Hello again and welcome to all new members! The summer has come and gone and before you know it, it will be Advent and Christmas.
I was just at a square dance recently in St. Mary's, Kansas, accompanied by my brother and his wife for some wholesome fun and exercise. It was a very lively dance run by the caller whom I have known for 15 years.( I am sure he has been doing this for much longer!) There were many couples on the dance floor enjoying themselves. There were some refreshments for sale to keep the guests cool and collected. Since I did not exactly have my own date, I sat on the sidelines and watched apart of the time when I was not talking to friends or greeting passerbys. But I did notice on the left wall of the big gym, alot of girls sitting there in a row practically waiting to be asked to dance. I looked around and there were some guy hanging outside but not many. Where were they? A squaredance is an excellent place to meet and socialize. Maybe they forgot....too busy....or maybe there are not enough traditional boys in this town.....I am pretty glad I have already found my mate! It can be pretty frustrating looking, and what if the choices are too small, even for a partner in a dance. It can be great for the guys but not GREAT for the girls, especially when there are so many.... And in this parish of 3,500 souls.......
Anyway, a husband of one of my close friends happen to walk by and stopped to talk. He commented that this was a nice squaredance and although he voiced he does not dance, he appreciated the wholesome fun of squaredancing and highly recommended it. However, when he glanced to the left wall of the gym and saw what I had noticed earlier in the evening of the row of girls, he was pretty concerned..These were his very words,"Look at that! Where are the guys around here? That is pretty sad!" Then, as he proceeded to look at the square dancer and the happy faces of the couples, he made another comment that made me smile and agree, " Yes, he is right." "Look here, this is where alot of future marriages will come out from."
Well, one of these days, perhaps next year, we may be able to offer a type of atmosphere where singles Catholic boys and girls can get together and make friends, share similarities,and possibly more, God willing....
I was recently at a conference in St. Mary's and Father Alphonse was speaker of the evening. He based his talk on purity and was giving examples of how prayer helps Catholics whether practicing or not had been saved on account of prayer to either keep them on the right path or to return to it if they had lost the faith. A very good practice he recommends is the Three Hail Mary's each morning and each night. I think this would an excellent habit to start if we are not already doing it already. Our Lady will certainly love this devotion and assist us in our daily trial and temptations as well it will show her our devotion to her.
One fine example occurred in Naples. Perhaps you have heard of it, but I would like to reiterate here. This one gentleman had lost the faith and was recently was hosting a dinner. A local priest was interested in attending as there was talk that the man owned a monkey who served him in his house. The man told the priest that he was not interested in converting back to the faith but the priest merely stated he wanted to see his pet who would be serving the guests at the table. The man then said that the priest was welcome. At dinner that night while all the guests were seated, the man rung the bell for the monkey to serve. No sign of the monkey. The man stated that this was odd and rang the bell again
stating, "He always comes imediately." After awhile, the priest suggested they look for his pet. After searching, the priest found the monkey under the owner's bed. The monkey kept moving further back under the bed when called, and then started hissing. The owner did not know what to make of it. The priest then stated that he knew what was wrong. He commanded the monkey to come out and say who he was. The monkey hissed and came out from under the bed, and stated that he was indeed the the devil who had taken the form of a monkey to serve his master's need and was waiting to strangle him at night the moment his owner stoped saying the Three Hail Mary's each morning and night. Then he vanished. The man was deeply moved and asked the priest to hear his confession.
I thought it was a great true story and would like to pass it on to you!
Situations With Divorce
Some people feel that if a person has been married but is now divorced, he or she is now free to date. Now divorce is a legal paper stating you are no longer legally married to another, according to the states opinion. However, according to the Church, in the eyes of God, what really should matter is that there can be no true divorce if two parties are lawfully married. Let me quote Jesus' own words from the New Testament in the writings of Mark:" Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her." Jesus does not take "divorce" lightly, and this advice for all to hear and follow, including our present times. So if you happen to befriend a divorced person, she or he is unavailable and they should not be pursued if the former spouse is alive or the marriage has been proven valid by the church. One needs to remember that even if the person you might be interested in no longer lives with his or her spouse or whether the state believes the marriage is still legal or not, one cannot just date him or her anyway. In the eyes of God, a person married is a person married til death of one of the parties. Only the church can decide that a marriage was not actually valid when it occurred, after careful study.
