Last year, I wrote about how Advent marks a time of mystical anticipation. What strikes me is the sojourn of the Three Wise Men: they must have felt that same mystical anticipation. Imagine traveling through the desert, following only a glimmer in the night sky; knowing that something miraculous and extraordinary awaits.
I find the night sky a wonderful symbol of God’s love for us: unchanging and eternal, mysterious, and more vast and wide-reaching than we could ever imagine. And during Advent, I feel like our sojourn in life—particularly as unmarried people—is similar to the journey of the Three Kings. We travel through the unknown; a dark, vast space that is more wide-reaching than we thought. And of course, we too trust that something miraculous and extraordinary awaits us. After all, what is more extraordinary than true love? We too wait in joyful hope.
During this month, hope takes on added significance to unmarried people in that it intensifies the joyful hope of finding true love, and I think there’s some danger to that. Certainly, there are times—on and off CatholicMatch—where the waiting is less than joyful. I started thinking about why this is.
There are two possible reasons I see.
One, the holiday season is perhaps the most difficult part of the year for the unmarried. Watching the intimate joy that married people share can be downright painful. And the pain is compounded if annoying relatives ask why we aren’t married.
Two, it’s the time of year that we celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas, who is the patron saint of unmarried women. While it’s very comforting that a saint is looking out for us, it’s also a cold comfort. It only serves to remind us that we don’t want to stay unmarried.
So how can we remedy these situations?
We should really look at the life St. Nicholas and the lore of how he became the patron saint of unmarried women. His goal was not to find spouses for unmarried women. His goal was to guard their chastity and provide financial stability. Quite a different story. Perhaps we could use this time to examine our finances. If our spending habits are not ensuring financial stability, perhaps we could consider a more chaste approach to managing money.
As for family gatherings, there is one way to remedy our single status, but I don’t recommend it. Usually around Thanksgiving, many people start looking for dates to bring to holiday events. I call it “The New Year Fix”, and I don’t see any good in it. It does nothing for us if we’re marriage minded, which many on CatholicMatch are.
Instead, I propose that we focus on the sojourn itself during Advent, rather than the joyful hope of Christmas. We could use a break from hoping that we find our true love; and as painful of a reminder that the holidays are, they are also a time to ease the pain.
Perhaps we could see ourselves as one of the Magi: fearlessly braving unknown territory in the name of faith. Keep in mind that those three made the journey with their companions, not with their wives. In that way we are similar to them; we have our friends to travel the path with us. We could look at our dating life and experiences as a brave venture into the unknown. And don’t forget what the Three Kings carried with them: precious treasures to venerate the Christ Child. We too have our precious gifts to offer.
Maybe that mystical journey is one we take to find out what those gifts are. Perhaps that something miraculous at the end of the journey is a birth of a different kind: a new aspect of ourselves, braver and more insightful after having traveled this path.
I recently read an article by one of my favorite priests. In it, he talks about how the root of waiting in joyful hope in Advent is all about desire. What else do we desire, other than marriage? Wouldn’t it be wonderful to use the Advent season as a time to explore our other desires? How miraculous it would be to find those treasures inside us, waiting to be born. And what better way to offer those treasures to the one who bestowed them upon us. In so doing, we enact the desire to use those gifts to live out His will, as Jesus did.
I find this option far more profound, mysterious and ultimately rewarding than lamenting my unmarried status. I think you could consider the option as well. And as an added bonus, you have the best answer for that one annoying relative who asks why you haven’t gotten married yet!
I wish everyone on CatholicMatch a beautiful journey through the mystical time of Advent. I hope you discover the treasures within and offer them up, as we are called to do.