Help! I Hate Valentine’s Day!

Well, it’s here.  That time of year that is so wondrously celebrated by some and dreaded by others: St. Valentine’s Day.
 
If you are single, take heart.  Please don’t fall into a pit of despair.  When I was single on Valentine’s (every year of my life until this year, by the way), I always enjoyed the day, and I’ve cooked up these little tips to making St. Valentine’s fun for the single gal:
 
1.  Dress up.  Wear your favorite shirt or those jeans that fit you so well.  Add a pop of color to your lips.  Style your hair differently.  Primp and embrace your beauty.
 
2.  Go to Mass or Adoration.  The Lord, the Author of Life, loves YOU.  Make a date with him.  Spend time with the Eternal Lover.
 
Still feeling down?  Meditate on this:
 
The happiness you are seeking, 
the happiness you have a right to enjoy, 
has a name and a face:
Jesus of Nazareth.
– Pope Benedict XVI, August 18, 2005
 
3.  Give out Valentine’s Day cards, especially to your single friends.  They don’t have to be fancy – the ones you distributed during elementary school work just fine.  I have been surprised and touched to visit friends in other states and see my Valentine’s Day card posted in a prominent space.  You can touch the lives of others with a simple note!
 
4.  Call your family and tell them you love them.  You are single, not alone.
 
5.  Host a wine and chocolate movie night…BUT…no men-bashing allowed.  I know, you’ve been hurt.  Burned.  Or you’re lonely.  You’ve heard bad stories, and you want to write all men off as jerks. But that’s not fair.  And this is a night of enjoyment!  Bitterness is not welcome.  If some idiot didn’t realize how great you are, well, good riddance.  Rejoice that you’re not with him.
Source: google.com via Trista on Pinterest
 
6.  However, if you need to have a quick cry, do, and then move on.
 
7.  Affirm the good men in your life.  Our culture encourages permanent Peter Pan behavior.  Know a guy or two who doesn’t buy into that?  Thank him.  Nice guys need to know we recognize them and value them.
8.  When you see a coupley-couple, and you have the urge to either puke or rage, pray instead.  “God bless them,” works well.
9. Pray for your vocation and your future husband.  

O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings and Catholic singles, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for!  May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your Joy.  
Angel Guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for 
the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.  Remember the weak, you who are strong–you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God. 
Amen.   
~*~
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!  May you know you are loved!
Please feel free to leave comments, concerns, and pray requests in the combox. 

Bright Maidens: Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!
 
Topic: Emotional Chastity
 
Daydream Believers and Emotional Disasters

Check out our Facebook page for guest posts!
 
 

It happens all the time.  You bump into a man on the street.  He smiles charmingly and holds the door for you.  You walk away, maybe shooting him a backwards glance, and can’t help but think, “Maybe he’s the one.”  What a kind, cute gentleman.  Good qualities for your man.

You daydream as you eat your lunch, and the day passes by in a blur of warmth, hope, and affection.  He could be the one.  You imagine your first dates, his proposal, your glorious wedding.  The laughter of your kids as they run through the house.  His hand in yours as your face life, together.


It doesn’t seem so wrong to pass the time daydreaming like this, but in reality, it is frightening: you are building an emotional bond with a man to whom you haven’t spoken more than three words!  Sometimes with a man who doesn’t even exist!  I’ve been emotionally invested in many fictional characters, and the age of middle school and high school was ripe for idealized obsession of pop stars, actors, and the boy in my science class!  What is the fruit of that emotional bond?  Usually disappointment, hurt, and worry. It is better to have not built that bond in the first place.
 
