This simple but powerful prayer is a beautiful way to strengthen your relationship.
For Marie-Anne Lucas and her husband Vincent, marriage has always been a primary focus. Starting with their wedding, they saw themselves as three: husband, wife, and their marriage.
Seeing their marriage as an entity in its own right that must be cared for allows them to deepen their unity every day through a small gesture made with faith and love.
Marie-Anne talks about it in her recent book in French, “L’aventure de la prière en couple” (The Adventure of Prayer as a Couple). Aleteia spoke to her to learn more…
Aleteia: In your recent book, you share the wonders of prayer as a couple, and mention one thing in particular. What is this simple gesture that nourishes you so much?
Marie-Anne Lucas: Blessing your spouse, marking your spouse with the sign of the cross is very beautiful because we become agents of something that is given to us in the name of Jesus. My husband is my best ally, so I want what is good for him. How can I achieve this? By asking Jesus to do him good, by letting Jesus act in my husband.
It’s always very powerful to receive Vincent’s blessing; I receive Jesus because Vincent believes in him and asks for his blessing on me. This gesture as such is very small, but in fact it’s great because it’s effective! This cross is effective. The cross is our salvation. By blessing my husband, I say something good, and even more: I allow good, Love, to circulate in him. This very small gesture is very dynamic! It’s a greeting, a visitation of two people. It goes beyond us.
During the many retreats you have led, have couples shared their apprehension about making this gesture?
Yes, absolutely! Sometimes it can be difficult at first, so spouses can start with their children. Generally, it’s more natural. Then, it becomes a little easier to start making this gesture on their spouse’s pillow, discreetly, in the darkness of the night. Then this gesture becomes spontaneous, even in front of others! All the baptized are given the opportunity to contribute to making God present.
Have you always had the grace to pray like this, as a couple, with ease?
We’ve always had the desire to pray together because we felt that our marriage was precious. Each one of us personally had this love for our marriage, this common entity, but we had to adjust to each other.
I moved very fast. I go very fast. Too fast. I fell into over-zealousness. I wanted to implement everything I was learning: reading the Word, praise, oral prayer… I was building my own prayer for our relationship, but that was no longer completely aligned with Vincent. I saw that it was no longer doing any good, so I went back to my original desire, I went back to the path of those beginnings of prayer.
These first conflicts were very beneficial. I learned patience to wait for Vincent to find his own rhythm. I learned to respect him. My zeal gave Vincent the feeling that he didn’t know how to pray! I wasn’t more advanced than him, not at all! I had built a fortress with all my knowledge. At that moment in our history, what was at stake was our shared harmony, our desire to be in harmony.
From the beginning, did you bless your husband by tracing the sign of Jesus’ cross on him?
At the beginning we had to overcome our mutual shyness, so we started with just an Our Father together. Looking back, I realize how fundamental that was. Everything was already won, even if it was so hard to open our mouths to pray together. We each held on to our common desire to pray, to keep the flame alive, our desire to open our hearts and turn to God the Father to let him join us in that desire. And there we discovered God’s desire for us. It was so simple and so hard at the beginning, and yet it was such a great promise.
So the whole adventure of prayer was born from this desire to take care of your marriage?
Yes, we were very weak, like the sick woman who approached Jesus, to let Jesus incline himself over us. We decided to follow the Ignatian school, as well as the school of little St. Thérèse. All of this allowed us to color our prayer as a couple so as to have guidelines according to the circumstances of our lives.
Would you say that prayer and the cross are the two treasures you need on your marriage adventure?
Prayer teaches us to recognize our dependence on God. I don’t pray for God’s sake, I pray to let God act and pray in me. This realization was a step in our lives, which had magnificent consequences for our children. Rather than opening the door to the outside world to seek the Lord, prayer is opening the door to the inside world, to seek Jesus present within. This was a turning point.
Then we realized that the sacrament is Jesus. So our marriage is not of my making, it comes from the goodness of God! So we absolutely have to give thanks every day! Every creature has the recurring temptation of remaining centered on itself. Prayer is letting God breathe in us. The cross is letting Jesus transform us through our daily life, our words we speak during the day, our failures, etc. When a couple can offer each other this, it’s a great gift.