A Case for Modern Dating


I sat around the kitchen table and watched my grandmother open her mother’s day gifts from my mom. I couldn’t help but notice the way that she showed my grandfather every gift that she pulled out of the gift basket. When she was done reading the card, she passed it my grandfather so he could read it too.

I remembered at that moment a conversation that I had with my mom about them months before. She told me “They have always done everything together, even grocery shopping was something that they would use to be together… even after decades of marriage they still do these little things together”. My mom told me about the way that all of her siblings could see how in love their parents were. Today I saw what it means that “the two become one”. My grandparents love one another in such a way that if you give a gift to one, it becomes a gift to the other as well.

My mom’s stories left me starry eyed and dreaming of a future where I could experience the same kind of love. My grandparents have been married for over 50 years and I can feel my grandparents love for one another whenever I am around them.

Unfortunately, the basis for many contemporary relationships is not this type of dedication and intentionality. It seems as though our culture is endorsing a lax desire for closeness without sacrifice. It encourages a fear of losing friends, of changing habits, and, in extreme cases, losing yourself. All of these fears are directed at young couples and try to suppress any real kind of holy sacrifice or effort that they might put into a relationship.

Young people are settling for relationships which are contained within the sphere of their own home or even just through their cell phones. Our relationships have somehow moved from excitement, sacrifice, love, and romance to a kind of objective, boring, semi friendship mixed with the utmost intimacy.

The prevalence of the “Netflix and Chill” culture is poisoning modern relationships.
The only way that our generation can overcome this twisted norm of relationships which seem so gray and unexciting is by dating. Like honestly, GO ON DATES. It can be hard to really get to truly know and fall in love with someone if your relationship is founded on bodily intimacy and only spending time together behind closed doors.

St John reminds us that “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.” (John 4:18)

So be bold and intentional within your relationships. You may be thinking “well I’m broke and there is nothing to do near me”. While that may be valid, dating isn’t just about going to fancy dinners or events together. Make your daily routines inclusive of the other; go to the store, grab a burger, take a mini day trip, go to daily mass together and then cook breakfast.

Whatever it is that you do, make it a date by paying complete attention to the other. Let car rides be something that draws you closer to one another, allow anything that you need to do throughout the day become a new way of getting to know the other person.

My grandparents would probably not have been able to maintain their beautiful love for one another if they never did anything together in public. Relationships are not shameful or anything that should be concealed from the world. Our human relationships that are oriented towards marriage glorify God if we allow them to.

It is when couples do things side by side that they get a chance to learn very real things about one another. Favorite sports, favorite coffee shop, the way they interact with their friends and family, how you work together to deal with the little bumps in the road that will undoubtedly come up, how they goof off whenever they have too much sugar, what their relationship with God looks like.. You learn where your personalities are in sync and where there is friction and a need for compromise. These are all things which encourage love and understanding between people.

While intentionally getting out and dating someone does not 100% of the time lead to marriage, it gives your relationship the best effort that it can be given.

Do not let fear of commitment or rejection keep you from experiencing a good, healthy, honest relationship. Enable your relationship become an example and inspiration for generations to come.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI reminded us “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness”. Let your relationships be great. Reject the comfort of non-commitment that is so endorsed by our culture.
I am praying for all of you as you form and maintain holy relationships.

God loves you so much and so do I.
1 Corinthians 13

Advertisements

Mr. (Not exactly) Perfect

I was eating dinner with a lovely friend of mine the other night and the topic of future spouses came up somewhere in the course of the conversation. Both of us expressed the confusion we feel about the “perfect guy”. Some people say that there is no such thing as Mr. Perfect since we are all flawed and others will say “don’t settle until you find that perfect person!” so what are we, as young women, to actually believe? I would like to propose my personal take on the issue.

I would like to start by clarifying that the imperfection of humans is not to be used as an excuse for a man treating you badly. Sure, we are all flawed because of sin but that doesn’t make us bad people. We ARE capable of self-control, kindness, love, and holiness. Look for someone who is striving for these things in his life.

Concerning Mr. Perfect, I would argue that he does exist. It may not be in the way that you think of at first so keep reading if you want to know what I mean by that. I am a firm believer that God knows us better than we could ever know ourselves… and that’s a great thing because sometimes I don’t even know myself well enough to decide what I want for lunch. That being said, He knows what makes us happy and He wants that for us. Not just like the happy we get when we see our food coming in a restaurant, but the happy we get when we know that we are where we are supposed to be.

