June is a special month for my husband and me, because we, like so many others, celebrate our wedding anniversary. Our date is extra meaningful because we share it with my husband’s grandparents. Though their impressive 61 years makes our five look positively infantile, I am proud of reaching a mini-milestone that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 20% of married couples never achieve.
For the month of June, Pope Francis has made his prayer intention for young people “who are preparing for marriage with the support of a Christian community” that they may “grow in love, with generosity, faithfulness and patience.” In the spirit of this intention, let’s make it a point to pray this month for couples who are preparing for marriage. Here are a few suggestions of how.
1) Pray a marriage novena for the couple to be married. The St. Josemaría Institute in Illinois offers a “Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage” with reflections throughout by St. Josemaría Escrivá, priest and founder of the Opus Dei movement. The novena is “inspired by St. Josemaría’s desire to help all married couples, and those preparing for marriage, to find meaning and encouragement in their vocation through a commitment to daily prayer and friendship with God, especially when facing inevitable difficulties and times of trial.” Each of the nine days of prayer is directed toward the couple praying (married or engaged), but the pronouns can easily be shifted to enable prayer for others.
2) Suggest to the couple that they schedule a Holy Hour ahead of their wedding. This was one of the best things my husband and I did during our “wedding week” festivities. We slowed down for an hour, participated in Eucharistic adoration, prayed the Rosary — and the best thing is that we did it with our community present. It set the tone for a truly prayerful event, one with Jesus at the center. And, of course, if the couple takes you up on your idea, be sure to make it a priority to attend!
3) Pray a weekly or even daily Rosary for the engaged couple, offering your prayers for their intentions, to ease their anxieties and to help them keep their eyes fixed on the Lord during a time that can be stressful and all-consuming.
4) Pray to St. Agnes, virgin and martyr, who is the patron saint of engaged couples. A common prayer in the tradition of the Church can easily be amended to pray for the couple: “O glorious St. Agnes, you served God in humility and confidence on earth and are now in the enjoyment of his beatific vision in heaven because you persevered till death and gained the crown of eternal life. Remember now the dangers that surround [couple] in the vale of tears, and intercede for [them] in [their] needs and troubles. Amen.”
5) Pray the Our Lady, Undoer of Knots prayer to ask Mary to assist the couple in working through any challenges or difficulties. My favorite lines are: “Mary, Mother to whom God entrusted the undoing of the knots in the lives of his children, I entrust into your hands the ribbon of my life. No one, not even the evil one himself, can take it away from your precious care. In your hands there is no knot that cannot be undone.” Mary is a powerful intercessor, and asking her to work on any rough spots in an engaged couple’s relationship can be a prayer that you can continue for them even after they are married.
May the Lord and his Blessed Mother accompany all who have been called to this great vocation of marriage.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.