Bright Maidens: Week Three: Admonish the Sinner

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!

The Bright Maidens’ Lenten Anniversary Series

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Week Three: Admonish the Sinner


“A famous story in the life of Archbishop Sheen illustrates this [spiritual work of mercy] well. As a young priest, he was on duty at St. Patrick’s Church in Soho Square in London. A woman, an actress, came to the rectory to speak with a priest about her rather sinful lifestyle. However, to get up the courage to do so, she drank quite a bit. As young Fr. Sheen tried to speak to her about her immoral living, it was apparent that because she had drunk so much, she could not understand what he was saying to her. So he asked her, “Would you come back and see me when you are feeling better?” She answered, “Yes, but on one condition: that you promise me you will not ask me to go to Confession!” Fr. Sheen promised her. In fact, he promised three times in all: twice before she left, and once when she came back! When she returned in a sober state, they spoke for about an hour and she felt much better! As she was ready to leave, he said to her, “Can I show you the inside of our Church? We have some very beautiful paintings there.” She said, “Yes,” and as they were walking along the side aisle, they came by the confessional, and he pushed her right in. He kept his promise not to ask her to go to confession! The woman made a confession of her whole life, and later on became a cloistered nun for over forty years in nearby Tybourn Convent in London. When the woman kept saying, “Promise me you will not ask me to go to confession,” young Fr. Sheen realized that she was really unconsciously yearning to go to the Sacrament of God’s mercy! She was protesting too much, and it became evident that what she really needed and wanted was God’s forgiveness.”

– From a wonderful article by Fr. Andrew Apotoli, C.F.R.

Questions and Faith

TBM Topic 27: Counsel the Doubtful

“Questions and Faith” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.

Anything worth knowing begins with a question. ‎Philosopher Etienne Gibson wrote, “Faith comes to intelligence as a light that overflows it with joy and inspires it with a certitude that does away with question.”

I like asking questions, so perhaps I’m sympathetic towards the doubters of this world. I like to see them as truth-seekers, wishing to truly know and understand the kind of magnitude God has to offer us. I also like figuring out answers. If something doesn’t seem right, I push the subject till I am satisfied. If I still lack total comprehension, especially in terms of theology, I don’t mind. I read on. I think about it more, talk about it, pray about it.

But I never doubt God.

Perhaps this sounds prideful. Maybe it sounds like I’ve got this God response system down pat. I pray, he responds. No doubt about it.

Or maybe I take my place as his child more seriously. When Dad talks, I listen. When Dad says I can’t do something, I ask why. He tells me. I might ask a different way. He shows me. When I don’t understand, I look at it a different way. When I don’t agree, I seek his guidance to discern why the Mother Church leads me to believe such a thing.

What I love most about the Catholic Church is how she guides souls – authoritatively, gently, and humbly. She is sure of herself because her bridegroom is Christ. Her children may wander, but she is there to guide them home when they wish to return.

The hardest part about faith, I think, is that it is a choice. I choose to believe in God. I choose to believe Jesus is the Savior of the world. There are a lot of reasons why I choose these belief systems, and none of them have to do with making my life easier and more enjoyable. I like facts, so the resurrection place in history cements Jesus’ authenticity as God, verses a wise man who taught us good things thousands of years ago. Everything stems from that.

The doubtful must be counseled because it shows love towards their human development. Man must know God or remain incomplete as a person. Doubt is not a bad thing either – but it should be used as the fuel towards belief, guiding one’s prayer.

Last night, as I was playing Euchre with my fiance and his parents, I told the dealer to pick up the card and B. visibly grimaced. He didn’t know I had the two highest cards, plus one more to trump. I asked him, “Don’t you trust me?” and his expression turned to pure confidence. We won all five hands of that game.

God is no card player, but he does hold the ultimate trump card. The readings yesterday show us how God the Father did not make Abraham sacrifice his only son, setting up the world to see the great significance and sacrifice God the Son made, to willingly die for the atonement of our sins.

The doubtful may see all the negative parts of God before they choose to see the good, but the road to Damascus is not any easy one for any person. There can be no discipleship without the cross. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, “The cross reminds us that there is no true love without suffering, there is no gift of life without pain.”

Counsel the doubtful out of love, and perhaps the burden of doubt will turn into a freedom to believe.

For those truly struggling, as I have, I recommend praying a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Bright Maidens: Week Two: What if it’s all a hoax?

