The contributors here at Ignitum Today have been chatting a lot lately about improving our singles’ section. The idea is to give more attention, encouragement and support to young Catholics who are searching for a spouse. Honestly, though, I haven’t the foggiest idea what to offer by way of dating advice (and frankly, relationship pointers from happily married folks can be a little obnoxious). Looking back on my own love story, I am amazed. My husband and I blundered around in the dark room called “discernment” for years and by a total miracle got hitched. Group dates, romantic dates, ballroom dance lessons, theology of the body classes, and home brewing wouldn’t have helped us. No, our marriage was and is a total and generous gift from God.
I love that my husband and I were each other’s firsts. Neither of us had ever dated, kissed or come close to romance until we met. God leads each of us by a unique path though. Some of our friends have had great success dating around until they found the “one.” The process of dating helped them to grow in maturity and deepen their faith life. Others met their spouse on the internet — I’m pretty sure JPII would have enjoyed the idea of online “evange-dating.” No matter what the story, every couple we know can look back and see God’s Providence.
There are lots of dating tips — Catholic and otherwise — floating around the web. Some advice is useful. It may motivate you to improve your personality, learn some new hobbies, and get out of the house. Be wary though.
There is an unfortunate tendency in our culture to view marriage as some sort of finish line. Follow the romance flow chart: go to college, improve your mind, exercise your way to a radiant physique, study hard, join lots of clubs, have a few flings, and finally update your facebook status to say “in a relationship.” Get a good job, bring in a steady income, and now it’s time. After years of dating and disappointment, you say “I do” — and you’ve arrived! You claim the right to nuptial bliss at the altar, because gosh darn it, you’ve had enough lonely nights to earn a lifetime of happiness.
Here’s where we as Catholics are counter-cultural. We know that the intimate companionship of another human being is not a right, it’s pure gift. We know that neither human nor Divine love can be earned. Love is freely given. We know that even the best of marriages will ultimately disappoint if the two do not make God their first priority. We know that life doesn’t begin when you’ve landed that dream job, married the perfect person, or had a beautiful baby. It begins in the moment that you hear the voice of God calling you to live with great love. Your vocation isn’t something that will happen to you in the future. The call of Christ is an immediate reality — in this moment he invites you to take up your cross and follow.
One of the perks of being Catholic is that whenever you are tempted to use a ridiculous platitude, there is probably a Saint who says it better. So, instead of “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” I offer this wonderful thought from St. Gregory of Nyssa: He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows. We are all of us just beginning to live. Certainly you should get in the dating game, sign up for Ave Maria singles, and pray a novena to St. Raphael, but don’t wait to start living your vocation. The call and the gift of God is as fresh now as it was on the first day of Creation.
[author] [author_image timthumb='on']http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Elizabeth-Hoxie.png[/author_image] [author_info]Elizabeth Hoxie is a recent grad of St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA where she studied biology and Catholic theology. She married the love of her life in October 2010 and she and her husband, Nathan, welcomed their first son, Peter, in August. Elizabeth is taking a leave of absence from medical school to focus on being a full-time mommy. The Hoxie family is about to embark on an adventure in military life where Nathan will serve in the United States Air Force.[/author_info] [/author]
Category: Single Life