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Men Like Christ, Head of the Church Print E-mail
By Randall Smith   
Thursday, 11 April 2013

This winter, after a particularly heavy snow, I went out early in the morning, started the engine to my wife’s car, chipped inch-thick ice off its windows, and shoveled the foot-deep snow between the house and the car. As my wife was backing the car down the alleyway, I couldn’t help thinking to myself as I stood there tired and cold in the snow:  I love being married.

No, seriously.

I didn’t get married until a bit later in life, so the joys of doing things like shoveling out someone else’scar and chipping ice off someone else’s windows were denied to me during my years of bachelorhood. I’m profoundly sorry for that now, although it’s hard to see, even in retrospect, how God could have dealt with me any differently. To enjoy marriage, you have to stop being a selfish putz. And sadly, I just wasn’t ready.

I know plenty of gifted, beautiful, unmarried, young Catholic women (where were they when I was younger?), and they all have one complaint: Where are all the – no, scratch that – where are any good marriage-ready Catholic men?  I used to think they were just carping – people do like to complain. But I’ve begun to see their point. As I seek to find suitable spouses for the many young Catholic women who are earnestly looking, I’ve discovered that there really aren’t all that many available.

I love my male Catholic students. Some are just great. But even most of the great ones aren’t exactly ready for the big leagues just yet, and they know it. In fact, they know it a little too well. Most of them can’t imagine being ready for marriage for at least another ten, maybe twenty years – if ever.

That’s not keeping them from desiring sex, of course, but that’s another story. Since the notions of “marriage” and “sex” have been essentially de-coupled in our society, the lack of marriage doesn’t usually present an insurmountable problem to one’s sex drive, except for those who, (A) had a scrupulous moral upbringing (the regulating power of which often withers under the constant onslaught of television, video games, and porn); or who are, (B) exceedingly nerdy and incapable of meaningful dating. The sad truth is that, while we work endlessly to fill our children’s heads with technical knowledge about things like computers and sex, we do little or nothing to prepare them for the life of marriage.

And yet, although there’s no doubt we could – and should – do a much better job of preparing our young men for married life, I still have this nagging concern: Maybe, as a guy, you’re never ready. That is to say, maybe it’s not until you’re married that you actually begin to grow up and become a civilized, responsible adult. Maybe that’s why wise cultures in the past tried to get their young men married off relatively early in life: not primarily because of the sex instinct, but because they wanted to turn their irresponsible, muddle-headed adolescents into worthwhile productive spouses who could, for the first time in their lives, do something really meaningful that would give them some true satisfaction.

Because here’s the thing: I don’t think most men will really be happy unless they’re providing for, sacrificing for, and working selflessly for a spouse. I know it may be hard for young men to believe that, but please trust me on this: caring for a spouse is one of those things that make life worth living. Sometimes you get sex, sometimes you don’t. But what’s important is that you did something good for your wife and that her life is better off because of you. There’s something deep inside of a man that isn’t really whole until he has sacrificed for something larger than himself. And for most of us, that usually means family.

In this regard, I’m often struck at the strange ways many people treat the passages from Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 1 – which draw an analogy between “husbands” and “Christ,” on the one hand, and “wives” and “the Church,” on the other. The point of the analogy is made clear, it seems to me, in Ephesians 5:25: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Foolish pagans that we are, we often hear the phrase “Lord” or “head” and think: “I am supposed to lord it over my wife and control her, and she should submit to me.” That would be true, I suppose, if the Christian God were like Zeus or Jove, but He’s not. Where did we get it into our heads that the way Christ became “the head of the Church” was by “lording” it over the Church and demanding “submission” to His every whim?  The essential element of Christ’s lordship has to do with Christ’s selfless sacrifice on the cross for us. We, as Church, are called upon to receive that sacrifice with gratitude and love.

Wives, then, on this view, are bidden to receive this sacrifice on the part of their husbands and to understand that their husbands probably won’t be particularly fulfilled and happy until they know that they’ve accomplished something manly and responsible that makes their wives’ lives a lot better than they would have been otherwise. Indeed, I suggest that when a woman understands that this sort of self-sacrifice is essential for a man’s well-being – and sets her mind to find what sorts of thing her husband can do for her and then receives those gifts with gratitude – she’ll be helping him about as authentically satisfied as he can be in this life.