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy

Week Two: To Council the Doubtful 


“What if it’s all a hoax?”
My brother, a college freshman, asked this question while home on winter break.  “What if it’s all a hoax?”
“What do you mean exactly?” I asked back.
“Jesus…the whole thing…”
I took a steadying breath.  “Well, Jesus is a historical figure.  He existed.  We know that.”
“Yeah, but what about the rest of it?  What if it’s a hoax?”
He wasn’t aggressively rejecting what he’d been taught, just questioning.
“I would rather buy into a hoax that made me richer, more powerful, wouldn’t you?”  He nodded.  “The early Christians died in terrible ways.  I don’t think I’d sign up for a hoax that was very likely a death sentence.”
He nodded again and the conversation ended as we got ready to eat dinner.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it though, and fear struck my heart.   If my brother is wondering, “What if it’s a hoax?” does that mean he hasn’t met Jesus, hasn’t become a disciple, and is just a kid who’s been catechized?
What do you do when someone doubts?
Thomas and Christ
I will confess that I am a doubter.  Not that I doubt that God exists or in the wisdom of the Catholic Church guided by the Holy Spirit, but I wonder if God has a plan for me and if perhaps he forgot to grant me some gifts and talents.  I often jump off the deep end into despair and long crying sessions.  
Then my dear boyfriend, whose faith is remarkable, will gently yet firmly remind me to turn to Jesus.  He loves to reveal himself.  He loves to reassure us, as he did with Thomas, his Apostle. 
26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.”
27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.”
28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

So this morning as my family prepared for Mass, I made sure to swing past my brother’s room.




“Hey, you know your question the other day?  Why don’t you ask God during Mass to show himself to you?”

We can do nothing better than point people to Christ.

To Instruct the Ignorant: Does My Life Having Meaing?

Writing on The Spiritual Works of Mercy
 
Week One: To Instruct the Ignorant
 
 
1.  For those who are wondering, “Does my life have meaning?  Why am I here?  Why should I live?” 
 
The answer is a simple one but it has the power to change your life:
 
“We are here on earth in order to know and to love God, to do good according to his will, and to go someday to heaven.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1-3, 358/YouCat 1
Stay rooted in this belief.  It gives you purpose and meaning. 
You cannot imagine at all how much you interest God; 
he is interested in you as if there were no one else on earth.
– Julien Green 
 
2.  If you are already a practicing Catholic, you need to continue to grow in your faith.
 
“You need to know what you believe.  You need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer.  You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing.  Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination.  You need God’s help if your faith is not going to dry up like a  dewdrop in the sun, if you want to resist the blandishments of consumerism, if your love is not to drown in pornography, if you are not going to betray the weak and leave the vulnerable helpless… ‘Do not say, “I am only a youth”; for to all to whom I send you you shall go, and whatever  I command you you shall speak” (Jer 1:7).” 
– Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to the YouCat
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name ‘of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’ Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!
Matthew 28: 19-20 
 
~*~
 
Remember to post a link to the Facebook page if you participated!
God bless!

I Am That I Am

TBM Topic 26: Instruct the Ignorant

“I Am That I Am” by Julie Robison
Trista at Not a Minx, Moron, or a Parasite
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion on Facebook and Twitter!


During Lent, we will be discussing the Spiritual Works of Mercy every week.



Ignorant is not a word I particularly care for, yet most people are culpable. It comes from the Latin words in (not) and gnarus (knowing).

New Advent defines ignorance as “lack of knowledge about a thing in a being capable of knowing. Fundamentally speaking and with regard to a given object ignorance is the outcome of the limitations of our intellect or of the obscurity of the matter itself.”

Today, we Catholics (and fellow orthodox Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters) face bigotry based on ignorance of our faith, religion and history. The greater good would be served, society is led to believe, if God was kept in the pews and within the walls of our homes. God is good as long as God is contained.

But our God is an awesome God – awesome in the “awe-inspiring” way. God is not our bro. God is not our homeboy. God is the Almighty one – the Alpha (first) and the Omega (last) – the one who is, the one who was, the one who will be (Revelation 1:8).

And he will not be contained. We cannot limit his power, his mercy, his goodness or his Kingdom Come. Our reasons are not his reasons, and this is the first step to instructing ignorance: discernment of our own vocation.

Flannery O’Connor wrote that “Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an ax, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed.”

