Finding a Date for St. Valentine’s Day

It's hard for faithful Catholics to get a date for Saint Valentine's Day these days.  But it's also hard to get a date for any day.

Most of my faithful, guy friends almost never ask a woman on a date.  And most of my lovely, holy, female friends almost never get asked on a date.  That makes Valentine's Day a lonely day.  What gives?

There is a terrible stigma in the Church today against dating.  It is connected to the stigma of singleness.  In order to avoid the term "single," we employ the euphemism "young adult."  Reliance on the euphemism skirts both the unique need of singles (of all ages) to be drawn into the family life of the Church and our need to be prepared for vocations to marriage and consecrated life.  In our ministries to young adults (which are often great ministries, especially in my hometown), we frequently hear disclaimers like, "this is not a pick-up joint; this is not a meat-market; this is not a singles ministry; this is not a place for dating; this is about Jesus and growing in our faith."

Occasionally someone will acknowledge singleness to the extent of granting that, while we should not be dating, it would be okay for us to pursue serious courtship that was focused upon preparation for marriage.  But the guys I know don't know how to begin courtship with a woman if they're not supposed to ask her on a date for dinner and have a chance to get to know her better.  And they are sincere and faithful and don't want to violate the steady stream of admonitions from fine people in fine ministries saying that we should focus on Jesus and not on dating or pursuing members of the opposite sex.

 So, they don't ask women on dates, and don't get married, and we all get older and don't have anyone for whom to buy flowers or chocolates or corny, romantic cards on Valentine's Day.  And my lovely, holy, female friends ask me all the time, "what's wrong with these guys?  Why won't they be manly men and ask women on dates?"

The problem is that even manly men need role models, and no one is setting the example and encouraging them to ask women on dates.  No one, that is, except my manly friend, West Point grad, and strong, pro-life champion, Larry.  He started what he calls Larry's Club.  Guys in Larry's club have to be devoted to Mary, the Mother of life, and to her Son, and they have to ask at least one faithful, Catholic woman on a date every month.

Larry's club has one more requirement — no unlicensed dating.  All of the guys, and the gals they date, are required to get a dating license from http://www.godofdesire.com/.  Larry and I developed a 24 question, multiple choice, dating license test.  Those who pass the test can print their licenses right from the web site.  It's fun and funny and very serious too.  Those who don't pass the test can study the dating and courtship principles at the site, all of which are based on John Paul II's Theology of the Body, and then they'll be ready to pass the test and begin pursuing God through the attractions and desires he has given us toward one another.

Larry and I believe — and we believe John Paul's writing supports this — that the key to dating and courtship and ministering to singles is to get singles out of isolation and into life in God's Church, God's family.  Life alone is really no life at all.  It is not good for the man to be alone.  The model in Genesis is for a man to leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife — from family to family, and all within the larger extended family of community and Church.  This is God's model.  And this is the key formational need of singles — to be brought out of isolation and into God's family and encouraged to form families and taught how to form families.

Larry's club and the dating and courtship principles, both found at http://www.godofdesire.com/, are intended to make this compelling, concrete and fun.  We need to teach singles that dating for God's glory and in pursuit of one's vocation is every bit as holy and valuable as going to Mass, or praying the Rosary.  Jesus and Mary want us to be drawn to each other, to long for each other, to fall in love with each other and form holy, fruitful, Catholic families.  As a Church, God's family, we must create environments that foster and encourage those values. 

A group of us will be getting together this evening to celebrate Valentine's Day in just such a setting.  We're having "Valentine's dinner and a date with Jesus and Mary."  This is a chance for single Catholics to come together and be brothers and sisters to each other, to help each other deal with Valentine's Day without a valentine by, in a certain sense, being a group valentine for each other. 