And if it causes her to have to shovel less snow in the winter, well, maybe that’s just a sacrifice she’ll have to make.

 
Randall Smith is associate professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas, Houston.
 
 
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Comments (41)Add Comment
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written by rtjl, April 11, 2013
"I know plenty of gifted, beautiful, unmarried, young Catholic women (where were they when I was younger?), and they all have one complaint: Where are all the – no, scratch that – where are any good marriage-ready Catholic men?"

Where were they when you were younger? My observation is that they are the same place they are now - actively engaged in the world and particularly in the volunteer sector (while young men seem to be actively engaged in video games).

I am a middle aged man involved in several volunteer activities and I see no shortage of young women from colleges, universities and high schools committed to community service. Sadly I see very few young men. Man - If I had known about this when I was younger. If only I could get my 19 year old son to understand this now.

Are you a young man looking for GOOD woman? Forget the bars. Volunteer at a soup kitchen. You will find no shortage of single young women who are beautiful, intelligent, compassionate, blessed with healthy dispositions, enthusiastic and happy. And the good news is that just about their only frustration in life, although it seems a minor one for them, is that they can't find any young men who are seriously date-able. What an opportunity for any young man who is willing to step up to the plate and be the kind of man he should be - and that God calls him to be.
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written by Deacon Ed Peitler, April 11, 2013
Randall, we are of like mind when it comes to the importance of sacrifce. Here's the homily I preached at Mass this past Tuesday:

You know one of the tasks we all have as members of St Peter’s parish is to build up our community in every way that we can. It is true that we do not come here to worship God as if each of us were involved in an act that had nothing to do with the person sitting in the pew beside you.
We share a common communion in the Lord Jesus Christ and this is probably at the top of any list of how we at St Peter’s go about building up our community. We share a common cup of the Lord’s blood and together eat of the same bread which is his body. At the heart of the communion we share which is the Body and Blood of Christ is the cross. At the heart of the cross is a sacrifice. The sacrifice of Jesus who gave up His life for those He loved – you and me and all others whom he calls to become sharers of the benefits of His sacrifice.
So what holds us together as a community is a sacrifice. And we come to understand that our very identity as Christians requires us to live sacrificially. Because we are one in Christ, you and I live for one another. I belong to you; you belong to me; we belong together and the common bond of our Church community is sacrifice. What holds us together as a community here at St. Peter’s, is how well we sacrifice for one another.
Listen once again to the words from our first reading that spells out exactly how the early Church understood how they were held together by sacrifice: The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. … There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
This idea of sacrifice as the glue that holds our Christian community together is also what holds families together. If I were to identify the one element that makes for the best of family life, it would be sacrifice. Show me a family where every member sacrifices for the good of every other member, and I will show you a thriving, healthy, Christ-centered family. But, you say, where does love come into family life? And I would answer that true love always involves sacrifice.
Want to know what the hallmark of good governance is? You guessed it – sacrifice. Show me Church leaders, show me elected civil authorities, show me any kind of organization where the leaders lead sacrificially and I will show you an example of a thriving community. So I would leave you with a question to answer…how are we doing as a parish? How well do we sacrifice for one another?
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written by Fr. Bramwell, April 11, 2013
Timely article. I think that there is some difficulty preparing people for anything in this culture. Some fields still have a built-in discipline like music or mathematics or medicine to some extent but the more the field of knowledge touches the human the more difficulty we have.
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written by Tony Esolen, April 11, 2013
Excellent article, Professor Smith.

May I make a couple of suggestions? What is the young man supposed to do? All the institutions that once ushered him into manhood and fatherhood have been dismantled. He has been taught all his life long that his natural desire to be a father -- and to be a city father, too, a person with natural responsibilities to the common good -- is "discriminatory." All the things that boys and girls used to do together, to have innocent fun, are gone. The feminists tell them that they can't be men, and then they are blamed for being boys, and they don't even enjoy the mirth of being boys while they're at it.

People used to bring up boys precisely so that they could make good husbands and fathers, and they used to bring up girls precisely so that they could make good wives and mothers. I don't see this happening for either sex.
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written by Randall B. Smith, April 11, 2013
The Author Replies:

Dear rtjl, "where were the great young women when I was younger?" Exactly the same place they are now. Yes, quite so. That was sort of my tongue-in-cheek point. I have no doubt they were all around me (hindsight is always 20/20), but I was too much of a selfish putz to see them.