For many, the best reason to be a Christian is the joy and fellowship of other Christians. For others, Christians are the best reason not to be a Christian – their small-mindedness, their inability to compromise, their, well, ignorance.

And so, who has the high ground here? The miserable Christians who pray, “I believe – help my disbelief!” Or the one who discuss God’s take on a few things, would certainly invite him over for a drink, and then be done with the old chap. He’s not really our kind of man, if you know what we mean.

We certainly do. Which is ignorance on their part. I truly this many people intentionally stay ignorant of God – learn things about him, sure, and learn about things that surround him. But not him. After all, it is hard to look at God on the cross and really know that he knows our hearts. He can touch and change our lives, if we only get to know him. Our God is the God of all; our path towards God will never be repeated for another.

While discussing a struggle with my sister last night, she told me I had to believe the consequences would be bad if I continued. She did not mean in the short term, or even in human terms: she meant, if I really wanted a change of heart, I’d have to care more about offending God. The kind of caring that shows considerations for another feelings. In short, I need to know God on a much more personal level, the kind that changes my actions and words in the long-term as well as the short.

We Catholics have a prayer for that: the Act of Contrition. We say it after the sacrament of Reconciliation. It goes, O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

This prayer is not said or meant lightly. Humanity is like a heat-seeking missile: it seeks Truth. It is not pretentious to claim to know Truth, as the Catholic Church does, for example. 2,000 years of bad press and still the truths found in the dogmas and sacraments, particularly the Eucharist, resonate across every color and creed.

No one has it easy. No one knows (or can know) “everything.” Ignorance infects the best and most brilliant among us. It is the humility to ask God, to knock on his door, to seek his guidance, that really begins the journey. Some times, people need other people to help them get there, be it in books, blog posts, or conversations.

Perhaps more importantly though, a person needs to be self-aware where they are ignorant. One can always instruct where they know and understand, but they must also be willing to learn. That way, knowledge leads to wisdom, and not a higher level of ignorance.

I Feel Like The Maid! I Just Cleaned Up This Mess!

Week 17:

 

one

This Lent, I’m going to confession at least once a week. It is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

First, I have to find time to do it. Confession is offered in the evenings on Wednesday and on Saturday morning and afternoon. The opportunity is there, but the schedule fills up fast. Knowing I have to go makes me plan my time better.

Second, I am much more aware of my thoughts and actions because I know I will be talking to a priest within days of sinning. How humbling! “Bless me Father, for I have sinned… it had been one week for my last confession.” Fortunately, no priest has said (yet), “Seriously? It’s been a week?” The Dominicans are kind and firm. Confession is a dialogue. I’m not just ticking sins off my fingers, I’m really talking them through with the priest. It has been so rewarding and enlightening, and I always catch myself smiling as I say my penance.

I really encourage all of y’all to make the time to go to confession. I know the longer I wait to go, the more dread I feel. But God already knows your sins! This is you owning up to them, which, admittedly, is the hardest part. But pray for peace and pray for wisdom, and God in his mercy sees your heart.

If anything, think of confession as the “spring cleaning” of your soul!

two

Archbishop Timothy Dolan is the bomb-diggity. Seriously, the Catholic Church is so blessed to have such a man serving us, let alone as our current USCCB president. He gave a kickin’ interview on CBS then wrote this fantastic piece called “An Airport Encounter” after a man approached him, asked if he was a Catholic priest, then said all he can think of are the words “sexual abuser.” The whole thing is worth a read, but here’s an excellent part: 

“Well then, why do we only hear this garbage about you priests,” he inquired, as he got a bit more pensive. 

“We priests wonder the same thing. I’ve got a few reasons if you’re interested.”

He nodded his head as we slowly walked to the carousel.

“For one,” I continued, “we priests deserve the more intense scrutiny, because people trust us more as we dare claim to represent God, so, when on of us do it – even if only a tiny minority of us ever have – it is more disgusting.”

“Two, I’m afraid there are many out there who have no love for the Church, and are itching to ruin us. This is the issue they love to endlessly scourge us with.”

“And, three, I hate to say it,” as I wrapped it up, “there’s a lot of money to be made in suing the Catholic Church, while it’s hardly worth suing any of the other groups I mentioned before.”

