We continue the 52-week plan to grow in Catholic Manhood by becoming a better Catholic Son and Catholic Father.

This week, we start reflecting upon the eighth major habit: Major Habit 8– Build Unity with your bride can be broken down into four smaller habits:

  • Habit 25 – Practice Daily Prayer with your bride

  • Habit 26 – Make Daily Sacrifices for your bride

  • Habit 27 – Lovingly Give and Accept Correction

  • Habit 28 – Pursue Perpetual Courtship

We turn our attention to Habit 25. 

Habit 25 – Practice Daily Prayer with your bride

Practice Daily Prayer with your Bride, building on the graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony, praying together multiple times per day (upon rising, at meals, before retiring) in daily gratitude to God, for the needed Graces of the Holy Spirit, and for intercession of the Saints and Angels to guide and protect you.

Why should a man enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony with his bride?

As we turn from reflecting upon Becoming a Better Catholic Son (Major Habits 1-7) and begin reflecting upon Becoming a Better Catholic Father (Major Habits 8-14), it is helpful to offer a short reflection on marriage and the Sacrament of Matrimony, through which a Catholic man ideally enters into union with his bride and fatherhood.

For those called to the vocation of marriage, it is powerful to understand the graces a man and woman receive in the Sacrament of Matrimony and, if they are not yet married, to enter into marriage so to receive the bountiful blessings God gives in the Sacrament of Marriage.

Jesus Christ in His very first act of public ministry in the Gospel of John, blesses the wedding at Cana with His Holy Presence and performs His first public miracle by changing a massive amount of water into wine (Jn 2:1-11); in addition to prefiguring the graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony (CCC 1613), Jesus also prefigures the Sacrament of the Eucharist in which ordinary wine is changed into His actual Precious Blood (CCC 1335).

The word “matrimony” comes from Latin words which mean “the state of motherhood”, reflecting the long-held tradition across time and around the world that marriage is the natural and preferred way for men and women to live together and come to have and raise children. 

The Sacrament of Matrimony has been established by God to bless men, women and children:

Matrimony is one of the seven Sacraments – There are seven sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church (Baptism, Confirmation, Penance, the Eucharist, Matrimony, Anointing of the Sick, and Holy Orders). Sacraments are “are efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed to us…[and]…bear fruit in those who receive them with the required dispositions” (CCC 1131).  God ordains and offers special supernatural graces to those who receive the Sacrament of Matrimony.

The Sacrament of Matrimony is only offered through the Church – Because the Sacrament of Matrimony is a sacrament, it is necessarily a liturgical act which is entered into through the liturgy of the Church (CCC 1625-1632). To receive the fullness of the blessings of marriage, Catholic men and women must be joined together in the Sacrament of Matrimony through the liturgical Rite of Matrimony in the Catholic Church.

God has given the Sacrament of Matrimony for the happiness of men, women and children – “God Himself is the author of marriage” (CCC 1603) into which one man and one woman enter into a life-long union for the good of the spouses and for the astounding blessing of the procreation of children and the education of children (CCC 1601).

The Sacrament of Matrimony offers great blessings to a man and a woman – In the Sacrament of Matrimony, God offers His graces through Jesus Christ (CCC 1642) to help men and women be bound together in a permanent  unbreakable and exclusive unity and to help each other attain holiness through their married life (CCC 1641). It is in the joys of marriage that a man and woman can receive a foretaste of Heaven (CCC 1642). By following Christ and selflessly offering themselves (CCC 1609) to each other and to their children, husband and wife receive Christ’s love and are witnesses to Christ to others (CCC 1648).

The conjugal (meaning, “a yoking together in marriage”) love between a husband and wife offers each the great blessings of deep unity, faithfulness, mutual self-giving, emotional and sexual intimacy (CCC 2390), absolute fidelity, reliability through all the ups and downs of life (CCC 1643-1647).

Helps protect men and women from the challenges of mixed marriages – Many are faced with the challenge of entering into marriage when one of the spouses is not Catholic (e.g. Protestant, other religion, atheist). Until very recently, it was the 6th precept of the Church that Catholics were obligated to marry only other Catholics because of the grave difficulties which arise in married life when there is a difference in belief of spouses, especially in the context of raising children.