Be that as it may, rtjl provides some good advice. Young men, get involved. It looks good on your resume, and more importantly, women like that sort of thing. So does God, by the way. You may find you like it too.

Prof. Esolen's points are also well-taken. He and I would probably agree that what young Catholic men need to do today is to be "counter-cultural" in the right way --- indeed, the only way of being really counter-cultural in this society that isn't merely something being "sold" to adolescents --- and that is to develop the virtues. Young men, yearn to be different, and not just "different" in the same way everyone else in college is "different," which means being just the same as the dominant culture.

My wife has a slogan. She developed it while she was dating me and realized that faithful Catholics didn't have a "back door" out of marriage. Rather amazed at this interesting character trait she assumed was shared by all Catholics (I didn't see the need to correct her on this score while we were still dating), the slogan she used to preach to her friends suffering from numerous failed relationships was this: "Try Catholic."

That's good advice for young Catholic men. There's all sorts of advice out there for "getting girls." Nearly all of it stinks. So, I suggest that for the next three months --- just as an experiment --- try Catholic. What have you got to lose, other than some quality time in front of the latest video game? Trust me, once you get to know them, women are actually a LOT more interesting than even the best video game.

Seriously.
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written by Jack, April 11, 2013
Ha! are you joking. I am a young man, mid 20s unmarried. I go to mass weekly, bible study, I have a good job, I volunteer, etc. I don't know ANY women in my age range who are actually looking for a stable relationship with a husband material guy.

I've notice that girls either find thier spouse in college or start sweating it in thier late 20's. In my experience, girls in thier early to mid 20s are a wash. They only want to travel, move around the country, establish careers, hit the town with thier friends, and anything else that would be constrained by the emotional, physical, and financial commitments of a real relationship.

Seriously, if you know all these beautiful young women looking for husbands, please tell me where men like us are supposed to find them.
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written by Bob, April 11, 2013
Interesting insights, but I think the problem can be explained very simply. Young people seeking spouses who love and strive to adhere to the teachings of the Church compose about 5% of the population of datable age. This leaves singles with few choices, and frankly, most of the girls just aren't pretty enough and most of the guys just aren't confident and interesting enough when you compare them to the otherwise quite glamorous singles who dwell outside of that 5%.
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written by edit stein, April 11, 2013
Well put, Mr. Esolen.

Professsor, I have two excellent young men at home. You can find them right here.
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written by Eric, April 11, 2013
Here I am!

Though I have my faults (who doesn't), I find myself wondering where all the good marriage-ready Catholic women are. They're certainly not going to Mass where I live (in a large mid-western city). And while I'm a techie by nature and occupation, I don't think anyone would classify me as "excessively nerdy" or socially maladroit.

Society is largely to blame, but so too are we who have allowed secularism into our homes despite knowing better. It's not surprising that poorly catechized parents raised a generation of un-catechized children. Without the faithful foundation to combat secular influence, young adults had little chance to be anything else but what they are.
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written by Svengg, April 11, 2013
"My observation is that they are the same place they are now - actively engaged in the world and particularly in the volunteer sector (while young men seem to be actively engaged in video games)."

Unfortunately, much of the volunteer sector is hostile to young men and manhood in general. I was heavily involved in community service in college and did americorp after college. Nearly every outlet for volunteering I came acrossed was so biased against men that it was simply intolerable to support them. Young men (me excluded) are so absorbed by video games, because it is one of the few industries that seeks them out. Charities could learn a lot from the video game industry.
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written by Maggie-Louise, April 11, 2013
Do you mean that I can't shovel snow with my husband any more? I LOVE to shovel snow. It's the only exercise and fresh, cold, crisp air that I get in the winter. Boy! it's a good thing we don't have that 700-foot driveway any more, and does that mean he should have shoveled the path to the barn, too, while I sat around doing nothing?

Do you mean, also, that my husband can't dry dishes while I wash them any more? Darn!! We will both miss those conversations while our hands were busy and our minds were free, rehashing the events--or non events--or joys--or problems of the day.

And to think that we have been enjoying shoveling snow, making the bed, hanging clothes on the line, cleaning the garage, for (not quite) 58 years!! I guess we must have been doing it wrong.