God wants this happiness for us but He will never force anything on us. Jesus tells us “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11)

Our Lord reveals Himself to us so that we may be filled with his complete joy. He alone knows how to give us a taste of His perfect love on this earth, why do we doubt that he knows the person who can best show this to us and help us grow in holiness better than anyone else could? He knows. He really does. We need to pray that we live our lives in such a way that we can come to love this person and accept their love in return.

Something that is very important to keep in mind is that your personal perfect person isn’t the objectively perfect person. He might be a terrible dancer, he might think that orange and pink are complimentary colors, he might not be the most romantic person in the world; but he will love you.

While he may not come out as the stereotypical Mr. Perfect prototype complete with a sports car and 5 Olympic gold medals, I do think that it will be easy to Recognize and appreciate Christ loving you through him and that will in turn enable you to grow in holiness and also be Christ to him as well.

I want to close with something I wrote in my journal when I was younger and has stuck with me ever since “If a guy doesn’t make you feel like you’re the most beautiful girl in the world to him, dump his sorry butt on the ground. God has someone in mind who will love you to the point that you will feel God loving you through them.”

I know this is a strong statement but this is what your perfect person looks like. He is the man who will love you better than anyone else could. He’s not perfect in the strict sense of the word but he is the most perfect person when it comes to helping you grow in holiness and love.

Don’t give up hope and do not doubt Gods perfect desire for your happiness. Pray for your future spouse, pray for yourself as you grow to be able to better love them. Pray for your other brothers and sisters in Christ who are looking for this love.

St Raphael, patron of the happy meetings of future spouses, Pray for us!

I am praying for you.

God loves you so much and so do I.

1 Corinthians 13

The Importance of Prayer in Relationships

I recently took a 9 day pilgrimage to Betania, Venezuela where the church has approved several apparitions of the Blessed Mother to a woman who is now on her way to sainthood. This woman’s name is Maria Esperanza and we stayed on her property with her family and family friends while we were there.

Before leaving my home for the airport that Saturday morning, a book caught my eye and I decided to bring it with me for the 8+ hours that we would be spending in a plane that day. The book “The World’s First Love” by Ven. Fulton Sheen had been given to me months before by a good priest friend of mine and I hadn’t picked it up in a while.

Somewhere between Philadelphia and Venezuela I read a line that really blew my mind in an extremely simple way. It said

“It takes not two to love, but three: you and you and Jesus… Married couples ought to say the Rosary together each night, for their common prayer is more than the separate prayers of each”.

Being a 20 year old unmarried college student, I could be tempted to think that this quote holds no immediate relevance to my life. However, my first thought was quite the opposite; I realized that it holds an utmost importance to every person young or old no matter what their vocation is. What we do now prepares us for what is to come.

For those called to religious life or to the priesthood, you will benefit greatly from this because it is how you will court the church and learn the ways of faith before being brought into full consecrated union with her. A rich prayer life will lead to a fruitful ministry in your life-giving mission of saving souls.

If you are called to marriage; whether you are currently single or dating, this is a habit to start immediately. The single person has the duty of preparing themselves for what God wants from them through prayer and through action. By developing a prayer life, you are giving God the go-ahead to radically change your life for the better and consequentially bring you that much closer to the realization of your calling.

St Paul says “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians5:16-18.

Trust that God is working through your singleness to better prepare you for the happiness He has in store for you.

For those who are currently in a relationship, you should know that dating is a process of discernment leading towards marriage- couples who have this in mind should look ahead and realize that the habits they form at this stage will lead into what kind of marriage they will build. Couples who regularly pray together before they are married will have that deeply rooted groundwork set to carry them into an even more in-depth connection with one another together with our Lord.

In the gospel of Matthew Jesus tells us “truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20

The power of the prayers of a husband and wife who choose not only to be one with each other but also with the Lord is something so beautiful and inconceivable. It is something to be desired and sought after. To have that other person you pray with for your petitions be the love of your life… now that is truly remarkable. That is the kind of love and commitment that will change our world.

Here is a short prayer for you that I picked up while in Betania: “Saint Anthony, make me blissful in my marriage. Grant me complete joy together with my spouse, for you visit those who marry.”- Servant of God Maria Esperanza. This can be prayed either in the anticipation or in the realization of your vocation.

I will be praying for all of you as you grow in this beautiful adventure of love with our Lord and with one another.

God loves you so much and so do I.