Some people think divorce is the same as annulment. Well, the state does not annul; the church does. Annulment can take a very long time.The church does undertake a timed process to look into a wedding that took place and determine if it was actually valid or not. In other words, they consider whether a valid marriage actually took place at all. The Catholic Church cannot dissolve a marriage but can determine that a marriage in the eyes of God actually did not take place and no marriage binding truly existed in the first place with the evidence put in front of them. (I will go into more details next week about grounds for annulment.)
Finally, it would be ideal to find someone without a prior or recent attachment, rather than going through the pain of having to refuse to go out with a person due to their previous marriage or attachments.
CHOICES TO BE MADE WHILE DATING
Ideally, when one is dating, there aren't too many complications to overcome. However , there can be issues especially when the usual proper guidelines of conduct are overlooked.
If the case arises when the girl becomes pregnant, there are some decisions that may need to be made. This can be a very trying and difficult time on both parties. Anger, frustration, guilt, depression can easily provoke people and hasty decisions should not be made. Every case is different and the right decision may be not the same in all cases. Some couples may choose to wait until after the baby is born before deciding what the next move will be. With a baby itself on the way, there is alot of planning to do, and one may not be able to concentrate fully on marriage and discerning if the person one is dating is still the right one for him or her. On the other hand, there may also not be enough time to get married sooner if you have not been dating for a long time and have made the wedding plans scheduled on shorter notice. Things can be more expensive this way, for example, the venue, food, cake, the dress without adequate time to plan. Furthermore, the priest will not marry a couple quickly without proper wedding instruction and classes.
I used to think that if a couple was pregnant, they had to get married. Well, there are some choices to be made, for the interests of all parties involved, including the baby. The decision will be a difficult one, in which both parties should seek advice from the priest and their families. One option is to have the baby and give it up for adoption. The couple may not be right for each other, and decide they need to part ways. Or they could still consider marriage after birth, but in the meantime, may give the baby for adoption or have other parents care for the baby. It would be great if they still want to get married and raise the baby together. Or another option is to keep the baby and choice not to get married if they feel they are not right for each other, or it simply was not the right time.
Hopefully, the right decision will be made for all, and ideally no will judge them the less now or in the future. But in any issue, large or small, we will ask Our Lady to help us make the right decision!
PREPARING FOR A GOOD MARRIAGE
We all want a good marriage in the end...One that will last as well as be filled with joy and contentment. Good preparation is a must for a great life together in Holy Matrimony. We all know we should be chaste and resist temptation prior to marriage. A wedding and marriage should not be looked on as just a formality with a $20,000 budget nor just a formal ocassion where there are five signatures on a special piece of paper. Marriage is a spiritual bond between a man and a woman with God preceding. It is a sacred union that a couple enters into. When and after vows have been said only then should a women be treated like a women and a man like a husband. If one waits for marriage, one will treasure the gift of each other more than if one did not wait for marriage. Any vice only damages a marriage and does not help us obey God in a pleasing manner. Proper character and virtue will do quite the oposite. Being chaste and pure as well as patient, humble, obedient to God's laws, and willingness to sacrifice for eaxh other will help us build a life-long relationship. The more one helps each other thru a trial or keep one from fallling into sin, the more you will thank and love each other for the future. It is a great privilege to kneel before the altar on your wedding day without any past regrets, especially nowadays!
We should also remember that not all engagements lead to marriage. During the engagement process, yes we are planning to get married, but it is also during this time that we see whether or not we are meant for each other. That is why it is very important during this time to be very focused and not distracted by too much romance in order to decifer if this person you are dating is the right person for you. Again, if you are intimate, it is very hard to see this. Also, if you later break up, you may look back and see it as an unpleasant experience that you might have wished had not happened. If one has been with several people, it is not as special when you do find the right one, or the person you are marrying may feel at times the same that he or she will not be sharing something special only with you. This is certainly something to think about, especially if one dates alot!
In closing, we all want an honest marriage. In marriage, we will be entirely each others, not before. Sex in marriage is a gift to each other. Before marriage, it is just taking, it is not committment, and it is not pure but selfish. Your future mate is really a gift from God. Why not come to the altar after making a sacrifice of making an effort to keep your engagement pure beforehand? This is a gift I'm sure Our Lord will be very pleased with. And certainly will come with many blessings.