Maybe we could have a do-over and get it right the next time. For all the good times and bad, for all the sorrows and joys,--I'd do it again in a heartbeat, just the way we did it the first time..

Neither one of us ever much considers what it is we are doing. We just enjoy doing it together. You guys just make it too hard--or has the world made it too hard for you? Is so, tell the world to go, jump in the lake. Tell the world that you are going to do it the manly way by letting your wife help you with the shovelling--even when she's pregnant.
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written by Athanasius, April 11, 2013
I met my wife when I was 27. We met in the Church basement for a CCD teachers' meeting for our parish. She was the real deal: Faithful Catholic and giving of herself. I had worked in volunteer work since age 19, but many of the women I met were either shallow or already taken. Some of the women I met really weren't there to help but to socialize, and were not reliable volunteers. Down in the trenches you really discovered what people were made of.

I do agree that volunteer work, especially with the church, is a good way to meet someone because they are more likely to share your values. Of course, in addition to values, you also have to find someone who likes the same kinds of activities as you. It worked for me.
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written by John Hinshaw, April 11, 2013
There is no question that young men are NOT being prepared for marriage anymore by anyone - society, school, Church or family. And I think too much is placed on being "ready for marriage" - like being "ready to have a child". It's the romance of adventure, guys. However, we get a lot written about this and very little about the distressing (and off-putting)problem of the taint of feminism in our women. When any husband speaks like Mr. Smith, of headship (even sacrificial, like Christ's)their wives have been conditioned to feel their hair stand on end. The very concept of manly virtue strikes their dissatisfaction and this was not put there by male chauvinists. I have seen this even in the devout women who abhore feminism.
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written by Abby, April 11, 2013
I would be careful about feeding the angst of single female readers. It’s not just the men, it’s us women too. This reads more like a criticism of secular men than Catholic men – my community and friend groups don’t have too much of what you’re describing. (But I’m an engaged young 20s Catholic woman in a northeastern city, maybe you’re talking older singles or smaller towns) What I see more is women who are single and have everything planned, and care more about extracurriculars than relationships. What they need is a man to sweep them off their feet and change all those plans, but they don’t allow anybody in to give them the chance.

Great article, great points about what men need (it’s true, but you know that :p), I’d just be careful not to criticize men, as you know you guys already get such a bad rap from our culture, and many young Catholic women grow disillusioned with them too. Good men exist, I’m marrying one next month :D And all of his groomsmen and friends are wonderful Catholic men too, true gentlemen and knights in shining armor. It can’t just be these few men… maybe people need to look closer and love them rather than complain about them. Like you said, men who are loved are changed and become who they are made to be, let’s show the men in our lives more love and respect rather than whining about how they’re not real men.
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written by Gian, April 11, 2013
Is a marrige constituted by consent of man and wife or their mutual vows?
And would any vows matter or the vows that promise everlasting fidelity and wifely obedience?

That is, I would like to know if the vow of wifely obedience essential to a Catholic marriage?
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written by Sal, April 12, 2013
It is really a shame to see what was once the norm is now the minority.
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written by Faith, April 12, 2013
In response to Gian - in a Catholic marriage the couple promises to love and honor each other. I have never heard the word obedience in the vows at a Catholic wedding before, but I have at Protestant weddings.
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written by Daniel O'Connor, April 12, 2013
Absolutely beautiful article. I love it.

Just be careful about one thing. Be careful about pejoratively referring to a wife's submission to her husband. That is not something to joke about; it's the truth. It is demanded by Scripture, Tradition, and Magisterium. We just have to make sure that, by a wife's submission to her husband, we don't understand that in the wrong way (and wrong ways abound; e.g. thinking the husband is the boss, master, and the wife is the inferior one, the servant or slave ... that the husband can make all family decisions on his own without his wife's cooperation, etc.).

Nevertheless, the teaching of a wife's submission to her husband stands strong, so much so that to deny it is heresy. I myself am an engaged young man who was blessed to have the most amazing woman he ever met say "yes" to his proposal. She also fully believes in this teaching as I do, and we await with great joy a marriage in which I as the man serve as head, and she as the wife serves as heart.
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written by Xander, April 12, 2013
I think we men have kind of become victims of our own success.

