How to help Catholics get married

Addressing four of the most important problems that affect devout Catholics when it comes to getting to know a potential spouse and considering marriage.

(Photo: Josh Applegate |

In Part One of this essay, I noted that marriage rates have declined in recent decades, including among Catholics, and that there are countless reasons for this trend. While many Catholics have been impacted by the sexual revolution, others live according to Church teaching, yet still encounter enormous obstacles to marriage.

I then drew attention to four problems that affect devout Catholics in particular, based on both research and informal observations: dysfunctional discernment, divisions in the Church or “Catholic camps,” poor examples and mixed messages from parents and mentors, and lack of universal courtship (or dating) customs.

Providing full solutions to these problems would take much more research and explanation than I am capable of here—not least because I am still unmarried myself (i.e. a blind person attempting to lead the blind). But how can I claim something is wrong unless I can at least vaguely sketch what “right” might look like? Here, I will offer a few suggestions to parents and mentors, as well as single Catholics themselves, to start mitigating the problems I described in my previous essay.

One note before I begin: whenever I say “courtship,” I mean the entire process of getting to know a potential spouse and considering marriage. I use “dating” to mean going on dates: that is, going on a fun outing with a person of the opposite sex in order to get to know him or her better. The terms are nearly interchangeable.

Discerning Functionally

If vocational discernment is dysfunctional right now, what would functional look like?

First, let’s acknowledge that vocational discernment has looked very different at various points in Church history, starting with the fact that it didn’t really exist until about the sixteenth century. (Read Christopher Lane’s excellent book Callings and Consequences to understand how that came about.) If vocational discernment changes over time, it is okay for it to change again. We have very little official Church teaching on the matter, so most things we have been taught about the right way to discern one’s vocation are simply opinions: possibly helpful, possibly unhelpful.

The helpful opinions are those that aid young adults in making a prudent choice of a state in life—marriage to a particular person, consecration in a religious order or in the world, priesthood in a diocese or an order—and live in that state with joy and peace. The right way to discern is the way that works, rather than leaving bright and pious young Catholics trapped in indecision.

So, discernment talks should probably emphasize freedom and choice between several good options a bit more. Too often, young people mistakenly get the idea that God has written the only correct vocation for them on a secret answer key in the clouds and judges them as impersonally as a Scantron if they get it “wrong.”

This very, very inaccurate view of God will also melt away if young people spend time with Him in personal, mental prayer, every day: not just asking Him, “What is my vocation?” or “Please send my spouse,” but getting to know God as a Person and a Father.

So, besides improving their vocational advice, parents and mentors should focus on providing uncommitted young Catholics with strong formation as well-rounded Catholics. This should include exposure to good examples of all the states in life and an emphasis on daily personal, mental prayer (alongside the sacraments and various devotions). A clear picture of what holy, happy marriage, religious life, and priesthood look like, plus the habit of discussing everything with a personal Lord who loves us, is the best foundation for making a good and confident choice of vocation.

Healing Wounds in the Body of Christ

The second problem I described in the last article was that of the “Catholic camps,” or divisions within the Church that divide pious Catholics from each other and limit their perceived dating pools.

This problem is, obviously, enormous and probably will not be solved in our lifetimes. But a large wound only heals because individual cells do their part to knit the edges back together. Perhaps, in the manner of ancient warring kingdoms, we single Catholics could construct our own peace deals through marriage?

I do not suggest marrying someone you strongly disagree with solely for the sake of this mission. But I do suggest being open to meeting, socializing with, and going on dates with anyone from any “camp” who seems to have the same basic moral compass and a deep desire for the truth.

We need to remember two things: first, that relationships happen between people who seek to know each other as people, not between Jan’s checklist and Stan who may or may not check all the boxes; and second, that people always change over time, especially when they encounter other people.

A checklist mentality is highly limiting. I have heard “trads” (the camp in which I best fit, so the one I know best) insisting on dating fellow Latin Mass attendees, but unable to find anyone. (I have pointed out before that Latin Masses seem to be more male-dominated; most women there are already taken.)

