Finding Faithful Spouses for our Children

As a faithful Catholic parent, have you ever found yourself secretly "matching up" your children with the children of other faithful Catholic friends?  Perhaps you've jokingly promised one of your infants to the infant of a dear Catholic friend who laughed with you and happily agreed to the "betrothal"?  If you are like me, you secretly (or not so secretly) have scouted out future spouses for your children, hoping for the perfect in-laws, dreaming that your beloved offspring would have the best possible chance for Holy Matrimony lived out as Christ and His Church envisions.

Well, I've taken it all a step further, as the frustrated Yenta in me has finally burst forth into the public sphere in the form of Catholic Moms Matchmaking.

The idea for this apostolate is simple, and it grew naturally over some time.  A few years ago, I started to notice an epidemic of unhappy marriages and the ripple effect that spread a couple's misery to children, extended family, and even friends.  It then occurred to me that many parents are working hard to ensure their children's academic and career success, but few are sweating and sacrificing to ensure that their children are marriageable.  This is a grave cultural mistake.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the single biggest factor in one's happiness is the state of one's marriage. And a happy marriage cannot be realized unless a parent teaches a child, by word and example, how to be a good husband or wife.  We expect our children to find a spouse of worthy character, but do we make sure that our own children are themselves a "catch"?  

During this time, I also started to learn more about the Church's beautiful teachings on marriage, specifically John Paul II's earth-shattering writings on human sexuality known as the Theology of the Body.  I began to hope and pray for a way to give my children a chance at God's ideal, knowing this could only be attained by their finding a spouse with a shared vision of what marriage should be.  It seemed pretty clear: For those of my children not called to a religious vocation, it would be imperative that they find a devout and believing Catholic with whom to enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony.

 All these thoughts were ruminating around in my head for a couple of years, when one day I came upon an article in a secular magazine about happily married young couples who met their spouses via an introduction from Mom.  It made perfect sense to me, as who knows a child better than a mother?  And who can a child trust more than a parent?  And why shouldn't the family have some influence on whom a child dates, in order to keep the child from marrying the wrong person out of infatuation, immaturity or confusion?  The idea of Catholic moms playing matchmaker became an exciting thought.

I talked lightly to a few friends about my desire to set up a "database" for a future mixer for our children as they approached marrying age.  Each time, the response was positive.  I was actually shocked at the enthusiasm I encountered!  Eventually, it occurred to me that the Internet afforded opportunities for Catholic matchmaking which did not involve large, expensive websites (after all, I had, no computer savvy, no time, and no money).  What about an email group like the one my former homeschooling community uses to communicate among themselves?  And it's free!

I quickly consulted with a dear Catholic friend across the country, Lisa Graas, who is a mother of four and a genius at computer…stuff.  She had the technical expertise to set up my vision in the form of a one-page introductory webpage, with a one-button sign-up!  It was exactly what I'd hoped for.  After receiving a blessing from my parish priest, we launched…. quietly.  I didn't tell more than one or two people to begin with.  Slowly, slowly, I let the word out, sometimes only by putting the web address at the bottom of my emails, or by commenting on Catholic blogs and adding a link to our site.  Lo and behold, people began to join!

We are a few months old now, and I have been fascinated at how the Lord has steered and shaped the group.  Lisa and I fully expected that the majority of our members would be parents of adult Catholic singles — what we now refer to as "Level 1" members.  However, it turns out that the vast majority of our members are parents of minors who are in this for the long haul.  For us "Level 2" members, the fruit may come in five, ten, fifteen years or more.  We see this as a long-term apostolate, and we are in no hurry. 

So far, our email conversations have been lively and compelling.  A recent discussion (prompted by a Catholic Exchange article) had members voicing their opinions on whether men and women should receive similar educations and the age one might enter into marriage.  Members have also discussed our children, our thoughts on world demographics/fertility and our own experiences of marrying non-Catholic spouses.  There is even a page for family photos to help us put faces to names.  All of this is designed for the members to get to know each other as friends, and by extension, our children.  Our Catholic orthodoxy makes us a "family" and is the foundation of the group.