There is some truth to the idea that Feminists want to be (or at least be treated like) men. But that's because over the course of history we have defined virtually everything strong and/or good as masculine.

I was discussing this at the Catholic Answers website a few years ago, and the conservative Catholic described Masculine and Feminine traits to me this way:

Masculine traits:
Strength, intellect, pragmaticism, assertiveness, honor, aggression, and leadership.

Feminine traits:
Dependence, emotion, romanticism, submissiveness, nurturing, communication/a desire to get along, and beauty.

This is more or less the traditional view of men and women, and clearly establishes women as lesser than men.

Assuming that you're part of a culture that buys into that, why wouldn't you want to be manly (especially if you're a woman)?
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written by Scott Thomas, April 12, 2013
You have got to be kidding. These are really lousy times for serious single Catholic men trying to get married. It's not because we are playing video games. We have jobs. The whole soup kitchen volunteer thing doesn't work if you are more than 22 years old.

It just makes my blood boil when some smug much-older married guy says you can be married too if you stop playing video games.

He says where were these young women when he was a young man? Well phone message dude, maybe you are looking at the past through rose-colored spectacles because there were not a lot of prospects at soup kitchens or volunteering at church events when you were younger, and maybe that is still the case today.

It's incredibly hard to get married today. And no, the women aren't easy to find. You can tell pretty quickly in a small group of people when there is no one there for you.

Some previous commenter said that we are five percent of the population? Serious catholics are more like 1% or less. The real problem we have is that is just so discouraging to be a single Catholic. I can tell you where the men are. They have just left and settled for marrying vaguely Christian or non practicing women. The women who stay Catholic seem a less willing to settle this way. But the reality is that a lot of single Catholic women leave or quit practicing over time too. The Catholic Church is increasingly becoming a Church where singles can't get married and just get mocked and abused by offensive articles like this one.
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written by Waiting, April 12, 2013
If you are a single Catholic in today's society, you have to face the fact that the odds are stacked against you. You may not marry until you are 40 or 50. Once you are past 40, you may never marry at all. In fact, a lot of us will never marry. It's a hard, bitter truth, but there it is.
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written by Rae, April 12, 2013
Well, I found my wonderful fiancé on CatholicMatch.com. Before he joined CM, he had already been one of the E5 men (they have a website) for several years, and I am honored by the sacrificial fasting he did, and continues to do for his future bride.

Before meeting him, I spent my free time involved in various charities and in the church community. My fiance is also a member of the Knights of Columbus. We continue to grow together in out faith journey, and look forward to October, when we'll be joined in marriage.
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written by Mary, April 12, 2013
I live in Florida. I never see any single guys at church. As far as volunteering, you're not really wanted either female or male if you're not married with children. The groups are run by cliques of older women who don't really want younger women/men around them. They really don't want to talk to you. Also, you spoke about young people. I'm 40 going on 41 in 3 months. Try being my age and seeing most of the people around being told that I need to abandon the Catholic faith in order to find a man because today's men want women who put-out. I kid you not. I'm beyond looking for a man in our faith because they're just not there anymore. Most Catholic men no longer attend church.
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written by Mike, April 12, 2013
I blame a sense of atrophy and nihilism in society that considers suffering and sacrifice as meaningless. Catholicism helps counter that, but not much. If this is the way society and most women generally feel, it's hard - even impossible sometimes - to go against it.
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written by Xander, April 12, 2013
One issue people don't like to acknewledge is that a lot of people aren't getting married because they don't want to. But in earlier generations would have felt compelled (even though they didn't want to) because of social, religious, and political pressures.

And this is especially true of women.

It used to be that a women's status was almost entirely dependent on who her father and/or husband was. One of the few ways that women could move up in the world was to marry well. So of course many (if not the majority) of women wanted to marry the richest and/or most successful man that they could.

But today, women can have their own careers. They can become doctors, lawyers, bankers, or even run for political office. They don't NEED a husband in the same way that their foremothers did.

As a result, an ambitious woman might decide that she has no need or desire for husband.

And speaking of desire...

Not that long ago, any unmarried woman who slept around was considered a slut (men's sexuality was judged by far more forgiving and permissive standards). And sluts were basically at the bottom of the totem pole socially.

But now, it is largely taken for granted that people will have premarital sex. Moreover, while there is still some stigma to being considered a slut, its nothing compared to the heavy social burden it once was.