The same “trads” also forget that, usually, they only started attending the Latin Mass a little while ago—often, because they were introduced to it by a friend. If a trad guy takes a not-so-trad girl out to dinner and they hit it off, what’s to prevent her from also becoming attracted to the Latin Mass?

The same goes for any of the “fifty flavors” of Catholicism: if a thing in the Church is good, true, and beautiful, then God-fearing people will be drawn to it, often through each other. In fact, one of the best signs of a good relationship is that both people are drawn closer to God through each other.

Again, people will always change in relationships; the key is to make sure we are being changed for the better. Let us build a firm foundation in prayer, the sacraments, and Church teaching, then meet people from any Catholic camp without fear. Meeting someone at a young adult group is not automatically a date, and a first date is not a marriage proposal. At each step, there is room to observe whether our souls are made better by spending time with the person in front of us.

Most likely, both Stan and Jan will change some of their opinions over time, possibly even changing which “camps” they belong to. But if they both have a fundamental orientation toward sainthood, their opinions are more likely to converge than to grow apart.

Parent and Mentor Influence, Beneficial Ways

I have already mentioned some ways that parents and mentors (including pastors, teachers, professors, etc.) can help, but now I will address more specifically the problems I brought up in this section of the previous article.

First, example. Based on my survey of 300 Catholic young adults, I believe one of the most important ways parents can help their children marry is by being good examples of happy, holy matrimony. I emphasize happy because too many young people mistakenly believe that holiness requires misery. They need to see that holiness—in marriage as in all other things—requires sacrifice, but that the sacrifice is absolutely worth it.

I cannot say it better than the Church says it in the Exhortation before Marriage read at the traditional Latin wedding rite: “Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy.” The whole story of God’s plan for marriage, like the whole story of His creation and redemption, ends with joy.

Parents and mentors, tell young people the entire story, including the joy. More importantly, show it to them by living that joy yourself.

Next, I believe verbal encouragement to marry, or at least lack of discouragement, is important. According to survey respondents, many parents actually discourage marriage either explicitly or by silence. No parent or mentor should ever pressure a young person to marry by a certain age or at all, but also, no one should imply that 24 is too young or that education and career are always more important than marriage.

(They’re emphatically not; while important in a practical sense, education and career are not sacraments like matrimony. They can be sanctifying when done well, but no one lies on their deathbed wishing they had spent less time on relationships and more on work. People who plan to marry, especially men, should be able to make a basic living, but any further education or career improvement can usually happen within marriage—possibly with greater ease and success, with a spouse’s support.)

Lastly, parents and mentors can promote young people’s success by making sure they are capable of a successful courtship. Spiritual formation, including in the virtue of chastity, is extremely important, but so is attractiveness, of personality and presentation.

In my survey, I asked respondents what qualities they find attractive and unattractive in the opposite sex, and the results were perennial, almost stereotypical. Women like men who are gainfully employed and socially capable, not men who play video games or endlessly discuss the finer points of liturgical history. (A married friend of mine likes to chide his bachelor friends of the “trad” variety: “Don’t mention the Fourth Lateran Council on a first date!”)

Men like women who are pretty and kind and family-focused and feminine (an oft-used word in the survey responses)—not shallow, not excessively prudish. Both sexes like people who have varied interests, hobbies, passions… something new to talk about, something that captures attention.

Parents and mentors can help young people become more marriageable by instilling morals and manners, interests, good grooming habits, and good taste in their charges. Form children and students not just to be pious or to be successful in the world, though they should be both those things; form them also to be pleasant, attractive companions—someone that somebody else would want to go out with.

A Common Courtship Language

In Part One, I described the missed expectations and confusion that surrounds dating in our culture today because everyone has a different idea of how courtship should go. Most cultures throughout history had unspoken or semi-spoken rules that governed how to signal interest in someone, how a man should pursue a woman, how a woman should either encourage or discourage his suit (the idea that it might go the other way around was, of course, nonexistent), when physical affection was appropriate, and so forth.