Catholic Moms Matchmaking is open to anyone who supports our vision and our holy, Catholic Faith.  However, our group is set to "private" and only members can see the posted messages and photos.  To become a member, one must apply, be screened, and be accepted.  Even then, the new member's messages may be moderated.  We have only had to turn down one request for membership so far, due to lack of faithfulness to the Magisterium.  The applicant actually removed herself from consideration when she realized with distress that we were not open to having young adults define their own Catholicism. 

The only thing missing from our group?  You!  Please join us in building up the Culture of Life by building up holy marriages among our children.  We'd be blessed to have you!

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  • Guest

    This is a great idea.  As parents of 8, my wife and I have often found ourselves speculating on the futures of our children and the children in our close knit circle of Catholic families.  There are some I would love to see matched up later in life (our oldest is still only 14) and others I would rather not see (mostly due to personality differences – not beliefs).

     

    My only criticism is that it is a Yahoo group, which is hardly a Catholic-friendly organization.  Some of the worst vitriol against the Church can be found in other Yahoo groups.

  • Guest

    Shall we then yield all of Yahoo! to the anti-Catholics?

    I understand the desire to not patronize a company so unwilling to rein in such behavior on their sites, but if  we can be in Yahoo and not of it, I think we have a better chance to make a change. 

  • Guest

    I found this quote particularly significant:  "It then occurred to me that many parents are working hard to ensure their children's academic and career success, but few are sweating and sacrificing to ensure that their children are marriageable."

    My husband and I came late into his children's lives (their mother had dumped him for a boyfriend while they were toddlers, and allowed no contact), after their youthful development was set.  They had very confused religious upbringings, as well, and none of it Catholic.  So, all we could do at our "point of entry" was to pray to God that they found good and faithful spouses.  The first to marry, my stepdaughter, has a wonderful, loving, devout Christian husband.  I was so encouraged by this obvious answer to prayer that I ramped it up a bit for my stepson:  I prayed specifically for a loving, faithful, CATHOLIC wife for him.  And, it happened!  He found a beautiful, sweet, loving Catholic girl…whom he then converted to Mormonism (to which he himself had recently converted) before he married her!  Yell  Of course, I keep praying for that situation, but it goes to show that, while we should always rely on God alone, prayer alone may not be enough.  There needs to be diligent youthful formation, as well, and on both sides of the prospective marriage equation.  Would my daughter-in-law have converted to Mormonism–or anything else–if she were a strong, well-catechized, committed Catholic Christian?  Well, maybe, but she would have been much less likely to do so, or to have gotten involved with my stepson in the first place.  (But, you know, I'm glad she did the latter, nevertheless.  I really love her!)

    So, Catholic parents, "family life education" involves far more than we might think!  Perhaps, Catholic Moms Matchmaking will be part of that effort.

  • Guest

    This is beyond offensive.  If you have ever read St. Augustine's Confessions, you know that his dear and saintly mother, who only wanted what was spiritually best for her son, tried to get him to marry.  If she had succeeded, the Catholic church in Hippo would have been deprived of the greatest bishop it ever had, and the Catholic Church as a whole would have been deprived of some of the greatest sermons and other theological writings that she possesses.  Yes, St. Monica wanted to steer her child away from sin.  But no, she did NOT have the right to decide what was vocation in life was best for him–only God can do that. 

    So by all means, please pray for your children, but GET OFF THEIR BACKS.  Smothering them in this way is a great method to drive them far away from YOUR values, and into the arms of the nearest gang or cult that they can find. 

  • Guest

    Clare,

    maybe you should look at the website as linked in the article.  I think your concerns are addressed there.

    It seems this group is about moms networking in a formal way since we do it informally anyway.  (Leila is right about the "betrothals")

    Leila states that "if the child is called to marriage"….YOuger kids of both genders can meet and play if they live in close proximity. I think older, marriage aged kids need to be asked if they want their mom in this business.