Elizabeth Scalia wrote a great piece called “Church is Holy, Scandals are of Man” that is also fantastic! May the Church continue to be blessed with such faithful members and defenders of the faith.

three

These lines from Arrested Development have been making me giggle all week:

 Lucille: Buster can do it. He’s had business classes.

Buster: Wait, 18th century agrarian business. But I guess it’s all the same principals. Let me ask you, are you at all concerned about an uprising?

four

NPR’s ‘This American Life’ had an AMAZING story- listen here for this true act of heroism and redemption.

Synopsis:

James Spring read about two missing girls, thought to have been abducted to Mexico by their parents who were wanted for murder. Spring had wanted to do something that helped someone else, as he turned 40 years old. He decided to try to rescue Viana and Faith Carelli in Baja. He helped return them to their grandparents in Soquel, but the story is more complicated than that.

five

I was recently asked if I was in Debate or if I studied speech at school.

“Nope,” I replied. “I was raised by a lawyer.”

Dad and 3/4 of his daughters

six

Join me in:
–Praying for the situation in the Middle East, especially the Christians being martyred.
–Praying for Japan and all people affected.
–Praying for 40 Days for Life, which is happening right now. (And probably in your area! It is Day 17 and 132 lives have been saved! Praise God, from whom all blessings flow!)
–Praying for my family, who are all still grieving the death of my aunt, while dealing with family politics.
–Especially praying for the souls in Purgatory, including my grandmother Jean, great-grandmother Tillie, Aunt Ann and Aunt Tracey.
–Praying for all those struggling to conceive, that adoption may be a viable option.


seven

Last but certainly not least, this week’s Bright Maidens’ posts on dating exploded across the internet. As of this morning, my “Hillsdating and Other False Realities” has flown over 600 views, which, I admit, surprises me. I did not think this would be a popular post. I was obviously (and happily!) wrong. I think I got the most glee out of all my fellow Hillsdalians full-on support and hilarious comments to me; yes, this is the real world, folks! One friend even offered to print it off and stick it under freshmen doors, as a preventative measure.

Many thanks to Tito Edwards for featuring Elizabeth’s “Christian Commitophobia” (my life story?), Trista’s “Friendship That Lasts” (amazing and Aristotelian) and my 10 Commandments for Dating to The Pulp.It and National Catholic Register! Also, many, many thanks to the numerous other plugs (shout outs to Tony and Marc!) we’ve got this week, and to Peter, et al. for asking me out via the internetz. Thank you!, but I must decline. In a slight twist of fate, today is also the birthday of the guy I am seeing; I think it would be cruel and heartless of me to accept such an invitation on his birthday!

As a consolation prize, you can like The Bright Maidens: Young Catholic Commentary on Facebook. If you like me, like us!

Happy Friday! See Conversion Diary for more.

Hillsdating and Other False Realities

Week Three: Dating

“Hillsdating and Other False Realities” by Julie Robison
“Friendship That Lasts” by Trista at Not a Minx, a Moron, or a Parasite
“Christian Commitophobia” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

This is the third post of a Lenten blog post series called “Bright Maidens.” We three are from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. We’re here to dispel the myths and misconceptions- please join us for the discussion!

Where I went to college, there were three prominent types of relationships: there were people who dated, people who were “just friends,” and people who Hillsdated.

Hillsdating, as defined by THE Urban Dictionary dot com, is a “relationship where a guy and a girl who like each other, spend every waking moment together, but refuse to admit or agree that they are dating.”

Let’s avoid this.

Hillsdating came about precisely because, unlike many college campuses, dating is looked at as a step towards marriage- not as serious as courtship, and more commitment than friendship. Dating, rightly understood, is getting to know another person more intentionally.

But a well-known side effect of Hillsdating is regular bouts of awkwardness. Awkwardness is usually caused by emotional limbo, which can only be cured by the boy acting like a man and acknowledging the amorous feelings to the girl’s face.

 Last night at RCIA, we began our discussion on the Ten Commandments. Matt, the seminarian leading the discussion, made an awesome point: God didn’t give us rules to restrict us from doing what we want. He gave us these laws to us out of love, so that we can have a loving relationship with him and with other people. Looking at the natural consequences of breaking the Ten Commandments, our actions would result in offending God and/or hurting the people around us, either emotionally or physically.