NO INTIMACY BEFORE MARRIAGE
Well, this statement is the opposite of the modern world and lifestyle. Many people believe in waiting for love but jump right into intimacy. But that is not God's way as taught thru the Catholic Church. Couples considering marriage need to wait until marriage before "jumping into bed with each other." Other than Catholic teaching and guidelines, what other reasons should dating couples not be closely intimate?
Well, for one thing , sexual intimacy blinds us from seeing the real person, any defects will be overlooked. When in the dating period we should be looking for compatability and any concerns that we usually have prior to marriage. Is he right for me? Well, how can you decide that if your main preoccupation is making out? Just because you are intimate means does not you are going to be a good spouse to each other. The experience may feel great and it may produce a bond, but that is just what sex does. Sex is fun, but after that, there is a person to look at who has characterictics and habits you will be faced with. Do you know this person? Do you even like this person? Well, have you even talked to her and had discussions or worked on projects together? Maybe not, because you just have not spent enough time on that. Also, even if a person is good at being intimate does not mean he is good at keeping a marriage together.
To wait to share an intimate night with someone on the wedding night can be well worth the wait. If couples don't wait, then there certainly won't be much excitement on the " Big Day" as everything has been done, so they need to look for something else new. You deprive yourselves of anything really exciting and new just after the marriage vows. In another light, any wrong practice or bad habit does not help a healthy and happy marriage. Patience and willlingness for sacrifice for the better good as well as other virtues will help build a long lasting love, and I am sure that is what we all want in our lives. If people can't be patient and wait for marriage, then how can we expect people to wait to resist temptation after marriage?
Waiting to share each other until marriage with God's blessing will help start true and real intimacy. With God on our side, how can we go wrong? Love is truly patient,and love is kind. Waiting for marriage will strenghten our faithfulness and trust, will bring mutual respect for each other, and help us grow in true chastity in whatever state of life we are or will be in.
Follow-up From Last Week
We had discussed recently about the importance of couples not living together before marriage..The commitment is not set in stone and either party can bail out, even without notice, or one party may feel guiltless if she flirts with someone else, especially if there is no ring on the finger. They may decide to marry , the big wedding, the flowers, the dress, the reception, an official honeymoon, the courthouse papers, later down the road, if they feel they can put up with each other. Or maybe they are so infatuated that it is the right thing to do. A couple is not as likely to notice flaws, so they must be meant for each other and it must be meant to be. But even after they tie the knot, they go back to living as before, and there seems to be no real difference. However, when the glow wears off, you will eventually see the flaws that you may have not noticed before and perhaps wonder why you married the guy. Co-habitating is a life of convenience and fun, there is not much sacrifice involved and there's no knot tied. You can loosen it at any time, when the going gets rough. In marriage, you commit and there is plenty of speed bumps, some you may never have imagined before, and you may not know or want to work it through.
Some couples think that if they have no arguments, then that is a sign of a good relationship that will last. Well, they are in for a surprise. We are all God's creatures but each of us are an individual person made according to God's image and likeness. That is why each of us are so unique. If we marry someone, we find that the other person is not the same as us. We may have different ways of dealing with issues or concern; we have different likes and dislikes. We like our Starbucks hot or cold, mocha or cappuccino, latte or soy. We may not agree on what road to drive today or which movie to see, so there may be an argument ensuing. These are lite matters, but what about big issues like religion or schooling, or where to live? Can we work out our differences and come to an agreement? What if we are tired and frustrated?
A good marriage is filled with sacrifice between two parties. It takes two to make it work. Marriage is a work in progress. If you wait until marriage to live together and be intimate, there will be more effort on both parties to make it last, especially with the grace of God and prayer.Also, you have alot to look forward to and experience if you wait to get married. Marriage is worth fighting for, but in a cohabitating state, there isn't much holding you together.
Let's follow the example of the Saints and our parents, as well as our parish priest, in our dating lives in pursuit of proper dating path towards marriage!
A lot of people out there get together to live under the same roof before marriage. The main idea is to get to know the person before professing vows together before God hopefully for the rest of your life. Many people do it for financial reasons or just to get started on the intimacy part of a relationship. Well, they say, we are going to end up together, so why not get started?
Also, people feel like it can be a good test drive before deciding to tie the knot, just in case it doesn't work out.