The Church, while allowing mixed marriages, does so with grave reservations and warns of the serious challenges of mixed marriages; “the difficulties of mixed marriages must not be underestimated (CCC 1633-1636). Those entering into mixed marriages (one of the spouses is Protestant) or marriages in which one of the spouses is not baptized (not Christian) cannot receive the blessings of the Sacrament of the Eucharist in a holy Mass during the Rite of Marriage (CCC 1621-1624).

The Sacrament of Matrimony protects a couple from grave sexual sins and sins against the dignity of marriage – Many today enter into sexual relations before marriage and often “live together”, either in rejection of the concept of marriage (CCC 2390) or in the false sinful idea of a  “trial marriage” in which there is a general intent to marry at some point but not before living together and having sexual relations (CCC 2391).

Sexual relations between a man and woman who are unmarried (either to each other or to someone else) is called fornication, a word that comes from a Latin word which means “brothel” (ie. house of prostitution). Historically, sexual relations between an unmarried man and unmarried woman was likened to a man who has sex with a prostitute. Prostitution is strictly forbidden as a grave evil (CCC 2355).

Entering into sexual relations with another outside the bonds of marriage causes both the man and woman to commit the grave sin of fornication, which is contrary to the moral law and the dignity of human sexuality (CCC 2353, 2396).

Usually, because fornicating men and women want to eliminate the possibility of having children without the commitment to marriage, the couples compound their sexual sin of fornication by the grave sinful use of contraception (CCC 2370) or sterilization (CCC 2399) or may even choose to murder a conceived child through abortion (CCC 2271), either by procurement of a surgical abortion or the use of abortive pills/drugs, an act that leads to automatic excommunication.

Why is praying together as spouses essential in Catholic marriage?

While it is meritorious and effective for both a husband and wife to develop their own personal prayer lives, daily prayer together offers a husband and wife great blessings through which God strengthens and guides them to grow in holiness and happiness.

The practice of daily prayer together:

Helps strengthen the unity of marriage – Because Jesus is the source of the life-long special grace which is offered to a husband and wife in the Sacrament of Matrimony (CCC 1642), seeking to strengthen communion with Christ each day in joint prayer (CCC 2564-2565) as a couple brings Christ’s continued graces to strengthen the unity of the couple; by drawing closer to Christ together, a husband and wife are drawn closer together in ever deeper spiritual unity.

Allows both spouses to intercede for each other – As Jesus interceded for all men (CCC 2634), a husband and wife can intercede for each other by praying together each day, offering their prayers for each other (CCC 2635); prayers offered to God for a spouse is a great act of charity which comforts and fills a spouse with love for the spouse who prays.

Opens a couple to God’s guidance – Through daily prayer together, a husband and wife can receive answers from God to the challenges, problems, questions and doubts that arise in their married life together; Jesus hears and answers the prayers (CCC 2616) of a husband and wife. Joint daily prayer is a powerful blessing because it opens  a husband and wife to invite the Holy Spirit to lead them (CCC 2744); a fruitful Catholic married life, like all Christian life,  is inseparable from prayer (CCC 2745).

Helps a husband and wife forgive each other – Like all sinners, every husband and wife will periodically sin against each other by what they do and fail to do. By constantly offering themselves together to God in daily prayer and asking for forgiveness (CCC 2631), Christ will forgive the husband and wife of their sins against each other, help them forgive each other, and begin anew in love (CCC 1642).

Provides a witness to children – Every Catholic husband and wife have a sacred duty to evangelize their children, that is, to proclaim Jesus to their children (CCC 2225) and to teach the children the Catholic faith (2226). By praying together every day with the children, the children become convinced of their parent’s faith and learn to pray.

How can a Catholic husband begin to strengthen daily prayer life with his bride?

Here are some practical tips to help a Catholic husband strengthen his prayer life with his bride:

Commit to a life of joint prayer – This may seem to be a given, but a Catholic husband and wife should have a specific discussion about the importance and commitment to grow in their joint prayer life and the types of prayer they are willing to commit to at the current time to pray together (e.g. prayer at meal time, daily Rosary, etc.); being specific helps build commitment and accountability to each other to pray together each day.