There are boundaries to every relationship, which protect the dignity of each person as a whole. Married people are faithful to each other; single people are faithful to God; friends are respectful of each other. In addition to these boundaries, God is just asking you to respect your fellow humans, so as to avoid any awkwardness (“er, sorry I lied to/ cheated/ stole from/ killed you”). He’s just being honest! Can’t fault the guy for being straight-up with his people.

Which brings us back to Hillsdating, which is not just a phenomena of my alma mater, but really, an extension of the hook-up culture. Even though most Hillsdating couples might resent me saying this, because most of them really are chaste relationships, emotional limbo can be worse than dating badly.

Fortunately, this is why my Father is the best man I know: he has always been completely honest with all his daughters about males. He set our expectations not to look for Prince Charming, or Mr. Charming, but just Char, who will make us laugh, and make us think, and love us for who we are, just as we will love him for being him.

Dad definitely knows best, and his wisdom and advice to his four daughters through my 23 years of existence has led me to pen these:

The Ten Commandments for Dating

The first commandment of dating: Like a person for who they are now, not who you’ll imagine they’ll be, or want to be, or aspire to be.

This means getting to know a person, spending time with them in different situations and around different people. Dating, in its purest form, is just getting to know another person. Wishing a person had different interests, or different thoughts, or did things differently means you’re more concerned with the idea of that person, and not the actual person.

Evey Hammond, in the opening lines of V for Vendetta, says it best: “Remember, remember, the Fifth of November, the Gunpowder Treason and Plot. I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot… But what of the man? I know his name was Guy Fawkes and I know, in 1605, he attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But who was he really? What was he like? We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I’ve witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I’ve seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them… but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it… ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love… And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man… A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget.”

The second commandment: Communication.

Gentle lads, let me clue you in: if you like a girl, I bet she knows. For example, I am a decently oblivious person. I can look back on my college experience and regularly face-palm myself for not properly understanding a boy’s motives for talking to me more than usual until the situation was at an extremely awkward place. Therefore, bring it up. Tell her you like her. Then ask her what she thinks and stop talking.

Yes, it really is that easy. This can only end well:
A) She likes you back. Hoo-rah! Y’all can now discuss pursuing a relationship.
B) She likes you back, but you’re not going to date for x, y, or z reasons. A happy, chaste friendship can properly begin if the boy can first honestly admit his feelings. If the girl is too immature for such a friendship, then good riddance.
 C) She doesn’t like you back in a more romantic way. Oh well! At least you’re able to start the healing process that comes with rejection and your confinement to Afriendistan.

I really cannot stress the importance of this enough. If the boy does not step up, some kind of awful awkwardness is going to happen. My sophomore year, a guy friend of mine and I were getting really close. I knew we weren’t going to date, but the awkwardness was getting too obvious for comfort. After he finally brought up that “people say ‘just friends’ like it’s a bad thing” (and I heartily agreed!), he admitted he thought I was going to cry. I told him he could cry, but I was fine. See? Communication, people. As the Godfather says, it’s not personal, it’s business.

I clearly love to talk.

Which leads to the third commandment: Be honest.

There is nothing worse, in my opinion, then when you’re out with a person and you can tell they are trying to say what they think you want to hear. But if I am going to actually like you, it is because of you and your own beliefs, not you and my-own-beliefs-repackaged. Also, it tells me that you don’t trust me with your thoughts. I’m not a delicate doll; be honest with me and we’ll have a nice conversation, regardless of how I feel about the subject.

Jack Kerouac, in On the Road, wrote, “Boys and girls in America have such a sad time together; sophistication demands that they submit to sex immediately without proper preliminary talk. Not courting talk–real straight talk about souls, for life is holy and every moment is precious.”

The fourth commandment of dating: Take it easy.

Don’t stress! Dating should be fun. Don’t think about whether or not you are going to marry this person tomorrow. I realize that the end of the world is scheduled for May 21, 2011 (and 2012?), but if you’re meant to be with the person you’re dating, you will, because it’ll be right in your heart and the other person’s too. If it doesn’t work out, that just means God has something else planned for y’all. It’s not personal. It’s not “what-could-I-have-done-better,” it’s “what-does-God-have-planned-for-me”! Marriage is a vocation, so take it easy and take it slow. Once you’re married, it’s for the long-haul, and there is no need to rush into that.

Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) says to his patient, Bob Wiley (Bill Murray), in the fantastic movie What About Bob, “Baby steps, Bob! Baby steps.”

The fifth commandment: Don’t settle.