Now, we live in Babel.

We desperately need a common courtship language in our own culture today. There is no way to simply create one overnight, and I am certainly not qualified to create one here. But I will suggest a few thoughts.

Firstly, like vocational discernment, there is no one right way to do courtship or dating. The Church provides teaching on marriage and its validity and the importance of chastity according to each state in life, but leaves it to culture to decide exactly how to pair people off and safeguard their chastity. As with vocational discernment, the way we should do it today is the way that works.

In my own floundering over the past few years, I have come across several wise people who have seen what works.

One is Cristina Pineda, a highly successful matchmaker and devout Catholic who gave an in-person talk to a group of single Catholics in my area. Her company, Matchmakers in the City, also provides further resources (not all from an explicitly Catholic perspective, but not opposed to Catholic teaching either, and always very practical).

Another is Fr. Chad Ripperger’s talk “The Four Stages of Courtship.” This is a high-level overview of a very traditional approach to courtship that can still be applied to a modern dating context.

The third is the Heart of Dating podcast. It is hosted by a non-Catholic Christian couple in a casual, modern style. I can only recommend the episodes I’ve heard so far, but what I have heard is basically aligned with Catholic teaching and, again, very practical.

I name these three very different resources because, despite their diverse audiences and backgrounds, they give surprisingly similar advice. For example, all three suggest starting off a courtship with a non-exclusive stage lasting at least two to three months, before progressing to a more serious, exclusive stage of considering marriage with one person. All three express some level of caution toward physical affection, especially in that early, non-exclusive stage. And all three agree that the man should be pursuing the woman.

Again, the most important point is that our whole society, or at least a critical mass of Catholics in our society, come to agree on approximately the same way of dating. That way will not be to everyone’s liking nor a perfect escape from all pain and temptation, but it must be a way that both comports with Church teaching, and that enough different Catholics can agree upon.

The fact that the three very different resources I mentioned above have come to similar conclusions on a few major points gives me hope that most faithful Catholics can also come to agreement. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide us from the Babel we live in to a new, joyful, fruitful dating culture.

This is Only the Beginning

A whole book could be written on the hurdles between single Catholics and marriage, especially if thorough solutions to each problem were included. These articles have hardly scratched the surface. But I hope that at least some single Catholics who saw themselves in the problems I outlined in Part One have found some hope in the suggestions in Part Two.

And, I hope that parents and mentors of young Catholics will learn from these two articles at least a little about their charges’ struggles and how to help them overcome them.

By the way, some might ask me why delayed marriages are a problem in the first place. Can’t God bring good fruit out of a single life? Absolutely; God not only can, but will, if the single person allows it. For those who desire the sacrament of matrimony for good reasons, it is better to reduce any human obstacles to that God-given, grace-giving sacrament. If God needs a longer “season of singleness” to to fulfill His purposes in an individual’s life, let Him cause the delay, not our human failures.

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About Rachel Hoover Canto 18 Articles
Rachel Hoover Canto is a freelance journalist, technical writer, and author of the book Pretty Good Catholic: How to Find, Date, and Marry Someone who Shares Your Faith (Vianney Vocations, 2024). She holds a B.A. from Christendom College and lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband.


  1. When I got married to my wife it was not in a church. I could not afford the going rate to use any church in our area.

    When I was presented with the appropriate government paperwork.
    I said to the Pastor, I am only going to say this once.

    “Did the first Christians seek approval or dutifully notify the Pharo?”

    Tax or tithe are the two sides of the same coin.

    • Were the first Christians so inclined to use and abuse a vestigial connection with religion, to please a family connection, while having no real respect at all for the practice, and in dire need for the Pre-Cana instruction in the faith, for which the Church is usually criticized for not providing, before becomming another divorce statistic in ten years?