The danger of emotional chastity does not stop there.  It can worm it’s way into dating relationships and marriage.  A woman in a dating relationship may amplify her beloved’s qualities to the point that she no longer sees him for who he is.  Her “love” is not real and is not based in reality.  As Edward Sri explains in Men, Women and the Mystery of Love, “The most tragic effect of sentimental idealization is that we end up not really knowing the person we find so attractive.  A man in sentimental love may seek to be close to his beloved, spend a lot of time talking with her, and even go to Mass with her and pray with her.  If he has idealized her, though, in reality he remains quite distant from her: The powerful affection he feels depends not on her true value, but only on the ideal values that he has projected on to her.” (50)  
Like sexuality, emotional attachment has to be integrated into the fullness of the person, otherwise it can be disastrous.  A couple who takes idealized versions of each other into marriage will have a serious crisis upon realization they married someone they do not know and do not authentically love.  They may then be open to the temptations of emotional cheating and adultery.
What can we do to safeguard ourselves from false love and dangerous emotional intimacy?  Edward Sri (57) suggests pondering these questions:
Am I committed to this other person for who he is or for the enjoyment I receive from the relationship?  
Does my beloved understand what is truly best for me, and does he have the faith and virtue to help me get there?  
Are we deeply united by a common aim, servicing each other and striving together toward a common good that is higher than each of us?  Or are we just living side-by-side, sharing resources and occasional good times together while we selfishly pursue our own interests and enjoyments in life?
I would add: Guard your heart.  When the temptation to fantasize about life with a stranger presents itself, pray for that person instead.  Identify what prompted that temptation.  Are you lonely?  Tired?  Frustrated?  Jealous?  Take those emotions to Jesus.  You don’t have to guard your heart around him!  Reach out in kindness and interest in getting to know the other as person.  Take things slowly.  Pray for wisdom and grace to authentically see and love each other.  Invite your beloved to spend time with your family and friends.  Value their opinions on your relationship.  
We are called to love as God loves, and not to love for our own sake, but to glorify the Lord.  Avoid being an emotional disaster and a daydream believer: love people for who they are.

Blood Boiling

On Tuesday, I attended my Young Adult group’s Spiritual Classics Book Club.  Somehow we veered off the topic of Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales and engaged in a hearty talk on dating in modern American culture.  One of my dear friends admitted that she’d had an upsetting chat over the weekend with someone who told her that if she didn’t play by modern rules (sleeping together relatively soon, etc.), she wouldn’t find anyone to date, let alone marry.

The minute I heard this I began to seethe.  Literally turned red, blood boiling, hands shaking.  Because who DARES to tell my beautiful, delightful friend that unless she decides to devalue sex, her body, her soul, she won’t be able to find a husband?  WHO DARES?

Isn’t the body the Temple of the Holy Spirit? 

Can we get a little respect please?

If you have a brain, heart, dreams, and want a meaningful, chaste relationship, you might as well give up? 

You’re only worth one part of your body, didn’t you know! 

If you have a vagina and are willing to play, you’re in!  If not, you’re out!

WHAT?!

When Jesus saw his Father’s Temple turned into a marketplace, he was consumed with zeal, drove out the livestock with with a whip, and overturned tables in anger (John 2: 15-16).  Maybe it’s time to show our anger.  No more mincing words.  Call the hook up culture for what is it: blatant use of another person’s body.  Remind people that IT IS NOT OKAY.  I don’t care if two people agree to use each other.  I don’t care if it feels good.  I don’t care if you don’t care.  IT IS NOT OKAY.

My sister and I once had a conversation that went something like this:

Me: So your friends are dating?
Sister: No, hooking up.
Me: They really like each other?
Sister: Uhh, they’re just hooking up.
Me: So they’re using each other?
Sister: I mean, if you want to put it that way…

Well, yes, I do want to put it that way.  Because that’s what it is, and I’m disgusted by it.  That someone might dare to view my family members or my friends as one body part, specifically one naked body part, makes my blood boil.  Each person is a unique, beloved child of God, and our culture wants to make us into nothing more than writhing masses.  It’s sickening.  It’s maddening.  It’s disgusting. 

Time to start cracking the whip!