We will give everyone a copy of Pope Benedict's lovely encyclical on love, from which we'll have some readings throughout the evening in alternating male and female voices.  The men will get a Valentine's card from Mary and the women will get one from Jesus.  Some of the members of Larry's Club are making sure that all of the ladies at the dinner receive a rose.  We are supporting each other in our pursuit of our vocations to marriage or to consecrated life.  We are supporting each other in our longing for love.

We're encouraging the men to practice true devotion to Mary, the model of womanhood and of fruitful love, and to pursue relationships with women who model the virtues of Mary.  We're encouraging the men to pray their rosaries daily, and to have an intimate relationship with Mary, whose beauty and goodness can do so much to fill up our longing for a woman with whom to share our lives.

As men seek a woman like Mary, we're encouraging women to seek a man like Jesus.  Women must raise the bar in what they look for in a man.  Our lovely, holy sisters deserve nothing less than a man who will pick up the bar of the cross, and carry it together with Christ — a man who will lay down his life in a sacrifice of love for them, honoring and fostering and protecting the purity of their minds and hearts and spirits.

We can't do any of this alone, or even one-on-one with that special someone.  We must live family life if we are to form fruitful families.  Not only must we live that life in our biological families, but we must live it in God's family.  We must live as daughters and sisters and mothers, as sons and brothers and fathers, in the family of God.  And then, especially when we encourage and support each other in dating and courtship and forming families of our own, we'll be able to create a world in which everyone will have someone for whom to buy flowers and chocolates and corny, romantic cards on the 14th of February.

Guys, join Larry's club.  Gals, get a dating license and don't date anyone who doesn't have one.  And may we all have Jesus and Mary for our Valentines.

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  • Guest

    I disagree with the author that this is a mans problem, this was created by the feminist movement in the 60's and 70's. A true man can no longer trust women. It is the woman who must regain mens trust.

     

    They lost our trust in this era and must strive to regain it. If men can not trust women, why should they court them. Courtship dies when women strive for power in stead of love.

  • Guest

    I sure would love to join Larry's Club. There's just one problem: on average, I only meet a woman I am remotely interested in asking out on a date once every year or two. Or three. And I don't think I'm too picky, given that my criteria for "remotely interested in dating" only covers being female, single, Christian, and in their 20's or early 30's. I think a lot of professionals have this problem, men and women. Modern life doesn't automatically afford many opportunities to even encounter eligible bachelor[ettes], let alone get to know them. So I sure would like to be in Larry's Club, but the odds are against me staying a member in good standing for very long.

  • Guest

    DonH,

    I have no doubt and totally agree that the feminist movement has made courtship (among so many other things) nearly impossible for men that are of the right mind, heart, and soul.

    But I will have to disagree with your conclusion that women have to earn the trust of men back.  That's like saying the Church has to earn the trust of Christ back. 

    When Eve gave the fruit to Adam (parelleling this to the feminist movement), Adam knew better – and was in charge of caring for all things including woman.  He, instead, needed to sacrifice his life for her at the expense of whatever may come due to the serpent (which is more like a dragon in the original text).  Instead, he caved into her sin and then blamed it on her (however true it may be that she made the offer).

    It's just not the role of men within God's design – to wait until Women get it right before they are fearlessly manly.  Please don't perpetuate Adam's failure.  It was actually not created by the feminist movement.  It is the struggle of Original Sin, played out in hundreds of different ways throughout the centuries.

  • Guest

    Ipioch

     

    The point is that true men did not eat of the apple these women offered and since they did not, where does that leave Eve, alone and without Adam, and all we here is women complaining because we would join them and eat of the apple. They must remove the apple first and not demand that we eat of it, then we will return.

  • Guest

    I understand your frustration.

    What I'm saying is that Man must lead, even if Eve tries to.  Man cannot wait until he has a virtuous Eve.  It literally IS like Christ waiting until He has a virtuous Bride before he sacrificed himself.

    It IS a man's problem…whether or not he deserves it.  I fully grant to you that women do not help and in fact hinder tremendously.  But it does not take away from the reality of the role of men and women in the grand design of God's Plan. 