  2. The couples I know who have stayed together for more than 20 years (often more than 40 years) are the couples who started dating in high school when they were still under the guardianship of their parents and living in their parents’ home. Nowadays, many parents discourage dating for couples in high school, and create tension which often leads to screaming arguments by forbidding a high school couple from even communicating with other (I assume most teen couples do their communicating online rather than on the phone). This is ridiculous and misguided. It’s a lot easier for parents to “guide” teenagers than college students who live away from home, or young adults who are living on their own, or at least earning their own income and planning to move out of their parents’ home. I would point to the example of our great grandparents and earlier generations, in a time when many couples married during their teen years and if they survived the hardships of life without antibiotics, high blood pressure meds, and other life-saving medical treatments that were not available during the 19th century and before, they generally had long marriages that lasted until death parted them in their old age. When couples are young (high school), they can form their lives together and build a foundation for a happy and long-lasting marriage with the guidance of their parents and other relatives (often grandparents are involved, too) and while they are still attending a church with the parents. Once they are out on their own (IF they manage to launch out on their own–many young people are still living at home even in their 20s and 30s), they are no longer receiving the loving input from their parents and other relatives, and often, they stop attending church because of work responsibilities and social lives that don’t make room for church involvement. YOUNG DATING, YOUNG MARRIAGE–it worked in the past, it still works.

    • I do not necessarily agree. I don’t have a huge sampling, but of all the couples I know that have been married for more than twenty years, most of those were married in their middle to late twenties. I know two couples that were high school sweethearts, and only one of those lasted. I believe a relationship entered into when two people are emotionally and intellectually immature is as likely not to last as last. By the time one is in one twenties, one has a much better sense of one’s identity and priorities in life and can choose a spouse more wisely. Perhaps.
      I remain adamantly opposed to dating while children (which I use for anyone 17 or under) are in school. It is a distraction from school and most children at that age are not emotionally mature enough to deal with it.

    • Mrs. Whitlock, thank you for reading and commenting. You make a very interesting point about parents’ ability to guide and supervise teens at home but not college students far away. I sincerely thank you for pointing out something I had never considered.

  3. I understand that the survey found most adult women at Latin Masses were already “taken” but that’s one of the few Catholic sectors reproducing itself in greater numbers. So, the TLM may not be as advantageous for adult men currently looking for a spouse but from the large numbers of children I see in the pews at our local TLM, I guarantee things will be different for the upcoming generation.
    Last Sunday the family sitting in front of me at Mass took up 2 pews. There were that many children.

    • A bigger question is why aren’t these families attending Masses in their local respective parishes, i.e. Novus Ordo Masses? This dichotomy is strong, and does little to foster social activities and interaction for young people in our parishes because the TLM families aren’t really a part of any parish, they are only seeking an exclusive Mass, often driving a great distance for it, to the exclusion of the people in their local Catholic parish communities where they live and work. They aren’t involved in anything but the TLM for an hour and fifteen minutes, and that’s it. They need to evangelize in their local parish and work to change the dynamics there instead of hunkering down with a sectarian mindset.

      • Goldie, everyone’s experience is different and I only speak from mine but the next parish down the road from us has the TLM three times a week in addition to NO Masses and many people, like me, attend both.
        We have good NO Masses also. It’s not either/or. At least where I live.

  4. One possible expansion on your first point, vocation. Baptism is woefully overlooked as a sacrament of vocation. Most often diagrammers place it as an initiation sacrament. It certainly is that. But leaving it there, gives it more burnish as a membership card.

    Why is this significant for marriage (and orders)? Because as a child, adolescent, and then a young adult, a baptized person must wrestle with how to express gifts and talents in service of the Lord’s Mandatum in Matthew 28:19-20. When that doesn’t happen, the process might get short-circuited for other sacraments of vocation. A person seeking holiness might try to become a priest. Sadly that, instead of becoming a more fully realized baptized person. A person decides they can’t live without sex and companionship. Maybe that is true, but it’s not a positive motivation for entering into a lifelong generative relationship with one person and forming at least one family together.

