By now most uber-romantics, both men and women, have read the national best sellers "Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man's Heart" and "Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of the Woman's Soul" by John and Stasi Eldredge. Unless, you are farther gone than a zombie in World War Z, the books lit a fire in your soul. If you have not read either, please do yourself the favor and, at least. read the reviews. Otherwise, the following will likely make little sense.
The themes of masculine and feminine spirituality are always timely, but now that Pope Francis' has called for a more profound Theology of Woman...it seems timely to revisit them again.
The diagnosis of both books, if I may offer a summary that will necessarily fall short, is that Our Lord is not calling either men or women to be 'really nice Church mice'. (Even the Little Flower and Mary were not thoroughly domesticated. We know one of the first things Mary did when she got the Good News was travel, far and inconveniently, to visit her cousin Elizabeth). No one is inspired to grow up and be 'nice'. Its not one of the seven virtues. Or, the fruit of the Spirit. I'm not sure it is even a Biblical concept. Mother Teresa might as well have said instead of the word 'success' at the end of her famous quote, "God calls us to faithfulness, not niceness." In fact, 'nice' might the deficient vice of the excess vice of 'success'. Where lies the golden mean? An entire (controversial) Catholic Internet ministry is built upon battling the "Church of Nice". Likewise, Pope Francis is calling religious and lay persons, in his own inimitable Jesuit Marian Franciscan way, to march to leave the comfort zone of the Church pews, extend our Mercy Hospital (M.A.S.H. unit? :) to the 'existential peripheries', near the suffering, in the battle field acquiring the 'smell of sheep'.
Again to be woefully brief, Eldredge's prescription for what most ails domesticated church men is that men deep down secretly desire 'A Battle to fight. An Adventure to live. A Beauty to rescue.' (Even as I wrote this to get the exact quotes the website had semi-nude images flashing on the side screen. If you don't think there is a battle. Not sure what planet you are on... Joining a monastery or becoming a Luddite can't be a realistic answer for most). The Eldredges write, "Women long for the same three things: to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure and to unveil beauty. That's what makes a woman come alive,"
I haven't read the books for sometime, but they likely quote St. Ireneaus who wrote in the second century Gloria Dei est vivens homo, "The glory of God is man fully alive (or living man)." This quote has been hijacked somewhat by the self-help crowd, but it still gets to a core answer.
Of course, I have a "Catholic answer" to Eldredge's diagnosis and prescription, but I've already rambled on too long. I really hope more than a few of my brothers and sisters might offer their own insights on the unique Catholic way of being captivating and how it fulfills and surpasses what many consider very good conversational starting point offered by Eldredges' books and ministry.