1 Corinthians 13

He’s Just Not That Into You(r Faith)

image

You have feelings for him; he’s handsome, he cares about you, he gets along with your crazy family… BUT… he doesn’t share your faith. When the whole “flirt to convert” thing doesn’t work out, many women find themselves in this tricky situation and are seemingly torn between their heart and their conscience. Having previously been in and witnessed many relationships like this, I think there are two possible ways to work with them; either you need to work things out in a way that will benefit both of your journeys to God, or you need to break it off for the time being if not permanently.

That may sound like a very black and white way to look at a situation where feelings are involved but I would like to propose a certain way of looking at it. Dating relationships are for getting to know another person on a more intimate level and will either end in a break-up or a wedding. If you are planning on eventually breaking up with the person you are dating, there is no point in prolonging your relationship. But if you are in your relationship with the hope of a long future, there are certain things to be mindful of.

The first question you might ask yourself is: is he striving for the same things that mean a lot to me? Being in a relationship with someone is all about helping one another along the path of life and eventually Heaven. If your faith means a lot to you, you will want to grow in it and become the best that you can. Does he help you with this or does he hold you back?

In the book of Corinthians, St. Paul says “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) Not saying that your boyfriend is “wicked” or “darkness” but think about what St. Paul is saying… Is your guy pulling his weight when it comes to virtue or is he pulling you back?

I know that there are great and beautiful souls who happen to not be practicing Catholics. I’m not saying that these people are bad. What I am saying is that you may want to take a second look and make sure that unshared morals doesn’t equal uneven morals. If you are working towards a pure and chaste relationship, you already know how hard that can be. When the other person in the relationship is not reaching for that same goal and you have no one to hold you accountable, it becomes easier to fall into sin.

Whether you are in a relationship like the one described above or not, I encourage you to continuously pray for your future vocation whether it be to marriage, religious, or single life. Pray that you may always do Gods will in order to bring His perfect plan for your life to fulfilment. God has a plan for you. His plan will bring true happiness and peace. Do not lose hope and do not settle for anything less than the love that will get you to heaven one day. And on that glorious day when you stand in front of the throne of God and hear Him say “well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much, Enter the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21) you can look to that special person who helped you get there and thank him. It will take sacrifice to get there but it will be more than worth it.

I am praying for you now and always as you seek holy relationships.

God loves you so much and so do I.

1 Corinthians 13

Is He Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong?

image

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether or not the person that we ladies spend all of our time thinking about, texting, and/or crushing on will actually be good for us in the long run. If a guy is handsome, charming, and smells nice… chances are we don’t mind his 300 other girlfriends, the questionable way that he never texts back, or his possible criminal record.

I mean, I understand that he has a gorgeous smile but there are more things to consider here. A nice smile doesn’t mean much when you want to have a heart to heart conversation about your faith or something that means a lot to you.

I was in adoration recently and I opened up my Bible to Ephesians 5:25 where St. Paul gives the women of the Church a fantastic guideline for making sure they are in a good relationship. He writes, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

What criteria does this give us for when we are discerning a relationship?

Well first of all, is this person selfless? Christ “Gave himself up” for the church out of love for her, if Christ only thought about himself, he would not have been loving perfectly. Instead, he does not think about himself at all. St Paul reinforces this point in 1 Corinthians 13:5 when he says that “(love) is not selfish.” If your guy just wants to talk about himself all the time, it’s probably high time to move on. You’ve got more important things to do than listen to him brag about how many grapes he can fit in his mouth.

Next, does this person love you? Now I know that is a very serious question and most people over the age of twelve don’t say “I love you” in a relationship until they have been dating for 300+ years… but love in one of its many forms is the preference of another’s happiness over your own. If your guy is constantly canceling his plans with you to hang out with his other friends… That could be a red flag concerning how much he actually cares for you. I’m definitely not saying that you should be his only friend or that he can only hang out with you, but if your plans together get pushed aside or forgotten by him a lot, you may want to take a harder look at your relationship.

Finally, while this person will most likely not be asked to give himself up for you in a death like Christ’s, he will be asked to die to himself and his passions every single day in order to preserve your purity. Does he die to his impure passions for the good of your relationship? The struggle to remain pure in a relationship should be something that you can both unite to take on together. If he does not fight to defend your purity then he is not respecting you in the way that you deserve to be respected most. You are a priceless creation that deserves to be guarded and loved in the right way. If he does not see that, you most definitely should get him a new pair of glasses and promptly show him the way to the door.

Relationships are not easy, love is not easy, and discerning both of these things can be exhausting. Thankfully, we as a church have wonderful examples of love to follow and learn from.

I will pray for all of you as you pursue holy relationships.

God loves you so much and so do I.

1 Corinthians 13