Before Embarking – Christ in the Home


From Christ in the Home by Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J.

Whoever desires to marry ought to prepare himself for that great step:

–First of all, by preserving chastity.

–Then, by praying much for his future home and family.

By preserving chastity: Whoever cannot see the need for this will not be likely to understand the need for anything. But one must be able to see the need for more than this, to desire more.

The practice of purity in its entirety involves not only the avoidance of serious wrongdoing harmful to the integrity of the body but also whatever sullies imagination, thought or desire.

Consequently questionable companions, flirtations, and imprudent reading are out of the question. Custody of the eyes is essential. Death enters in through the windows of the body. Eve and David both sinned through their eyes.

For certain temperaments, such vigilance demands great generosity. No one can deny it.

“The good is more difficult than the evil,” wrote Paul Claudel in response to Jacques Riviere who had explained that to remain pure was difficult. “But there is a return. The good opens up before us incomparable horizons because it alone is in keeping with our reality, our nature, our life and our vocation. This is particularly true where love is concerned. How ridiculous the romantic fever of a purely fleshly love seems to me!”

Sensing the old classic objection in his correspondent, Claudel took the offensive:

“As for the emotional cramping Christianity imposes upon you, I can scarcely understand what you mean. When you speak of sins, I suppose you refer to sins of the flesh, because I cannot imagine that you have any tendency to drunkenness, avarice, acts of violence or similar things.

“The first answer to your difficulty is that when we become Christians, it is not for our pleasure or personal comfort, and further, if God does us the honor of asking sacrifice of us, there is nothing to do but consent with joy.

“The second answer is that these sacrifices amount to very little or practically nothing. We are still living in the old romantic idea that the supreme happiness, the greatest interest, the only delight of existence consists in our relations with women and in the sensual satisfactions we get from them.

But we forget one fact, the fact that the soul, the spirit, are realities just as strong, just as demanding as the flesh–even more so; we forget that if we accord to the flesh everything it demands, we shall do so with the consequent loss of other joys, other regions of delight which will be eternally closed for us.

We shall be draining a glass of bad wine in a hovel or in a drawing room and be unmindful of that virginal sea which stretches out before others under the rising sun.”

How splendidly Shakespeare has expressed the same thoughts:

What win I, if I gain the thing I seek?
A dream, a breath, a froth of fleeting joy.
Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week?
Or sees eternity to get a toy?
For one sweet grape who will the wine destroy?
Or, what fond beggar, but to touch the crown,
Would with the sceptre straight be strucken down?
(Rape of Lucrece, Stanza 31)

This is also what Saint Augustine has written in his own
epigrammatic style:” momentaneum quod delectat, aeternum
quod cruciat:.
One instant of pleasure, an eternity of

Let me examine my own soul. Have I come to marriage entirely chaste? Chaste in body? Chaste in thought? Chaste in heart?

If my answer is Yes, then I must thank God. It is a choice grace.

If my answer is No, then what can I do to make reparation, to obtain from God the grace of entire fidelity to my duty, from now on?
In addition to the preservation of chastity, the person aspiring to marriage has a second great duty–to pray much.

An old proverb wisely states, “Before embarking on the sea, pray once. Before leaving for war, pray twice. Before marrying, pray three times.”

And this necessity of praying more before marriage than before a voyage or a battle is evident for several reasons.

Consider the risk of associating oneself closely with a creature who has many limitations; with a creature about whom one knows very little particularly in the matter of shortcomings, since during the period of courtship and betrothal one unconsciously does everything not to reveal himself; with a creature whom one loves with all one’s heart but who possesses not only lovable traits, but also faults which can cause suffering; with a creature who can bestow the greatest joy, but who can also unfortunately inflict the deepest pain.

Furthermore, in order to bear joys as well as possible trials, do we not need much help from God? And to obtain this help, must we not pray much?

Another reason for the necessity of such prayer when one desires to establish a home is that from a union once sanctioned by the Church and consummated there is no possible withdrawal.

It is a choice which is definitely established. For two changeable human beings to dare to bind themselves to each other forever in a relationship so intimate as the realities of marriage, is not God’s sustaining help a prime requisite? And to obtain this help is it not necessary to pray much?

Has my life before marriage been one of sanctification and of prayer in preparation for my marriage? Or have I confided solely in the human merits existing on both sides and neglected to place under God’s protection the union I was about to contract?

If I have been neglectful, I must make up for it now. There is still time.

If, on the contrary, I prayed much before my marriage, I may not leave off earnest prayer now that I am married. The greater the place God holds in my life, the greater can be my assurance that my home shall be supernaturally happy and, without a doubt, humanly happy as well.

“To you, O Mary, my good Mother, I confide my marriage and my home. It seems that marriage is the means of sanctification destined for me by God as it is for the chosen soul whom you have given me.

Together we shall do our best to glorify God–this is our firm resolution.

Bless us, help us, strengthen us. Sailors call you Stella Maris. Be for us, too, the Star of the Sea and keep us safe throughout our crossing; we put under your care our vessel and its crew. You shall be the Queen on board ship.”


Prayer to the Archangel Raphael for a Marriage Partner:

Glorious Saint Raphael, Patron and lover of the young, I feel the need of call­ing to you and of pleading for your help. In all confidence I open my heart to you to beg your guidance and assistance in the important task of planning my future. Obtain for me through your intercession the light of God’s grace so that I may de­cide wisely concerning the person who is to be my partner through life. Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand to find each other. May all our movements be guided by your light and transfigured by your joy. As you led the young Tobias to Sara and opened up a new life of happi­ness with her to holy marriage, lead me to such a one whom in your angelic wisdom you judge best suited to be united with me in marriage.

Saint Raphael, loving Patron of those seeking a marriage partner, help me in this supreme decision of my life. Find for me as a help‑mate in life the person whose character may reflect some of the traits of Jesus and Mary. May he (she) be up­right, loyal, pure, sincere and noble, so that with united efforts and with chaste and unselfish love we both may strive to perfect ourselves in soul and body, as well as the children it may please God to en­trust to our care.

Saint Raphael, Angel of chaste court­ship, bless our friendship and our love that sin may have no part in it. May our mutual love bind us so closely that our future home may ever be most like the home of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Offer your prayers to God for the both of us and obtain the blessing of God upon our marriage, as you were the herald of blessing for the marriage of Tobias and Sara.

Saint Raphael, Friend of the young, be my Friend, for I shall always be yours. I desire ever to invoke you in my needs. To your special care I entrust the decision I am to make as to my future husband (wife). Direct me to the person with whom I can best cooperate in doing God’s Holy Will, with whom I can live in peace, love, and harmony in this life, and attain to eternal joy in the next. Amen. 

In honor of Saint Raphael: Our Father. Hail Mary. Glory Be.

Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!

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