Start every day with a joint prayer – Though it can be difficult for a husband and wife to find time to pray together given busy morning schedules, it is very powerful to start the day together in prayer.

The joint prayer at the beginning of the day can be as simple as making the Sign of the Cross and saying a Glory Be, praying an Our Father and Hail Mary, the Memorare, the Prayer to St. Michael, or the Morning Offering.

If time and commitment allows, a husband and wife can pray Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours (CCC 1174-1176) or the shorter version from the popular Magnificat Magazine.

A husband and wife can also develop a morning practice of reading Scripture together, a prayerful act through which God speaks (CCC 1100); a very powerful practice is to read the Scripture passages from the daily Mass, in union with the Sacrifice of the Mass.

Pray together with the daily Mass – The Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Catholic faith (CCC 1324) and is a most powerful type of prayer which supernaturally unites the whole Church, and husband and wife. 

Because Jesus calls Catholics to ask for “our daily bread” in the Lord’s Prayer, a reference to His actual Body and Blood in the Eucharist (CCC 2837), “the Church strongly encourages the faithful to receive the holy Eucharist on Sundays and… even daily” (CCC 1389).

If schedules make it difficult to attend daily Mass together in person, a husband and wife can participate via a video stream of the daily Mass or read the daily Scriptures from the Mass together.

While it may be difficult to attend Mass every day, consider beginning to attend daily Mass together once a week or several times per month, perhaps on special feast days or other special days (a couple’s anniversary date, birthdays, anniversary of baptism, patron saints, etc. ).

Pray together at every meal – Because meals are a routine part of every day life, prayer at meals is an easy way to begin to pray more frequently together.

Prayer at every meal is an ancient tradition (Bless us O Lord, and these Thy gifts…) which is an act of gratitude to God (CCC 2638) for the gift of food He has provided; prayer at meal time brings down God’s blessings on the actual food and draws those around the table together in unity and holiness.

Spontaneously pray together as events arise in daily life – The Church encourages expanding prayer into every part of the day to “bring the help of prayer into humble, everyday situations” (CCC 2660).

Spontaneous prayers offered from the heart draw a husband and wife to God and bring down His help to daily situations: for example, giving thanks for some blessing, offering petitions for those in distress, seeking guidance on some personal, family or work situation, etc. Simply begin to speak to God together more frequently during the day.

A special time to jointly pray is when disagreements arise in marriage; by quickly turning to God, anxiety and anger is dissipated and a husband and wife can be led by God to resolve their questions and conflict.

Pray a family Rosary – The Rosary is an ancient prayer which was developed as a shorter substitute for the Liturgy of the Hours (CCC 2678) which draws the faithful into the mysteries of Jesus (CCC 2708) and honors and seeks the intercession of Our Lady (2673-2679). It is a commendable pious practice for a husband and wife to often set time aside to pray a Rosary together, especially with their children.

End every day with a joint prayer – It is a good practice for a husband and wife to retire at the same time and to offer joint prayers to God in gratitude for the day’s blessings and to seek the protection of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and all God’s angels and saints.

An easy way to start to pray at night is to kneel by the bedside and pray an Our Father; other options include Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours or various short prayers which are written to be prayed before retiring.

This week’s question

Here is a question to meditate upon:

How might I be blessed by jointly praying with my wife more frequently each day?

This week’s commitments

Making a habit a reality requires commitment to concrete action. Here are this week’s challenges:

Pray for God to guide you as to how to begin to pray more frequently each day with your bride.

Discuss the blessing of joint prayer with your wife and jointly ask God to guide you both as to how to grow in joint prayer.

Don’t forget to pray with the ECM Daily Gospel Devotional each day.

Consider listening to the EveryCatholicMan.com Gospel Devotional Podcast to be better prepared for Sunday Mass.

Daily Prayer

During the week, pray this short prayer, or one like it, to practice daily prayer with your bride:

Blessed Trinity, guide my wife and I to understand the awesome power of joint prayer in our marriage, inspire us to take up the blessing of daily joint prayer, and teach and fortify us to make joint prayer a central part of our faith life together in our family. Amen.