Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The greatest of these is magical thinking

Some enterprising blogger could probably make a full time occupation out of documenting the sketchy advice doled out on the Catholic Answers forums.

These discussions at Dalrock's are useful for learning more about Catholic marriage and decrees of nullity. It's sad, but reading all of the comments on that thread alone will probably make you more knowledgable of Catholic doctrine concerning marriage than many young Catholic brides and grooms.

The woman who posted the question to CAF says that her first marriage was annulled. What that means is, her diocese made a prudential judgment that no sacramental marriage took place with her first husband. After her divorce, she dated a player who gave her major tingles. Now she's dating a solid, reliable Catholic man who doesn't give her tingles and she wonders if they should be marrying when they haven't "fallen in love."

Many Christians have a peculiar tendency to believe that not only should God forgive us our sins, but that he should rescue us from the temporal consequences of our bad decisions. The Church has made a judgment that this woman is free to marry. However, she is still a 34 year old divorcee who refuses to adjust her expectations. She should be grateful a 36 year old man is giving her the time of day when he could theoretically be dating women fifteen years younger. Based on her description of him, he sounds like the stolid sort who feels compelled to only date women closer to his age.

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote a lot about a lot of different subjects. In his writings on marriage, something is conspicuous by its absence: romantic love. The Church used to teach that the most important vocational discernment a man could make is whether to marry or embrace chaste celibacy as a priest or religious. The specific woman you married was left to the layman's discretion, much like the decision on what career to pursue or which car to buy. Marriage was seen as the proper venue to pursue romantic love and sex. Now romantic love is seen as the appropriate venue through which to pursue sex and marriage.

One commenter in the Dalrock thread said that if you're a reasonably attractive and confident bachelor in a nice suit at church on Sunday, the little old ladies would flock to you to fix you up with their daughters or granddaughters. That might have been true sixty years ago, but it's definitely not the case today. For starters, young single Catholic women are just as likely to have apostatized during college as not. Even if they go to parochial schools, young Catholics listen to the same music, watch the same TV and movies, and study from the same textbooks as their secular counterparts. Catholic girls are just as likely as their secular sisters to follow the feminist script: go to college for five or six years in pursuit of nebulous career goals, practicing either serial monogamy or riding the carousel. Think about marriage only when the Wall is looming.

I wore my nicest suit for the first Catholic Mass I ever attended, when I was 23 years old. I stuck out like a sore thumb as most of the other men were in Hawaiian shirts, jean shorts, and sneakers. None of the grandmas, nanas or abuelas  introduced me to their granddaughters. Or maybe they could smell I was trouble?

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