We cannot allow St. Valentine’s Day to pass without a post on the need for Catholic courtship in the modern world. Courtship is an art that is becoming more and more rare in a society that places increasing importance on impure pleasures and immediate satisfaction. Whereas Catholic courtship used to be passed from father to son, the Catholic resurgence in young adults has left many men without the focus necessary to sustain a true courtship. Catholic male courtship focuses intensely on respect, patience, and prayer.
Catholic courtship begins before the first date. In choosing a woman to ask on a date, the Catholic Gentleman looks for a woman who obtains many of the virtues found in the Blessed Mother. He strives to find a woman who is patient, kind, appropriately dressed, and socially graceful. He avoids women who call attention to themselves and those who dress impurely. He looks for a woman who has the maturity necessary to follow Mary in all things.
Once he has found this special woman, he treats her with respect. When asking her out on a first date he does not succumb to boyish behavior by utilizing a simple text or facebook message. He asks her to go on a date with him in person, and in a manner which makes it clear that he wishes to begin a courtship. He is not asking for a long-term relationship, but rather a single date which will allow both him and the woman to predict whether a longer relationship is possible or desirable.
He has previously thought of where he would like to go on the first date, and has selected a location which allows for conversation and some pleasant, social activity. He avoids “cliche” first dates, and certainly bars, movies, and concerts. Remember, the focus of the first date is to build a pure friendship with the woman; to learn more about her to see if you are interested in pursuing the courtship. That is difficult to accomplish while watching Paranormal Activity IX. One potential idea for a first date is an afternoon meet at the local coffeehouse (the Catholic Gentleman avoids Starbucks, but that is a conversation for another day). The first date should last about an hour, and give both parties the ability to comfortably exit if things are not going well. Another potential idea for a first date is a casual dinner at a historical restaurant. Again, the key is to encourage conversation and to build a pure friendship.
The Catholic Gentleman always treats the Lady with the respect she deserves. As a woman, she is a member of the fairer sex, and therefore better than you. She should never have to open a door by herself, including car doors, while you are around. The Catholic Gentleman also remembers to open doors for other ladies, as he always should, as he hopes that other men will do the same for his Lady while he is not present. The Catholic Gentlemen employs light humor while avoiding crude jokes. He helps the Lady with her jacket and chair. He always picks up the check. He never interrupts her and always employs his best table manners. He also compliments his Lady frequently. By dressing modestly, the Lady has overcome peer pressure and bucked modern trends. She deserves to be complimented for her virtue.
The Catholic Gentleman also understands the importance of patience. He remembers that he should always shun lust. He neither engages nor thinks about impure actions regarding the Lady. He avoids putting her in situations where temptation is increased. He remembers that he is trying to build a relationship that stands the test of the modern world. He is conscious and respectful of the fact that the Lady may not be as enthralled with him as he is with her, and takes signals from her accordingly. He does not believe in “love at first sight” but rather prefers to build a true friendship that springs into greater and greater love over the course of weeks, months, and years.
Prayer should be foundational to any relationship between a man and wife and the Catholic Gentleman tries to incorporate prayer into his relationships as soon as prudently possible. He invites the Lady to Mass. He offers to pray the rosary with her when they spend several hours together. He does not dismiss the greater conversations of life for fear that his beliefs will be repugnant to her. He listens to the Catholic Lady and allows her to deepen his understanding of Mother Church and increase his faith. Prayer is a rock upon which every marriage should be tied, and the prudent Catholic embraces the benefits it bestows as early as possible.
With prayer, respect, and patience, the Catholic Gentleman is well on his way to finding a Lady who can be a life-long friend and a mother to his children. These three aspects of any healthy, Catholic relationship are foundational to the family, and begin with the first date.