Last week was a double header for Catholic young adults in Sacramento. Presentation parish has its own new young adult ministry in addition to the diocesan-wide Veritas group. The first Wednesday and the second Thursday fell during the same week so we had two good speakers back to back on a similar subject. The first talk was about marriage, the second was about discernment in general whether it be to married life, religious life, or priesthood.
The talk on marriage reminded me that Catholics are supposed to be in the world but not of it. It's easier said than done as we can't completely escape the pathologies of the culture unless we become Carthusians or hermits. We need to know enough about the faith and about the culture to know where the two inevitably differ, and how to counter the errors of contemporary culture, whatever they may be. I got the impression that the priest speaker was a believer in "The One." Generations raised on Disney films, Nicholas Sparks novels, and countless romcoms believe that out of 3.5 billion members of the opposite sex, there's just one God has created especially for us who is perfect for us in every way and will lead us to romantic and marital bliss. This is, to use a technical philosophical term, nonsense on stilts. Most men have neither the time, nor the money, nor the inclination to wander the earth in search of the unique snowflake God created solely for their sake. Women dream of being the unique snowflake who can get the alpha bad boy to settle down with them. They'll pine away for their imaginary boyfriend even as they're surrounded by nice church boys trying to work up the courage to say hi.
The most important decision a Catholic makes is whether to marry at all or to embrace a life of perpetual chastity in the priesthood or religious life. If you've decided on marriage, then the specific person you marry is a question of prudence such as which trade to pursue or which city to live or which new car to buy. We all have our standards or preferences in a potential mate. I could not and would not marry a non-Catholic woman (and it's unlikely a non-Catholic woman could long suffer my religious extremism, ha!). She should have long hair, a sweet personality, be committed to the Catholic faith including the bits about wifely submission, not be obese or overweight, and not be a feminist harpy. Is that unicorn hunting? I don't think so, but I can understand why some men have grown so cynical. They may be outstanding Catholics, but even the nicest Catholic girls are as subject to Original Sin and hypergamy as their secular sisters hanging out at the clubs.
Whatever your standards, within those guidelines there are surely dozens if not hundreds of women in your metropolitan area that meet them. Do not, under any circumstances, get oneitis before you put a ring on it. If some broad shoots you down, there are billions more where she came from. The woman or man you marry is The One because you're married. You don't marry The One; marriage makes them The One. Love is an act of the will. A lot of times happy and romantic feelings accompany that act of the will. The test of marriage is whether you can continue making that daily act of love toward your spouse when the feeeelings go away, as they inevitably do.
Given that, I'm of the opinion that we could have a computer randomly match up all of the single men and women of Veritas and those relationships would have an equal chance of leading to successful marriages as leaving us to our own devices.