    We discern badly because we haven’t discerned the vocation of baptism. Everything else follows from there.

    The liturgy illustrates this:

    Christ abundantly blesses the love that binds you. Through a special Sacrament, he enriches and strengthens those he has already consecrated by Holy Baptism, that they may be faithful to each other for ever and assume all the responsibilities of married life.

    If Catholics don’t recognize their own consecration, how would they expect the strengthening to be something other than a communication workshop or a best-seller on relationships?

    • Thank you for a very interesting and unique point, Mr. Flowerday. Perhaps if we all had a better sense of the importance of being called as members and disciples of Christ, we would feel less agony over our state in life, which however holy, is always secondary to being a Christian itself.

  5. I was married for 61 years until I lost her last year. When I took my vows I took them seriously and never considered to violate them in any way, and didn’t. Our marriage was not perfect in any way, but we stayed together till death parted us. The big flaw in our marriage was that we never learned to communicate. We were both so eager to avoid disagreements that we held in our thoughts and emotions. This caused us to live in our own shells walled off from each other. We never really got to know each other. I ended up knowing less about her than many casual acquaintances. There was little romance and little growth. My advice to those considering marriage would be to concentrate on honest and open conversation about everything under the sun. Learn to listen and learn from each other and discuss feelings and opinions. Discuss your fears and emotions. May God bless all of you who are seeking a mate.

    • Thank you James. It is VERY difficult. I’m 24 and the MOMENT you graduate college or high school, there is no finding anyone unless you are INCREDIBLY intentional about it, spending nearly every day, with most of your free time, seeking

  6. I met my wife through a Catholic Young Peoples Club, as I was committed to finding a strong Catholic spouse. We will be celebrating 60 years of marriage this May. The problem today is that there are too many young Catholics who are not strong in their faith. As a result, they are very cavalier with respect to commitment with respect to marriage and the importance of a strong family life. This is very sad.

    • No James, the problem is that the church no longer cares whether single people get married. Simply from benign neglect, from parishes abandoning the social activities that you knew in your youth, where singles could meet or could become part of the community and possibly get nudges toward others. That’s the difference between now and 1963. Don’t blame the singles for this.

  7. I was coerced with my full permission to marry my business partner and best friend in the world. I cried to the bankers that came to suggest for tax reasons I should marry. I cited God not being happy. I caved in. I don’t regret it, my darling was my teammate. It was a registry wedding. We were true partners. Things aren’t ever Black or White.

  8. God bless the author for taking on what St.John Paul 11 had prophesied as the last and greatest battle of our times -against family and marriage .
    Just as in wars, the enemy strategies change ,so too the challenges of these times .

    The current catechesis of the Holy Father – apt in marriage too –
    theme of Apostleship ..seeing each other as being sent – to each other and the family – first aim to be with The Lord in holiness- to also include areas such as (generational ) healing , sanctification ..the old time biblical marriages possibly had grasped that concept well enough to thus withstand trials- Jacob and Leah , Isaac and Rebecca , Tobias and Sara .
    Thus,the old system of ‘arranged marriage’ with some variations of same not as outdated, instead can be a God send for many . Young people enlisting in Godly sites – may be The Synod would encourage Benedectines and such to come together for such sites supported by their prayers . Our times no less risky than what was faced by Tobias and Sara – thus prolonged dating too with attendant issues …

    Reinforcing the need and means to practice the tough challenge of chastity in marriage – as an occasion for the joy of sacrifice as mentioned in the article , by doing away with ideas from the cultural norms of these times to instead see marriage as also for reparation against the carnal evils of our times, the debt of such practices that has been in families that the couples come from ..lessening the struggle by avoiding the temptations through music / media and all that – even few sessions of- on line exorcism classes to deepen in awarness of need/ means for same …
    ‘Sacrifice can be irksome but perfect love makes it a joy ‘ -those who struggle from the love of Latin Mass too to find solace and strength in that truth … 🙂
    Blessings !