Well, as Catholics, we all know we can't do that in the eyes of God, but from looking at friends, and examples of others, even statistics, it really doesn't pan out for a lifelong happy marriage. There are many who live together who end up never getting married. Why should they? If you are getting everything you want from cohabitating there really no incentive to move any further. Also, many have the opinion that it is just a piece of paper. But then, if there is no true commitment verbally voiced with witnesses and signed by both parties, how can one feel a conscience when the temptation to move on has arrived? There can't be much, except for money in some cases , that can keep you together. The risk of being unfaithful is also very high; the "no commitment rule" allows one to feel still free and available for others, and this thinking is very hard to break even after one does get married just because it is a habit. The rate of divorce is much higher in people who have previously lived together, and I read somewhere that it's actually twice as high. People who are loose before marriage are more prone to marriage problems afterward as they are used to their own wills and not conforming together for the common good.
True love is patient and kind. It will test well in proper courtship, and will succeed when marriage starts. Let's start marriage after courtship, and live marriage after the wedding. Let's also put God first, and pray we find our true mate in proper courtship!
With the start of any relationship, the question arises as to where this is heading. Hopefully it is towards marriage as that is the main reason to date in the first place. It is very important to build a good friendship before proceeding to the romance. With new encounters, it is usually exciting and adventurious, and couples often spend late hours talking or texting on the phone or internet. There is so much to learn about each other, what interests, what experiences, what goals and ambitions, or what hobbies either has to share. Some couples dive into sports, politics, and even religion. Each other's spiritual aspects are also covered. Chastity will be a huge issue that will come up, and emotions can run very high; so both couples must keep themselves in check as interests builds up. It is best to take one's time with the love game, so love can grow healthy at a good pace. Allow trust to grow and become strong.
Keep the relationship godly. Progress together without reprimanding each other, but encourage towards proper goals. Compliment one another. Can suggest going to mass together, or even holy hours as well as evening walks, going to plays, or involve yourselves in games. Occasional prayers for each are also good ideas. Say the rosary. Praying for the same intentions is another option.
Keeping the family updated is also a good move. Involving them is even better. Parents have years of wisdom and advice along the way. They may also see something in your date, whether it be a characteristic or a habit, to bring to your attention, good or bad, that you may not have seen or overlooked. Your relatives know you best. Your parish priest may also give some light on either party. Well, he should, since he may be at your wedding someday!
It is probably best not to verbalize immediately you want to marry the other person just after meeting them, as this can easily scare them away or cause panic if they are not emotionally ready. Again, the relationship should not move too fast. You certainly don't want to be a bother, and call so much that the other person either gets tired of you or doesn't have space to breathe. Give each other space. Respect for each other and show confidence paves the way for a healthy and progressive relationship. Get interested in activites and interests outside of romance, as this helps with self control and good discipline before and after marriage. It is still very true that men don't want an easy target as they easily get bored and move on, in addtion to losing respect for such women. It is also believed women don't want a guy with one goal in mind.
In closing, let's work to improve our lives living the commandments of God and kindness to our neighbour.
THE DATING SCENE
What is the dating scene like nowadays? I would say it can be pretty hectic, depending on how you look at it. You can meet someone almost anywhere, at church gatherings, parties, even at Barnes and Nobles or Chapters. A quick pickup can be had at cocktail hour in any restaurant lounge or the local bar. Some people have even met their spouses on plane trips. I know a guy who wanted to meet a steady girl by joining the local salsa dance class and it worked for him. The person you may end up with can be right in front of you but you just haven't noticed yet. My great Aunt saw this guy at a train station and she really wanted to get his attention. He failed to notice her; so when he went by her, she tripped him. Obviously, they had to meet then. How did it end? They later married.
Now, what about yourself? Well, it depends on how you want to go about it. Some people don't want to leave town, even less communicate on line. Long distance relationships can be hard to deal with. You also never know if they are seeing someone else at the same time. Or if they are totally committed to you. Distance can either bring you closer, as according to the saying "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" or it will be "Out of sight,very likely out of mind."
Many people are looking to date many people, or one after the other. Here, they are just looking for a good time and no sign of commitment.They may never find true love or happiness because they looked only to please themselves and not for the good of another. It will be just to bad for anyone who falls for such a person, as it is a loosing battle to think you could have that person all to yourself. Some people do this also because they are too afraid to commit. They would like to be free, or they are afraid to get hurt either again or from what they have seen from viewing it in others. But love can't be gotten without a price, without trying. Love is work. We were not made to love ourselves but to love others, and true happiness comes from giving.
Then why should we date? We want to find a good spouse someday, the right spouse to help ourselves and others to get to heaven. Let's not waist our time by just dating. Lets strive to meet the right person.