Finding Love in Unexpected Places
It used to be that the path of life was pretty well laid out for you. You’d finish school, get a job, start a family, and ride off into the distance. Okay, maybe that’s oversimplifying it, but there’s no question the stages of adulthood have changed.
Now you finish school and you might take a year off and go overseas, or work for a while, then you might study, or not, you certainly can’t afford to move out of home yet, and the idea of getting married before you’ve got a house and a secure job and you’re past 30 seems to many people to be crazy. The upshot of all these challenges facing young adults is that they start to hit (to use an archaic but appropriate term) “marriageable age” at different times.
For young Catholic adults, the complications are compounded as a high value is placed on marriage and family by the Church community. Along with a desire to uphold the Church’s moral teachings on relationships, this leads a higher proportion of them to marry young. For those who don’t manage to find “the one” through no fault of their own, and watch as the number of their single Catholic friends dwindles, it can be easy to become disheartened at their own prospects.
Thankfully, that while the modern age might have brought about this sense of dislocation; it’s also brought new technologies that can help aid the search for a spouse. Social networks are now integrated into many peoples’ lives and finding love online doesn’t carry the stigma it once did.
Madeleine Teahan writes in the UK’s Catholic Herald that Catholic focused online dating services such as Catholic Match are proving to be increasingly successful in helping young Catholics find a spouse.
“When you sign up to Catholic Match,” Teahan writes, “you begin by answering basic questions about your weight, height, eye and hair colour in order to create a profile…You are then asked to answer “yes” or “no” to whether you support Church teaching on the Eucharist, contraception, the sanctity of human life, premarital sex, the Immaculate Conception and Holy Orders.”
These aren’t the kinds of questions you’re asked on a normal dating website! But they ultimately ensure you are fitted with someone who isn’t just a cosmetic match, but a potential spiritual match as well.
Teahan’s friend Clare, who found her husband through Catholic Match, says “because you are removing the initial physical attraction, it’s easier to establish a relationship of the mind first. By meeting on a Catholic site, your relationship is grounded in the faith from the outset and God is at the centre.”
Of course, placing an ad for a prospective spouse isn’t a new phenomenon; one such ad even changed the future of the Catholic Church. Teahan writes that in 1920 a German civil servant placed an ad looking for a Catholic girl “who can do all housework, who is also capable of sewing and a good homemaker in order to marry at the soonest opportunity.” A young woman named Maria Peintner answered and they were soon married and had three children. And who was the man who placed the ad? Joseph Ratzinger, whose third child would take his name and 78 years later become Pope Benedict XVI.
The single life is a rich and varied vocation and in the search for a spouse it’s important to remember what wonderful opportunities that lifestyle provides. Nonetheless, there’s no denying that there are some young Catholics who have discerned their vocation and deeply desire marriage, but are unable to find the right person. It’s important that all of us, single, married, and religious, encourage those searching for a spouse to consider using tools such as Catholic Match (which has an Australian portal) and to offer friendship, support, and community as our brothers and sisters seek to live out their calling.
Parts of this article are sourced from “The internet is helping faithful young Catholics find love” by Madeleine Teahan, published 14 February 2013 on www.catholicherald.co.uk