  9. Thank you Miss Rachel for the matchmaking link in the article. I’m so glad to see that resource here and that they conduct background checks on candidates.
    I think running credit checks would be a good idea also. I used to do background and credit checks at a previous job and the things that come up can be pretty surprising. And not in a good way.

    • I’ll be attracted to a woman when I can know her from shared activities and have seen her “in action”. Not when a “matchmaker” shows me her credit report. Don’t be silly.

      With regards, “Mr. Larry”.

  10. Hey, wait a minute. Part 2 of this series is already written and published? I thought you were going to read and consider the comments from Part 1 first.

    You criticize “camps”, but you reveal your preferences quote clearly. And insist that they are “devout” (as in the last article, you used the word several times) – clearly implying that others are not. This is very unfortunate, and it reflects the deep divisions that have formed in the last 2 or 3 decades. Before that, all Catholics had the same attitudes about pretty much everything. You didn’t have to play 20 Questions to see how “trad” someone was because we all played on the same field. If a Catholic couple met at a parish social, any attraction would be as people first. Do you need to know which mass a man attends before you’ll give him the time of day? I’m guessing yes.

    And ugh, “courting”. Who told you that dating and courting are “nearly interchangeable”? You reference Ripperger which I find unfortunate, but he is very much opposed to casual “dating”, fun outings where couples go out (gasp!) alone. He advocates for “courting” in the sense that was abandoned at least a hundred years ago. Using him as a standard also shows your “camp”.

    I am much less impressed with this article than I was with your earlier effort.

    • Larry, I share your dismay at the degree of division that is apparent among Catholics today. At the same time, those marriage-discerning singles who take Church teaching seriously, and who know that fundamental disagreement on how / whether such teaching should apply in a prospective future marriage, know that such differences can be remarkably difficult to overcome within a marriage.

      It’s here that a sad truth comes into play: Decades of poor catechesis, timid preaching in your typical N.O. parish and feckless, craven “leadership” from the episcopacy have led to a majority of Catholics believing that use of artificial contraception is OK, that it’s OK to vote for individuals who support laws and regulations allowing the “right” to abortion, etc. If one takes Church teaching on such matters seriously, and if a marriage-discerning single understands that even among the regular Mass-going faithful there are many who dissent from such teaching, he or she has no choice but to go through the proverbial 20+ questions to discern which candidates are suitable for marriage.

      Think what you will of “trad” communities, but in general, they are much more homogeneous when it comes to the question of fidelity to Church teaching. Of course, the need for discernment of spousal suitability is still present, but the process is considerably more efficient when there is greater uniformity of acceptance on the “big” teachings. Perhaps this is why young adult Catholics in such communities so often seem already to be “taken”.

      • Lex, you clearly show a truly unfortunate characteristic of your camp which is to roll your eyes and tsk-tsk-tsk over what you “think” you know about the beliefs of others. Until this basic problem is solved, we will remain stuck in the present mess.

        • Larry, exactly what “camp” do you think I’m in? If ordering one’s life in order to attempt to remain faithful to Church teaching puts one in a particular “camp”, well then by golly, put me in “Camp Faithful”!

          I certainly don’t intend to “tsk tsk” at anyone. I’m simply pointing to realities that should be plainly apparent to anyone who’s paying attention. You lamented the “20 questions” process. I suggested that this, or at least something like it, is needed for marriage-discerning singles to navigate the “sea of beliefs”regarding Church teaching that sadly exists in the Catholic community in general. I also suggested, not in so many words, that this sea of beliefs is considerably less fraught within traditional communities, such that the process of courtship within such a community can often begin at a more advanced stage if there is a high degree of uniformity in acceptance of Church teaching on the “big” issues. Of course, it’s possible to go to the other extreme of scrupulous “investigation” of a prospective spouse’s beliefs, such that one misses the forest for the trees, which I perceived you were touching on.