Shakespeare wrote in Henry VI, “She’s beautiful, and therefore to be woo’d;/ She is a woman, therefore to be won.” Dating is a two-way street. Just because a guy likes you does not mean you have to date him, and the same goes for guys. There has to be interest on both sides, and not just out of convenience, but a desire to commit.

Therefore, again, this is where males will need to step up and act like gentlemen; if he is actually interested, he will. If he’s not, you (the girl) do not have to put up with it. Even in modernity, there are certain boundaries and expectations, and not unreasonable ones either. Opening the door for you does not mean he thinks you can’t handle yourself in the real world: it is just a nice and respectful gesture, as is paying for your meal. Not necessary, but certainly appreciated.

Also remember, as my parents said to me after I was lamenting accepting an invitation to a dance, “It’s a date, not a wedding proposal.” Give the person a chance (or two), but going on a date does not mean you are dating or in a relationship.


The sixth commandment: Give each other space.

In a poem called “Separation,” America’s current poet laureate W.S. Merwin wrote, “Your absence has gone through me/ Like thread through a needle./ Everything I do is stitched with its color.” Spending a lot of time with your significant other is a good thing, in the sense that you are able to observe them more and get to know them better, but don’t lose perspective.

Stay involved with things outside your relationship with that special someone. If it doesn’t work out, your entire world isn’t shaken up, for one, and two- who wants to be with a person who has no interests outside spending time with you? Not me. What would we talk about? What would we do?

Relationships should push you to better become the person God intends you to be, not be stagnant, and that means living in the world, not your own happy-cuddly corner. Too much time together can also be overload: everyone needs alone time to re-charge their batteries. Besides, as Clucky says to Maid Marian in Disney’s Robin Hood, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder!”

The seventh commandment: Don’t date for the sake of dating.

Dating is a discernment period. If you’re dating a person just because you want someone’s time or affection, you’re wasting both your times. That person could be with someone who actually cares about them, and not someone who just wants a free meal. Elizabeth says you should know whether or not you want to pursue a relationship with someone by the third to fifth date, and I agree. Don’t drag along another person past that point! It’s not considerate to either party involved.

The eighth commandment: Be respectful. 

This includes in conversation, in actions, and in intimacy. If someone is sharing their thoughts and opinions with you, do not shoot them down, make fun of them, or be overly critical. Be grateful that they feel comfortable enough to talk to you about something personal.

Don’t disrespect people’s personal bubbles! Get to know them first, and observe their body language. My best friend from college, for instance, does not like being touched, while her sister gives the biggest and best bear hugs ever. I don’t mind being touched, but I do get very uncomfortable when people start to overly touch me, especially when I do not trust them with my heart. For example, I freely hug my family, my friends who are girls, and my few excellent guy friends, but not most guys (if that makes sense).

Sexual ethics aside, chaste dating relationships are important because pressures from girls and boys can lead to disappointment and a break in trust. It also opens up more avenues to get to know a person, to pursue romance, and leaves the relationship free from complications which come with premarital relations.(Cue the Venerable Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body!)

The ninth commandment: Include others in the dating process. 

Family and friends is the obvious solution to this one. You and your “special friend” are not living on an island by yourselves. At the risk of getting overly attached before y’all can properly discern where dating is leading you two, it is important to get feedback from the people you trust most, which is typically family and good friends, especially since they de facto have known you longer and, ergo, better.

Besides, who doesn’t want to get to know my quirky family? I mean really, let’s just get it all out there:

After putting on Midsummer’s Night Dream for our parents

If someone doesn’t get along with my family and friends, I’d say that’s a decent indicator that the relationship is not going to develop in a romantic fashion. We’re a pretty fun bunch.

And finally, the tenth commandment: Include God in the dating process.

Dating someone makes me pray more. It makes me ask for help from God for wisdom. I ask that my heart be protected; I ask that the guy I’m seeing properly discerns where this is going; I ask for God’s blessing and that his will be done.

He is, after all, God! Our God loves us and wants the best for us. Offering up your thanks, questions, discernment and sorrows gives due respect and honor to him. In trusting God, who knows and wants the best for you, you will be more easily lead by the Holy Spirit in your actions, thoughts and words. Involving God is the best way to give a solid foundation to any type of relationship. 

“Let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace. Whoever preaches, let it be with the words of God; whoever serves, let it be with the strength that God supplies, so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 4:8-11)