In a recent New York Times article, “The End of Courtship,” a lot of emphasis is put on blaming technology for the decline of the traditional dating scene. The girls interviewed are confused about their relationships because all formality has been removed. Dating has devolved into last minute plans made over Facebook or casual texts to “hang out.” In the early stages of dating, spontaneity can be fun; however these girls are in a constant state of doubt as to the seriousness of their relationships.
While I agree with most of the points in the article, I think the most important part of a relationship from a Catholic viewpoint is neglected.
The purpose of Catholic courtship is to discern if a person will make a good spouse; as Catholics we should take these matters very seriously. Unlike the girls in the article, we aren’t looking for fun with no responsibilities. Our standards have to be high from the start—there is no room for confusion.
As Catholic women, we have to understand that we are not just deciding if we like someone’s personality or looks. We are looking for a man who would make a good husband, but an even more important factor is if he will make a good father. Luckily, we have a perfect example of both in St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers.
St. Joseph is known for his hidden virtues especially those of humility, patience, and charity. He was a perfect example of how we should all work to create a strong interior life so that we may live our public lives according to God’s precepts. “If this foundation is lacking, all the other virtues, however brilliant, will be mere display.”
St. Joseph was humble enough to take Mary as his wife, knowing that she was with child. He was entrusted with the job of caring for the infant Jesus, but took none of the glory for himself, always putting God first.
St. Joseph left his homeland (and went out of his comfort zone) to flee to Egypt to protect his Divine charges. Do we really think that a man who can’t be bothered to pick up a phone and ask a girl out on a date would ever do that?
While work may be our inheritance due to original sin, St. Joseph led his life of labor with patience and humility. His work as a carpenter was honest and he instructed the child Jesus to follow in his footsteps. St. Joseph had to endure many sufferings throughout his life. It was through his charity that he loved God above all things and was able to endure these sorrows.
As Catholics, we can’t begin a relationship built on a shaky foundation, if we expect to be open to new life. Children should have the privilege of a strong family life that is founded on principles of humility, patience, and charity.
The duty of parents to instill good Catholic values in their children is a big responsibility. If a couple starts a courtship that is not defined by the hidden virtues demonstrated by St. Joseph, their children will suffer later. Men should strive to imitate the virtues demonstrated so impressively by St. Joseph, while women should pray to find a husband who exhibits these qualities.
May 1 is the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, let us all be sure to pray to St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers.
St. Joseph, pray for us!