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Tonight on ABC’s hit reality show “The Bachelor,” Brad Womack will choose between Chantal O’Brien and Emily Maynard and propose marriage. Chantal, the brunette, is divorced and from Seattle. Emily Maynard, the blonde, is a single mom from Charlotte, N.C. A People.com poll shows 76 percent of viewers hope Brad picks Emily.

If producers portray Brad’s final decision anything like past seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” Brad will appear to be an emotional basket case at a total loss as to how to make this life-changing decision. In past seasons, it’s almost seemed as though the bachelor flipped a coin to pick his mate. Some have dramatically weeped over the runner-up woman they let go, leaving viewers to feel less confident about the apparent first-choice woman they were about to propose to.

Bachelors and bachelorettes seek feedback from their families, who briefly meet the top two candidates. And a few bachelorettes have been pictured journaling on Decision Day. But there’s never been any mention of prayer or spiritual reflection.

I bring this up because it offers a good opportunity to discuss romantic discernment from a real-life, no-cameras, Christian framework. The choice of a mate is the biggest one you’ll make and it merits careful consideration and exhaustive prayer. So CatholicMatchers, how do you know when who’ve found The One, the soul mate God designed for you? What does your discernment process involve? A spiritual director? Eucharistic adoration? A special novena?

What are pitfalls to avoid when it comes to clear, Catholic decision making? Have you learned from past mistakes?

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18 Comments

  1. John-49562 March 16, 2011

    I definitely would not flip a coin! As the article said, it is the biggest decision of one’s life, and needs, and deserves, costant prayer and reflection. I would certainly pray a Novena (maybe a 54 day Novena!) to help make this decision.

    A long time ago, when I asked my mother how I’d know when the “right” one would come along, she replied: “when the right one comes along, you’ll know it!” Hmph! I’d mutter to myself, there’s a copout! But, she was certainly right not to give me some definite answer. Maybe what was right for her, isn’t the answer for everyone.

    Forget “reality TV”. The reality is that when the right one comes along, with much prayer and discernment, I will know it! My mother did!

  2. Nancy-591885 March 16, 2011

    First I think it is pretty amusing that this article is on here. Why would we as Catholic Christians compare ourselves to people from a reality show? Anyway, in regards to the question at hand. I think most people go with their physical feelings when making a decision about being with someone. And that is where they fail in the relationship department. Yes, there is some merit to that saying, “You will know when you find them” yet, it is not that simple. Courtship, getting to know a person and all that is involved with that, if God is not in the equation, then the whole thing will fail. Always remember, there are three people in the relationship, you, the other person and God.

  3. Marie-575233 March 17, 2011

    Excellent point.Marriage is a calling and requires discernment.Spiritual guidance is needed and often times left out of the picture.Thanks for the enlightenment.

  4. Stacey-101742 March 19, 2011

    I cannot believe when I have watched these shows, how they never mentioned , faith, prayer, going to Mass and raising the kids by what ? faith ? Nothing is mentioned . To me this is the most important thing to talk about . I have always believed that if you can find someone to match on faith , God , will take care of the rest , and that you are becoming one another’s prayer partner , this is a vocation . They reduce it to only attraction and getting along . Faith and living it , can take care of a lot of this . Some of the opposites that a significant brings to a relationship can be good for us . And that is why God puts them in our lives but people don’t see things quite like that any more. Its all about attraction , sex, money . how sad is that . =/

  5. Lori-652739 March 20, 2011

    Absolutely, the first and most important thing I have learned is that a spouse must love our Lord first and be completely loyal to the teachings of the church, frequently receive the sacraments to receive the graces needed to sustain a relationship. It is my belief that this is the only way a spouse will ever be able to remain loyal to the sacrament of marriage, and that goes for both spouses.If God is placed first in their lives, then God gives them the necessary means to live and be faithful to the covenant of marriage!

  6. Lori-621303 March 20, 2011

    Obviously, television shows are for entertainment and one should not expect to find answers or solutions and certainly not role models for a spiritual life on a show like “The Bachelor”. How do you know when you’ve found “The One”? The important thing here is the understanding that it is a decision not to be made lightly. How the decision is made will be as unique as each individual making the decision because we all have developed our own way of making important decision in our lives that works for us. Once you have chose your ‘One and Only” and entered into the sanctity of marriage, it is just as important how you decide to honor and respect the commitment of marriage.

    • Gloria-687589 March 21, 2011

      Yes, I’ve learned I personally need to wait for marriage before I become a sexual partner. Sex should only be between a husband and wife.

  7. Lisa-170636 March 21, 2011

    I think marriage requires as much discernment as religious vocation nowadays. I think people should go through stages during dating including prayer, adoration, solid friendship, etc. before they enter into marriage. Marriage is a vocation and a sacrament like the religious life. Both require a lot of emphasis and discernment. I don’t think people realize what marriage is and what are its requirements from 2 ppl when entering it. When it comes to decision making, I think it’s most important to seek God’s will, to pray, to form good habits of prayer, to develop virtues, to embrace your single life, to take time, to find someone of common beliefs and interests, and to really be mentally/emotionally/spiritually stable, mature and ready in the first place.

  8. MaryEllen-694106 March 21, 2011

    It used to be that a long courtship, at least six months was the normal amount of time expected for two people to honestly see how each other would react in day to day life situations. It was usual for people of like faiths and backrounds to marry. This to me was setting a good foundation, one that would sustain them when life presented problems to be worked out together. Today, and I have even noticed people on this site who consider themselves Catholic but, have different beliefs when it comes to several of the questions asked in the initial sign up screen as to pre-marital sex, and, marriage as it pertains to the priesthood, and birth control. As someone blogged here I do not think the practice of our faith is a buffet, where you pick and choose what you want to believe in and leave the rest!..So the same goes for choosing a partner, it should be a much clearer decision when the time comes if one has not mucked up the works with external worldly rules, which frankly do not seem to be, in spite of people following them, helping most marriages to succeed! If people follow the traditional courtship rules and relax and give themselves time to talk about the important life decisions that they are considering abiding by in a marriage, then it would seem to me the chance of a lasting and fullfilling relationship will just happen.

