Well, not just ‘dates’ necessarily—maybe “25, Catholic, & Tryna Get A Good Catholic Spouse” would’ve been a better title here—but like, *clickbait*, ya know? I digress…
From a marketing perspective, it’s definitely stupid that I’m putting this article out as the first of this series. If I had any smarts at all, I’d tease this one in 3 or 4 other articles before posting it, as it’s *undoubtedly* the most appealing topic for single young adults.
(Also BIG shouts to my friends Matt and Allison for letting me borrow their pic for this article. Katherine Salvatori is a Chicago-based photographer and took SUPER beautiful photos of their wedding.)
Just the same, I like to give the people what they want—and it’s very clear based on these surveys (which a group of my young adult Catholic friends completed for me last month, in case you missed that) that young adults want opportunities within the Church to date.
But make no mistake—this isn’t a Tinderesque, Bumble-for-Catholics, “dating for the sake of dating” mentality—rather, it’s an intentional one. It’s a reflection of the desire that devout, vocation-minded young adults have for a holy, Christ-centered marriage—and it’s one the Church should emphatically embrace.
Obviously I can’t speak for men, but I do feel I can speak for women here. Secular dating is really a struggle. It’s really, really, REALLY hard to go into a dating situation knowing there’s a good chance that your opposite will outright reject you when he learns you’re waiting until marriage to have sex, or that you want to use NFP versus artificial birth control, or that you’d like to quit your job to homeschool your dozen kids one day (I’m kidding… jk I’m not). I think many of us have been there, and it’s tough. It presents a major temptation to despair, and ultimately, to settle—because who wouldn’t rather settle than face outright rejection entirely? (That’s a rhetorical question. I’d advise rejection over settling in your marriage any day.)
I know a lot of Catholic women, myself included, who didn’t actually think there was a place in existence that they might find a holy, God-fearing man. Imagine my surprise when I realized the CHURCH was the best place to go looking for those people. And holy mackerel, it’s such a shock when you finally encounter them. I’ll never forget the first time I heard a grown man mention his “chastity” (I was like “wait… your what?”). Yeah, these people exist. Amazing.Here’s the thing: it’s great to seek dating relationships in places where you’ll encounter people with whom you have things in common. If you really enjoy rock climbing, then sure, join a rock climbing group. But if you do meet, date, and marry someone based on your common interest in rock climbing, it’s possible you’re going to have a bad time. (Of course you could meet someone who likes rock climbing and is also a devout Catholic. I’m just trying to make a point. Goodness gracious, you guys.)
In my opinion, the Catholic Church should be (and in some very lucky communities, already is) in the business of matchmaking. Absolutely, 100 percent, I believe the Church should be actively working to connect good single Catholic women with good single Catholic men. Why? It’s the future of the Church. It’s quite literally a recipe for good Catholic children that will (hopefully, God-willing) grow up to someday be a NEW set of good Catholic men and women. It’s a recipe for an increase in vocations—we need people who will raise their children to discern the priesthood or the consecrated life. And it’s a recipe for MORE holy married couples, because let’s be honest—the world could use an uptick in all of the above!
This is why this matters so much. There’s something really, really right and beautiful about people in their 20s and 30s who’d like to be married, seeking that opportunity within the walls of the Church. How can the Church expect to engage families if it’s not catching the two at the center—the husband and wife—before they’ve made that commitment and built that foundation? Answer: it simply can’t.
Practically speaking, how can the Church go about encouraging these dating relationships and creating an environment that’s conducive to Catholic match-making? Well, there’s a lot of ways. The obvious are young adult social events and straight-forward opportunities like speed dating, etc. But quite honestly, this is part of the reason it’s so important for parishes to engage young adults in general. “So how can parishes do that, Mary Kate?” I’m so glad you asked! I’ll discuss this further in future posts within this series 🙂
As far as I’m concerned, we’ve left things up to chance for far too long (Divine Providence notwithstanding). There’s a market for Church-inspired matchmaking, and we’ve got to make it happen. So for the love of all that is holy, you guys—LET THE PEOPLE DATE.