As a result, while it was once a given that if a woman wanted to have sex and/or children she needed to get married, that is no longer the case.

Its fairly common for women to openly discuss their lovers or the children that they had without the aid of a husband. These women feel little to no pressure to get married.

Of course, men faced pressure in the past to get married too. But from everything I have seen and heard it was much less strong and omnipresent that the forces pressuring women to marry (society never defined men by their marriages the way that women were).
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written by LindaO, April 12, 2013
Eric & Jack - My daughter is 27, smart, funny, beautiful, and staunchly and devotedly Catholic. She has not had much luck finding a serious relationship. She loves knitting, hiking, and photography, and wants very much to be married and have children. (She has read this column too - even posted it on her Facebook page, and will probably cringe from embarrassment if she sees this comment.)
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written by Waiting, April 12, 2013
There is just something really, really wrong with the Catholic marriage scene. A lot of us out here want to get married but we just can't meet anyone. Online dating doesn't work--I have spent more than 10 years trying three different services and it just leaves you more lonely than ever. There is no Catholic community we can go to. Single people get treated like social lepers in Catholic parishes. I agree with Scott's point about single people leaving the Church because it is just too discouraging.
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written by Dan, April 12, 2013
I'm guessing my comment wasn't allowed because it was too personal or abrasive or something. I really think that society is hostile to men and men are "manning up" by responding rationally to unfavorable circumstances. As Mary said in an above comment, men are opting out, they aren't going to parish events. I think this is because women are taking over, inserting themselves everywhere, and making things, including marriage, less appealing to men. Parish leadership is usually more interested in catering to women because like I said, today women are the bread and butter. As as afterthought, they talk about how much men are needed. I've been told my whole life that women don't need men. Then I read articles like this, and they're all the same, that basically condescend to men and essentially mock them in a good natured way. In the past, when men had respect and status, good naturing teasing was more palatable. Today, even good natured ribbing is distasteful.
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written by Mary, April 12, 2013
It's not just single Catholics that are treated as social lepers at our parishes, even if you're married, you're treated that way. I've noticed that our American part of the Catholic church that our priests are becoming more and more socialist in their teachings. Down here in Florida, the Orlando diocese cares more for illegal aliens then they do for American citizens. My dad is a member of the Knights of Columbus. At the dinners, not one women will even talk to my mom or let her sit with them because she's not a part of their old lady clique. Enough with the cliques.
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written by Robert Dean Jr, April 12, 2013
Lately I have been led to pray for the grieving process for so many young men and women. Between contraception and abortion it is very possible the person God intended for these wonderful men and women was not permitted to be born; and that is an often overlooked reason for the difficulty finding a good "Catholic" man or woman.
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written by Rose, April 12, 2013
I know soooooo many strong Catholic marriages that have come about through CatholicMatch.com in the past 5-10 years. My husband and I were both members of Catholic Match and had browsed each others' profiles but hadn't made any contact online. One day I was volunteering at the Missionaries of Charity soup kitchen in San Francisco with a group of friends, and guess who was volunteering that day also! Come to find out, we had several mutual friends, but somehow had never met before. I am amazed every day at the wonderful husband God has given me!
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written by Ms. Heather Barrett, OP, April 12, 2013
Devout Catholics seeking suitable spouses are having a hard, sometimes seemingly impossible, time regardless of whether they are men or women. We are simply too few and far between. I'm in my mid-30s (long, unfortunate story about why I'm still single, but suffice to say it's not because I want to be). I'm still trying to remain hopeful about finding the right man and getting married in the not-too-distant future (like while I can still have children). But to say it's discouraging is an understatement. I've tried to be active in organizations. I've tried online dating through both Catholic and non-Catholic sites. I've gone on dates with a few Catholic men, some of whom have been nice but just not exactly right for me, and some who have not behaved well or treated me well at all.

What I've started doing recently is going really old school and asking my friends, relatives, coworkers, et al. if they know any men they could introduce me to. I met my last boyfriend that way, via a mutual friend--it didn't turn out too well, but at least it was an opportunity, and I am grateful to have had it! Unfortunately, most people I know don't know any more good eligible men than I do. Either that, or they just don't want to get involved.