  • Guest

    Mr. Sloan,

    Great to hear your words on Valentine's Day!  As a single young adult in the Catholic Church, I can't agree with you more.  Over a year ago, when I finally stopped and discerned my vocation was marriage, I was happy with this prospect, but still unsure how it would ultimately work out.  If I had decided to persue becoming a Sister, there would have been countless communities ready to help me out with retreats, visiting days, people to talk to…  But where I was living in CA at the time, there were but a few "Young Adult" events available (none at my parish), and that was it.  I was feeling a bit forgotten and started wondering why, if marriage being as popular a vocation as it is, it wasn't encouraged, and indeed, I was left with the lingering feeling that it wasn't as important, or "Holy" as a religious vocation.  I am blessed to now be staying in an area with much more active Catholic YA Ministries (St. Louis), and I am working to attend more events & get to know others as "brothers and sisters in Christ" and maybe get asked out along the way.  Whether I do or don't, I am seriously considering becoming more active in Singles Minisistry when I go home to CA next fall, because I know there are a lot of people out there in the same situation as me!

    Anyways, thanks for writing the article! 

    Wayfarer :)

    (Licensed & ready to go!) 

  • Guest

    It strikes me that in the absence of holy guidance toward the vocation of Matrimony, our parishes are not leaving young people to wait patiently and chastely for the right opportunity to materialize on its own. The de facto state is no longer one of chastity, and if young people are left without opportunities to meet each other, get to know each other as brother and sister, and then to discern a possible calling to matrimony (as godofdesire.com discusses) — if parish youth groups do not seek to provide these opportunities, then the culture will provide them to fill the void. And the culture will not fill that void with holiness and chastity but rather with sinfulness and lust. It occurs to me that a youth group needs to provide concrete training in the chaste life in order for young people to learn what it means to live this way. The culture teaches something else entirely.

    In a sense, this is related to the question of whether a parish should require courses in Natural Family Planning as part of marriage preparation. I understand the holy arguments against this: some wish to avoid any family planning whatsoever, something which is a chaste and beautiful calling to follow. But the de facto state absent specific preparation is now contraception within marriage and subsequently, divorce. The culture has filled the void that parishes have vacated.

    If we want to alleviate these problems, then we have to teach what the Church teaches, providing practical guidance for living the chaste life. It seems to me that youth groups that seek to teach what chaste courtship is all about would be doing a great good, for our youth no longer learn courtship from the culture and indeed learn the opposite. Moreover, if the youth group went a step further by providing structured opportunities to put chaste courtship into practice, perhaps by providing a venue for group outings in which young people are encouraged to talk about their possible calling to matrimony and their desire to find a holy man or woman who might have a similar calling: well, this can only be a good thing. There would no doubt be some difficulties in getting this started and in following through with specific implementation, but such an approach is radically different from "this is not a pick-up joint; this is not a meat-market; this is not a singles ministry; this is not a place for dating; this is about Jesus and growing in our faith."

    I think we can go one step further: if it really were about growing in our faith, then there would be specific and structured training provided for chaste courtship and authentic discernment for matrimony.

  • Guest

    Ipioch

     

    Man is leading when turn to God instead of excepting the woman with the apple. He tells the woman turn back to God, that is truly leading the woman in the right direction.

     

    The best place to find a spouse is at Adoration of the Eucharist.

  • Guest

    There is a huge difference between

    1) Adam giving into (accepting) Eve with the Apple

    2) Adam expecting Eve to prove herself worthy

    3) Adam facing and following God and in all bravery drawing Eve toward God as well.

     

    The 2nd was what you were advocating before.  The 3rd is what you last wrote.  I'm completely against 1 and 2.  The 2nd still is one of pride and selfishness, and has no place in God's vision of man's relationship to woman. 

  • Guest

    Ipioch

     

    I think we have come to an understanding. 

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