    I regularly put it this way for my sons (non of marriage age), "if you're called the priesthood or marriage life, then….."

    Leila seems to be a holy Catholic mother who will raise holy Catholic children.  The evidence shows that vocations come from families such as hers.  I'm sure her strong support of marriage parallels her strong support of vocations. 

  • Guest

    Unless I am mistaken, in St. Augustine's time, married men were still being ordained to the clergy of the Roman rite.  So, his being married, in and of itself, would not have prevented his still being the greatest bishop the see of Hippo ever had, let alone the rest of the Catholic Church.

    Our author is not advocating forcing anyone to marry, only to give them opportunities to meet potential spouses with similar religious values, world-views, etc.  After all, spouses–wisely chosen or not–will impact the family, the domestic church (if not the world), for generations.

  • Guest

    Clare (with no "i"): 

    If you find offensive the notion of loving parents introducing their devoutly Catholic children to other young and devout Catholics, then certainly our group is not for you. 

    And as for a parent "deciding" a vocation for his or her child…. That is absurd and completely contrary to our Catholic Faith, and we would never propose such a thing.  Perhaps you didn't actually look at our site or read the article carefully enough.

    God's blessings,

    Leila Miller 

    http://www.CatholicMomsMatchmaking.com

  • Guest

    Leila, I certainly agree with you. Personally, I would see nothing wrong with a group of the same nature which was dedicated to promoting religious vocations in our youth and, certainly, Leila and I would both REJOICE if one of our members announced that her son was called to the priesthood.

     

    Leila has often pointed out (and I believe it is even mentioned on our site) that matchmaking is a tried and true practice to ensure that our children may find like-minded spouses. Furthermore, ANY person called to a religious vocation should be well versed in what makes a great marriage. It simply goes without saying.

    I hope you will stop by our group sometime and see for yourself how it is working.

    God bless you and yours.

    Lisa Graas

    Co-Founder, Catholic Moms Matchmaking

    http://www.catholicmomsmatchmaking.com

  • Guest

    It doesn't surprise me at all that most of your members don't have children old enough to utilize your services.  While this sounds like a beautiful idea, I'm fairly certain teen and adult children won't think so.   I hope that you will be honestly open to your children declining to be involved.  Only if they are free to say no, will they truly be free to say yes.  Let's not forget about our children's free will.

    To me this seems like an idea born out of fear.  Fear that someone might end up with a son or daughter in law that isn't quite up to our standard.  I'm wonder if Lisa and Leila were perfect Catholics when they entered into their vocation because I know quite a few people who have grown beautifully in their faith after getting married.  I also love the Theology of the Body!  But to think anyone who hasn't learned about it or someone who isn't as blessed as your children are since they are cradle Catholics  doesn't mean they can't be the potential spouse God intends for your child.   

     

    It's arrogant to think we know what is best for our children.  The only mom that can say that is our Blessed Mother!  Yes, we should know our child better then anyone and our children should trust us more then anyone else.  If this is the relationship you have with your children, they are on the right track to choosing a vocation and, if that vocation is marriage, then a good spouse. We can and should pray incessantly, ask that our children be receptive to God's Will but to think we should manipulate this aspect of their lives is just too much. 

    The idea that since something used to be done means it's a good idea just isn't logical.  We have the opportunity to raise our children to completely and totally fall in love with their faith.  So much information is at our hands!  If you are in love with Christ, especially in the Eucharist, your children will be too.  Trust that God is calling them, He has written their vocation on their hearts.  You've made all the sacraments available to them, encouraged them in so many positive ways, don't be afraid to trust that they can make good decisions and that they want to do what is right, most of the time ;-)

    God bless you in your efforts!

    Mom to seven, age 18 to 13 months

  • Guest

    I think that some might be losing sight of the fact that in many areas of the country, there aren't very many faithful Catholics.  It is very difficult for an adult child to find someone who shares the love of the Eucharist, of the Blessed Mother, and of the Church.  I am pleased to say that our new members (and thank you to Catholic Exchange for bringing us a tidal wave of new members!) are from all areas of the country, and several are in locations where very few Catholics reside.  Many of these have adult children who are quite open to becoming acquainted with new families who share the Faith in a passionate way. 

