I’ve likened CatholicMatch to an awkward school dance before, but one wherein no one is dancing.
Cue the films and TV of the 1950s again: remember the common motif wherein two teens are slow dancing, getting closer and closer, until a dour chaperone taps them on the shoulder to separate them? Well, I’m getting on my soapbox again, because I see a fair amount of that right here on CatholicMatch.
Only, there’s no dour chaperone separating the dancing couples. It’s something far more subtle, and while on the surface it looks benign and righteous, it makes me wonder. Are we using Church teachings to keep us from potential dates?
Think about it. People are on a quest to be holy. That much is fine, it’s admirable. But it gets out of hand when people try to “out-Catholic” each other. And in the process, they alienate themselves from others; some of those alienated people could have been great dates. Looking at this situation, I tried to figure out what it is motivated by.
Quite frankly, I see a lot of this in the forums. The guise it takes is when one person opens up a topic for debate—modesty of dress, or the seven questions of faith, for instance—and it incites a firestorm of controversy. During that controversy, quite a bit of “out-Catholic” efforts take place. It’s great to be a devout Catholic, no one would contest that. But it’s not so great if, in the effort to be a better Catholic, we start shutting others out, we remain alone and dateless.
As I thought more about it, I wondered if it is motivated by fear. Certainly, the older we get, the more we’ve been burned. And for those of us that divorced due to abuse, neglect, addiction or something equally serious, we become a little distrustful, a little less optimistic. It would make all the sense for us to turn to our faith in troubling times such as this. But in turning to our faith, are we turning away from others?
I’d love to think that all of us on CatholicMatch are open and accepting of others, no matter where they are on their faith journey. I’d also love to think that all of us on CatholicMatch will find our perfect match. But I wonder if that will happen for those among us who are always trying to “out-Catholic” others.
As we enter this holiday season, perhaps we could take a moral inventory and examine if we’ve done this to others before. We all fall prey to it; I know I had in the past. But the important thing is twofold: introspection, and contrition.
Who knows where that will lead—a little contrition goes a long way. And noting someone else’s ability to forgive is a good thing. Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most vital necessities for a successful relationship. Pay attention to those who ask for forgiveness. Pay attention to those who forgive. These might be just the people for you.
Most importantly, respect and accept the others who are in different places in their faith. Approach them with a bit of humility, show them the Church teachings, but don’t tell them what a good Catholic you are. We lead by example, not by pedantry. As I always tell my writing students, show, don’t tell. You never know—your perfect match might be reading your posts!
My hope is that you all find your match!