  9. Ruth-691143 March 22, 2011

    I, too think prayer is never mentioned or discussion of faith. It is about drinking and adventures, but never the compatibility of beliefs and values.

  10. Robin-673918 March 27, 2011

    It is very interesting that nothing about faith is mentioned. It would be nice if just once, a man or woman would bring up spirituality. Maybe it could be a condition of being on the show one season – at least. Sprirituality is not foreign to most people. I can hardly see why introducing spirituality into “reality” would reduce ratings. It needn’t be a denomination, or even Christian for that matter, but a dimension apart from physical beauty, sensuality, glamour and personality defects.

  11. Naomi-698107 March 28, 2011

    It takes three people to make a marriage, and it seems utterly stupid to completely ignore the opinion, or not even consult the most important person in it.

    I think for teh most part the usual friendship, courtship, similarities and communication are the usual secular approaches, these are important of course, but for Catholics, and also our Protestant brothers and sisters, that going before God needs to be the priority before marriage.

  12. Angela-707424 April 2, 2011

    Am rather surprised that this was featured here, I mean really its tv and just the idea of dating and kissing, and making out w numerous peeps while supposedly making a major decision, what a joke! No wonder it hardly ever works out. The idea of Catholic discernment is probably rather foreign to the people on that show. In my own life just beginning to date again after the death of my husband at first I couldn’t gauge anyone being way too upset and now approaching the one yr anniv. I know I shall take my time, and I’m beginning w this system though it seems to be just blogging for now.

  13. Steven-94269 April 3, 2011

    Putting the Lord First and have a track record of attending Mass at least once a week. I must say she has to be Catholic I have seen marriages that one spouce is Catholic and the other Protestant and things are very tough. I know not all are tough but havingthe same beliefs are important.

    Now saying all this These types of shows are not something I watch Choosing a mate is not something that is done over a short period of time and onece you have found that one you want to spend the rest of your life with it is something you must continue to work on. These tyes of shows make a mockery of marriage and it’s romantic discernment.

  14. Rose-531146 April 5, 2011

    I have had 2 failed marriages and neither of the men wanted religion in their lives. This is one thing that I am not giving up and will not settle for in my final relationship of my life. I will have a joyful Catholic man in my life!! I know that was the biggest downfall of both of my past relationships. My God will not be sacrificed.

  15. Patrick-341178 April 6, 2011

    I actually enjoy watching the Bachelor as it does seem like a sincere attempt among its participants to find love. Sure, some probably do it for the publicity but that seems to be more prevalent in other reality shows. I do agree that one disturbing part of the show is that religion is never discussed – or if it is – it is edited out of the show. Most of the participants are probably Christians and some more relgious than the others. Yet among Protestants there are substantial doctrinal differences and the difference between Protestants and catholics are significant. Secondly, although I don’t have a problem with the kissing and intimate moments among the participants, sex should be out of the question. Maybe what we need is a new show called the catholic bachelor on EWTN or something….LOL….

  16. Mike-193697 April 9, 2011

    prayer the more the better. if you arnt in a state of grace or properly disposed to recieve grace chances are your going to hit a brick wall. there is always the chance of a miracle and Gods mercy to happen but i wouldnt put my confidence in a choice like that without a life in prayer

  17. Michele-704534 April 14, 2011

    Ahhhhh discernment- thats one of the most important issues and a lost character trait in todays world. “Discernment before choices” is my constant advice to my 17yr old daughter. I am a widow and had a beautiful marriage. It was a good marriage because of much prayer and bible study prior to even meeting my late husband.Praying for discernment. It was worth every moment praying instead of sleeping or shopping etc. After being married for 2 years my husband was sick for a long time but our faith and love for God kept it beautiful through all the trauma and sad times. We believed the bible where Jesus said He gives a joy that the world cannot take away. That verse kept us smiling even through the pain. It sounds so “holy” but believe me as much as I always remember loving Jesus, the Mass, the Eucharist and the Bible during my single years I was far from “holy”. But I truly desired to live my faith. Yet, I sometimes allowed myself to get way to close to the edge in situations like going places or dating people that the more “worldly” think are not only perfectly socially acceptable but actually were considered socially desirable. I had to learn discernment- from prayer, going to mass often and reading scripture. As far as these reality shows, they need to be watched by parents WITH their children/ teenagers in a calm way and discussed. As an example, discussing what real love is…what makes it last in real terms and on the teens level. I often say to my daughter I feel sad for these people on these reality shows. In a kind way I have said these reality stars should be embarassed . I tell her we should pray for them. I don’t make a big deal but I’m consistant. My girl is a typical “I know it all” teenager, but she now hates the reality shows and watches alot of animal planet as well as some comedy shows- She’s not perfect but at least she shows some discernment. At this point I praise her good choices. And unless physically harmful or serious, when she makes her not so good choices -I just give her my phrase in a low voice, “Discernment before choices”. And then ask her if this choice fits her faith ? I tell her to just think about it and ask her to let me know when she’s ready to discuss it. God forbid I find out or see her ready to make a serious error I step in strongly…and make sure she knows it’s unacceptable-(maybe ground her)- action first talk later…. The really sad thing is that there are Christian/Catholic adults who lack discernment and that is passed onto their children – a dangerous legacy in so many ways. All we can do is pray for them and ask God for mercy on us all.

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