     

    I have had the pleasure of attending two weddings recently…. Both were devoutly Catholic couples whose families know and love each other.  I cannot tell you how beautiful it was to see these young adults in love, and fully understanding the vision of Christian marriage.  It was beyond moving and almost unbearably joyful!  (And both couples were thrilled to become pregnant on their honeymoons!)  My teen children know these families, and the brides.  They are very open about wanting this kind of love, affection, devotion and shared Faith for themselves. 

     

    So, while I won't argue that one cannot be happy unless one marries a faithful Catholic, I will say that the odds are greatly increased that way, and what is wrong with that, after all? 

     

    Final thought: If you'd like to check out our homepage, we state openly that Catholics love free will!  No one is forcing anyone to do anything.  As we clearly state:  This is not an arranged marriage site.

     

    God bless!

    Leila Miller

     

    http://www.CatholicMomsMatchmaking.com

  • Guest

    CONGRATS! I HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT DOING THIS FOR OVER A YEAR–YOU BEAT ME TO IT. I HAD BEEN A PAID MEMBER AT CATHOLIC MATCH SO I COULD HUNT FOR GOOD CATHOLIC MEN FOR MY THREE ELIGIBLE HOME-EDUCATED DAUGHTERS (image the shock when the 20 something guys had a "hit" from a 50 year old women). Now my daughters and I can look at your new site–Thanks!!!

  • Guest

    Goodness, my sweet husband wouldn't have made the cut (he was a fallen away divorced Catholic when we met) and my, how we've both grown throughout the years.  God chose this man for me and most days I'm profoundly grateful He did ;-)  It's a bit sad to think that as faithful Catholics we wouldn't want our children to fall in love with someone they would have to help fall in love with the faith.

    My great-aunt prayed daily for her husband to embrace the faith and lived a wonderful faith-filled life herself.  After 50 years, her prayers were finally answered.  Sure, it would be easier to start out on the exact same page, but just because something is easy, doesn't necessarily mean it's always right. 

  • Guest

    Okay, so I'm only sixteen, but I think I have a different perspective on this whole matter. Certainly, what is being suggested in this article is not necessarily bad, it just seems…the "making your child catchy" thing…it seems….intrusive maybe?

     

    I think all you need to do as a parent is teach, love, and discipline your children, forming them into true Catholics, until they are able to make decisions on their own. If you have truly done your duty as a parent, you will not have to worry about anything. Your child's prayer (as learned by you) along with your own prayer will put God's insurance on whatever vocations corresponds to them, whether it be religious, married, or single (which I did not see mentioned at the end of paragraph four in the article). Technically, I don't believe a mother's interference is necessary if you have formed your child correctly and righteously. Of course, this is not to demean the parents, because a mother's (as well as father's) support and constant encouragement are most helpful.

     

    And I also think it might be a slightly bad idea to do something like that secretly. Be honest with your children, because they take your example too. But all in all, I think this is all unnecessary, because if you have really formed and taught your children as you should have (or should be), then all you need to do is pray – and believe me, it'll work better than any "matchmaking" website you've ever seen.

     

    God bless.

  • Guest

    Dominicus, you are very wise and faithful.  I like to see that in teens!  My oldest daughter is sixteen and she is very similar to you.

    I think the point that has been lost here is that we are trying, via Catholic Moms Matchmaking, to expand the circle of devout Catholic friends and acquaintances.  In this way, our children have more choices and more chances for their hearts' desire, which is a faithful Catholic spouse.  My three teens are very open about their desire to marry devout Catholics because of the formation they have received.

    Making friends and making introductions just truly does not have a downside, and could have a very blessed upside.  Smile

    Leila Miller 

    http://www.CatholicMomsMatchmaking.com

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