman Catholic couples should pray together before they have sex, says a new book published by a prominent Church group. It invites those setting out on married life to recite the specially-composed "Prayer Before Making Love."
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."
The 64-page book was published by the London-based Catholic Truth Society, which has close ties to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.
The book has already bestowed one of God's greatest Gifts — the Gift of humor and laughter — to many commentators, pub patrons, and those blessed with the wit of the Irish.
No one can doubt, after all, that God — the Author and Creator of Humanity — has a Sense of Humor. And this, like all that is His Perfection, is shared with His Children. Of course, this particular example may not be quite the way His Humor was intended, but I doubt He is readying any lightning bolts for the jesters whose hilarious parodies include: "Pray before sex? I just pray for it, period!" and "I always say, 'Oh, God!' during sex."
While the prayer may be new, the idea is not. I recall a dear friend from Fordham University who became engaged to his school sweetheart, and decided theirs would be a Church wedding. Although this requirement varies from parish to parish nowadays, they were required to attend a "Pre-Cana" class, in which an enthusiastic priest told them to place a Crucifix above their bed, "so Jesus can watch you making love."
Still happily married and with two beautiful grown children, it still makes a good story, and frankly, it's hard not to chuckle at their predicament in that parish.
I'm not sure, though, that they ever put up that Crucifix.
But really, I think that the prayer is quite lovely — for the most part — and I hope its message resonates with all Catholics and all Christians. What better time to think of the Maker of Love than before making love?
The prayer, unfortunately, includes that tried-and-untrue notion that we are guilty of something and need to be forgiven whether we are guilty of anything or not. That we are somehow automatically unworthy of God's Love. This is not the Message of Jesus Christ, but a man-made and religion-propagated guilt machine that has caused great harm to the Children for Whom His Love is changeless and unchangeable.
It is not humility, but the height of arrogance, to tell God that you, Whom He Created perfect and through His Perfect Love, are unworthy of His Love. Do you know something that God doesn't know — and disagree with the Words that His Holy Son and Our Savior said over and over?
God loves you with a Love so perfect that there is nothing in our power that could ever change it. Do not insult Him by telling Him otherwise. We do not worship idols to whom we must offer sacrifices for "forgiveness." We worship an Ever-Loving Father. Period.
Prayers to Our Father are a request already granted — even though the Form of His Answer may not match that which we pray for.
God's Mind is the Mind of the Great Creator of the Universe, and so His Answer to our prayers comes from a Mind Whose Thoughts are not always apparent to us at first.
But we are always answered. And always loved.
God bless you all!
-- Father Tim