Many of us might have a pre-conceived picture of what a Catholic dating relationship should look like. The same can be said for our ideas about Catholic marriage. There’s nothing wrong with having dreams, hopes, and aspirations. But when it comes to our search for a partner, some of these pre-conceived pictures can interfere and cause us to doubt that we’re on the right track.
I was recently scrolling through Reddit and came across a conversation about someone who was worried that he wasn’t enough for a Catholic relationship. “The woman I was seeing tactfully admitted she was looking with someone for more zeal, and that I wasn’t her ideal match,” a Reddit user shared. “Am I insufficient for a truly Catholic relationship?”
If you’ve ever struggled with the question of whether your faith life is sufficient for a holy dating relationship, and eventually a holy marriage, here are three things to consider.
There are some bare (Catholic) essentials
If you’re worried you might not be Catholic enough for a holy Catholic relationship, one of the first things you might consider asking yourself is whether you are fulfilling the essentials the Church calls us to do in our lives.
These bare essentials are actually pretty simple. They’re known as the Six Precepts of the Church:
- Attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, and rest from servile labor
- Confess your sins at least once a year
- Receive the Eucharist at least during the Easter season
- Observe days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church
- Help provide for the needs of the Church
- Observe the Church’s laws on marriage
It’s fair to say that our current situation makes things a little less straightforward than they might have been in the past. For instance, your diocese may have dispensed the Sunday Mass obligation due to COVID. Regardless though, looking at these precepts is definitely a good place to start examining your own faith life.
Not everyone’s faith life looks the exact same
Let’s say the Catholic man or woman you’re interested in enjoys attending daily Mass, but you struggle to make it to any Mass other than Sunday. Does that mean you’re not Catholic enough for a holy, wholesome, and fulfilling romantic relationship? Is the person you’re interested out of your holiness-league?
It’s not always easy to wrap our minds around this concept, but not all of us are called to live out our Catholic faith in the same way. Some of us find praying the Rosary every day to be very fruitful. Others struggle to complete even an occasional decade of the Rosary.
Meanwhile, some of us have a deep devotion to reading Scripture and using it for prayer. Others find Scripture reading to be difficult.
Some of us feel spiritually nourished by participating in singing in praise and worship music publicly with others. Others might find the practice award.
The Catholic Church allows for all of us to gravitate toward the devotions and expressions of faith that best suit us. Some practices are better fits for us than other practices are. When we try to compare the way we live out our faith with the way another person lives it out in their own life, we can fall into the trap of feeling insufficient or like we’re failing in some manner.
So if you find yourself wondering whether you have a deep enough faith life, that’s okay. But don’t immediately assume that this worry is founded.
Instead, bring the matter to prayer and try to discern whether God might be calling you to some other devotion or method of prayer. Or perhaps he’s calling you to a deeper connection with him in the prayer that you typically practice.
All of us can always go deeper. But that doesn’t mean that how we currently live out our faith is less sufficient than the way other Catholics do so.
Look for someone who shares your faith
While it’s true that one way of living out the Catholic faith isn’t necessarily better than another as long as we’re living out the essentials that the Catholic Church calls us to, that doesn’t mean that every style of Catholicism is completely compatible with each other.
There are many practices and subsets of devotional practices within Catholicism that can fit well with one another, but there are also some that don’t mesh particularly well together for a couple.
If you’re wondering whether the way you live out your faith is compatible with the way a person you’re interested in lives it out, try to picture what family life married to them might look like. Maybe you can see yourself becoming more open or interested in the practices that the other person loves. Or maybe they could come to enjoy the practices that you enjoy.
But it can definitely be important to make sure that there is at least some level of compatibility between the way you practice your faith and the way that they do.
Just like we wouldn’t want to consider marrying someone whose day-to-day lifestyle is radically different than our own because the lack of compatibility could cause problems, so we should be aware that differences in prayer lifestyles can lead to difficulties as well.
Differences in practice don’t necessarily mean that our own faith life is lacking. But it’s still an important element to look at as we look for a future spouse!
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