          My overall point is, I pine for certain aspects of days gone by as strongly as I perceive you to do. The reality, though, is that it’s gotten a lot more complicated. I perceive it to be meaningfully less so in traditional Catholic communities, which I expect would make some aspects of the spouse discernment process easier.

          • Larry: While it’s great to meet people face to face, I remember in my younger days being part of a parish based group where oftentimes several attendees who identified as Catholic only attended Mass occasionally. While there were some good people I met, I would say 1 out of 3 were part of the “camp” who would only attend Happy Hours, parties, and dances.

            The events I preferred through this group were service events, a prayer meeting, Mass and brunch, and sometimes a baseball game or a dance. I found it easier to meet “like minded Catholics” at the prayer and service events (service events were ways to see interaction and dynamics with others) than I did at Happy Hour. I got tired of Happy Hours and dances where a girl would judge me more on how tall I was or what car I drove than what type of a person I was. Most men looking for a date see that kind of treatment as a waste of time.

            In short this in my opinion anyway is why “vetting” plays a part in dating and marriage. Nothing wrong with asking a girl you met after Mass to have coffee with you afterwards (Catholic men please make effort) but one thing about Catholic Match is you can preview some of the “vetting” beforehand as a start.

          • I debated whether to reply to this, because I know it will be futile. But I will, since the author stresses the “camp” problem as a major issue that is splintering the Church.

            I wish you could see that your reply only confirms my point. Using your own words, traditional communities are “homogeneous” and have “high degree of uniformity in acceptance of Church teaching”, and “your typical N.O. parish” lacks these characteristics. This is the toxic attitude that must be squelched. We are all absolutely equally good Catholics. We are all trying our best. No one has the right to ascend the Holy Mountain and talk down to the rest of us. You isolate yourself in your echo chamber, at your own peril. But I know you’re convinced of your Rightness and nothing I can say will change that. So this will be my last reply here.

          • Larry is spot on. It is a Matthew 21:28-32 moment for the “camp,” and many of them miss its significance.

            Turning back to the topic, homogeneous is a trip hazard in a marriage. My wife and I are compatible, but hardly in agreement on everything. We also frequently cite the motto, “You are my ticket to heaven.”

            If two orthodox, traditional, faithful Catholics marry, the danger is significant. If a person has the right style of obedience, the right political views, the right social media influencers to follow, the right books on the shelf, then she or he needs neither the partner, nor God. The formula is there; just follow the recipe.

    • Larry, I intended to use the word “devout” to refer to all sincere practicing Catholics, not just one of the many camps. I am sorry if I gave you that impression.

      Later, I openly admit to being a “trad” (for lack of a better word) for the sake of honesty, because I do attend and love the Latin Mass and other ancient practices of our Faith. So some of my experiences come from that perspective, and I don’t want to hide that. We can’t fix anything by simply pretending the camps don’t exist or that the differences aren’t important.

      But personally I do not ask what Mass a man goes to before agreeing to a first date. I seek to know who he is and share who I am, neither over-emphasizing nor hiding our liturgical preferences, or anything else. I encourage others to do the same.

      And yes, I had to write and turn in part 2 before part 1 was even published, but I hope these won’t be the only pieces I write about the topic! I really appreciate the comments and hope to explore more of the points people are bringing up in the comments sometime in the future. God bless.

