Catholics celebrate sex by making it a threesome

Sydney, Australia - THE power of prayer can be enlisted in the bedroom, according to a new book published for married Catholics.

A "prayer before making love" is among the aspects of married and family life included in the Prayer Book For Spouses, now available in Australia but first published by the Catholic Truth Society in Britain.

Other prayers in the 64-page book are for raising children and caring for sick or dying relatives.

The prayer before sex asks the Holy Spirit to "place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites . . . [and] loving physical union that welcomes" before asking to "clothe us in true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, forever and ever. Mary, our mother, intercede for us. Amen."

Chris Meney, director of the Life, Marriage and Family Centre for the Archdiocese of Sydney, said the prayer had scriptural precedent.

The figure of Tobit in The Bible was worried about marrying Sarah, whose first seven husbands were killed by a demon of lust before the relationships could be consummated. "He is very apprehensive about marrying this woman," Mr Meney said. "They pray that they will grow old together and then they consummate the marriage."

Mr Meney said the prayer had attracted much interest.

"It's not uncommon in Catholic thinking for people to be putting God at the centre of their marriage," he said. "It's a way of recognising that really, from a Christian perspective, there are three people in the marriage."

The prayers in the book, written by unnamed authors, are published together with Catholic teachings on marriage and the family.

Relationships Australia NSW chief executive Anne Hollonds said although the prayer was not for everybody, it did reinforce the ethical responsibilities inherent to a good relationship. "I guess rituals like this do a potential good in that they remind us that we have a responsibility to another person as well and that can't be a bad thing," Ms Hollonds, a psychologist, said.

Mr Meney said the church was pro-sexuality in the appropriate married context. "Sexuality's a good thing but like all gifts given to us in trust it should be used in a way that is respectful of the giver and the gift," he said.

But sex doesn't always sell – quickly, anyway. St Paul's Publishing, which is handling the distribution of the book, had sold 35 copies at $6.95 each as of a week ago.