I'm trying to ask around some more now. I'm extremely hesitant to try online dating again, after it has proven so unprofitable. There are so many better ways I would like to invest my time, money, and energy. Mostly, I am praying and trying to keep patient and hopeful. I pray not only for myself and my future husband, but for all Catholic men and women who are seeking spouses.

God bless you,
Heather
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written by Craig J, April 12, 2013
I'll refrain from pouring in my own woes here. But I would like to point out that among all the responders thus far, I haven't seen a single person mention prayer. And trust!

As Catholics, if our relationship with Christ is rich and alive, we exude a cheerfulness that overcomes the bitterness of being alone with unyielding trust in God's plan. It also overcomes the cynicism that is pervasive in secular culture - of which, I might add, we are not to be imbibing deeply. (I do note a lot of cynicism in the comments.) The bedrock of this cheerfulness is the joy that comes from being a child of God, of having within oneself the very sanctifying grace which leads to our salvation. Such grace is given because we have accepted a great visitor into our hearts - no, our very souls! - and that visitor is Jesus Himself. Through the cultivation of great love for God in the Eucharist, and love for Mama Mary, this shouldn't be impossible.

Additionally, some of the 20-somethings (and 30 and 40s!) need to realize that God does work through the machinations of the prevailing culture - whenever & wherever we are in history. For Americans - indeed, for most of western civilization - that means being patient as we cultivate our gifts in college, and grad school, and early career moves. The comments about early marriage are valid - scripture has one beautiful passage about "the wife of my youth" which will resonate in the hearts of faithful married souls until Kingdom come. A little less moaning and self-pity and more humility and hearty pragmatism is in order for those who must wait.

And so I return to the idea of steadfast prayer. We should all ask ourselves: If I want to be married and things do not seem to be coming along easily (again, there are some charmed people for whom this seems to come naturally), how hard am I praying? Have I persevered in offering a novena to the Holy Spirit for my intention? ( or to St. Rafael, patron saint of singles)? Have I sought a spiritual director who can help me to see the weaknesses I carry that make me unattractive and/or unsuitable for serious courtship? Have I offered God a fast for a holy and wholesome man/woman who will make this pilgrimage at my side?

I am doubtful there would be complaints if the answers were yes. And even if the answer is yes, for a trusting soul, whose strength is in Christ and who is firmly convinced in their conscience that they are called to marriage, then patience will not be impossible. Difficult? Of course! It's a cross to carry! But with love for our Lord, no amount of waiting for fulfillment is impossible.

Finally, all older singles can take comfort from a few recent stories about older Catholics marrying. Read the Love Letter of St. Gianna Molla, who married in her 30s after she had become a doctor. Read about how Pope Benedict XVI's father was 40 and put a classified ad in a newspaper and shortly thereafter found his wife. Heck, read Padre Pios's diary, in which he was constantly afflicted with the question of: 'For what purpose did God put me here?'

We are not alone! Take heart and be strong! All things work for the good of those who believe.
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written by James, April 13, 2013
Mr. Smith clearly has no concept of the disaster zone that is single Catholic life today. You can't get married, you can't start a family, you can't even get a date, and there is no such thing as a friendly introduction to another single person. It's very difficult--I was going to say something far stronger-- to go to Mass on Sundays and be surrounded by married people when you yourself are "locked out of the Garden," so to speak. It's painful, really painful. Married people do not understand this. For single Catholics, things that should be happy family events have no spouses and no grandchildren; everyone just looks older, tireder, and sadder. Since when is being unmarried in your 30s something unusual? Try 40s pushing 50. The only thing we can do as individuals is pray. Surely that is what God wants. Surely we can offer up this terrible cross of singleness in reparation for what's wrong with the world. But as a Catholic community, we can't just ignore the problem or pretend that singles just need to pray some more on our own. This is a whole community problem. Everyone should be praying about it. We don't need "advice" and tut-tutting. We need some real action. How about prayers for single people at Mass for starters?
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written by Mike, April 13, 2013
Let's keep things in proportion. Pining for marriage can be nothing short of idolatry. Love God and enjoy being single if that is the situation in which you find yourself.
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written by Rick, April 13, 2013
The best place to find a partner for the journey to sainthood is waiting in line for the Sacrament of Penance. Daily mass is another great place. This provides plenty of opportunity to pray and grow in trust of God. Oh and by the way, you have to be willing to compromise.
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written by James, April 13, 2013
Mike, no serious person can look at the collapse of marriage as an institution in society in general as well as its equally sharp decline among practicing Catholics and not conclude there is a problem.
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written by Dan, April 14, 2013
Here's something of what I'm talking about. It definitely different and less pronounced among orthodox Catholic girls, but the same trends can be found. No one writes about it except "Game" bloggers.
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written by Natalie, April 22, 2013
Of any group of people one will find mediocre, poor, and good characters. In my traditional Catholic experience, most young Catholic men are mediocre at best. Some of them are truly exemplary characters, but often those lack the sense to think for themselves because they rely on their parents to make choices for them. Those that have good sense somewhere along the way lost their good character due to being sheltered from the world so much that they fell into it and neglected all of the morals they were raised with. The ones that retained their morals and acquired good sense are often the same ones that have left the Church. There is some irony there to be had.