  11. Rachel, Good for you for approaching your challenge in such a way. I was very fortunate to be a witness to an incredible marriage. My parents were madly and romantically in love with one another until they passed two months apart in their 80s. I knew I lived on the solid rock of their marriage because they put their relationship first, even over their kids. Married for 33 years this coming August, a few thoughts. Keep the fires burning. You don’t need to grow into some practical relationship over the years. Married life is not a burden. It is an incredible joy. The mission of each particular marriage may be a challenge but the relationship need not be. Remember the Cross is not our God. Jesus is, and the reason we embrace the Cross is because that is where we find Him and embrace Him. Finally, in my opinion, here is the secret sauce. Stop worrying about the right fit or if the other person practices his or faith the way you do. Do not be afraid to look outside church circles. In fact, my preference is to encourage that. There are amazing young people who love God who will not be regularly found on church grounds. They are on the sports fields, offices, law firms, and classrooms living out their lives and making a difference. Marriage is a secular pursuit, so don’t try to be a wanna be priest or religious; enjoy secular things like sports, books, plays and working out together. While marriage is a secular pursuit, it is deeply imbued by Divine Love. That is at the heart of it all. It may start with a glance and strong physical attraction – that’s what happened to us. Invite Him into that attraction and discern if this is the path by lots of time together and with friends and family. Spend lots of time together just doing normal things. If Christ lives in the heart of our marriage, remember that and have confidence that He will get you where He calls you. Oh, and remember that first look when you thought you would lose your breath, and know it is still there even as the years roll along.
    God bless,

    • Dan, this is a beautiful and important reminder: “ Remember the Cross is not our God. Jesus is, and the reason we embrace the Cross is because that is where we find Him and embrace Him.” Thank you for sharing that. The Cross opened the gates of Heaven, where we are invited to what? The wedding feast of the Lamb!

  12. Both very brave and excellent advice, James. My dad used to say if there are not any arguments in a marriage, then someone is dominating. Often, it is also simply due to the fact that no one tells young couples the truth that marriage should be a lifelong and very intense relationship that opens us up to the other. God bless you, my friend, on your faithful journey with your bride of 61 years!


  13. Allow God to take broken pottery and make something beautiful out of the pieces again.

    I did EVERYTHING wrong before I met my wife and even then continued to make a mess of things but, thanks be to God, getting married in the Church was non-negotiable for both of us. It took work and a reorientation towards Christ. Then, over time, the good was put into new wineskins and several kids and 23yrs later here we are.

    My point to young people. Focus on a very few non-negotiables like faith and children but don’t limit oneself to the search for perfection. Christ, can and will make all things new.

  14. Remind the unmarried person who identifies as Catholic that all sins against the Sixth Commandment are by nature mortal sins which, if unrepented will result in him (or her) going to Hell.

    These sins include self-abuse, fornication, sodomy, and morose delectation.

  15. “We live in Babel” is the crux of the issue. As a mid-thirties male white collar professional in a large city, i’ve pretty much given up on finding a traditional Catholic wife, i might as well be hunting for the Yeti in Florida. All of the young “catholic” women that i have met are thoroughly feminist, perhaps opposing birth control & abortion (at most) but embracing all other feminist morality. We are all a product of our environment, and the way the education system has twisted morality, both men (including myself) and women have a lot of issues finding marriage partners.

  16. Ms. Hoover has offered analysis at CWR on why young Catholics are not marrying and, earlier, usury. Both suffer from major deficiencies likely caused by a fear of being politically incorrect. Attempts to address social problems that ignore major aspects of the issues will inevitably fail to solve them. N.B. I offer this comment after the discussion on this series has ceased, lest I be accused of hijacking it.

    • Mr. Tony are the roots of those troubles pesky women and Jews?
      Sorry, but those seem to be reoccurring themes in some traditional Catholic circles. Sadly. Everything that’s wrong with our world needs a scapegoat. It’s easier than looking at ourselves for a solution.

      Last Sunday after Latin Mass I heard an older couple explaining that those of us with African ancestry carry the Mark of Cain. Seriously.
      Some of this foolishness is generational and will dissapear in time. But I really wonder what non believers must think of Christians when they hear that. Good grief.

      Not stating in an article what’s incorrect in reality is a different thing than avoiding what’s politically incorrect.
      I really appreciate Miss Hoover’s articles and the fact that she actually took the time to reply to reader’s comments. God bless her. God bless you too.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. How to help Catholics get married | Passionists Missionaries Kenya, Vice Province of St. Charles Lwanga, Fathers & Brothers
  2. How to help Catholics get married – Catholic World Report – The Old Roman
  3. How to help Catholics get married | Newsessentials Blog

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