Again, the former paragraph relates to my experience, so if anyone responds with, "I know a lot of moral Catholic men with good sense." well, then... That's nice?

This article was sweet in saying that husbands enjoy making their wives happy. I think there is definitely truth to this statement. I would have to attribute this loving regard as an obvious sign that the husband and wife have bonded intellectually and spiritually. Of course, sacrificing selflessly isn't just reserved for the husband. The wife, as she carries a child to term, wakes up in the middle of the night to tend a baby, or makes soup for a sick husband even if she is sick herself is also showing the signs of selfless sacrifice. It goes both ways to make a marriage work. This selfless sacrifice is the outward sign of a deep respect for one another. For those of you that have been married for a long time, you know this is true.

There was a young man on this thread that went on about how a wife being submissive to her husband is essential because the Bible has it written and he is happy to be marrying someone who understands this. If I were his fiance reading that, it might cause me to reflect on exactly why I am marrying him. If one goes around touting that a woman must be submissive to her husband (of course, not if he is doing something morally wrong---always inserted to make it sound less like he is the master of the house, because he supposedly isn't her "master"), and your fiance agrees with you, well then more power to you. But in my experience, although a husband might be more "take charge" and a wife is more empathic, unless you have mutual respect for one another and make decisions TOGETHER, eventually your marriage will go kaput. Going around speaking about how a wife must be submissive to her husband doesn't really make me think this young man respects his fiance's input as much as he should. He is welcome to correct me on this, but if he does, I would like to know what his definition of submissiveness is, if it isn't lording over his wife. Direct Bible quotes are not acceptable, as I was raised that Catholics are not to take the Bible literally.
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written by Will, April 24, 2013
Not everyone is called to marriage and marriage has become a messy affair in the US. To many marriage looks anti male. Many women have never been taught to respect men and it shows. Women's financial expectations of marriage are very unrealistic. Also many Catholic women still have the notion that the man should ask her out and be willing to spend an extragent amount of his money on her. Asking a woman out can be hazardous: if you ask a woman out at work, you can be brought up on sexual harassment charges. If you ask a woman at your parish out, you risk public ridicule from the 'church ladies' gossiping.
I guess the answer for women to take on more of the responsibilites for dating and lower their expectations of men.
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written by Brian, August 18, 2014
To not have shoveled others' snow or cleaned others' cars off when it snows before getting married is a personal problem, not a bachelor issue -- many if not most of us devout bachelors past college age spend nearly the entire day when it snows digging out our neighbors. Given that a shocking number of us haven't seen a video game in over a decade, we can spend that time helping others.

If volunteer work is where all the single Catholic women are supposed to be found, then they're working in different sectors or different sites than we men are volunteering at, since that's what many of us are doing too, with no single women to be found. Simply, society has figured out how to segregate singles -- especially in moral subcultures such as ours. However, to paraphrase one delightful quote that I read from one writer, devout Catholics don't have distinctive clothing like Hasidim or the Amish and therefore can't recognize possibly dating/marriage partners when we see each other out in the world (since there's no longer any common space to meet each other past college age any longer; the Church having long since forgotten that the first step to a Parish Marriage Formation Ministry is getting singles to meet each other).

(Seriously, I've gotten used to the video game thing -- it's like how no one can understand that some of us men actually ARE chaste, but the snow shoveling thing is as seriously asinine as the one blogger who claimed that his former speeding and poor driving as a single man was due to not being a father yet...)

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